Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Shanghai Cuisine, and Experienced Wine Guys

The other night I met a friend in Chinatown for dinner and we both brought a bottle of wine to share. This guy is a relatively new friend. He has been in the wine business for a long while now and he has the opportunity to taste an awful lot of wine, new vintages and old. There are only a couple of people with whom I'm friendly enough to meet for dinner and who have the kind of wine experience and knowledge that this guy has.

I've noticed that they all have one thing in common - they always serve or bring one of the best versions of whatever wine it is we are drinking. In other words, if we're drinking Nuits St. Georges, he'll bring Chevillon Les Saint Georges. If we're drinking Vouvray, it's Huet. It's not bluster or anything remotely like that. It's the product of years of professional and personal drinking, thinking, tasting, visiting, and discussing. It's just a matter of knowing, with great experience and conviction, what it is that he actually wants to be drinking.

Anyway, on that night we were eating at a restaurant specializing in Shanghai food. We ate several kinds of soup dumplings and various cold appetizers. I brought a Chablis, the 2008 Gilbert Picq Chablis 1er Cru Vogros, $29, Polaner Imports. I love the Picq wines and this is my favorite of them, and 2008 is an excellent vintage in Chablis. This wine, however, was entirely shut down and way too young. I could have predicted that before bringing it, but I kind of refused to bring yet another Riesling to yet another Chinatown dinner.

My friend brought a bottle of Beaujolais. It was fantastic wine and I learned something fundamental from it about the terroir of Fleurie.

I always thought of Coudert's Clos de la Roilette when I think of Fleurie. My friend brought a bottle of 2008 Yvon Métras Fleurie, price unknown. In a way it's hard to compare the two wines because Coudert is made more in the Burgundian style and Métras is carbonic, but still, the differences in terroir are clear. You've had Coudert's Fleurie - there is a certain density that perhaps you can think past for a minute, and think of the flavor - muscular, dark, smokey, and rich with a strong mineral underpinning, like iron. As I read here, the soils the birth Clos de la Roilette Fleurie actually are adjacent to the the border of Moulin-à-Vent and as in Moulin-à-Vent, they have a lot of manganese and clay. Maybe Clos de la Roilette wines are more representative of Moulin-à-Vent than they are of Fleurie.

Yvon Métras' vineyards are more typical of Fleurie, and the 2008 Fleurie showed an entirely different character from any Coudert wine that I've ever drunk. Yes, the wines differ texturally, but that might have as much to do with wine making as with terroir. The flavors of the Métras Fleurie were entirely different, delicate, bright red, spice-inflected, faintly herbal. The overall package is one of elegance, grace, intensity, and purity of flavor, and I cannot remember drinking a more compelling and delicious Fleurie. It was particularly delicious with aromatic beef, braised with star anise, among other things, and served cold with some sort of aspic.

Maybe from now on I'll think of Coudert's as the finest Moulin-à-Vent that I've ever had.

12 comments:

Jack Everitt said...

Crush has been bringing Metras for a couple of years now. (I don't have any of the 2008 - they might have skipped that vintage - but a price of $42 would be close.)

I LOVE Métras's wines and eagerly look forward to the 2009s which are now in my cellar. Your "elegance, grace, intensity, and purity of flavor, and I cannot remember drinking a more compelling and delicious Fleurie" is how I sum up my 2007s.

Clotpoll said...

Too bad most of the planet only knows DuBarf. Great Beaujolais is great Burgundy...period.

Mark Anisman said...

Metras 2009 : Me thinks you may be in for a shock. We had a blind tasting of 2009 Beaujolais, and Metras was last found rounding the corner in last place. over the top fruit, candied, and no structure for balance was the groups opinion. Some of course loved it, but the majority found it deficient. Key point - with dinner it was the only wine with left wine in the bottle.

Ben said...

Hi Neil! I tasted the Metras '09s at the home of George Descombes in Morgon last year and I had a similar impression to Mark's. Time will tell on that one - '09s are young and, in many cases, charm-free at this point (that's why we love the '08s).
What's the name of the Shanghainese restaurant? Would love to check it out...

Vinotas said...

I loved Metras' wines when I first tasted them, and missed out sadly on Crush's last offer. I'm hoping to get more the next time around.

Mark, Ben, I didn't get any candied notes, but I was drinking older vintages (2005 IIRC).

Mark Anisman said...

i have had the 2005 and 2008 Metras wines, and the 2009 is clearly a different animal. i think it is a vintage reflection.

Ith said...

Metras is one of the last ofnthe 5 (or six) who almost always makes nice wines. 09 is different though maybe he payed more attention to the lady he helped out making her wine,check that one out it is one of the best b's i have ever drunk, expensive though. Brought a 05 printemps to a restaurant but was a weird bottle. I'm off the beaujolais for a while no longer my favorite and sold my 50+collection of older bottles. Funny that to me beaujolais have become fussy as Bourgognes.

Keith Levenberg said...

There are not enough superlatives to describe the Metras L'Ultime 2009. The regular Fleurie is also excellent but not as otherworldly. Both were drank over an evening and not just tasted, so if there were anything there that would have made them the slightest bit tiring to come back to, I would've noticed.

Clotpoll said...

I would never get tired of drinking the old Chateau Des Jacques "Rochegres" cuvee. That stuff wouldn't even open up for 7-8 years in good vintages, and then it smelled and tasted like 1920s or 30s Hermitaged Burgundy...all Pinot headiness and Northern Rhone bacon and olives.

The mark of this wine's greatness is that not even Jadot (who bought the domaine a few years ago) can screw it up.

Cliff said...

I thought the regular 09 Métras too ripe but haven't tried the Ultime yet.

Mark Anisman said...

addendum : the wine I tasted was the 2009 l'Ultime.

Keith Levenberg said...

Clotpoll needs to drink more Jadot...