"......peeling away from the downy moistened moss soil, awakened from your soft slumber by checkered streams of radiant spears splitting the pine and broadleaves above; a crackling pith zips upwards on the cool wafts of sleek stone undertones rising to the sultry balm of the nearby field's diaphanous glow -a bath of lush solar teardrops, globules squeezed into miniscule luminous oily streams from the outline of svelte almond eyes in the sky above......"
At some point during the late winter and early summer (because spring is literally a passing breeze of a season now), when I was still living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY -well I still sort of do, just on the other side- I came across this wine shop while walking my dog Ava.
The signs of gentrification in this area are everywhere, it's been happening for a couple of years, it's practically pregnant with hipsters, students, and young folk who have influenced the opening of trendy bars, yoga studios, coffee shops and restaurants in the area stretching from the Morgan Avenue stop to the DeKalb Avenue stop. The intermingling of this very heavy Latin neighborhood and this new influx makes for a very interesting and dynamic crossing. One of these places is Henry's Wines and Liquors, a place that is set a bit off the beaten track from where I was living, a bit of a walk if you had time to spare, and I only came across it because one day I went too far without paying attention and my inner GPS pegged the place for a return. I didn't get to revisit Henry's until a few weeks or a month down the road when a friend and I made the effort to cross the three avenues, a few streets and the Maria Hernandez Park in order to check out their quirky selection. Owned and operated by Henry, he stocks the shelves with a great selection of unique wines, small batch liquors, aperitifs and digestives that I recognized from previous retail experience. For me it was a breath of fresh air in a neighborhood whose other three nearby options are a bite of each stereotypical New York liquor and wine shop: one is quite large but offers low end, mostly magnum cheapies beside equally cheap liquors and lotto machine, another is a step up and has a pretty wide but very random selection of wines, and the third is more style and chic, but offers a few things that might peak my interest on a "wine romp" day.
So on my first trip I bought the La Gaudrelle Cremant de Loire Brut which was lovely as I'm a fan of these cheaper but ever equally pleasing non-Champagne Champagnes (the lemon-glazed bready qualities really are the kicker for me) but it didn't survive to make it as an entry. The Domaine Grand "Rose Floral" from Cotes du Jura was the second bottle I purchased and it's been waiting till this past week for me to open it.
I've had a few wines from Jura, mostly their lighter styled reds made with Poulsard, which I can only associate now with the slight smell nearing dense petrol or gasoline on the nose to varying degrees, and more recently a Vin Paille and Vin Jaune from the Savio Soares Autumn Tasting (love you Sherry!). So when I scoured his stacks I picked up this rose and meant to drink it sooner but never got around to it. In truth the summer was a hectic time, lots of life changing events and only now am I really settling into the three cases of wine that have been gradually building since. But I love my rose, I'm not one for assigning a wine to a season, if you're in the mood for it go and get it, there is always AC or heating to "set the mood" so you can feel more comfortable about it. Let me tell you, there have been a few times where I went to buy a rose on a cool night knowing that when I get back to my apartment it would be a summer villa in there... oh Brooklyn heating...
Wines from the Jura in the last decade went through something of a fad here in New York City, as forward thinking importers and those in the know began bringing in their reds, whites, roses and Cremants. The peak of their popularity seemed to hit about three-to-five years ago but has sustained itself ever since. Wine lists at four-star restaurants and wine shops all around carry at least a few consistently if not an entire section matching Burgundy or Austria.
The Cotes du Jura -Jura period- sounds like a mystical place out of The Neverending Story when I say it or think about it, but it's an actual appellation introduced in 1937 and has been producing wine since the Middle Ages (13th or 14th centuries) with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes brought over from Burgundy. However, within Jura sits the Arbois region which has two indigenous grapes to its name: Poulsard/Ploussard and Trousseau. The Poulsard makes lovely light and aromatic reds (sort of like Pinot Noir), roses, and even sparkling wines, while Trousseau is of darker fruits and forested notes and has stretched all the way to Portugal and Spain (see Bastardo -used in Port- and Merenzao). Another unique grape is Savignin (aka Nature), is used to make the famed Vin Jaune wines and have the force to make one swoon. The climate in Jura is cold, chapitalization (the adding of sugar to unfermented must to instigate higher alcohol in after fermentation) is a regular routine here as the grapes might not reach the required ripeness; the soils are similar to Burgundy, including clay at lower elevations with higher concentrations of limestone the higher you go up, along with a healthy insertion of marl and fossils.
From what I can gather, since there is very little information on the bottle, after digging up their website which is in all French, Domaine Grand is a family run winery who planted their grapes in 1976 on 22 hectares in the village of Passenans, Cotes du Jura. Their "Rose Floral" is made completely with Trousseau and though I hate leaving wine in the fridge as it gets too cold, this wine certainly imparts a radiant warmth I seldom feel like I experience with rose wines; just as the Tavel in my previous post had depth and lusciousness, this had radiance and warmth. The savory fruit unfolds outwards over and over, racing along it's acidic and mineral lines, its wake revealing a soothing kind of bliss as you sip further and further, swirl and sniff. Perhaps that's too much praise for the only rose from Jura that I've had, I'm willing to contrast this with some reservation because by the second day, although it retained some of these traits, it became tightened to its acidy and minerality, focused to the point of being polished strawberries -if you can imagine a strawberry buffed by sander to a sheen finish (Jeff Koons?!)- tempting your desires for more but not quite getting the same impact as on day one. Also it began to exhibit hints of petrol, more along the lines of gasoline, a scent I have come to associate with Poulsard from the first two I had a while back: some scents just stick with you no matter how uncommon you taste them, it just becomes a sort of learned habit (Sauvignon Blanc, though usually smelling of grapefruit or cat piss more often reminds me of wet pine wreaths or trees left to soak on the side of the street in some collected murky water, roasting in the summer sun... yea, I know, it sounds picturesque...). All-in-all though it's a lovely wine, a perfectly delectable rose to be had whenever you're in the mood; honestly right now I'm drinking Ziereisen Steingruble 2011 on a cool October day, a wine whose tastes and texture signal Chardonnay and California all in one go but hails from Germany and wonderfully made.
Drink whatever you want, whenever you want, who cares!
Varietal: 100% Trousseau
Importer: Maximilien Selection; firstname.lastname@example.org
PoP: Henry's Wines & Spirits; http://henrysbk.com/ $16.99