Drinking Wine


I must apologize for my utter lack of posting this past month and a half. What I haven’t mentioned before now is that I am expecting a baby! He has been consuming my thoughts, and is now due in less than a week. I fully plan to resume posting in a couple of months.In the meantime, I’ll leave my thoughts on the parallels of natural wine-making and natural childbirth.

Both are making a resurgence after decades of medical/agricultural interventions. I once read a blog post by a fellow local blogger about his efforts to make wine. After admitting that he added acid to his very alcoholic wine, he said, “What? You mean I add things to my wine? You bet. And anyone who doesn’t is either very, very lucky, or very, very stupid.” 

As I attempt to go through childbirth naturally, please wish me luck, because I know I’m not stupid!

I recently attended a tasting of Terry Theise’s grower Champagnes held at Ame Restaurant in San Francisco. I especially enjoyed Chartogne-Taillet, Goutourbe, and Vilmart, but all the wines I tasted were excellent. If you’d like to read Terry’s champagne catalog from this year, you can find it here. Although I enjoyed the tasting immensely, I’m not inspired to recreate the experience on this blog.  However, detailed accounts can be found here, here and here.

Laurent Champs of Vilmart holding court with his admirers:

oct23rdtasting

Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée 1997:

1997vilmart2

This week my husband made a delicious meal of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. He used Richard Olney’s recipe from Simple French Food and our new earthenware pot. earthenwarechickenThe olive oily broth and roasted garlic smeared onto the baguette were as delicious as the juicy and delicious chicken itself. We had the 2005 Filliatreau “La Grand Vignolle” Saumur-Champigny with the meal and I found the pairing to be perfect. The food really made the wine come alive (we hadn’t been particularly enjoying it as an aperitif before we sat down to the table). It smelled of earth and funk and rose-scented make-up (something I often pick up in Cab Franc from the Loire), and each sip was so refreshing.

There is something about Cabernet Franc and chicken…or is it Loire reds and chicken? In New York we had a habit of picking up a rotisserie chicken from Choice Market in Clinton Hill and eating it with Sancerre Rouge or Loire Gamay. Something about how chicken is sort of light, but still complex tasting, and how Loire reds are light, but aromatically complex make such a pairing a successful one!

Olney’s cookbook is a bit daunting for my kitchen stylings (e.g. easy, simple), but my husband has great success with it. It is included in the current issue of Art of Eating’s list of indispensable cookbooks. We are looking forward to working with more of the books on the list, starting with Guiliano Bugialli’s book of Neopolitan cookery! Arthur Schwartz‘s Naples at Table is akin to a bible in our house…almost every dish has become comfort food favorite, so it will be interesting to see how Bugialli competes with the Food Maven!

…but change has come to Amercia!

The other night I had a wine made in the village of Bevaix, which is in the Neuchatel region of western, french-speaking Switzerland. The winery is Domaine de Chavigny, or is it Domaine E. de Montmollin? I think the wine must be made from the grapes of an estate called Domaine de Chavigny, and bottled by Domaine E. de Montmollin, an estate based in Auvernier, another Neuchatel wine village. At any rate, the wine is made from the Chasselas grape (called Fendant, Perlan, or Gutedel in other parts of Switzerland), which may be original to Switzerland, France, or possibly Egypt. There is no consensus. It is a neutral grape, and wines made from it vary greatly depending on where it was grown. In this case, it exhibited some floral notes, a hint of graham cracker and honey (perhaps due to its 6 years of age), and although it’s generally a low-acid grape, the cooler climate of Bevaix left it with enough acid to match the goat cheese, tomato, and onion tart I paired with it. The wine was lovely, and Bevaix was a new appellation for me (always exciting!), but I’m not sure the wine was intended for long-term aging. Although I enjoyed the secondary aromas it had developed, it was no longer vibrant in the way I think it might have been when bottled. I’ve enjoyed aged Chasselas from Neuchatel before, specifially, a Dézaley from Luc Massy which was built to age.  I found the 2002 Domaine de Chauvigny Bevaix at Corti Brothers in Sacramento for $15.99.

I apologize for the absence of new posts lately. I’ll be posting something soon, but in the meantime I’ll refer you to David McDuff’s post about grower-Champagne, and specifically the house of Diebolt-Vallois. It’s an excellent introduction to the topic, and to the house itself.

I first read about The Scholium Project, a Suisun Valley -based winery in a Chambers Street Wines newsletter. I was very intrigued at the time because Chambers isn’t the type of store to promote California wine, and the names of the wine, like “Elsa’s School of the Plains” indicated that they were doing something unusual. Unfortunately, by the time I became aware of them, winemaker Abe Schoener and his wines had already reached cult status, and thus the wines were expensive and more importantly, too scarce to get my hands on. I forgot about Scholium until now — Eric Asimov, of the New York Times has written about the winery in his column and on his blog. I hope to have a chance to taste these daringly made wines some day soon.

Next Page »