02 December 2010

thanksgiving in paris: three magnums & la dinde

It's a curious sign of expat-titude that you forget about Thanksgiving. All ten of us who managed to meet up - seven Americans in total - happily managed to whip it together with all of two days' notice this year. It helped that, in what was perhaps a telling display of priorities, Josh from Spring had already ordered la dinde from a fellow at the market, even before remembering to invite anyone.

It's was also a great joy to do Thanksgiving with a few fellow wine geeks for once, rather than, you know, actual family.*

For one thing, among real drinkers, magnums are a possibility. We got through three:

Eric Pfifferling's "Comeyre," a biodynamic Carignan / Grenache (just 10% of the latter) VdT blend from the Tavel AOC. Cyril from Le Verre Volé cave had assured me it was on the brighter side of Carignan (I'd come in looking for cru Beaujolais in magnum**) and he didn't steer me wrong; furthermore it was one of the most lushly aromatic reds I'd tasted in ages. (The most aromatic southern-French red I've ever tasted by leagues. Often they're dumb as posts. This one smelled like the color magenta.)

With its cascading purple fruit, reverby perfumes, and mineral core, the "Comeyre"'s relation to cru Beaujolais, finally, was something like that between a tropical rainforest and a bonsai tree.

There was also Mathieu Coste 1998 "Biau!," courtesy of Josh from Experimental Cocktail Club. It's a relatively ancient Coteaux Giennois (Loire) Gamay by a noted biydynamic vigneron that I've raved about in a previous post.

I was super-curious to taste it from magnum this time. (Brief basic didactic digression: wines in magnum age more slowly than wines in classic 750ml bottles, because aging is a function of the surface area of wine in contact with air - the diameter of the neck of any bottle - relative to the amount of wine in a given container: therefore magnums, in theory, ought to age at half the pace of a normal-sized bottle.) Funnily enough it was almost exactly the same as from the 750ml, in the end: savory, gently acidic, kind of like blackberry-infused tea.

And finally a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve. Big merci to our friend T who ensured that Thanksgiving was not without Champagne.

Re: that region, I'm as skeptical as they come, usually preferring to spend half as much on more honest-tasting sparklers from the Loire, but I'll still readily admit that for adding glow to an occasion, nothing beats Champagne. Of course, that's what Thanksgiving is, really: an occasion. A chance to make oneself sick with overeating in the name of gratitude, yes; but in order to over-eat, one must contribute too much to the general too-muchness, and it's that sacrifice that reaffirms the friendships that sustain us throughout the rest of the bitter backbiting year.

Finally, as a symbol of the freewheeling abundance of the holiday, I might propose our friend C's thousand-crepe cake - a form of cake none of us had ever heard of, which looked very much like an omelet on steroids, but which was pretty overwhelmingly delicious.

There is really nothing more classically American than taking something foreign and super-sizing it times a million.

*The Thanksgivings of my childhood involved no turkey - I grew up vegetarian - and were accompanied by miserable Walnut Crest Merlot sourced from state liquor stores. Later, in Los Angeles, Thanksgivings with my stepsiblings began with whatever great wines I'd brought, but inevitably ended with tequila, which fun beverage has the unfortunate effect of effacing whatever impressions you may have formed of wine and life just beforehand.

**I lumped for the "Comeyre" when Cyril explained that it's a cuvée Pfifferling only bottles in magnums. Note to all cavistes: this is how to reliably get me to buy huge bottles of wine. 

Related Links:

The Alsace-Japon dinner
An Oyster-Chablis soirée
Comparing Costes' 1998 "Biao" to younger, more fiery Gamay
A Champagne Tasting at Julhès Paris, 75010

An adulatory profile of Eric Pfifferling @ LesVindeMesAmis (in French)
Some scores for Pfifferling's wines @ WineAnorak
A lengthy profile of Mathieu Coste @ WineTerroirs

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