John talked wine and Julien talked meat in what made for an excellent evening. John certainly picked some interesting wines and the white The format was loose (it was their first one), but you can guide the discussion with any questions that you have.
Here is a list of the wines [I will let Don post his notes if he chooses.]
Domaine de Martinolles, Crémant de Limoux, Brut NV
2010 Château Magneau "Cuvée Julien," Graves (Blanc)
2010 Domaine Berthet-Rayne Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Blanc)
2009 Domaine de Pallus "Pensées de Pallus" Chinon (Rouge)
2006 Domaine Lamy-Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru, "Clos Saint-Jean" (Rouge)
Here is a photo of the charcuterie plate that each of us had with the wines.
Mike, I'm glad you had such a good time - the consensus was that the event was a smash hit, and because of that, there will be more coming in the future. Here are the notes for those who couldn't attend, along with how to purchase the wines at a discount (see below). I hope you enjoy the notes - I really worked hard to distill a lot of substance into a concise, entertaining format. That charcuterie looks amazing!
La Tour de France
(Red, White, and …)
If you tell a wine lover that you're going to a tasting that consists of wines from:
4. Loire Valley
It would be perfectly reasonable to guess that you'd be having the following:
In fact, this series of wines is the exact opposite of that. I asked John Wabeck, "Did you do this on purpose? If not, you're a genius despite yourself." His response: "Kind of. [They're] just what I want to drink." Well, this flight of wines is fascinating, both for the novice drinker and the seasoned oenophile. Let the journey around France begin:
The Bubbles from Languedoc-Rousillon (near the Mediterranean Sea, 400 miles south of Paris)
Domaine de Martinolles, Blanquette de Limoux, Brut NV
Languedoc-Rousillon is the single largest wine-producing region in the entire world, with over 700,000 acres of vineyards (just to put that in perspective, it's like the entire state of Rhode Island was covered in vines). It produces more wine than Bordeaux, Chile, South Africa, and Australia … combined. Over 2 billion bottles a year!
Domaine de Martinolles has been owned by the Vergnes family since 1926, and has become extremely well-known in the United States for its "Blanquette de Limoux" (literally, "Little White Wine from the Town of Limoux"). The primary grape is a local variety - it is 90% Mauzac, tempered with 5% Chardonnay and 5% Chenin Blanc.
If you're looking for a refreshing, honorably made sparkling wine, and don't want to break the bank paying for Champagne, this is always a good choice, and because it's so inexpensive, it's a great choice for cocktails that call for a sparkler, not to mention toasts for large wedding parties. This is one to buy by the case, just because life's too short not to have sparkling wine on hand at all times.
Addendum (written the day after) - There was a substitution for the Blanquette de Limoux due to supply reasons, and the (very wise) substitution was the 2006 "Crémant de Limoux," also from the Domaine de Martinolles. These are both sparkling wines, fairly similar in nature, and substituting one for the other was a wise choice by John. What is the difference between Blanquette de Limoux and Crémant de Limoux? By law, Blanquette de Limoux must be produced using at least 90% Mauzac. Restless wine producers in Limoux wanted to branch out and produce different styles of wine, not legally restricted to this one indigenous grape, so Crémant de Limoux was born to allow the use of more internationally recognized varieties. This Crémant de Limoux is a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, and (this may surprise you) 10% Pinot Noir. Having both these Blanquettes and Crémants side-by-side would be an affordable, fascinating, exercise in nuance because all the other variables (region, producer, most winemaking methods) are exactly the same, and the one "controlled variable" is the cepage (or blend). I would recommend doing this hypothetical tasting with no less than four people because these high-toned wines aren't designed to be enjoyed in mega-quantities (they're spritzy, and aperitif styled).
The White from Bordeaux (near the Atlantic Ocean, 310 miles southwest of Paris)
2010 Château Magneau "Cuvée Julien," Graves (Blanc)
Bordeaux is probably the most famous wine region in the world, primarily because of its five "first-growth" reds: Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, and Haut-Brion. Only 8% of Bordeaux is dry (i.e., not sweet) white wine, and the white wines from the town of Graves are the most precious of all.
