Wine: Les Vins d’Amour
by Kay Pfaltz
Food, wine and love. Does there exist a more beautiful means of expressing joie de vivre, tenderness and love? Food and wine and love are inextricably linked, as anyone will attest who can remember sitting at a mother’s side gazing raptly while breathing in the redolence of baking bread or watching cookies curling warm and fresh from the sheet. Perhaps those kitchens of yesterday—where the pleasure of pleasing was paramount and mothers in aprons stood cooking up family meals—are now accessible only by memory, yet they continue to hold the gold standard for what touches our hearts. If food be love’s heart (‘stomach’ just doesn’t have quite the same poetical zing) then wine is its pulse, its blood, that which connects and unites. When I sit with those I love, connecting over food and wine, I taste a sort of quiet eternity, if only in briefly touching the soft comfort that is love.
This February 14th, if not cooking for your beloved or being cooked for, let us speak to your heart, in the way humans have been speaking to each other since the beginning of civilization, in the language of food and wine.
Wines for love: (If Grenache is the sexy one-night stand, Syrah offers the longevity and heart of marriage.)
Saint Cosme, Côte Rôtie, 2009 – Valentine’s just might be the time to splurge on Côte Rôtie, one of the first wines to which Robert Parker gave a perfect 100 score and one of the most exciting red wine appellations in the world. A bucket list wine. Here on the steep hillsides along the river Rhône is probably the site where the vine was first cultivated in Gaul. The name, ‘Côte Rôtie’, means roasted slope and today the best vineyards face southeast, angled to maximize the sunlight, the vines literally sun baked, while sheltered from cold winds. Made from the Syrah grape with up to 20 % Viognier permitted to add perfume and soften the dense Syrah, Côte Rôties are famous for their exotic fragrance, and the best can age for years. This 2009 shows classic Syrah aromas of boysenberry and violet complimented by notes of tapenade, smoked meat and licorice. Silky tannins and a very long finish. $62
Hervé Souhaut, Saint Joseph, 2009 – On the west bank of the northern Rhône sits the appellation of St. Joseph, much less well known than revered Hermitage or Côte Rôtie. St. Joseph, when red, is 100 % Syrah yet much lighter than Côte Rôtie. In fact some locals view St. Joseph as their answer to Beaujolais. Because the east-facing vineyards lose the sun up to two hours earlier than other northern Rhône sites, they mature faster and therefore can be consumed much younger. An elegant wine with nuances of crushed black raspberries, cinnamon, clove and sandalwood. $36
Saint Cosme, Côtes du Rhône, 2011 – And for those who prefer not to spend their pay checks and trust funds on wine alone, here’s a chance to indulge without taking out a loan. Mostly Grenache, but some Syrah for structure; look for notes of roasted coffee, blackberry and garrigue. A rich and beautiful bottle of wine for $16.
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