Roussillon, Ventoux, & Cheverny...

This is my first attempt at tasting three wines back-to-back and having the wherewithal and diligence to record what's going on. So I bring home three orphan wines:

1) Domaine de L'Ausseil 'Du Vent Dans Les Plumes' 2011 from the Cotes du Roussillon Villages

2) Domaine de Boissan by Christian Bonfils form Ventoux in the Rhone Valley

3) Domaine de Montcy Cheverny from the Loire Valley

As with tasting, I poured about an ounce or less into each of the three glasses before me, quickly swirling and sniffing to get a feel for what I wanted to concentrate on and decided to stick with the wine from Roussillon Villages. I know I know, you always go white to red but this isn't a formal tasting and I'm not one for formalities so I went with what stuck with me: it was more forceful and prescient than the other two.

Almost within a week or two of one another I've had two wines from the Roussillon area, namely near Latour de France but this one is from a separate sub-region allowing it to be designated 'Villages;' there are stricter regulations to acquire this designation, namely where the vines are grown are from the northern half of the Agly Valley, sitting within the foothills of the Pyrenees on what's considered the best slopes. Here they only produce red wines made with at least three on this hit list: Carignan, Cinsualt, Grenache, Lledoner pelut, Macabeo, Mouvedre, and Syrah. Suffice it to say, it's the only one which got the visual review.

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1) In the short time that this wine was sitting in the glass I was drawn into it, much like being sucked into an enthralling movie or wanting to draw nearer to an endearing presence or indulging in nostalgic memories while living through another. The nose, a brisk engagement of black olives rolled in brown spices, juices littered with the roasted shavings of cloves and cinnamon, passed through an autumnal breeze as hints of dried flowers -namely potpourri scents- mingle on the edges; a fading garden leaning fallow. The Domaine de L'Ausseil produces a number of wines, each a little masterpiece unto themselves but not quite for everyone and this one straddles the line nicely. The wines are made from very old vines (50-80yrs) with some young vines (5-10yrs); the reds are de-stemmed, allowed to naturally ferment, and set to macerate for anywhere between tend days and three weeks depending on the varietals. Overall it's a wine to ultimately sit with but not required; it's not exactly a calm velvety smooth red with its dynamic nose but no where near in comparison to the next wine. It shows an almost teenager-like zest for the characteristics fluttering around in the glass only to be called to settle down on the second day -but I wouldn't leave this for a third and definitely not the fourth day as it begins to fall apart and eventually becomes more astringent than drawing.  

2) In sheer contrast the Domaine de Boissan from Ventoux could have been a Beaujolais for all I knew -hell, I was blind tasted on it and I couldn't get Beaujolais and Gamay out of my mind, that's how bright the dance of minerality and fruit were in the immediate senses. Throughout the first day it sung of berried fruit skating on the sharpened blades of aluminum metal but then coalesced into what one would expect of Grenache and the Rhone Valley: a bit fuller, more calm and collected but that wild acidity turning into a creamier berry make-up, almost like a cooled off and semi-ravaged berry pie left to chill in the refrigerator for a few days; its buttery textures mingling with the once out loud acidity, lifting the tannins forward which weren't there (or obvious) from the start, just the bombastic fruit crisscrossing your senses like distracting fireworks let alone alluding to this new and improved Ventoux on day two. This is a wine that can serve both for fun get togethers and the immediate gratification crowd, or the serious dinner crowd if you allow it say... a day or three to gather itself, not that it needs three days to breath but it matures without loosing much.

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3) Sadly the last one fell away from me, not because I didn't try but because on day one it appeared clean with a supply body and lightning-like acidity, a little bread note on the horizon- it's as if a fairy burped in my mouth and I kind of liked it. Maybe that evokes too heavily a mystical, unknown, delicate and alluring quality fit to be equated with another wine, but it popped into my thoughts while drinking it. On day two this Sauvignon Blanc (80%) and Chardonnay (20%) blend breaths lemon extract on fresh baked bread crust: light and ephemeral, supple yet semi-flabby with integrated acidity however that initial sort of high praise of fairy burp ends up leaving me wanting, chasing the savory quality, nudging it to continue yet something else is off. Though showing more flabbiness on day two, it's almost like it's been usurped by the volatile acidity -way too much breadiness- that had been inching in slowly to overcome the rest from the beginning until you're on high alert and your enamel has been harshly cleaned. For those who like these funkier breadier wines, in my last wine shop job I remember getting the impression that this was at one point the new rage in the New York scene -I think this was right before the Jura craze, both of which I came on the tail end of but that still seemed popular. These kind of wines can be exciting and intriguing but this one was unabashedly stepping over the line, doing it like a  drunkard trying to walk a straight line wearing way too much nail polish. Volatile Acidity (acetic acid) is caused by yeasts and bacteria and can sometimes be a desirable quality to make a more complex wine, but it comes as a by-product of fermentation or from spoilage so it's hard to gage whether it's intentional let alone controllable. In these kinds of situations one wonders if it's 'craftsman's intention' or a chemical accident that occurred in this one bottle; is it part of the expression of the wine and terroir  that the craftsman wants or a flaw that came about because of shipping, or not enough treatment at home was used during its making?