Domaine du Pavillon Cote Roannaise 2004. $12 12% alcohol. Imported by V.O.S. Selections, New York, N.Y. Andrea Immer Wine Club.
Andrea Immer sent me a wine last week which fits our Gamay theme -- but a wine that couldn't be more different from Beaujolais.
Deep red color, deep hue, intense fruit aroma with earth, mushroom and spice, very intense plum fruit taste with just the hint of earth, mushrooms and earth; good tannins, medium mouth feel, long finish dominated by that single note, intense plum impression -- hints from time to time of earth and mushrooms and chocolate. Rustic impression. Very long lived in the glass -- two hours or more. Worked well with simple salad with roast chicken slices. Much better with food; the fruit is so intense -- harsh even -- that I could understand why someone might not like this wine. I found it more interesting than pleasurable on its own, but quite good with food. 3*.
Immer's Take: So far the only person I have ever run into who has heard of this wine is the famous French chef Daniel Boulud, from Restaurant Daniel in New York, because he grew up near the region of Cote Roannaise [in the upper Loire Valley]. It used to be a bustling area supplying wines to the French royal court, but other classical zones have eclipsed its popularity and now it produces very tiny quantities [250 acres producing 55,000 cases]. That said, the locals love it (it is served by-the-glass at Roanneâ's famous 3-star Michelin Restaurant Troigros) and so will you.
Although the granite-based soils here are similar to Beaujolais, the wine couldn't be more different. It is rich and plummy on the palate, with a great expression of terroir "truffles, damp earth and cocoa powder. All in a $12 wine that you've gotta love. I pair it with this simple roast chicken, inspired by Jacques Pepin's recipe, because it reminds me of a simple and delicious French country bistro meal.
V.O.S. adds: The Gamay grape flourishes on these steep, granite slopes. Many of the vineyards are terraced and the best sites have a southeastern exposure, with all harvesting done by hand. Beaujolais is just under 50 miles away, but a more different expression of the Gamay grape could not be found. Part of this difference is surely due to the fact that a different clone is used, the Gamay Romain, as well as the fact that the vinification is more traditional and less manipulated than at its famous neighbor. The wines of Maurice Lutz are rich and flavorful with that hint of damp earth and truffles that the best French country wines exhibit. These hand-crafted wines are created from just 12 acres of vineyards. His wines sell out quickly in France so he has never exported before. To drink this wine in America is a rare opportunity (and a pleasure!)
Rosemary Roast Chicken Serves 4
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
Ground black pepper
One 3 11/2 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a bowl combine olive oil, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and stir to combine. Gently loosen the skin covering the chicken breast. Rub some of the herb mixture under the skin so that it covers the breast meat. Rub the remaining mixture under the skin of the legs and thighs. Salt and pepper the chicken inside and out. Place the butter in a roasting pan and put the pan in the oven for about 30 seconds to melt the butter. Set the chicken in the roasting pan on its side and roast for 15 minutes. Turn it on its other side and roast 15 minutes longer. Turn the chicken on its back and roast until the skin is brown and crisp and the cavity juices run clear, 25 to 30 minutes. (The chicken will be cooked through when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the breast registers 160° and the thigh registers between 165° and 170° F). Transfer to a platter, loosely cover with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before serving with the pan juices.