Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Trip Cut Short, a Red Wine from Chablis, and a lot to be Thankful for.

About a year ago I went to France to meet my friends Peter and Tista. The plan was to spend a few days in Burgundy and then a few more in Champagne. My wife was 8 months pregnant with our second child. It was a bold move to go overseas at that point, but BrooklynLady was fine with it – she actually encouraged it, once our doctor cleared it. She was entirely healthy and not expected in any way to deliver early, so why should it be a problem? Off I went.

Several days into the trip, while still in Burgundy, my wife had contractions that were more real than the 'Braxton Hicks' contractions that typically happen a month or so before birth. I took the next flight home, and thankfully nothing happened – our daughter arrived a month later, as expected.

The night before I left Burgundy and returned to NYC, Peter, Tista, and I stayed up late talking and drinking Dujac Malconsorts and Clos de la Roche until something like 2:00 AM. The next morning Peter and Tista also left Burgundy, returning to their homes in Champagne. They stopped en route for lunch at one of Tista’s favorite restaurants in the Chablis area, a place called Le Soufflot in the village of Irancy. Although they were certainly as tired and probably as hungover as I was, Peter and Tista valiantly agreed to sample one of the local wines alongside their lunch. They drank a red wine from Irancy, a wine made by one of the finest producers in Chablis, Vincent Dauvissat.

A red wine from Chablis! What could that possibly taste like, I wondered. “Does it taste like Pinot Noir, or does it taste like Chablis,” I later asked Tista. “Both,” he said, “you’ll come back one day and drink it yourself.”

A month or so ago Tista was in New York representing Salon/Delamotte at a large tasting event. He came to my house for brunch one morning and he brought a gift with him, something he wanted me to have the opportunity to drink - a bottle of that same Dauvissat red wine from Irancy. As far as I know, the wine is not imported. I let it recover from its journey for about a month and drank it with BrooklynLady the other night, with the beautiful birthday dinner that she made for me - rosemary scented rack of lamb and butternut squash.

I thought it was much more about Chablis than about Pinot Noir. And yes, Irancy is not Chablis, it is 20 kilometers away, but the soils are similar. There was a seaweed, brothy, salt air, savory tone to the nose, and this carried through on the palate. There were little hints of dark fruit, but the fruit in this wine was really just a vehicle for the transmission of terroir. When drinking it on its own, there seemed to be a green edge to the tannins, something that has plagued many 2004 red wines. But this wine is from Chablis, not the Cote d’Or – should that hold true here? I really don’t know. With food, that green edge was gone. This was a challenging and very rewarding wine.

We thoroughly enjoyed this wine, as much for how good it was with our dinner as for what it represented to us: a reminder of the times just before and after our second daughter was born. Those were times of great anticipation and uncertainty, and also very wonderful times that a person is lucky to experience. I am lucky enough to have experienced them twice now - I have two truly amazing little daughters, and a very happy and healthy wife. And for those things above all else, I am thankful. Isn’t it nice that a savory little red wine, from an off vintage in Chablis, given to me by a good friend, can remind me of that?

Happy holidays to you and yours.


asher said...

Very nice. Happy holidays.

Robin Elise Weiss said...

That's a great story!

Steve L. said...

It'll be a tough holiday in these parts, but hearing about yours is nice. I hope you have a great bottle of something to share tomorrow.

Sophieb. said...

your story reminded me of drinking '03 vatan sancerre rouge at the end of a very long night of kimmeridgean wine. one of my cohorts described it as "like licking the dark crystal." sounds as though your irancy rouge was a touch more approachable... and probably tastier to boot.

Will Piper said...

The '03 Vatan was the first thing I thought of too, Sophie. A true expression of terroir, for sure. I'd kill for some Dauvissat Rouge.

Steven said...

Hi Brooklynguy,
I just checked the wine card of Le Soufflot (the link you included) and see they serve Domaine Verret as well. If ever you return to Irancy you should definitely check the wines of this domaine. When I visited Verret with a friend of mine we tasted 'Palotte' and 'l'âme du domaine' and loved them both. We also bought a few cases so we still can taste from time to time and I always wonder how such powerful yet elegant red wines can come from this very cool corner in the Bourgogne.
But more importantly, please note that almost all of these Irancy wines have a certain quantity of the mysterious César cépage in the assemblage.
Thanks for your always-lovely-written pieces by the way !
Kind regards,
Steven (Belgium)

Brooklynguy said...

Steve L - yeah, this time of year has to be difficult. Pretty soon it will be January and then spring again, and then the holidays again. You'll find a new cycle, and there will always be bottles to share. Best to you, thanks for coming by.

sophie - "licking the dark crystal" makes perfect sense to me, based on this Irancy. one of the better wine descriptors I've heard - thanks.

Will - no killing, just don't do it. This is a peaceful site.

Hey Steven - thanks for your advice and your kind words. "the mysterious César," indeed.