Sunday, August 16, 2009

By the Glass - Poulsard Edition

I've recently emerged from a bit of a "red wine stand-still." I've wanted to branch out some more. Not merely for the sake of branching out - I wish there was more red wine that I really like. Lately I've been exploring and enjoying the reds of Provence, a select group of Northern Rhone wines, and also the Poulsards of the Jura.

Why did it take me so long to find Poulsard? I love Burgundy and Beaujolais, and Poulsard is definitely of the same phenotype. Whatever the reason, I'm a convert, and a fervent one at that. Lately I find myself thinking of Poulsard at inappropriate times, like morning while at the playground with my daughters, for example. Is that so wrong?

I love the colors - rose petal, rusty, completely translucent, delicate and gentle. I love the aromas - red currants and blood oranges, cinnamon and other spices, leathery earth. I love the whole package - a marriage of lightness and delicacy with deep intensity of aroma and flavor, and a firm tannic structure that belies its delicate appearance. When it's good, Poulsard is completely satisfying and also totally gobless.

Only problem - you won't find Poulsard at the local Wine Superstore, you may not even find it at your favorite little shop. There are stores I know of with interesting and thoughtfully selected wines, and no Poulsard on the shelves. If you don't already drink Poulsard but you'd like to try it, you may have to look around a bit. But don't give up, it's worth it.

Here are a few Poulsards from recent times, all drunk at home with dinner (none at the playground...yet):

2007 Emmanuel Houillon Poulsard Arbois Pupillin Maison Pierre Overnoy, Louis /Dressner Selections, $32. Pierre Overnoy retired and his student Emmanuel Houillon took over. This is said to be the granddaddy of all Poulsard, but I plan on finding out for myself. Several years ago I drank the 2002 and didn't get it at all. Five vintages later, I love this wine, LOVE it. Leave it open for a while or decant it to let the CO2 work its way out. Such a complex nose with vibrant red fruit, orange peel, and spices, all riding on a wave of underbrush. The palate is fresh and pure with good fruit and acidity. It feels so good in the mouth, like a fine horsehair brush painting the palate with rich and concentrated flavors and aromas. Utterly delicious wine. My favorite pairing so far - a shell steak that was cured for a few days with rock salt and rosemary.

2005 Jacques Puffeney Poulsard Arbois "M", $26, Neal Rosenthal Selections. I drank this the other night with the Creole baked rice dish. On the first day it is rather closed, with red fruit and faint cinnamon spices on the nose and palate. Enjoyable, but closed. Big time metallic minerals also, and a rock solid wall of tannins. On day two the tannins have loosened their grip and let the floral and fruit perfume out of the cage, and the wine really blossoms. The nose is so intense, it filled every cavity in my head. The wine is perfectly structured, firm and giving at the same time, and so graceful and feminine. The fruit and acids are crunchy and interestingly textured. Beautiful now, and seems like a good candidate for the cellar.

2007 Philippe Bornard Poulsard Arbois Pupillin Point Barre, $29, Savio Soares Selections. We drank this the other night with Batch 35, a washed rind cow's milk cheese from a farm in upstate New York called Sprout's Creek. The most interesting color yet, almost more rusty than rose colored. This one also took a while to unwind, and was most beautiful about four hours later, as it was almost gone. The nose is cinnamon and spice, bright high-toned fruit, and underbrush, very pure and fresh. The palate is silky smooth with blood orange and red berry fruit, faint herbal tones, and great acidity. Just a delicious wine.

2006 Domaine Tissot Arbois Poulsard Vieille Vignes, $18, Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons. This was a wine of the week a few months ago. We brought a few bottles to Rhode Island on a recent vacation, and everyone seemed to like it, even the non-Poulsard-ly inclined. This wine is a bit darker and more purple than the others, and the fruit is a bit more overt. So is the funk though, and it shows best with a solid half hour open. It is a lovely wine, with good fruit, earth, and great minerality on the finish. And it's essentially half the price of the other wines.

2007 Domaine de L'Octavin Arbois Vieilles Vignes Fiordiligi, $23, Savio Soares Selections. This is a bretty funky earthy wine. There is lovely fruit too, and the typical light body and smooth texture. But the brett is like a hot blanket in summer, and I wanted it off. Others might find it irresistible, and perhaps I didn't give it enough time to blow off. I think it's just bretty wine though. I'll check in on the next vintage and compare.

Any other Poulsards out there that you can recommend? I'll try almost anything, at this point.


fillay said...

Have you tried Bornard's "La Chamade" bottling? I loved the Pointe Barre at Ten Bells last week, and would be curious about the comparison. A server spoke highly of a sparkling poulsard, too - apparently only a few cases have trickled in, but Union Square appears to carry it.

Cliff said...

That's a great list. I have also had good luck with J.-P. Brignat.

In a broadly similar idiom, I've had some terrific wines from the Val d'Aosta, esp. Grosjean's Torrette, and Fancesco Rinaldi's Grignolino from Piedmont.

Vinotas said...

Oooh I love wines from the Jura! Great list you have there.

Jack Everitt said...

There's just not a lot of Poulsards out there; not even 1 out of 100000 bottles of wine made is Poulsard. Outside of very wine savvy restaurants, you're chances of seeing a bottle are almost nil. So, how can you beat yourself up for take ing so so so so long to re cog nize that you really like Poul sard?!