15 Apr 2008

Real Wine

I DUTIFULLY ventured to Caves de Pyrene's 'Real Wine' tasting yesterday lunchtime. It was held at Il Bottaccio, a collection of smart, but soulless, white square rooms off Grosvenor Place. A good number of producers had travelled to help lift a cross section of organically inclined wines from the pages of this super indie supplier. Worth doing, considering that this fast growing Guildford firm gains clout every year; it already supplies over 800 U.K. restaurants. Their hugely entertaining brochure approaches 300 pages and has vigorous, insightful descriptions, which I would happily read at bedtime (although it would keep me awake).
Here is a small selection of wines (and a cider) which were too beautiful to leave alone.
Montlouis Le Volagre, Stephane Cossais '05: tremendous, dampened, smoky nose, excitingly nervy acidity, with far-reaching, distinct notes of lemon pith and camomile. From vineyards across the Loire from Vouvray. A new acquisition?
From Bergerac 'Vinarchiste' Luc de Conti, who 'riddles the grapes on the vine', Moulin des Dames Blanc 'Anthologia' '07. Whilst a little young, this late picked Sauvignon, Sémillon and Muscadelle was stylish, direct, expressively pure, with delicious aromas of be-subtled passion fruit, a flood of minerals, and a silken texture. Incidentally, the straight Moulin des Dames Blanc, also '07 (Sauvignon, Sémillon) had (not unattractively) pike quenelles on the nose, possibly a result of too much soil enhancing silica and seaweed tlc...
From 'scattered parcels', Trousseau '04 from Domaine Ganevat, Jura, had an unusual chromatography: light cherry moving into bakelite. Agile, with a nose of condensing animal breath, jugged hare and violets and a palate of whole peppered strawberries with a liberty of tenacious, ancient minerals.
I thought that the biodynamic Normandy ciders from Château de Hauteville were impressively individual, particularly the '05 Sydre 'Argelette' (meaning 'small, fractured rocks'), a rich, full-figured, caramelised apple studded camembert, wet donkey smelling concoction with a fungal finish. The apple equivalent of Alsace producer Rolly Gassmann's fatter fare?
Further to my recent post, I asked the representative of Mas de Daumas Gassac why they bothered with the Frizzant, to which he replied "it's a tradition which started in the 1980's, and a way of using up the young Cabernet grapes". To my mind, that is not really enough justification for the resulting, tacky swill - a 'monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant' range.
After the tasting, I self-prescribed a zinc supplement, slipping 18 oysters (sweet, fruity Duchy of Cornwall natives; creamy, Irish Carlingford Lough's and nutty Speciale de Claires from south west France), then dressed crab, rinsed with Lustau Papirusa at Wright Bros, Borough Market.
Incidentally, amongst the good articles in April's Waitrose Food Illustrated, one by former software executive turned food writer, Kathleen Flinn caught my eye. In it she philosophises about her tough, but rewarding experience at 'Le Cordon Bleu':

'If your knife is not sharp, chef told us, you end up pushing down on the onion, crushing its skin and releasing the acids, which irritates the tear ducts. With a sharp knife, the onion gives way easily, releasing less oil, causing fewer tears. Perhaps life is similar? With greater clarity, you won't push yourself in the wrong direction. I thought it was the end of the world when I lost my job. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened. I traded days filled with meetings and fiscal planning for a life of writing and cooking. I earn less but live more...'