Wines: The art of the unusual
by Kay Pfaltz
I’ve always had a soft spot for underdogs and oddballs. Maybe you do too. The one-eyed dog, hopping along on three legs, hops right into your heart. Odd animals, odd people, odd wines, so why not odd grape varietals?
Domaine des Huards, Cour-Cheverny, Romorantin, 2010 – Michel Gendrier is on a mission to make sure the world learns about Romorantin, the grape his grandfather planted in 1922. If you’ve traveled through the gently rolling hills of the LoireValley, dotted with castles and vines, you may have stumbled upon the Château de Cheverny, more of a grand manor house really, than a castle. Built by Jacques Bougier, it recalls the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, (and no surprise since Bougier studied under Salomon de Brosse who built the Luxembourg) and has been more or less with the same family for six centuries. For a brief stint the château was in the hands of Henri II, who gave it to his mistress, the beautiful Diane de Poitiers. But she preferred Chenonceau. Alas. While the family still lives on the third floor, Cheverny is open to the public and there is a majestic pack of hounds in the kennel outside. This is the landscape of the Romorantin grape. Well not within the château’s hallowed walls, but on the limestone soil around both château and town. Look for a honey and mineral nose on this bottle of 100 % Romorantin which is also organic. A wine sure to refresh in the dog (hound?) days of summer. $18
Paitin, Elisa, Roero Arneis, 2011 – Indigenous to the Italy’s Piedmont, Arneis was once used blended in Barolo and Barberesco to soften their mighty tannins—in the same way Viognier is mixed into the Syrah of the northern Rhône. But the grape fell from favour and became no more than the domain of decoys, as Piemontese growers planted rows of Arneis between their prized Nebbiolo grapes, hoping the birds would eat the Arneis and spare the Nebbiolo. Arneis is a wine-lover’s grape as it’s weighty enough to stand up to a wide variety of foods from salty appetizers and seafood to game. Look for notes of melon and apricot layered with almond extract. Revitalizing in summer, full-bodied enough for winter. $18
Like a taste of adventure? Taste wine in Argentina! October 2013. For details: [email protected].
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