Wine Music : Chablis and Meursault

 I want to finish 2013 by beginning a new series of posts about wine pairings. This time I don’t want to pair wine with food but rather with music. I feel like wine and music go well together as they are two matters that can be studied both technically and emotionally. Simply put, I want to match some wines with songs that they make me think of. I’ll do two or three wines per post and ideally a post once a week or every two weeks. I’m sure this has been done before that’s why I haven’t researched anything so that my pairings are truly my own. Let’s start with Chablis and Meursault

Chablis: Love will tear us apart, Joy Division, 1980

I have to say it was the first wine/song pairing that came to mind when I started thinking about this project. This song always makes me shiver and despair. Everything sounds bleak, stripped down to parts, inescapable and cold, so cold. The cool, strict, crisp and acidic character of Chablis immediately comes to mind. Chablis is not here to coddle you, he’ll tell it like it is, no lies, no sugarcoating, and no frills. The stony, resigned tone of Ian Curtis’ voice even matches the flinty character of Chablis.

Meursault: Let’s stay together, Al Green, 1972

When tasting, it’s easier to distinguish the character of one wine by using another wine to highlight some features by contrast. After cold, unforgiving Chablis I moved on to welcoming, round, full Meursault. The buttery character of Meursault wraps itself around you, telling you that everything will be fine; you’re in good hands, comforted, warm. A love song with a full, warm comforting song like this Al Green classic sounds like a good match to me.

What do you think ? Can you find a better match for those wines ? Any wines I should do next ?

And with that, I think it’s time to wish you good luck in your New Year’s Eve preparations, may your cooking go well and may the wine pairings be ever in your favor ! See you next year !

Advertisements

In vino veritas

The Roman Empire is responsible fro spreading culture, civilization and wine to most of Western Europe, however wine production was quite peculiar back then. Romans tended to dump a piece of toasted bread in their wine to buffer against unpleasant tastes. They would also use lead, either in pots or mixed in the wine to help preserve it. For those who can’t remember their chemistry, or do not watch Breaking Bad, lead is highly poisonous.

lead1

Somewhere in there, there is a really bad pun about Saturn to make. I would do it but it’s the end of the year, good resolutions and all that… I’m trying to be a better person so I’m going to let it go. But it’s costing me…

So annoyingly French

Some days I think of my choice to live in Boston as self-imposed political exile. French politics have a real knack for causing gloom and despair and I’m such a fragile and sensitive little thing… Recently things have been worse as a new legislation project has been brewing with the destruction of France’s wine tradition as its explicit goal.

Five measures are put forward in this project:

–          Interdiction to write about wine on the Internet

–          Interdiction to have any positive media coverage about wine

–          Increased taxes on wine for the consumer

–          The health warnings on bottles will change from “Abusing wine is a health hazard” to “wine is a health hazard”, the “drink with moderation” message will be forbidden

–          Alcohol units, health warning and all that sort of things will have to take up more than half the label space on bottles

Points 1 and 3 have been put on the shelf for now so the law focuses on the “health” side with a message arguing that wine is bad for you from the first drop and not just when you get plastered.

Obviously, I disagree with that project, I love wine, I even write about it on the Internet (which would make me not only an exile, but a refugee). But even if I didn’t, I just do not understand the rationale behind the project:

–          Wine is one of France’s calling card, a major part of our image abroad and one of the only positive aspects of this image (it almost balances our reputation for rudeness). Why would you want to attack part of your own image?

–          More importantly, wine sales represent the second highest exportation revenue of the country behind aeronautics. Some regions only survive economically through it. At a time when we struggle with unemployment and loss of income, why on Earth would you want to shoot down one of your major economic sectors?

So there you have it. At first I was angry, now I’m mostly confused. I just do not understand the logic behind such a project. Most people mention the precautionary principle but I can’t believe it’s a valid rationale to launch such an initiative.

The wine gift options

‘Tis the season to be merry, ’tis also the season to give and receive gifts. ‘Tis by consequence the season to be disappointed by the gifts you receive. People who self-identify as wine-lovers, and more importantly, that are identified as such by their friends and family, are both hard and easy to shop for. Since they (we) have an easily identified hobby, it’s easy to steer towards wine-related gifts. The hard part begins when you actually have to pick an individual item to leave under the Christmas tree.

You could give the wine-lover wine, that’s easy, especially if you know what he likes or if you have some wine interest too. It could lead to post-holidays wine-tastings which would always be a plus! You could even pool together with some friend and splurge for a case. One thing I like to do is give wine with a theme: a bottle of Chasse-Spleen for a friend who is having a rough time (Chasse-Spleen translates as “chasing the blues away” or a bottle of Calon-Ségur for your special someone (there is a heart on the label which makes it a sought-after wine for Valentine’s Day).

Calon Segur

After that we enter the world of wine gadgets: anti-spillage rings, vacuum pumps, cooling buckets, tasting notebooks and of course corkscrews. I have received half a dozen corkscrews as gifts in my life (and I’m only 31). Fancy ones, simple one, technical ones, lever-action ones and a sommelier one I try to use as often as I can because I need the practice. Wine gadgets always bring a smile to the face but beware the gadget hoarding effect!

