Monday, November 15, 2010

Fondue! (and the wine that goes with it)

In an a rare moment of retro chic, I bought a fondue pot. We had one growing up. It was that burnt orange color so common in the early 70s (or at least that's how I remember it). As the years went by, the regular presence of a flame underneath discolored the burnt orange to something more like burnt umber. There were forks with wooden handles and colored discs at the end. Why the forks deserved color-coding I never understood. It's not like you left them around--you were too busy spearing bread chunks with them!

My excuse for this purchase was the two bottles of wine already in my cellar that came from France's Savoie region. One, a red--the 2007 Charles Trosset Vin de Savoie Arbin L’Expression de Terroir-- came from Garagiste and cost around $24. Sadly, it's not available anywhere now but it was delicious. The other, a white, is available for under $15. Once you add the fondue pot, these turned out to be pretty expensive bottles of wine. However, if you already have the fondue pot then the white was an especially good bargain!

The 2009 André et Michel Quenard Vin de Savoie Les Abymes is purity in a bottle. (purchased for $14.99 from domaineLA; available in the market for $11-$15). Made from the region's own Jacquère grape, it is THE wine that goes with the region's trademark cheese fondue. Clean mineral, mint, and stone aromas remind me of snow--or at least that highly-oxygenated sense of cleanness you feel when you are tromping around in freshly fallen flakes. There's more of the same crisp cleanness in the flavors, accented with a creamy lemon note. It is a great white for cheese, and appealing because of its clarity and lightness. Excellent QPR for a wine that delivers a lot of adventure and refreshment for relatively little money.

The obvious thing to have with a white wine from Savoie is fondue. I used this recipe from Saveur, which produced a nutty, fragrant, and gooey dinner that took me back to my childhood (don't omit the Kirsch, and don't use pre-ground nutmeg!). In addition to cubes of bread I sliced some apples for dipping into the cheese, and we gobbled them up, too. With all that cheese, you really need a clean wine and the little licks of citrus and stone were a bright, welcome note.

No fondue pot and no plans to repossess the one in your parents' basement or garage? This wine would also be excellent with delicate fish, shellfish, or just sipping on while you serve some cheese and crackers before dinner.

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