Romorantin is another of these little-known varieties that you find in the Loire, it yields white wines of character that can stand very long laying down. This bottle was a "les Petits Acacias", this vintage had a lower alcohol level and Hervé Villemade decided to shorten the élevage time and label it under a lower cuvée. I love when good winemakers downgrade their own cuvées, they're usually over cautious and the wine gets out better than expected, at least for consumers like us. I had tasted the wine during my visit at Villemade in 2008 when it was still in the casks, it was the first wine tasted in the flight then.
The wine was is a well-structured white with a mineral feel and a good length in the mouth. There is character and elegance in that Romorantin wine, something particular with the variety and which grows with the years I think. I have to pinch myself to believe what I wrote after my visit, that it was priced 5,5 € only when bottled... Why is that that it's often when a wine is sold out that you realize that you missed a great opportunity....
Let's remember that wine is best enjoyed with a light mind in good company and that we can live happily without fully understanding the how and whys of its alchemy. And there is no higher score for a wine at a given time and place than when the bottle is downed without restraint.
The picture above is for illustration of knowledgeable wine amateurs only, it of course doesn't imply any parallel to the notion of wine nerds...
This wine was a wonderful surprise , such a smooth easy drink with velvety mouthfeel all the while with a bright freshness and a beautiful range of fruit aromas.... It was a hit among the crowd, and after having myself worried that this wine from Loïc Roure could be a wine that failed the standards due for bottling, I was immediately relieved when I swallowed this fruity velvet. I paid 27 € for these 5 liters, really a steal and while I'm writing these lines, I'm worrying that it may be soon sold out at the shop because I mentioned its availability in this post. This wine has been made the most natural way, without additives, and this shows again how talented vignerons can make very affordable fresh little gems in regions that are known to be hot. Imagine how good value this is : at 27 € for 5 liters or barely over 5 € a liter, it is the equivalent of maybe 3,5 € for a 75cl bottle... Hard to believe when you swallow glass after glass of this thing...
The wine is a blend of a majority of Grenache with some Syrah and Mourvèdre. Makes 13° in alcohol. Name of the cuvée : Nunc Est Bibendum, under-titled C'est maintenant qu'il faut boire, by En Attendant la Pluie, which may be a négoce owned by Loïc Roure.
P.S. The sparkling was an André Fouassier Saint Phallier 2008, a méthode traditionelle that we bought for 4,7 € tax included at the winery. Nice stuff, easy drink too.
To make it short, three people sharing the same adventure in the Languedoc were present that evening, Philippe Combes, the geologist pictured here pouring a white, Thierry Rodriguez the vigneron and négociant at Mas Gabinèle and Jean Natoli the coordinator and enologist. Philippe Combes, with the help of 4th member of the team Olivier Proust (who designed the slide show), gave a long speech about the geological history of the Languedoc and its implication in the different terroirs. Very insightful conference indeed, the man knows very well his subject (the picture illustrating my geeks/nerds story was shot during that conference).
The white wine he's going to pour on the picture was my favorite white that evening : Mas Gabinèle Grenache Gris 2009, a surprising wine labelled ad vin de table : refined nose with hints of honey, honey candy in the mouth. Very nice mouthfeel down to the swallowing, pleasant and balanced. Yields were 20 hectoliters/hectares here. Makes 14,5 ° in alcolhol and you need to read it yourself to believe it. Very well made.
What I tasted was pretty impressing, it combined the thick minerality of the selected terroirs with the expert winemaking of Jean Natoli. Here are the two wines of the Stratagème wine range that I prefered :
__ Stratagème Poudingue 2007. Coteaux du Languedoc. Poudingue as a name is inspired by the English word of Pudding, it refers to cement-like compacted sediments in the undersoil where different types of stones are packed together. The wine is elegant in the mouth and well balanced, a nice drink with a nice substance and minerality. 33 000 bottles have been made of this cuvée. It sells about 10 € tax included, which seems good value to me. I should be ashamed but I didn't ask (or remember if I was told) about the varities in this wine. This show how the question takes the back seat compared to the striking minerality here.
__ Stratagème Basalte 2007, Coteaux du Languedoc. Nice mouth, precise and neat, small ripe red fruits. Something fresh, bright in the mouth with refined tannins, goes down pretty well, very onctuous. Majority of Syrah here with some Mourvèdre. Costs 10 € public price (tax included) or 5,5 € for professional buyers. A steal.
Here is the technical sheet (in French) about all these cuvées and terroirs. Jean Natoli is undefatigable and he's setting up hiw own winery in Aniane...
Read this FT artile, it's eye opening and gives you the taste for freedom and the advantages of drowning oneself in a completely alien culture of which you don't understand fully all the codes.
These days she is still involved in events where modern art and wine are intimately mixed : she set up Flying Dinners with a friend : This is about one-time dinners gathering no more than 10 people, they never take place in the same venues and there is an exclusive thing in every detail, including the wines of course. In each of these special dinners, a modern-art artist presents his work in a sensible way. These dinners are also like a cruise in the sense that the experience has this certain uniqueness that makes that these people who shared good time around a table usually become friends and keep in touch. You'll object that I'm mono-maniac but I think I know what kind of wines she might use for that purpose...
We learn at the end that the guy here __here again, only in Japan__ is not only a qualified sommelier but a qualified bartender... His name is Takanori Masuda and he was among the best flair bartenders in the FBA Advanced Tour.
No need to say that we hope that the situation gets under control in Japan N-plants and that the Japanese get back to their cheering mood.
Read this insightful Sake World page by John Gauntner on Nama-zake.
I don't know if the Himonoya brewery suffered damage but it is located in the vicinity of the tsunami-stricken area; it is a traditional brewery which works only in winter and they may have hopefully bottled already all their sake, which would leave them less exposed to the next months' difficulties. We're also thinking to the Daishichi brewery that we visited nearby in the Fukushima Prefecture as they are also located well inside the potential evacuation area.
There are 73 breweries in the Fukushima prefecture, 20 having sustained quake-related damage, according to this follow-up page by Sake World.
Please consider helping Japan in these difficult times, there is also a fund to help affected breweries overcome the destruction (see this page). But money is not the only mean, and like John Gauntner puts it : Prayers and good vibes will be felt as well. Also, help stem absurd aversion toward Japanese products, be they sake or otherwise, that might arise related to events that took place here. Finally, drink lots of sake. Especially Tohoku sake. While this may seem like a joke, it is not. All supportive efforts will help!
And of course, drink Japanese Whisky too...
Go read Tokyo Bling where you can follow Japan's difficult recovery.
I'm considering making one-kilogram breads now, it would take off this weighing problem, at least for the flour. Speaking of flour, You can find organic flour at 99 euro-cents in shops like Dia or Auchan.