Good friends Noel and Marie, with out of town guests Ben and Brian, joined me and a couple of others for an al fresco bacchanal at Vin Rouge. We supplemented bottles we brought with selections off of the excellent list.
We started with a plateau d’huitres. The perfect foil?
2010 Domaine de la Pépière Clos des Briords
From magnum. Piquant, vibrant and lithe, just as we’ve all come to love and expect from Marc Ollivier. I hope that we all appreciate the excellence that Marc provides at such a reasonable price. You could drink your bodyweight in this and still want more.
With assorted salads and appetizers.
2010 Jean Manciat Mâcon Charnay Franclieu
I have been drinking a ton of Manciat lately. It’s an interesting producer that often gets lost in the LDM portfolio behind Roally and Thevenet. The wines are different in style and from a different area than those wines, so liking one isn’t at the expense of the other. The Manciat wines rarely seem to be botrytis marked. They are balanced, refined and utterly delicious expressions of chardonnay. This magnum was a perfect complement to a warm, but not hot, southern evening. Yellow and pitted fruits with some notes of honeysuckle and flowers. Nice sense of grip from acidity. If you have the willpower, and I don’t, you could certainly cellar this for a few years and be rewarded.
Ben had never had a Rougeard Le Bourg outside of a trade tasting; that is, with some bottle age.
1997 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny Le Bourg
This is more than an ordinary bottle for me. This wine, I purchased from David Lillie when he was still at Garnet. David had introduced me to the excellence of Baudry, Breton and others and also Rougeard. I was a graduate student at the time so it was hard to buy wines like this. David would always hold me a bottle or two of Bourg and Poyeaux for me to purchase when I could. Obviously, he didn’t have to do that, but it shows the kind of guy that we all know and respect. This was my last bottle of 1997 and it was a pleasure to drink. The palate is resolved, more or less. There are a bit of tannins that add grit and bite, but the tactile experience is mostly silky. There are tertiary aromas of tobacco, cocoa, earth interwoven with spice, cocoa and dried red fruits. I think it is a bit of a tweener at 15 years old. It isn’t quite a mature wine with nothing but savory aromas and bottle sweetness, but it isn’t in that first great peak of a wine where it still has fruit but its structure has basically found its adult form. Still, this is picking nits from a great wine from a great terroir.
2003 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny Le Bourg
To keep going with the #RougeardMania, we ordered this off of the list and had it decanted. I’ve had great experiences with the 2003 Le Bourg, but this was the best yet. Almost terrifying in its magnificence.
1998 Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard
Fantastic bottle. Aromatically complex, fleshy, grippy and seamless on the palate. Fruit, earth, and minerals dancing with cohesion. Really triumphant syrah. If it doesn't have the wildness of Verset, it reeks of class and breed. I think this still has some development to go, but it is in a lovely spot now.
2004 Baudry Chinon La Croix Boissée
This was really hard to get my head around as it seemed shut down and a bit reduced. I get hints of the pure sour cherry mashed with herbs, tobacco and rocks, but it really is not expressive. The structure is still dominant with the tannin squaring off like the Maginot line, impressively engineered, but bound to give at some point. Croix Boissée can be such a tricky wine to catch in the right place and I haven't yet mastered that art, despite all my efforts. Since we've had enough wine and I am not really able to understand it, I returned the wine to its bottle and re-corked to try later.