13 December 2010
No connoisseur is safe from his friends' best intentions. It's why when I throw dinner parties these days I try to include, in the emailed invitations, maps to particular caves that I know won't sell trash to my guests. It's a bit cheeky, but it's also just a logical extension of the answer I give when people ask me how to begin learning about wine: frequent a good cave.
A good caviste will stock nothing but honest wines, wines that truly have something to teach you about a region, a winemaking culture, a particular winemaker. A great caviste will also learn your individual tastes and use that as a basis for his or her recommendations.
My friend Nadine from Au Nouveau Nez actually excels beyond the standards of the latter category, as she proved the other night, when the Native Companion passed by on the way to my place for dinner. "It's for Aaron," said the NC, at which point Nadine promptly sold her a reasonably-priced wine I'd never heard of that nevertheless matched my tastes to an almost parodic degree. I felt, for once, enjoyably predictable and easy-to-read.
It was a 2009 Vin de Table de Loire, 100% Gamay, called "Coulée Douce," by François Ecot, who is the François of Jenny & François Selections, who distribute, among many other great names, the wines of Christian Binner and Jacques Lassaigne.
Although upon first opening the bottle the NC and I both found the "Coulée Douce" surprisingly hard - as in tannic - for its type*, the wine soon relaxed and became something that I take to be archetypal of good Loire Gamay (as compared to Gamay from Beaujolais): lean, sinewy, keenly acidic, with an almost coppery minerality taking center stage, rather than the usual gushing fruit.
*I'd be curious to find out from where in the Loire the fruit for this wine derives. I know there are particular pockets, like the Côteaux Giennois, that seem to regularly yield Gamay with remarkably high tannicity.
The "Coulée Douce" is currently available at:
Au Nouveau Nez
112, rue Saint Maur
Tel: 01 43 55 02 30
Au Nouveau Nez
52, rue Bagnolet
Metro: Alexandre Dumas
Tel: 01 43 56 94 55
Loire Chardonnay at Au Nouveau Nez
Thoughts on aging Gamay
A review of a Jenny & François Selections tasting at BrooklynGuy
A profile of Jenny of Jenny & François Selections at WineTerroirs