Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Getting Myself in Shape for Loire Reds

We continue our foray into blind tasting Thursday night, and the theme is young Loire red wine. I love these wines, juicy and fresh, fruity and funky, full of complex mineral smells and flavors. And really cheap too. Many an excellent bottle can be had for around $15. Yeah, I'm compiling my value Burgundy list, but there is nothing there that can compare, in my opinion, with the the pleasure you can find in a $15 bottle of one of these young wines.

I've been so focused on Burgundy lately that I haven't had a Loire red in a little while. So over the past few days BrooklynLady and I exercised our palate a bit, went to the red Loire gym, if you will. We decided to open these particular wines before our blind tasting because:

1) The Raffault wine is from the 2002 vintage, and is not as young as the other wines in the tasting.
2) The Filliatreau is no longer available, as far as I know, so if it were to show well in the tasting it would just annoy you who read this and then try to buy the wines. I'm trying to make you happy pal, not annoy you.
3) We found that we couldn't just sit around with all of this young Loire red without opening some, so we opened some. We had them with braised lamb shoulder, and with thyme crusted pork chops. YUM.

It's good to remind the senses of the joys of a young Loire red. Such honest wine. Not trying to be the David to Bordeaux's Goliath, just interesting food friendly wine. Very trendy in Parisian cafes and bistros too. Many producers make several cuvees from grapes grown in gravel or clay soils, or from vines of different ages. There certainly are Loire reds that age beautifully, and I love those too. But there is something so boisterous and plucky about the young ones, especially in the doldrums of winter, that I find myself buzzing with excitement over the blind tasting.

Here are some notes from our "exercise" over the past few nights:

2002 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses, $16
Raffault is a venerable estate in the Loire valley. Here are the importer's notes on the estate. Dark translucent garnet color, like a Burgundy wine. Smells of funky barnyard and sweet fruit. Juicy on the palate, with a nice balance of fruit and earthy flavors, some graphite, some cedar, some leather, some berry jam. I was surprised at how much I liked this wine, as I was not a big fan of the 1990 version, which to me tasted like one big lead pencil. This mature wine must have been re-released, because its in all the stores now, and at wine bars too. For $16, the 2002 is a great value in wine to drink now and to love.

2005 Filliatreau La Grande Vignolle Saumur-Champigny, $17
This is a huge estate in Saumur-Champigny, producing many different wines each year. The Wine Doctor offers a nice profile of this producer - take a peek. Dark garnet color, great extraction. Dark fruit, leather, some alcohol heat and road tar, hints of flowers and herbs. Palate is fresh and pure, with astringent dusty tannins and graphite, dark juicy fruits, some blood and a little cocoa powder. Complex and wonderful stuff, this wine is completely outta sight for the $16. And it kept changing in the glass over a few hours. Question is...where is this wine available now? Chambers street is now sold out. I'll tell you this - I will be looking.

Okay, now that I've worked up a good schvitz, I should be in shape for tomorrow night's event.


Anonymous said...

I am also a big fan of Olga Raffault's wine. You should also try out her Poplinières. Chambers Stree Wines carries the 2003 vintage for $12. Poplinières is not oaked and softer, yet extremely juicy. Not sure about its ability to age though.

The 2005 Filliatreau can be found for $17 here (but you have to pay for shipping charge)

I don't mind splitting a case with you if you are interested.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Andrew,
I have never tried the Poplinieres, but it sounds like something I would like - meant to drink young. I will give it a shot. I would love a few more bottles of the Filliatreau. I have never used Wine Access before, can you tell me how it works? Just a huge online store, or where do they get the wine, and where do they ship from? You live in NYC, I take it. I like your offer to split a case. Let's talk...

Anonymous said...

My email is pgmaoh@yahoo.com. Please shoot me an email if you are really insteread in splitting some Filliatreau.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Andrew,

I will think about it and email you, thanks.

Brooklynguy said...

Andrew - Good news! Chambers street swears that they will get this wine in again, so no need to order it and pay shipping.

Anonymous said...

I work near Chinatown and probably will drop by Chambers to find out.