Château Magneau is an ancient property owned by the Ardudats family, a family who has been making wines since before the reign of Henry IV (1553-1610). Their "Cuvée Julien" is hand-harvested, and made with nearly an exactly 50-50 split of the two classic Bordeaux white varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Matured in oak casks (50% new wood) for 7 months, this is a wine that drinks well now, but will also last for 4-5 years.
White Bordeaux made with this 50-50 split is magnificent with cooked seafood, with or without sauce, light-colored meats, and surprisingly, even spicy Asian carryout such as Thai. It has good acidity from the Sauvignon Blanc, and undeniable scents of peach from the Semillon which is why it's so versatile with a variety of dishes.
The White from Châteauneuf-du-Pape (on the north-to-south flowing Rhone River, 350 miles southeast of Paris)2010 Domaine Berthet-Rayne Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Blanc) Châteauneuf-du-Pape
("New Castle of the Pope") is in the Southern Rhone Valley
, and has written documentation of vineyards existing in 1157 (that's not a typo). Pope John XXII (1244-1344) lived in nearby Avignon (that's where the papacy was back then), and had a summer castle built here so he could "get away from it all." Only 7% of all C9 is white ("C9" is insider shorthand for Châteauneuf - "neuf" not only means "new," but it's also the number "nine."), and nearly all the wines, red and white, are a blend of different grapes. For the whites, there are six permitted grape varieties. By French standards, C9 tends to be slightly high in alcohol because the grapes ripen fully - the incredible galets roulés
("round rocks" the size of eggs) sit atop clay soil, and trap the sun's heat long into the night - this drives up sugar content which naturally results in higher alcohol upon fermentation.Domaine Berthet-Rayne
(pronounced "Bear-Tay Rain") was founded in 1978 (a *great* vintage for Châteauneuf), although the estate has been in the family for four generations (it used to be a farm). Their white is made from 4 of the 6 permitted varieties, and is 40% Clairette,
, 10% Grenache Blanc
, and 10% Roussanne
. White Châteauneuf-du-Papes can be heavy and stolid, but the high percentage of Clairette and Bourboulenc make the Berthet-Rayne much more approachable, with scents of flowers and citrus.
The domaine itself suggests two dishes to accompany their white Châteauneuf: salmon with béchamel sauce, and scallops gratin. Really, any cooked seafood, sauced, will pair beautifully with this. You definitely don't want it with sushi or ceviche or even unadorned grilled fish; think "seafood and sauce," and you have your match.
The Red from the Loire Valley (on the east-to-west flowing Loire River, 150 miles southwest of Paris)2009 Domaine de Pallus "Pensées de Pallus" Chinon (Rouge)Chinon
, birthplace of Rabelais, is an underrated source of red wine in the sprawling Loire Valley
(which is best known for it's whites such as Sancerre, Muscadet, and Vouvray). The vast majority of Chinons are red, and these reds are always 100% Cabernet Franc
. Despite their youthful charms, Chinons can age very well for ten years or longer - it is exceedingly rare to find a well-stored, aged Chinon in the United States, but once you've tried one the experience is unforgettable. Can they smell stalky, like asparagus, or maybe even like green bell pepper? Yes, some of the very best ones do, and it's a characteristic to be cherished. If you're ever participating in a blind tasting, and the red wine is medium-bodied and has a stalky bouquet, go straight to Chinon for your first guess. You may not be right, but you'll be respected.Domaine de Pallus
(pronounced Pah-Loose) has been owned by the Sourdais family since 1891, and the family itself has been in the region since the 8th century (again, not a typo). Bertrand Sourdais, the 5th generation of winemakers here, took over in 2005 - this is the 5th vintage under his stewardship. He produces a mere 3,000 bottles of his flagship wine, Pallus,
an extraordinarily expensive wine for a Chinon. "Les Pensées de Pallus
" ("The Thoughts of Pallus") is a more affordable version, produced from slightly younger vines. 2009 is the first vintage of this cuvée that didn't use new oak, and despite being the "little brother," is still made from vines that average, remarkably, 40 years in age. By any other standards other than those of the ancient Chinon, this would be considered an "old vines" cuvée. I look forward to buying a case of this wine for myself.
