At one of the more anticipated tastings of the year, Louis/Dressner Selections hosted a Real Wines Tasting on October 17, 2007 at the Divine Studio revealing many Vin De Table wines that are often eliminated from official classification because they are atypical. Polaner Selections who distribute many of these wines was also present, making for a gala event of people who really care and know what’s going on in the wine industry. Winemakers such as Laurence and Eric Texier and Joao Roseira were present, as well as several wine writers such as Eric Asimov from the NY Times. I think there were a few models present too, either confused about their next studio shoot or coincidentally interested in great wines with great character, nonetheless a refreshing welcome to the red-stained shirts of tasters. Celebrities notwithstanding, there was a tremendous showing of knock-out wines whose emphasis in expressing terroir is achieved by some combination of utilizing wild yeasts, hand harvesting, low yields, natural viticulture, no or low chaptalization, and non-filtration. The result is just delicious, natural wines.
Going through all the wines tasting would require a six part report or series, so I will just impart a few impressions. A starting point was easy to choose, what with a full platter of oysters being offered for palate openers.
Larmandier-Bernier, a single grower-producer whose no dosage champagnes personify the genre was outstanding. Both the near 80% chardonnay and the Terre de Vertus were rich, full, and addicting. This was my palate cleanser for most of the afternoon. When in doubt, Terre de Vertus. Side by side was the chardonnay and gamay made by methode ancestrale, a wild effort that can only be applauded by the Beaujolais master.
Haven’t quite finished with the Blue Points yet, so I went on a wild pairing spree with Laurent Barth’s Sylvaner, Domaine de la Pepiere’s Muscadets, Domain du Closel, and the standout Luneau-Papin Muscadet d’Or, to name a few. My favorite were the Eric Texier viogniers with a touch of dulce. The Silex table was mobbed and under-bottled, so I spent a moment at Radikon, which made me yearn for truffles and foie. Those Ribolla Giallas were distinct and subperb.
Onto to Philippe Pacalet for Beaune reds made from ancient Pinot stock, where the argument is often is the Nuits-Saints-Georges better the the Chambolle-Musigny or the Gevrey-Chambertin, and which will age better?
Another jaunt to Larmandier-Bernier, and proper homage was paid to a table ripe with Beaujolias for Michel Tete, Jean Paul Brun, Clos de la Roilette, and Georges Descombes, wines which should be grace every Saturday lunch table. I skipped Clos Roche Blanche, Thierry Puzelat, and Clos du Tue-Boeuf, not only for time constraints, but also because those wines have nothing to prove. Year after year, these winemakers put out fabulous product at fantastic prices. You just can’t go wrong with any of these bottles.
I did a flight from the Roagna series, wines that are too young but allows one to speculate and dream about their futures. Then it was back to Eric Texier for the CDP and the Brezeme, one of my favorite values in the whole marketplace.
There was some noise from the west coast, with a very terroir driven Pinot Noir from Kalin. Ten guesses and I still wouldn’t believe it’s pinot from Cali. I enjoyed the Grenache blanc form Graves Monkey Wrench and some old-fashioned chardonnays from Whitehorn and White Helix too, demonstrating that care and technique works anywhere.
Chinon was well represented with Catherine & Pierre Briton, Bernard Baudry, and Olga Raffault, all limestone, gravel and clay goodness. There was a heap of Italian red and whites, but once again time was not my ally. A lasting sip of Larmandier-Bernier left a lasting impression as large as Joe Dressner’s Cuvee Buster t-shirt. VDT rocks, Vive terroir, Drink life.