Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Night of Loire Valley 1990's

In a way, it's silly of me to have so little understanding about the development Loire Valley wine over the long term. I have a lot of the young stuff in the cellar - shouldn't I know more about what happens to this wine in 20 years? With this in mind I decided to find a few bottles of mature wine and have a little dinner for my friend Adam before he went off to Tallahassee to wed. I wanted to find mature versions of the wines that I enjoy drinking now in their relative youth.

I found a bottle of 1990 Domaine du Viking Vouvray Tendre (JD Headrick Selections) for $34. Viking's wines surprised me when I tasted them back in April - they were balanced and distinctive, really very good. And then I grabbed a bottle of 1990 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses (Louis/Dressner) for $45. I found a bottle of 1990 Luneau Papin Muscadet L' D'or for $40, but we didn't drink it on this night. Another time and another post.

We didn't have time for a long drawn out meal, so I decided to serve the Vouvray as an aperitif and then again with a cheese course. I wanted something simple as a main course that would support the aromas and flavors of the Chinon, not overpower them. I went with what the market gave me - a ragoût of shell peas, new potatoes, asparagus, spring onions, and green garlic. Kind of a ragoût, anyway. I slow cooked the vegetables in butter and white wine, and added some chopped parsley at the end. Simple. I made a confit of chicken thigh by slow cooking them in their own rendered fat and then crisping the skin. Simple.

The Vouvray was just delicious, although I must say that I might not have guessed its age if tasting blind. There was still plenty of nice ripe fruit. There were aromas of woolly funk, wax, wet graphite, and a pure grapey vinousness. An expansive and broad palate with round and smooth acids carried ripe summer fruit and honey across the tongue. The fruit was gone from the mid-palate, replaced by a sense of natural spring water and light straw - perhaps the only hint at the wine's age. We thoroughly enjoyed this wine, but I might have guessed it to be a 2002 if tasted blind. Does this mean that the wine has another 20 years ahead of it? Then again, keep in mind that I'm not terribly familiar with what good quality Chenin Blanc from a good vintage smells or tastes like when it matures.

The Chinon, well this was unmistakably a mature wine. This one went up to 11, folks. Such a beautiful and inspiring wine. The beginning was all barnyard, almost off putting. But it blew off after about 15 minutes and the graceful perfumes of fruit and flowers wafted out of the glass, filling the air around the dinner table. That's true, not just a punchy wine description - the aromas were completely vibrant and they filled the room. Luxurious red fruit, subtle roses, piercing but gentle acidity, refined black tea and road tar, rotting leaves, all of these things flirted with each other and combined to knock us out with their lusciousness on the nose. A nose like the silkiest and most elegant and sexy red bathrobe. I cannot really describe the palate because the sensation is just too new to me, but it was inspiring and beautiful, and we lingered over it, alternating between trying to discuss it and just basking in it. I must have this wine again. And I have a couple of the 2002's in the cellar, but it would seem prudent to grab a few more of those too, you know, for research.

One weird thing - the cork on the Vouvray was blackened at the end and kind of shriveled - it seemed old. But the Chinon cork was quite short, unusual for a wine meant for extended cellaring. And it seemed new. Maybe they reconditioned this wine at the estate? Is there a way to determine whether or not a wine has been reconditioned?

14 comments:

Chris said...

Some pretty nice dinner wines.

Was the vouvray dry, off-dry, or sweet?

Steve L. said...

I'm not sure I've aged as well since 1990! In terms of wine, I guess I can look forward to the years 2022-2025 (when the '02s and '05s will hit 20).

Brooklynguy said...

chris - it is a vin tendre, meaning slightly off-dry. i'm not sure what the rules are regarding grams of residual sugar allowed in order to get the name vin tendre.

steve - you guys didn't get this in san fran? but you did get the 02? and the 05 is released already?!? confusing. i hope you do find a bottle of this out there.

Steve L. said...

I meant Loire Valley 2002s and 2005s in general, not necessarily this producer's wines. (The 2002 Picasses made a brief appearance here.)

Iuli said...

Raffault Chinon is one of my all time favorite wines. There have been a couple of releases of the '89 &'90 in recent years. Dressner has brought them into the country at least 3 times (that I know of) since 2002. I was also lucky enough to get my hands on a bunch of Papin Muscadet last year: '89, '90, '93 and '95, so I assume those were also library releases.

In the case of both wines, the '89's are my favorite. The only Chinon I've ever thought to be better than the '89 Raffault was the '86. That wine is perfect.

Marcus said...

This post is gold. A recipe, wine pairings, rare wine tasting notes and great photographs to match.

I think you are right to question whether it was reconditioned. For one thing the labels are identical to the 2001s Picasses I have and they seem just as new as the cork. Is it possible that these wines were reserved for a very long time and bottled relatively recently?

The 90 Muscadet sounds mighty interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hey, since someone else brought it up--how about the recipe for that chicken confit? I've made duck confit, and that calls for copious amounts of duck fat. How much chicken fat did you use and where did it come from? Looks delicious.

Joe M. said...

The viking does indeed make killer vouvray. I last tasted the '90 about a year ago and it did taste very youthful. The '89 is also good but a bit sweeter and lower in acidity.

Chez Brooklynguy looks like a terrific spot for a meal!

Do Bianchi said...

This is one of those man-I-wish-I-was -there posts...

where did you find the Raffault 90?

great post...

spicycurry said...

hate to be nit picky here, but that pile of potatoes, peas, asparagus, etc. is NOT a ragout. A ragout is a stew or a thick sauce. Please work on your nomenclature.

Brooklynguy said...

okay, so the chicken confit is more of a "confit," as i did not submerge it in its own fat and slow cook it. i did, however, carefully render the fat from 4 fatty thighs, and slow cook the thighs skin side up in the fat. then crisped the skin before serving. wouldn't pass for real confit in french cooking school. did fine chez brooklynguy w/ an 18 year old chinon.

marcus - i think you hit it - i think they just released a batch of the 90 after keeping in their own cellars.

peter said...

Damn... that Chinon was the mystery bottle I had put aside for you. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Iuli on the '89. Really inspiring stuff. We served a vertical flight at the place I work not so long ago, 02, 95, 89 and what I loved about the 89 was the way it recalled the best of both younger vintages. It still retained some of those green fruit notes of the 02, with the earth and funk that dominated the 95 (which, though delicious, was actually a little closed)

Brooklynguy said...

that's pretty cool peter - don't go back to the drawing board. i'd love to drink this wine again someday, and hopefully with some of your cooking.

the 89 sounds nice from a couple people now. i just saw it yesterday in a store, so maybe i'll have to go back and grab a bottle.