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February 26, 2011

04 Jean-Jacques Confuron, Romanee St.-Vivant Grand Cru

When I first tried this wine, it was with the brilliant importer and winemaker Scott Paul Wright in what was either the nicest tasting room I've ever been in, or his den. Because whether it was Scott, my fiancee, or my great friend Michael who set this whole thing up for me in the first place, there was something unmistakably homey, welcoming, and nearly loving about the entire affair. I like simplicity, in my wine and in my life. And despite having to travel across the country, stop in Denver, and drive down winding Oregon backroads to get here, this whole event was so… simple. Buy some meat and cheese and meet me down the road. We're going to drink some wine. Nilay, meet Scott. Hi Scott. Holy fuck, it's Scott. I should've worn a tie, maybe. Or carried around my copy of Jancis. Then there was the table. No table cloth. A bunch of chairs. Welcome. Sit wherever you'd like. Oh, you brought snacks (truffled sheep's milk cheese, duck prosciutto to start). How nice of you. At least that's what I think he said. This was about the time my ears started ringing, pupils shrinking as I stared at that table of wines and saw this Romanee St.-Vivant. I suppose the Marc Chauvet, Saint-Verain, Chablis, Meursault, LeClerc, Pommard, Vosne-Romanee, and Scott's own La Paulee and Audrey wines would be good enough to start. You know, before we got into this Romanee St.Vivant. (Was I the only one who could see this? How come no one was saying anything about it?) So an hour or two later, we were home. After all those other wines--each absolutely brilliant in its own right, particularly Scott's just-then-released La Paulee--I felt like we were returning somewhere with this bottle. No, not Chicago of course. Somewhere far more ancestral. That's what I mean when I say things like "purity" or "weightlessness," which is what I blurted out about this when it hit my tongue. It's a transporting wine. Not in the way great wine is, but in the way the first chill in September is a constant reminder of the first time I met my wife in college. Or, the best slice of pizza. Or Old Spice. Or whatever little thing you cling on to the memory of when all else fails. In case of hopelessness, break glass. Well, pop the cork at least. As I (barely) remember describing it that day to Scott (how embarrassing) and how I think of it today, the 2004 Jean-Jacques Confuron St.-Vivant Grand Cru is The Chronic. It gets richer in the glass and explodes with aroma after aroma on what seems to be a mission to become the world's most perfect morsel of toffee. That, with its whisp of diner pepper and light framboise gives this wine more than taste--it gives it… crescendo. Up and up and up we go. Forever expanding, growing, taking on new shapes and faces and loves and memories. Up and up and up. Until we are home.


Blogger Drew said...

"...and explodes with aroma after aroma on what seems to be a mission to become the world's most perfect morsel of toffee."

That is why I read your work, right there.

10:32 PM  
Blogger 750 mL said...

Thanks, man. Means a lot to me.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Mauve Tree said...

ohh yeah. Thanks a lot man. Good to know!

7:42 AM  

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February 25, 2011

What's the Right Glass for a D Cup?

Breast milk is an issue of provenance. I know my abused cow milk comes from grass and grain. I prefer that to cosmos, ranch, and cigarettes.

Source: NPR

The issue has surfaced again in this week's Time Out Chicago, where Chef Giuseppe Tentori of Boka and GT Fish and Oyster references my Stump the Chef challenge, which I just barely lost in the final moments. For the good of mankind.


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February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day, Don't Drink That

I know I can't convince you otherwise. Whatever happens today, you're probably going to eat chocolate. Either in the warm embrace of your loved one, lit by an embering fire and 9 1/2 Weeks muted on an old TV across the room, or alone on a pillow against the wall listening to Aimee Mann while figuring out how to play Clue by yourself. It's not going to stop. So you'll open a little bubbly to celebrate, maybe lighten the mood. But, odds are, it's not going to taste very good. It was one of my first major letdowns when I got into wine. Everyone said Champagne goes with everything. And Champagne with chocolate is just plain... sexy. Unless you eat only the darkest chocolates, though, there are a few things you have to contend with when it comes to Champagne: sugar and milk. I assume you wouldn't put sparkling wine in a glass of Nestle Quik, no matter how cute the bunny. And so you shouldn't blindly buy sparkling wine with chocolate. As savory as it may seem, most chocolate is anywhere from 15-30% pure sugar. And when you put a dry wine next to sweet food, the wine will often taste sour or bitter. With sparkling wine, this common mismatch also accentuates the bubbles, leaving you with a mouthful of lemony foam. That puckering may help you kiss, but the gagging that follows could be a little embarrassing. How hot. So err on the side of a wine that's sweet, even if you don't typically drink sweet wines. The easy way out is something like Moscato d'Asti, a wine that is--by my standards--a dessert wine itself, or something to spend a lazy afternoon in a field somewhere getting drunk on. But then, so are wine coolers. Fortunately, there is a middle ground. Sparkling wines made (quite traditionally in fact) with just a touch of sugar that'll be enough to round out the edges with the chocolate and let you quickly move on to the real business of this night. If you like particularly sweet wines, seek out those labeled Demi-Sec. In terms of the easier-to-find wines, the ubiquitous Moet & Chandon "White Star" actually works very well. But for a step up in taste (and a step down in price), I'd seek out the wines of Cerdons in Eastern France, whose beautiful roses are full of sultry strawberry and muddled blackberry tastes. What's more, these wines are typically under 10% alcohol, which means you men can drink a few glasses and not suffer the... consequences... later (see: Whisky). Several wineries in and around Champagne are also releasing bottles labeled Methode Ancestral, which tend to have not only a bit of residual sugar, but also some residual yeast, lending a creaminess that goes well with the milk component of chocolate. If pouring some sugar on it just isn't how you roll, though, there are plenty of drier Champagnes that will work with chocolate. The key is to find the richest, and these wines are often based on the pinot noir grape, which can have slight chocolate notes unto itself. My default for such wines is anything labeled Bouzy, perhaps my favorite region of Champagne for everyday drinking, and in particular the roses of Andre Clouet and Jean Vesselle. For a similar, more widely available option, the Gruet Blanc de Noirs is also a safe bet. For those of you not interested in the nuances of wine and food pairing, I have a much simpler answer: Open Cristal. Have sex.


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