Wines with character
By Kay Pfaltz
Consilience. There is a wine out in Santa Barbara, California bearing labels adorned with artwork and the name “Consilience.” Apparently, the word means the bridge between science and art and in the case of wine we can think of science as what occurs in the vineyard and art as what then happens in the hands of the winemaker. I’ll give a talented winemaker some credit even though, as a terroirist, I hold to the belief that “wine is made in the vineyard.”
Yet when I looked up the word in the O.E.D., it wasn’t there. Still, it’s a nice idea for there is a point in which science and spirit merge and the great masters and yogis have always known this. In their highest interpretations, philosophy and mathematics merge. Perhaps great science and great art are, in the end, the same—both striving to answer the same questions: Why are we here? What is life’s purpose? And how ultimately do we make sense of life and death?
I have a friend in France who answers, flippantly… or perhaps not, that the answer lies in a good, well-made bottle of wine. My own interpretation is that maybe the uncorking of that one, good bottle simply opens the door for discussions on the important questions. If so, below is your homework:
Chidaine Vouvray, Les Argiles, 2009 – François Chidaine was, only a few years ago, considered one of the wine-makers to watch in the Loire. This assessment was based on his commitment to biodynamic farming and non-intervention wine-making style, as well as his excellent vineyard holdings in Montlouis, an obscure appellation to many Americans, and Vouvray, which is somewhat better known. Now the transition is complete and Chidaine is considered one of the great wine-makers in the Loire, selling out of every bottle he makes within just a few months of bottling.
From Robert Parker: Chidaine’s 2009 Vouvray Les Argiles leads with bittersweet iris perfume, and smells and tastes vividly of pineapple and lemon, with a strikingly vintage-atypical sense of acidity that results largely from the predominance of cool, water-retentive soil, particularly in the dominant L’Homme and Reugnieres vineyards but also from the fruit originating in Le Haut Lieu. Bright pineapple and lemon refresh on a palate of palpable density and penetrate in a finish both energizing and somehow cooling in both its refreshment and its suggestions of high-toned herbal essences, fresh cress, and wet stone. Salt, iodine, and shrimp shell reduction will also feature saliva-inducingly in the final blend for this long-finishing and at most 13.5% alcohol blend that should be worth following for at least 8-10 years. “ 91-92 points, Parker. $28
Bois de Boursan, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2008 – If Châteauneuf-du-Pape is most always considered a masculine wine, this one is feminine, elegant, with restrained sensuality and great finesse. It’s silken on the tongue, with soft fruit flavours, not knock-you-over fruit, and layers of quiet complexity. As with most CDP, it can age, but why wait? $39
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