Monday, May 26, 2008

Grilled Lamb, Aged Chinon, and Sancerre Rose

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Last night I had a few friends over for grilled meats, wine, and conversation. Before the sun went down and the conversation turned (even more) bawdy, I popped open the 2006 Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy Terre de Maimbray Sancerre, which is a rosé made solely from pinot noir. Last summer this was terrifically tart and even showed sharp, flinty grapefruit a la sauvignon blanc; it was obvious it needed time. Now, it's showing very well. The acidity is still prominent but it's not nearly so aggressive as it was last year, as it's been stitched into the beautiful strawberry nose and palate. It's clean but it has suggestions of complexity, thanks to the minerally finish that dances on the tongue. Nice to see how some rosés not named Heredia can really gain from some time, and it went really well with the earthy wontons (chives, eggplant, porcini) I fried up as an appetizer.

Thanks to the Storyteller Wine Co. I was able to snag a few bottles of the 1996 Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Clos d’Isoré, which comes from vines that are over 70 years old. Twelve years from harvest, this is irrepressibly fresh and impeccably balanced, and it was just so good with the grilled Provencal lamb and roasted peppers. It strikes high but savory notes on the nose, particularly cherry, salt, pepper, and a hint of meat. Spicy yet subtle tobacco flavors join the above, and the acidity here is incredibly refreshing. It's not one of your lighter Chinons, and the substantial and well-integrated tannins make their presence known on the midpalate, but what really makes the whole package work is the long minerality — something for which the Clos d'Isoré is known, or so we are told. Given this wine's structure and verve, I would expect it to further deepen with another five years or more.

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