Francois Rabelais said, "Drink constantly, and you will never die." And with Chinon, you pretty much can because it goes with such a wide range of foods - musically speaking, only the most "treble" dishes (Thai papaya salad, scallop consommé) or the most "bass" dishes (spicy venison chili, lamb Vindaloo) are outside the range of this versatile, food-friendly red wine.
And of course, The Red from Burgundy (inland, 170 miles southeast of Paris)2006 Domaine Lamy-Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru, "Clos Saint-Jean" (Rouge), Chassagne-Montrachet has such a beautifully poetic name that it could only be from Burgundy. Burgundy is divided into two regions: the Côte de Nuits in the north, most famous for its Dream Team lineup of red vineyards such as Chambertin and Le Romanée-Conti; and the Côte de Beaune in the south, most famous for its Dream Team lineup of white vineyards such as Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne. These are all among the most cherished, precious, and expensive wines in the world, and all of those superlatives are entirely justified. Chassagne-Montrachet is from the Côte de Beaune (the white wine region) in the south. Paradoxically, it produces almost 50% red wine, a fact unknown to many wine experts. There are 50 vineyards in the village of Chassagne-Montrachet that are legally entitled to be designated "Premier Cru," or 1er Cru, the Clos Saint-Jean being one of them (a "Clos" (silent "s") is a vineyard with a wall around it).Domaine Lamy-Pillot
(pronounced Lah-Mee Pee-Yo) is owned by René Lamy, whose family has been tending the vine since 1640 (that's 45 years before Bach was born). Not surprisingly, they own about 50 acres in numerous vineyards including part (but not all) of the Clos Saint-Jean. This wine, like any Premier Cru red wine in Burgundy, is 100% Pinot Noir
, and 2006 was a demanding vintage for this fragile grape, with the outcome being surprisingly good for those winemakers, like Lamy, who took care in sorting their grapes. What could have been a disastrous vintage turned out to be a triumph for conscientious growers, and this wine is proof in a glass.
What should you eat with this wine? Heck, I don't know - rabbit in mustard sauce, terrine of foie gras with pistachios, pretty much anything medium-to-full bodied, and I guarantee it's out-of-this-world good with whatever you're eating by Julien Shapiro right now! Do make sure that you keep a few bottles in your cellar to try once a year. It's going to get even better than this!
Cheers, and thank you to John Wabeck, Julien Shapiro, and Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong for allowing me the pleasure of writing these notes. Can you tell the notes tended to get longer as I went? That's because I enjoyed writing it so much.
About Julien Shapiro
Julien is a quiet, hard-working artisan who shies from publicity and the camera. Yet, I have something approaching total respect for him in the same way that I did for Cal Ripken, Jr. As far as he's concerned, he's just "doing his job." As far as I'm concerned? He's a dedicated genius. Scroll up to the top post in this thread, and look at the heading where I called him a Master Artisan. He wrote me privately and berated me for saying this. I pretty much begged him to allow me to reproduce our conversation so people could read it - he relented, mainly because he wanted to show respect for his "superiors." Here it is, in a PM discussion he entitled "Mastery"
I just read the Society Fair post and while flattered, I can assure you that I am not a master artisan in any way and suggesting such a title is embarrassing to me and might be highly offensive to others in the trade. My father has a PhD because he earned it and Johns Hopkins says so. Until I win charcuterie competitions or pass the Meilleur Ouvrier de France contest, I am a humble butcher and charcutier inspired by artisan ways.
This is the first i've read of the event and i'd be happy to proofread anything that pertains to me or my wares, for the sake of accuracy, authenticity and accountability. I'll have a list of what I will offer by Friday and can send it to you with descriptions and such.
