Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jenny and François, Spring 2011

I stopped into the Jenny and François spring portfolio tasting the other day to taste some of the new releases. Check out their new website, by the way - it's a million times better now. Jenny and François is no longer a small portfolio of natural wines, it's gotten a bit bigger. They have some real gems, leaders in their appellations, like Lassaigne in Champagne, Binner in the Alsace, and Tournelle in the Jura. They have plenty of good producers making reasonably priced wines in the Loire, the Languedoc, the Rhône, and elsewhere. It's a portfolio to get to know, if you haven't already.

When I go to these things, which I honestly don't often do anymore, I no longer try to taste everything. It's too hard to get a real sense of the wines when you quickly taste 80 of them, especially amidst the cacophony of an industry tasting. Now I instead go in with an idea of the specific producers I want to check in on, and basically leave it at that.

I tasted the new releases from Champagne Jacques Lassaigne, the excellent producer in Montgueux. Montgueux is a small village near Troyes, south of the Côte des Blancs and northeast of the Aube. Because it is further south than the villages of the Côte des Blancs, and because the soils on the hill of Montgueux have a lot of clay in addition to the chalk, the wines show more richness and overt ripeness than do the typical Blanc de Blancs of the Côte des Blancs. Lassaigne is the the greatest producer in Montgueux and the wines are always delicious, well balanced, and very expressive of place. These wines are worth a special search.

The new version of NV Les Vignes de Montgueux Brut Blanc de Blancs, about $55, is excellent. Lassaigne uses a code that is stamped onto his labels, and you really have to look for it because it's hard to see, but 070409, for example, means bottled in 07 (so base year 06), and disgorged in 09 (in April, I believe). I forgot to look at the code when tasting this wine and so cannot tell you if it is based o the 07 or 08 vintage. It was excellent wine and it's elegant richness, and the sense of completeness it exuded leads me to guess that it is based on the superb 2008 vintage. But maybe it's from the more difficult 2007 and Lassaigne just rocked it anyway.

The NV Cuvée Le Cotet Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, about $80, is an entirely different wine made from old vines on an east-facing slope with barely 10 centimeters of topsoil covering the chalk. It is a lithe and sinewy wine, very intense, and anlo graceful. The new release which I believe is based on 2007 was too closed to really evaluate when I got to it, but I bet it's pretty good wine.

I was thrilled to see that Jenny and François are bringing in Lassaigne's rosé, the NV Cuvee Rose de Montgueux, about $75. I think this version is based on 2007 and it is a blended rosé made with 20% of still Pinot Noir. This was my first taste of Lassaigne's rosé and I thought it was delicious, with understated red fruit aromatics, fruit and mineral on the palate, good tense acidity, and a lovely texture. I wanted to sit down and drink a whole glass (or two).

As I said before, I didn't taste everything - I now realize that when I do that I understand nothing. I tasted none of the Jenny and François Languedoc wines, almost none of the Rhône wines, none of their interesting Bordeaux selections, nothing from Italy, not one of Tony Coturri's California wines, etc. But I did taste 20-25 wines and here are a few things that really impressed me:

2009 Domaine des Sablonnettes Vin de Table (Loire) Le Bon P'tit Diable, not more than $17. This is ripe but controlled and perfectly balanced, absolutely drinkable Cabernet Franc. One of those wines that will please everyone.

2007 Domaine Oudin Chablis Les Serres, not more than $27. Leaner and more elegant than the 2006, which was also very good. This is Chablis for the Chablis lover - full of iodine and marine aromas and flavors. A very solid producer.

2008 Comptoirs de Magdala Vin de Table (Provence) La Chance, not more than $20. Funny, I didn't love this wine when it was part of the inexpensive Provence red blind tasting panel I did back in April, but I liked it very much on this day. Good fruit, earth, Provence herbs, balance, a bit of grip, and delicious.

1 comment:

TWG said...

Enjoyed the NV Les Vignes de Montgueux Brut Blanc de Blancs (080110) tonight, very good wine. I was wondering what the code meant, thanks. Bought this in the fall so yours was likely the '08 vintage.