Thursday, February 14, 2008

Guest Blooger - Lisa Bocchini and Chablis and Cotes du Rhone

The following tasting notes come from my good friend and fellow wine lover Lisa Bocchini. Lisa nd her husband Brian are "co-conspirators" in our project to tackle Jancis Robinson's book "How to Taste".

Enjoy the notes!

2006 Gilbert Picq & ses Fils Chablis 12.5%
$15.99 at Slope Cellars, Brooklyn

I mentioned to someone who knows nothing about wine that I had a Chablis the other night and I could see her grimace. What she was thinking of was the crap that our parents drank in the 70s and 80s: California “Chablis” -- which was, of course, not real Chablis. The real stuff comes from the region so named in France. That plonk was probably just crappy overly oaked Chardonnay. Real Chablis is quite nice. Honestly.

I wanted to see if I could really taste what makes a Chablis a Chablis. I’ve always liked Chablis because it is generally unoaked and crisp. What I honestly didn’t realize until more recently is that yes, it’s gasp! made from Chardonnay, my least favorite grape. This just goes to show that it’s not just the grape that makes the wine, it’s what the winemaker does with it. This is especially true of Chardonnay, which is kind of a bland grape that is easily manipulated and hence comes in a variety of styles.

Jancis Robinson says the following about Chablis:

Chablis is a uniquely lean, green form of Chardonnay that, because in most years the grapes have to struggle to ripen, needs and repays years of maturing in the bottle…When it is young, it tastes almost Sauvignon-like in its appetizing, piercingly high acid form, although it is much more likely to smell of cool, damp stones than green fruits or grass.

That summed up almost exactly this Chablis I had. I would add, however, that its mouthfeel is slightly creamier than a Sauvignon. It also has a bit more body. I wasn’t blown away by the aroma, but it definitely had a stone/almost slate thing going on. It was very acidic, but fairly food friendly. I like Robinson’s descriptive of “piercingly”. I enjoyed drinking this food-friendly wine.

Robinson suggests tasting a young Chablis and an older one (she says middle age Chablis of 5-6 years old can be rather funky and off-putting), but that older ones are hard to find and you may have to do the aging yourself. I don’t know if this was of a quality that would allow one to age it, but I’d sure like to try.

2005 Val Bruyere Cotes du Rhones Villages 13.5%
$10.99 Slope Cellars, Brooklyn

Dark purple in color, with a violet tinge, it took a while for me to figure out what I was tasting, although the aroma was fairly fruity. This wine is mainly Grenache, with some Syrah, Cargnian, and Cinsault. High in alcohol, it tasted rather “tight”. It did open up after about an hour of breathing, and became easier to drink. The finish is very tannic and somewhat spicy. It has a light to medium body. I’m not sure exactly what food would go with this, as it was a pretty overpowering, tannic wine. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t eating the right food for it, which didn’t help.

I didn’t get the herbiness that Robinson says Grenache has, but maybe that was the blend. She does say that Grenache is “sweet, ripe, spicy , and alcoholic”. I got a lot of that from this wine, although I wouldn’t really call it ripe. It also doesn’t have the light color that characterizes Grenache.

Tasting this makes me want to do a comparison tasting of Northern Rhone vs. Southern Rhone wines, as she suggests in her book, How to Taste.

1 comment:

RougeAndBlanc said...

If you are not a vegeterian, the perfect food pairing for CDR is Chinese roast duck. The herbs/spice used in complements Southern Rhone wines perfectly
If you like CDPs, try Chinese roast pig (make sure you get the rib) due to heavier spices & salt used in the roasting process.