Monday, September 24, 2007

Falling Leaves Wine

I love fall. It's my favorite season, and it always takes me back to college days in New England, when the crunch of falling leaves and the smell of apple cider seemed to surround you in a colorful cloud.

Here in LA, we do have fall. Honestly. Friday night marked the beginning of this fall season, with the hint of rain in the air and a definite coolness. A friend stopped by after work and we curled up on the sofa with a bottle of a very fall-ish wine from the Loire. (Wine Blogger minds often think alike; Joe from Joe's Wine was also opening up a Loire red this weekend!)

The 2005 Domaine de la Charmoise Gamay comes from the Loire's Touraine appellation rather than the from the Beaujolais region of Burgundy that is usually associated with the gamay grape. ($13.00, Colorado Wine Company; available at other merchants for just over $10) The wine opened with a bright ruby color, and a disconcerting smell of tinned green beans and asparagus. Despite the aromas, the palate was pure bing cherries with a little bit of spice around the edges. As the wine opened, the vegetal aromas were replaced by more spice and fruit and the flavors knit together into an attractive cherry, smoke, and clove profile. I actually think this wine would benefit from short-term cellaring, perhaps for 6-12 months, and may even improve further after that based on how much the wine changed over a few hours. This had many of the textbook characteristics of gamay, and represented very good QPR.

Domaine de la Charmoise is owned by Henri Marrionet, who believes that his corner of the Loire's terroir is best suited to gamay, cot (malbec), chenin blanc, and ramoratin grapes rather than the better known cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. Marrionet uses minimal pesticides, and his gamay is fermented with indigenous yeasts so there is not a note of banana or bubblegum in the wine. There is an excellent profile of Domaine de la Charmoise (as usual!) on the Wine Doctor's site, if you are interested in learning more.

Enjoy the first wines of fall!


Joe said...

Get out of my head! Just kidding, Malbec in the Loire?! That I would like to try. So how is "Fall" in LA? :)

Dr. Debs said...

I've got a Loire Malbec, believe it or not! The 2005 Mikael Bouges Touraine Les Cots Hauts. Coming soom to a tasting note near you. And yes, fall appears to be winding down--summer temps are slated for later this week.

Anonymous said...

dr. debs: Sounds like a valuable discovery except for that canned green bean aroma. I find it hard to get over that even if the flavors are good. But Gamay makes sense for value. It's one of the best supporting actors in France.

Dr. Debs said...

Welcome back, Jim. I know what you mean about the green beans, but they blew off pretty quickly. I suspect this wine is actually a bit young to show at its best. What I was impressed with was how textbook it was in the varietal characteristics of gamay. If you want to know what gamay is supposed to taste like, this is a good wine to try. And the value on gamays is always very good, as you say.