If you follow the Loire River about a hundred miles eastward from Saint-Nazaire on France’s Atlantic coastline, you will come to the picturesque vineyards of Anjou and Saumur. Both red and white wines are produced here but the largest production in Anjou is a dry rosé that goes by the name of Rosé d’Anjou.
This uncomplicated wine, produced from the Grolleau grape, is hardly revered around the world but it has a special place in my heart because it was briefly popular when I was a young man courting my wife. For you Millennials in the audience, “courting” is an English term for “hooking-up”. Courting was a refined ritual, a classy pursuit that entailed actually “driving” to her house and “picking her up” in my “car”. Then we’d dance and drink Rosé d’Anjou like a couple of sophisticated continentals until we puked.
Today Rosé d’Anjou has fallen out of fashion as young American consumers have decided it’s much classier to regurgitate Provence rosé.Read More
Chapter Sixteen. Part Twelve.
The Muscadet wine region surrounds the French city of Nantes, where the Loire River meets the Atlantic Ocean. This is the westernmost of the Loire Valley appellations and is the home to the Melon de Bourgogne grape. As the name implies, Melon de Bourgogne originated in Burgundy but despite the other half of its name, it has no connection to the cantaloupe.Read More
Chapter Sixteen. Part Nine.
Every November Beaujolais Nouveau simultaneously arrives at wine shops, supermarkets, restaurants and bars all over the world. This special day reminds my generation of a simpler time, a time when we drank cheap, unpretentious wines and missed work the next day. Beaujolais Nouveau has lost much of its appeal but it’s still a fall tradition, an autumnal ritual, a seasonal custom that ranks right up there with getting a flu shot.Read More
Chapter Sixteen. Part Eleven.
In my last article (and by article I mean rant) I wrote about the popularity of “formulaic recipe wines that use additives and sugar to add weight and mask off flavors”, but today I’m here to tell you there are many wine regions where the dry wine “recipe” does not include residual sugar or the additive mega-purple.
For years families in the Loire Valley have been crafting honest wines using techniques passed down from generation to generation. This vast French wine region surrounds the Loire River as it stretches westward for over 600 miles from its source in the Massif Central to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean. This lengthy waterway may pale in comparison to the mighty Amazon River but on the bright side the French don’t have to fend off man-eating piranhas.Read More
Chapter Sixteen. Part Seven.
After the French Revolution, the vast vineyards of Burgundy – properties that had been controlled by nobility and by the Catholic Church since the middle ages – were confiscated by the state and auctioned off to local farmers and tradesmen. The Napoleonic code also put an end to primogeniture. It’s worth pointing out that Napoleon was referring to primogeniture, the practice of leaving ones entire estate to the eldest child, and not the Italian porn star Primo Geniture.
The abolition of primogeniture meant that an estate would henceforth be divided between all of the rightful offspring, even the ones who never called home on their parent’s birthdays.Read More
Chapter Sixteen. Part Eight.
Real Conversation Overheard in a Fine Wine Store:
CUSTOMER: Can you recommend a Chardonnay to go with pan-seared scallops?
ME: I highly recommend this Pouilly-Fuissé from Burgundy.
CUSTOMER: But I asked for Chardonnay.
ME: Yes, white Burgundy is made from Chardonnay.
CUSTOMER: White Burgundy? I thought you were a wine expert. Everybody knows Burgundy is red. Why do you think it’s called Burgundy?
As the customer turned to leave it dawned on me that in many circles Burgundy is synonymous with world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and in other circles people are a stupid pain in the ass.
It’s understandable that most Americans don’t know what’s inside a Burgundy bottle because so many things bear the Burgundy name. First there’s the place Burgundy, then there’s the wine Burgundy, of course there’s the color Burgundy, and most famously there’s anchorman Ron Burgundy.Read More