Finally, and I might be biased, a wine-related gift I love: wine books! I love books and I love wine, it puts two of my favorite things together like coffee ice-cream or breakfast in bed, it’s double fun. Since I’m a fairly recent serious wine-lover, I’m still in the building stages of my wine bookshelf (besides WSET manuals of course). I might actually get myself such a Christmas present.

More importantly, I’d like to wish everyone who reads, follows, comments or glances at this blog, a very merry Christmas and a fantastic Christmas meal.

Welcome home, Pouilly-Fuissé Vignes Romanes

Pouilly-Fuissé Vignes Romanes Bouchard Père & Fils 2009

Region: Pouilly-Fuisse AOC, Mâconnais, Burgundy, France

Grape: 100% Chardonnay

Price: around $20 (well 15 euros)

As my welcome home present after flying back to Paris from Boston on Saturday my mom cooked a simple dinner with some scallops and a bottle of Puilly-Fuissé. Pouilly-Fuissé is the flagship AOC of the Mâconnais, the southernmost sub-region of Burgundy. The Mâconnais produces red and white wines under the appellations Mâcon AOC and only white wines under 41 Mâcon-Villages AOC (produced each within a specific area). There are also 5 specific AOCs within the region that all produce white wines: Saint-Véran, Vité-Clessé, Pouilly-Vinzelles, Pouilly-Loché and Pouilly-Fuissé (the last three used to be grouped under a single Pouilly AOC appellation.

The “Vignes Romanes” moniker describes older vineyard parcels used for the best wines produced by Bouchard, one of the most famous Burgundy producers, in a way this wine is from the flagship AOC of Mâconnais, from the flagship vineyards of a flagship producer. We can hope for a good quality product.

pouilly fuisse Bouchard

Eye: medium lemon

Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Lemon and toasted bread notes

Palate: dry, high acidity, medium body, medium alcohol, lengthy finish

The citrus notes, mainly lemon, hit first with some floral notes on top (I mostly get linden) before transitioning into classic yeasty flavors like toasted bread or even brioche, the final is long with notes of bitter almond and hazelnut. The wine is very smooth and transition smoothly from one range of aromas to the next. Acidity is high but does not impair the various aromas.

Food pairings: Great seafood wine, also good with creamy cheeses (fresh goat cheese in particular)

Overall opinion: It’s a wine I kinda grew up with, a stable at family gatherings and a good example of a higher range wine from Mâconnais, a region that usually takes a backseat to Cotes de Beaune but that can deliver some good value for money bottles.

Travel Plans

I’ve been very busy at work and I’m flying out to Paris tonight with a last minute change of plans. My 2 weeks vacation in Paris turned into a full month work trip with some vacation time.

I’m not complaining, it will mean more time to see friends and family, more occasions to drink french wine, and more Parisian restaurants ! I hope the work schedule allows me to keep posting as often as I want…

And with that, it’s now time to wish you all a very merry Christmas ! I’ll post Parisian season greetings from Paris next week. Drink and be merry !

Unsung Burgundy grapes

Burgundy is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay territory (one third and two thirds respectively) and almost all the appellations produce wines that are 100% Chardonnay or Pinot. There are however two less know varieties cultivated in the region.

The first is Aligoté, a white grape used to make dry white wines. Those wines have their own AOC, Bourgogne Aligoté and are usually made from less valued tracts of land in the Cote d’Or, the Mâconnais or the Cote Chalonnaise. The Bourgogne Aligoté AOC actually allows for up to 15% of Chardonnay. There is also a more restricted appellation near the village of Bouzeron, this Bouzeron AOC allows for smaller yields than the regional AOC.

220px-Aligote_wine

Wines made from Aligoté have high acidity with green apple and lemon flavors and some floral elements. They are made to be drunk young, and they are often used to make the traditional Burgundian aperitif kir by mixing it with Crème de Cassis. I have a weird affinity with Aligoté since it was often the wine of choice for my family’s Sunday evening gatherings. It’s a minor grape that produces unremarkable wines but it makes for good aperitif fare.

kir

Even though it was banned by Philip the Bold in 1395, Gamay is grown in Burgundy today, especially in the southernmost region, the Cote Chalonnaise, close to Beaujolais where Gamay is actually the main variety. The main Burgundy appellation that allows the use of Gamay grapes; it’s Bourgogne-Passetoutgrains AOC (sometimes written Passe-Tout-Grains). It’s basically a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes; the name actually translates as “allows all grapes”.

passetoutgrains

Bourgogne Passetoutgrains must contain more than 30% Pinot Noir, more than 15% Gamay and less than 15% combined of other grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris). It’s another wine released and meant to be drunk young. It can be red or rose and is usually light and fruity. To me, this is a great picnic wine for instance.

So, two minor varieties used to make minor wines but both can be enjoyed in the right setting,