Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New Grape of the Month: Tressallier

Once again, a new grape has crossed my dinner table.

This time it's Tressallier, a grape described by Jancis Robinson in The Oxford Companion to Wine as "a white grape variety grown in the Allier.... It is certainly traditional there, but not unanimously acclaimed nowadays."

Oh dear. Talk about damning something with faint praise.

With some trepidation I pulled the cork on my 2006 Château Courtinat Tradition Blanc. I purchased it from Garagiste for $13.86, and like most Garagiste wines it's difficult to find, although I think this shop may have the 2007 vintage (I'd check to make sure it's not Ch. Courtinat's red bottling before I ordered it).

The wine is made from 70% Tressallier grapes and 30% Chardonnay, and it wowed me. It didn't wow me because it was over-the-top or because it was the best white wine I've ever had, but it did impress me with its pronounced aromas of ripe Bosc pear. The flavors were more tart, full of waxy lemon notes with a bitter aftertaste. The wine tasted fresh and clean and was a nice change of pace from the wash of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It was lower in alcohol, too, at 12-12.5% alc./vol.

Because of the slightly bitter aftertaste, this wine will be much better with food than without and when you're picking something to pair with it I'd steer towards lemon-inflected poultry or seafood. We had it with a smashing shrimp and goat cheese risotto that included tiny amounts of lemon peel, ginger, and parmesan cheese and the wine was stunning with it.

I should warn you that I'm starting to get a serious crush on wines from the Auvergne like this one. Some are designated as wines from the Loire, and others as wines from the Midi. However they're labeled, I think they're fabulous, unpretentious, and delicious wines with great value. So look forward to seeing more reviews of them here.


Terence said...

You had me at Bosc pear...

Wine Club Insider said...

I'm with Terence. I think that when I read the words "Bosc pear", I really pricked up my virtual ears. I've always had something of thing for whites that have that fresh, pear-y aroma about them, especially if it's a note you can taste on the tongue as well. They just pair so well with light fish dishes or lemony poultry. Don't even get me started on a nice wedge of brie and a platter of carefully chosen fruits.

I've had a Tresaillier blend or two recently, but I haven't had the privilege of trying Courtinat's yet. I'll have to give it a try the next time I feel like taking a new white for a spin. With spring on the way, it's just a matter of time before I start getting a taste for seafoods again, and this sounds like it was an excellent match. I'll also have to make it a point to pay more attention to Auvergne wines in general in the future as well. My experience with them up is rather limited in comparison to that in regards to other regions, but you do talk them up quite nicely.

Wine clubs are one of my methods of choice when it comes to exploring a new region of interest, so I will have to track down and review one based on Auvergne wines or that includes plenty of them. I always like to give vintages hand-picked by all the experts a try so that I can form an opinion on them, and wine clubs are such a great way to do that. (As are wine blogs.)

Anyone interested in exploring wine from a specific region or simply building their collection of unique vintages with personality is invited to stop by our site any time and see what treasures we've been digging up recently.

john witherspoon said...

sounds delightful Dr D!