07 December 2011

world's geekiest wine

If there were awards for this sort of thing, one might well be given to my friend F's insane biodynamic micro-cuvée of oxidative Loire Gewürztraminer, which I tasted this past summer.

'Gewürztraminer?' I hear you cry. 'Isn't it totally illegal to even have Gewürztraminer planted in the Loire?'

This is true, and this is why I'm declining to give the winemaker's name, and also why I waited for several months to pass in between this post and the last post in which I mentioned his (legal) wines. Of course, the most discreet thing to do would be just to savor the memory of this strange kangaroo of a wine and never mention it on the blog accompanied by photos and background information and tasting notes.

The story is the vines were planted by his father from Alsace cuttings around fifty years ago. F doesn't / can't legally sell the wine, so he makes a very strange experimental cuvée for tasting with friends, aging the wine without topping up the cask, which, he says, allows the flor to develop, as in Xeres and the Jura.

Michel Augé makes a more legal cuvée of Sauvignon in a similar way, called "Vin de Voile," which I discovered about a year ago at the "Buvons Nature" tasting organized by Mâcon vigneron Catherine Vergé. (Who, incidentally, sometimes makes her own excellent oxidative cuvée in the Jura-style.)

I'd been quite stunned by Augé's wine. It was delicious, nutty and poised, with great salinity and a faint echo of grassiness. Also I'd been unaware that protective molds would develop in the Loire; much of what one reads about the Jura (and Xeres and Marsala, for that matter) makes a big deal about the specific climatic conditions in the region that allow the molds to occur. I have no way of knowing whether those which form over F's Gewürztraminer are the same or similar to those in any of the other regions that produce oxidative wines.

Me and Michel Augé and some other guy, less pleased about the photo.

F's Gewürztraminer, in any case, is bizarro. The nose gave not much indication of the varietal, just a classic nutty / oxidative profile, but taking a sip was like detonating a depth charge of salty trail mix, dried fruit and cashew. I think I enjoyed it more than my friend J, who can be seen in the lead photo of this post hamming up his skepticism for the camera. But then J runs a cave, actually sells wine, and so tends to think more pragmatically than I do.

Related Links:

More illegal wine: Sauvignon from Burgundy, at Ma Cave, 75019

The "Buvons Nature" tasting, Dec. 2010


  1. 1) Variety, not varietal. I'd issue a pedantry alert, but it seems redundant. ;-)

    2) Is it oxidative, or flor-protected? I ask because I've said the same as you about other wines with the protective veil and been pelted with rhetorical rocks and garbage (a joke that probably predates you, for which: apologies) by winemakers and (more importantly) chemists who insist I have to pick one or the other, but not both.

    Admittedly, I am both repelled at the concept and description, yet eager to try it (and also to guess whose it is), which of course is proof of the truism of your title. *sigh*

  2. 1. on the variety / varietal thing: you are correct. i ought to use the terms more responsibly. although there does seem to be an argument for use of the incorrect term, since in its idiomatic use as wine jargon it adds to the term "varieties" the distinction "of grape." i don't know what the best solution is.

    2. now THAT seems like pedantry. it's my understanding that the term "oxidative" refers simply to interactions with oxygen, and is thus somewhat relative. flor-protected wines are protected from much destructive oxidation, but surely not from any interaction with oxygen whatsoever. anyway i'm glad these arguments predate me...