Monday, April 14, 2008

Familiar Places, New Friends

Sometimes I can hang out in a familiar place and never look in a certain corner of the room. And then it becomes a habit not to look in that direction. Even if there were a chest full of gold coins in the corner, I'd miss it. Maybe it's just me. Probably is. But anyway, recently while in two of my favorite hangouts, Savennières and Champagne, I finally glanced over in that corner of the room and made some new friends.

The first is from a producer that I've heard about for a while now, a young guy who apparently was not welcomed into the fold in the small community that is Savennières. He ended up throwing caution to the wind, making wine his own way. I always meant to taste the wines, but never did. And then by habit, never did. But then Peter Liem in his truly excellent blog Besotted Ramblings and Other Drivel wrote about Damien Laureau's Savennières in his February 9, 2008 post (to which I cannot seem to create a link), calling it the finest example of Savennières from 2005. This is a serious thing to say. 2005 was a very good year in Savennières, as it was in most of France. So I scoured the NYC shops until I found one selling Laureau's wine - Vestry Wines in TriBeCa. The '05 is not around yet, but Vestry had the 2002, which was also a fine year in the Loire Valley.

2002 Damien Laureau Savennières Les Bel Ouvrage, $29.50, JD Headrick Imports. Here is the story behind the producer and some technical information on the wine. I'm not expert enough to be able to tell you how this wine is so different from the rest of Savennières. The contrast between the nose and the palate is striking. The nose is boisterous with orange fruit and flowers, clementines become clear with some aeration, and honeyed pure water. But the palate is all about the minerals, like clean water filtered through rock. Almost salty minerals, very intense, and the wine feels huge in the mouth, by the way. This is not some light minerally wine. This thing is a monster. Later on some fruit pokes its head out of the rock, some lime, hints of apricot, the finish lingers on with citrus and more minerals. Delicious wine, and fascinating too, I can see that there will be more Damien Laureau in my future. I must say, I feel confused about what food would pair well with this. Rabbit? Cheese? Somebody, help me.

I met my other new friend at a restaurant, of all places. Because of the high markups, I don't often try new wine at restaurants. If I'm paying top dollar I'd prefer to stick with whatever I know is good. But it was BrooklynLady's birthday weekend, we were out with the little daughter at one of our favorite neighborhood places, Al Di La Trattoria. We wanted a half bottle of bubbly to start and they had NV Guy Larmandier Brut Cramant Grand Cru. I'm such a sucker for ignoring this producer. I figured, 'I like Larmandier-Bernier, one Larmandier is enough.' Nope, not enough. And I should have known that a Rosenthal Champagne would be right up my alley. This Blanc de Blancs from the village of Cramant in the Côtes des Blancs was very elegant and delicate, and also very firm and powerful, very focused. Such a delicious and satisfying Champagne, its good genes so obvious in the overall harmony of the drink. We're going to have to invite our new friend over to our house for dinner one of these nights.

9 comments:

peter said...

Maybe try the Savennières with a duck or rabbit terrine or sashimi with citrus and miso. Or pasta with caramelized onion, orange zest, and walnuts.

Brooklynguy said...

hey peter - these are GREAT suggestions. I particularly like the pasta with the caramelized onion, orange zest, and walnuts idea. Echoing the flavors of the wine, I get it. Sounds like you've done this before. What, do you cook or something?

peter said...

Every once in a while. It helps justify the wine habit. Had a good one last night that I bet you'd dig.

NickG said...

Something in my repertoire that I've enjoyed with Loire Chenin Blancs: Indian style chicken braised in yogurt, onions, and aromatic spices. Or sea scallops seared with shallots and a bit of Dijon mustard and good balsamic vinegar. I've had the Laureau 2002 Bel Ouvrage and also found it to be the most luxuriously rich Savennieres I've ever had.

Steve L. said...

I hope I remember to try that pasta combo. Don't think I've ever seen a bottle of Laureau's wines in these parts before.

Brooklynguy said...

sounds like another winning combo, thanks nick g. i cook that kind of thing, too. next time.

steve - i don't see Laureau's wines often either. if you do, try one. at a minimum, you'll be interested.

Steve L. said...

Tonight I made Peter's pasta dish and we ate it with a 2002 Closel 'Jalousie.' It really was a good combination, and the pasta was excellent! The sweetness of the long-cooked onions was counter-balanced by the orange zest and walnuts. Goes into the repertoire. Amazing what you'll learn on a wine blog....

Brooklynguy said...

awesome - i will let peter know about that. how was the wine, by the way? i've never had a mature jalousie, only a cooked 1995.

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

I'm trying that very Guy Larmandier tonight for NYE celebrations. Now, I'm *really* looking forward to it! Cheers!