Cider has seen an explosion in popularity recently. Everyone from large beer companies to small scale New England farms has jumped into the game, and “craft cider” is no longer hard to find.
Francis Muré’s wines were made for the summer. Muré and his wife Josiane run a tiny winemaking operation in the beautiful rolling hills of Alsace. Their wines are uncomplicated and refreshing, the perfect antidote for a warm muggy evening.
Rosé just keeps getting better. With demand on the rise, vignerons are experimenting with new cuvées and interesting blends. The Domaine les Goubert, long our favorite source for Gigondas, joined the game last year with the excellent dry “Rosé de Flo,” a project of the family’s daughter Florence.
The town of Morey-St-Denis exemplifies the small scale of Burgundian winemaking. Wedged between two more famous neighbors, this village of 680 people has a vineyard surface of under 4 tenths of a square mile. It’s dark, delicious, classic red Burgundy — there just isn’t much of it to go around.
“Minerality” is a hard word to define. It appears throughout the wine world, but nobody can quite say what it is. Last year wine writer Lettie Teague called it “a helpful word to describe wines that aren’t fruity, spicy, or herbal.” That’s still pretty vague, but it’s a good start.
The first thing we consider when describing a wine is its fruit. We decide whether the fruits are light or dark, cooked or fresh, sweet or dry, and so on. An astounding range of scents can emerge from a glass of wine despite their common source, Vitis vinifera.
On Saturday night, for our final meal in Paris, we sat outdoors at a charming restaurant in the Latin Quarter. We didn’t recognize any producers on the their small but thoughtful wine list, and ordered a bottle of red from Pic-St-Loup in the Languedoc. It was fresh, very well-balanced, and delicious.
We’ve tasted a lot of wine over the past few weeks: 40 winemakers, three regions, and several hundred wines in all. Friday night, over Breton oysters and Muscadet in a Nantes brasserie, we made the “Best Of” list — “most memorable meal,” “most exciting new producer,” and “wine of the trip.”
We spend the morning putting finishing touches on three weeks of tasting notes. Over coffee we discuss the final lineup for next week’s Futures Issue, and catch the noon TGV from Nantes to Paris. At Montparnasse we take a cab to the Latin Quarter, where our rental host is waiting.
A morning drive through the Vallée de la Loire — sprawling fields of wheat and corn dotted with grain elevators and crumbling churches. Our first tasting is with a familiar Muscadet producer — pure and expressive wines showing far more complexity than most expect from the grape.
Sometimes we wonder why Michel Gros makes any white wine at all. The Gros family has lived for generations in Vosne-Romanée, a town that produces some of the finest red wines in the world; and his red Burgundies have won him acclaim for decades.
Coffee, toast, and a collection of homemade jams for breakfast this morning — back for a third time at the utterly pleasant Hotel Diderot in Chinon. Our first appointment is out in the fields east of Chinon; a young producer we discovered a few years ago when he had just started to bottle his own wines. This year’s crop is dense and lovely — pure, unoaked cabernet franc showing dark cherries and graphite.
We take our coffee in Amboise, near a bridge over the river Loire. Our first appointment is at 9am — a young energetic vigneron with only 3 hectares of vines, which he tends on the weekends. His wines are clear and crisp, all Chenin Blanc, both sec and demi-sec; we sample his pétillant-naturale (single fermentation sparkling wine).
Our 9am appointment this morning is in a sleepy town west of Pouilly-sur-Loire, still in the appellation of Pouilly-Fumé. The vingeron is absent, and his quiet, charming mother shows us his two wines. Both are excellent — round and rich and full of life. The first shows excellent weight and length; the second, an old vine cuvée made from vines planted “juste aprés la guerre,” is exceptional.