Julien ... by area standards, you're a master. Trust me on this one. I hear where you're coming from though.
And, a few days later, I sent him my wine write-up, and he wrote me back about his charcuterie pairings:
Excellent primer. Well done. Before reading your notes I had considered pairing them with (alternative recommendations and/or essential flavor profiles welcomed):
Saucisson à l’ail.
Lightly smoked, poached pork sausage with roasted garlic. Simple, savory, satisfying hors d’oeuvre. A pleasant introduction
Veau demi-sel, choucroute et une remoulade des Milles Isles.
Corned Randall-Lineback veal, sauerkraut and a Thousand Island dressing.
I had this wine last night. The sauerkraut and 1000 Island (capers, cornichon, piquillo, lemon, parsley) should balance the peachy-sweet and the adolescent beef is not yet worthy of a full-bodied red.
Terrine de saumon sauvage et corégone des Grand Lacs, gravad-laks et une gelée de Vermouth.
Œufs fumés et une petite mayonnaise «Old Bay».
Wild salmon and Great Lakes white fish terrine, gravad-laks and Vermouth aspic.
Smoked roe and a dab of “Old Bay” mayonnaise.
The terrine is firm and rather rich (almost 70% Trickling Springs heavy cream). Inlayed with Old Bay scented white fish. The gravad-laks (my Danish heritage) is crusted with lucknow fennel, dill, mustard seed and lemon zest. Dab of mayonnaise will add some creaminess and salty/smoky steelhead trout roe will replace fleur de sel.
Mousse de foies de volailles covert de radis et oignons printanier en saumure
Chicken liver mousse with pickled radishes and spring onions.
Exceedingly rich and smooth. Backbone of brandy, duck fat and fragrance of marjoram.
Pâté en croûte. Coeur de porc confit, langue de veau poché, raisins tempés au cognac et des pistaches de Sicile.
Pâté en croûte. Confit pig’s heart, poached veal tongue, brandy soaked raisins and Sicilian pistachios.
La Grande Dame. Decadent. Perfumed. Forcemeat and savory pastry. An extravagant yet classy marching band.
I just read the pairings. They're PERFECT (on paper). All of them.
À l’ail $12.99/lb
Chix liver $3.99 each (4oz)
Purchasing The Wines
Society Fair is offering these five wines for retail purchase. My recommendation is to allow John Wabeck to assemble a mix-and-match case with all five bottles being represented. You can allow him to choose for you (just give him a budget), or you can assemble them yourself - for the people who participated in the tasting last night, this may be the better option since you already know what you like. A 10% discount is offered if you assemble a 12-bottle case of these wines, but you can also order them a la carte.2006 Domaine de Martinolles, Crémant de Limoux, Brut
$172010 Château Magneau "Cuvée Julien," Graves (Blanc)
$222010 Domaine Berthet-Rayne Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Blanc)
$392009 Domaine de Pallus "Pensées de Pallus" Chinon (Rouge)
$252006 Domaine Lamy-Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru, "Clos Saint-Jean" (Rouge)
My advice would be to purchase a case, with two bottles of each ($290, discounted to $261), and fill in the last two empty slots with whatever fits your budget, needs, or whims.
Email your orders to firstname.lastname@example.org
and leave a callback number so you don't have to email your credit card information.
I hope you enjoyed these notes. I taught myself about wine by spending years intensely reading about whatever I happened to be drinking - I find the combination of the two to be immensely pleasurable, rewarding, and educating. If you do one without the other, it's either hedonistic or tedious; doing both together is wonderful, eye-opening, and is a perfect thing to do either alone, or in a group. Enjoy yourselves! This event was a total success, and more like it will be coming down the pike in the very near future. Please check here, or for foolproof first dibs, follow me on twitter (@dcdining
) and watch for my announcements.
Most importantly, when you pick up your case, make sure to support Julien Shapiro by picking up some of his unbelievable charcuterie.
PS The several typos I've found in this document sadden me, and i'm correcting them here online as I find them.