Sunday, August 14, 2005

An Interesting Wine Affair

Ok. So by now everyone should know I am a major cork dork and I like WEIRD wines. The WEIRDER the better. My wine-gal Laura is much the same. So, we decided to try a few WERID wines over dinner tonight...wines from Canada, the Savoie/Jura region of France, and Brazil..sounds like a GOOD time, eh?

The evening began with a taste of the 2000 Pierre Morin Arbois from the Savoie region of France. Savoie is located in far Eastern France, right up against the French Alps near Switzerland. The wines in this region are usually produced from very rustic grape varieties not known to the masses. Many of these wines never reach the shelves here in the U.S. as they are consumed in France by the locals and tourists to the area.

The Arbois was interesting to say the least: made from the obscure Savagnin grape, it reminded me a bit of Chardonnay. Rich mineral notes completmented with toasted oak and a bit of apple and nuts on the finish. A great alternative to Chardonnay!

Next we uncorked a bottle of L'Orpailleur Vin Blanc from Quebec...a little something I brought back from a trip to Montreal sometime last year. L'Orpailleur is the largest winery in Quebec and produces and amazing number of wines. The Vin Blanc is made from the Seyval Blanc grape, a hybrid varietal which can withstand the bone-chilling winters up North. Slighly off-dry, the wine featured crisp, racing acidity, apple and tropical fruit notes. It paired nicely with our goat cheese crostini and crispy-fried sage leaves.

After the amuse-bouche, we cracked open another wine from the Savoie region: the Domaine Marc Portaz Vin de Savoie from the village of Apremont. Made from the Jacquère grape, Vin de Savoie is traditionally used to made cheese fondue in this region of France. Light and crisp, with notes of apple, peach, apricot, it was quite tasty with our Shallot Custard.

Now we are feeling very adventurous: time to crack open the 2004 Domaine de Montrieux Coteaux du Vendômois Rose from the Loire Valley of France. THIS STUFF IS WEIRD! Made from an almost extinct grape variteal, Pineau d'Aunis, which is thought to be a distant cousin to Chenin Blanc, this wine definitely has character. First off, it is slightly effervescent and we cannot figure out why. The taste is odd: notes of toast and burnt caramel corn with slight cherry and hazlenut flavors. But I enjoyed it nonetheless and drank up without missing a drop.

We then move on to the 2003 Arbois Pinot Noir, which I thought might be interesting. Hmmmm...not as interesting as I thought when I purchased the bottle at Arrowine over in Arlington, VA. Definitely NOT worth the $27 price tag. Basic red Burdgundies often have more character than this wine. It did carry with it the typical cherry/berry notes Pinot is known for, with light tannins and smokey notes.

Last but not least...and oh this point, I think we were all pushing the envelope on wine consumption for the evening. POP! The Chandon Rouge Brut Tinto NV had arrived from Brazil. I picked this up at Chandon's Brazilian winery back in May during a visit. Made from Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is the PERFECT companion to dark chocolate. Light and fruity, with notes of red berries, yeast and coffee, I could not help but suck down several glasses while we munched on some 72% cacao chocolate from France. Too bad I cannot get more of this wine here in the U.S.

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