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Acid, Hippies and cheap Bordeaux

June 22, 2009


Thierry Puzelat Pineau d’Aunis Touraine la Tesnière, 2007: This wine is my first exposure to the quirky Loire-indigene “P d’A”, also know as Chenin Noir. This is peculiar grape, no doubt – and in the hands of the brigadeer-general of natural winemaking, Thierry Puzelat, it is totally alive and expressive. Some funk on popping, which integrated quickly into a cinnamon and patchouli whirlwind of a nose, with a  whiff of strawberry patch and bubblegum. The palate was direct and juicy, but not as acidic and bright as say, their Le Telquel Gamay.  Super-easy to drink – but totally exotic and ever-changing, with crazy spices from far-away marketplaces, oakmoss, balsam and chammomile. It actually reminded me a bit of Lush’s Aromaco, if you”re into that kind of stuff. I can’t imagine this dovetailing with food very easily and against my philosphy – I’d probably call this more of a ‘cocktail wine’ or an aperitif to wake up your palate (in Marrakesh?). Maybe with kababs, shwarma or Peking duck.  Above all though, this is fun wine for those who don’t hate hippies. You know who you are.

Edmund St. John Bone Jolly, El Dorado County Gamay Noir 2006: Finally, an American makes a wine that touches the core of my acid-loving palate. Steve Edmunds has been making European-styled vin-natural for a couple of decades from handful of carefully selected vineyards thoughtout California. While he and his wife are known for their Rhone varieties, this Gamay has (intentionally) a lot more in common with Cru Beaujolais than anything that I’ve tasted from California. The nose is all Gamay – a little cleaner than some of the naturally made Cru’s – but brimming with strawberries, graphite and a gravelly minerality. Delightfully ripping with acidity – almost sour – mouthwatering, but beautiful with food – chicken, meaty fish, burgers, pastas, you can’t go wrong. I didn’t get the layers of spice box and herbal notes that the Cru sometimes bring – but the directness and clarity here is where it’s at. No bubblegum either.  This is the polar opposite of the big-extracted hedonistic-fruit bombs California is known for, and it makes me happy to see a serious, and delicious domestic take on Gamay outside it’s ancestral home.

Grolet  Cote du Bourg ‘Cuvee G’, 2005: Finally, This is the merlot I’ve been looking for. High-toned red fruit and plums just at the perfect point of ripeness before they get soft and goopy. Red currant. Tons of minerality on the finish – just chock full or rocks. Great acids. One day 2, it was even better – rounder with some tobacco and earth supporting the fruit. This is wine that is meant to be drunk, not tasted, scored etc. The ‘Cuvee G’ is biodynamically-made from high-altitude vines  – and it speaks of thoughtful and patient work in the vineyard and cellar. Super value – I so wish I had purchased more than 1 bottle…I will be waiting patiently for the 2006es.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Joe Saah permalink
    June 23, 2009 11:49 pm

    Glad to know that Edmund St. John wines have made it to your neighborhood: Steve Edmunds and his wife Cornelia St. John (who doubles as a gifted psychotherapist here in Berkeley, CA) are great folks who have devoted themselves to improving their wines year after year. What began as a hobby shared among their friends, has grown into a respected and highly sought after wine in these parts.

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