Monday, June 21, 2010

A Couple Northern Sparklers

Domaine Moltés Antoine et Fils Cremant d'Alsace Brut NV: Roland Moltés owns three plots in the village of Pfaffenheim, including a parcel in "The Steinert," one of the most highly regarded (and steepest!) vineyards of Alsace. He blends Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Noir, resulting in a wine that opens with notes of ripe apple, ripe pear, and a hint of toast, and is dry and almost nutty on the palate. Some lemony notes and and attractive mineral character appear on the finish. You're not likely to confuse this with Champagne, the way you can with, say, Clavelin's Cremant du Jura; even so, this is a very good quality sparkler, with fine bubbles and a long-lasting mousse.

Interesting factoid from the Moltés website: "…[T]he estate carries out the visual selection of the most robust vine plants by multiplying the selected plants in the old vines. This method should be distinguished from clonal selection, which involves reproducing the best plants and which can reduce the diversity of the gene pool over the long term."

Champagne Grongnet Blanc De Blancs NV: Cécile Grongnet is a grower-maker of Champagne from the village of Etoges, in the Marne Valley, where she and her father have a small property of just under 35 acres. She makes Champagne from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, but it is her blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay) that has given her recognition among Champagne aficionados. With so many producers aiming for a big, powerful style of blanc de blancs, it is startling to come across one of such delicacy and subtlety. The nose gives a hint of graham cracker and green apple; the palate is subdued yet refreshing, with notes of lemon, green apple, and a bit of lime at the very finish. I am the first to admit being easily dazzled by a Grand Cru powerhouse like Roland Champion, but there is also great pleasure to be had in a wine that asks you to acknowledge its subtle qualities.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Couple Southerners

Mas de Guiot Vin de Pays du Gard 2009: The wine begins with aromas of cherries, strawberries, anise, and a hint of cocoa powder. The palate follows with rich, liqueuer-like red fruit flavors and a mild, pleasant note of sweet tobacco. At the finish, notes of Indian spice emerge. For $12 this offers a lot of complexity and exotic character. Sylvia and François Cornut produce this charmer from vineyards near St. Gilles in Costières de Nîmes. The wine is labeled "Vin de Pays du Gard" because the Cornuts insist on putting the grape names on the label (in this instance, 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache.) They also grow Cabernet, and blend it with Syrah to good effect; the Alex cuvee is worth seeking out.

Château Saint Roch Chimères Côtes du Roussillon 2007: This has already received a rave from The Wine Advocate, which you can read here. I have little to add, except to point out that this is yet another very good production from Jean-Marc Lafage, who first came to my attention as the winemaker behind Eric Solomon's famous Las Rocas Garnacha, and now seems to be everywhere in Catalonia, making wine under his own name and the "Cote Est/Cote Sud" and "Novellum" names. And he is still active with Solomon, producing Evodia, which is sort of a successor to the "Las Rocas" project. He has become a force to be reckoned with in Roussillon, not yet on a par with Gerard Gauby, but just wait…anyway, it's always amusing to point out that Lafage's resume includes a stint with Ernest & Julio.