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WTN: France au naturel

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Patchen Markell

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WTN: France au naturel

by Patchen Markell » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:12 pm

Braved the nth consecutive day of double-digit below-zero wind chills for a "natural wine" dinner at Avec, focus on France; wines all imported by Cream Wines, one of whose partners we got to sit and talk with with during dinner. The food was terrific, and there was none of the kind of talk about the magical powers of natural wine that get some people's knickers in such a twist; just some well-made wine that ranged from very good to excellent.

Julien Sunier 2016 Fleurie. Unsurprisingly leaner than the 2015; seductive combination of floral and mineral, lots of depth. Paired with a country paté with prunes and mustard, and to my surprise, the wine had the structure to stand up to the mustard in particular. Sunier is everywhere in the Chicago market now and this is a good indication of why.

Les Têtes NV Rosé (Vin de France), "Tête Rosé." From Azay-le-Rideau in Touraine, apparently, made of 60/40 Grolleau and Gamay. The color and the fresh fruit lead you to expect some RS but the wine finishes dry, zippy, and with just a little petillance; tasty though not especially interesting in its own right, but it's a smart and unconventional pairing with a root vegetable tart with fresh goat cheese, and fun to be drinking rosé in the dead of winter, too.

Jean-Pierre Robinot (L'Opera des Vins) 2015 [?] Vin de France "Les Années Folles" Petillant Naturel. From within the Jasnières appellation in the Loire but not labeled as such. Represented as 2015 on the menu, but the menu got other stuff wrong, and there's no vintage designation on the bottle, so who knows? A blend of Chenin Blanc and Pinot d'Aunis (60/40 in 2014, according to the importer's website). This has a bit of brassy-orange blush to it but the skin contact doesn't at all overwhelm the palate, which is terrifically complex: slightly yeasty and cidery, with tart apple, mushrooms, and minerals; lots of depth of flavor for a wine that's so light and lithe, and also the best pairing of the night, served with quenelles of pike with roasted maitake mushrooms in lobster sauce, which I would've drunk straight from the pan if I could've. My WOTN.

Fabien Jouves (Mas del Perie) 2016 Vin de France "You #%$& My Wine?" (100% Jurançon Noir, from Cahors but not permitted in the AOC). Dark in color but medium-bodied and bright on the palate, with black fruit, licorice, spice, and a little funk -- actually, the only perceptible barnyardiness of the night -- but none of the heaviness in texture that those descriptors might suggest. Delicious, and my runner-up favorite (along with the Sunier, but the Sunier was the one wine I already knew). Served with a coq au vin with savoy cabbage, bacon, and potato puree.

Sebastien Riffault 2013 Sancerre "Akmèniné." Rich, slightly oxidative, light amber, lots of acidity. I have to admit that I remember the dish this paired with better than the wine -- a baked St. Albans cheese served with truffle honey and a small salad of chicories -- but I think it probably needed the strong flavors. Can't really form a judgment and wish I could taste it again.
cheers, Patchen
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David M. Bueker

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Re: WTN: France au naturel

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:43 pm

That sounds like a fun evening, despite the bitter cold.

It’s freaking nasty here. Wind chills have been 10-20 below all week. Brrrrrr...
Democracy dies in the darkness
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Rahsaan

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Re: WTN: France au naturel

by Rahsaan » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:07 pm

Some old friends there. I remember digging Robinot and Riffault about 10 years ago, but haven't kept up. There's just too much tasty wine out there!

From my memory, the Riffault was always an unconventional style of Sancerre, oxidized, rich (perhaps skin contact?) and not the typical bistro Sancerre. I've never had Robinot sparkling but enjoyed the still chenin renditions.

Otherwise, thanks for reminding me that the weather is worse elsewhere!

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