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What's new in iJamming!...
Thu, Mar 4, 2004

FEATURED WINE:
Gruet Méthode Champenoise Non-Vintage Brut, New Mexico

Last of The Summer Rosês: Goats Do Roam, Vin Gris de Cigare and Rose of Virginia.
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured wine region 3:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE WHITES
Featured wine region 4:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE ROSÉS
Previously...
FEATURED Wines5
FEATURED Wines 4
FEATURED Wines 3
FEATURED Wines 2
FEATURED Wines 1
Featured wine region 2:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
The Geography
The Villages
Featured vine:
VIOGNIER:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.

Now with updated reviews
Featured wine region 1:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE
Featured wine web site:
HONIG
WINE AND MUSIC:
What wine fans and music devotees have in common.
Featured wino: TIMO MAAS
Featured party wine:
CLINE's Cotes d'Oakley
And how Cline does it
Featured wine web site: VIGNOBLES BRUNIER
The full iJamming! Contents

FEATURED WINES
(with recommended music)

Here's how it works. . .I've been involved in music all my life; as I've matured, I've gotten more into wine, finding that it pushes exactly the same 'obsessive' buttons. Given that I have my own web site, why not write about wine as well as music? Even better, why not link the two - recommend an appropriate bottle of wine to go with an interesting new album, and vice versa? While the cross-referencing is presented in good humour, the reviews stand seriously on their own; these wine recommendations are skewed towards varietal-variety and value-for-money, which means learning as we drink, without breaking the bank. Most bottles were purchased in the USA but should be available worldwide.

To see if I've written about a particular wine or grape, use the search engine at left.
Previous wine reviews and music recommendations can be found at:
-
FEATURED WINES 1FEATURED WINES 2FEATURED WINES 3
FEATURED WINES 4FEATURED WINES 5
FEATURED WINES 6
If these occasional reviews don't fulfil your thirst for wine knowledge, consider signing up for the Wine Lovers' 30 Second Wine Advisor. You'll be e-mailed an easy-to-follow tasting note or news item every day, or every week, according to taste. (And choice!)

PAUL DURDILLY
BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU 2003
'LES GRANDES COASSES'
BEAUJOLAIS, FRANCE, $9

I've never been much a fan of Beaujolais Nouveau, which is the first commercially released red wine of the French vintage. As a teen, I remember a media hype every November, with planes, trains, automobiles, hot air balloons, motor bikes and sundry other contraptions all vying, Wacky Races style, to be first to bring the wine back into Britain. (I always wondered how the wines managed to be on every shop shelf the very next day; of course, it was all just a publicity stunt, with the wines properly imported and stored and sent out for tastings, ready for official release on the third Thursday of November.) As I then got more 'into' wine over the years, the fresh, fruity, instantly gulpable but ultimately simple taste of Beaujolais Nouveau jarred with my increasing appreciation for either more subtle or intense, longer-lasting or more slowly revealing red wines. And I was inherently prejudiced against a red wine that could be stored in the fridge. In short, I've been giving it a miss.

But 2003, the summer of the biggest heat wave in European history, promises to be a vintage like no other. After all, the sun was strong enough to kill up to 15,000 elderly French (which is inexcusable, not just on part of the French government but also those younger French who abandoned their parents to their fate, many as they themselves made the most of the ideal holiday weather); what, many wine drinkers then want to know, has it done for the grapes?

For a starter, it produced the earliest vintage in Beaujolais history: growers who normally start picking the grapes in mid-September were mostly finished by the end of August. But "thanks" to a spring frost and a May windstorm, they had some 40% less grapes than usual to pick. What they came away with were the most intense grapes in memory; Georges DuBoeuf, 'King of Beaujolais', reckons it will be his best vintage ever. Based on the initial evidence – a bottle of Paul Durdilly's unfiltered Les Grandes Coasses, for a couple of dollars more than DuBoeuf's generic, internationally available bottle – he is surely correct.

The Gamay grape, the only ingredient in Beaujolais, is always attractive to look at in the glass, but in this case it was stunning: a translucent crimson with a purple tinge. The nose was equally vibrant: when we opened this bottle, I could smell it wafting across the room. That smell, however, is hard to put into words. While I notice raspberries and wild flowers, some experts, whose job it is to search for more precise every day comparisons, have been known to liken it to a mixture of banana and nail polish. (Yes, I know how unappetizing that sounds, but bear with them; they have a point.) In the glass, the 2003, while unquestionably bright and fruity as befits the wine's immediate appeal, is not quite as acidic as it’s known to be in other vintages. It shows considerable depth of flavor and surprising chewiness at the back of the palate. The finish, too, is much longer than I'm used to from such light red wines.

Clean, ripe, flirtaceous and, in the short term at least, disarmingly voluptuous, the Durdilly is a fair old WonderBra of a wine. We stretched our bottle out over the Thanksgiving Weekend, alternately enjoying it as a simple aperitif, with a cashew/mushroom pate, and with cheeses. As befits tradition, we served the bottle lightly chilled, but even at room temperature, this Beaujolais showed plenty character. In short, yes, I'm converted. In 2003, Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine even the most demanding of drinkers can enjoy.

MUSIC
It's fresh and fruity, a little bit cheeky, very sexy, and though it's refreshingly unpretentious, it's quality stuff. Or as they used to say on Juke Box Jury, it's got a beat and you can dance to it. Try it with Plump DJs' Eargasm.

GRUET
BRUT, METHODE CHAMPENOISE, NV
NEW MEXICO, $13

A wine marked Méthode Champenoise is making the appropriate statement that it's sparkling wine "made in the Champagne method" but that it is not actually Champagne. (After all, Champagne is named for the region of France it hails from, just like Burgundy and Bordeaux.) But while New Mexico would seem as far removed from the Champagne district as you could imagine, the Gruet family's sparkling wines are as close to "Méthode Champenoise " as you could hope. The Gruets have lived in Champagne itself for many generations, finally founding a production facility and vineyard there in 1952. But with limited opportunities to expand in their home land, they made a conscious decision to produce sparkling wine in the USA, choosing the seemingly unlikely but increasingly well-recorded south-western state of New Mexico for its precise mixture of soil, climate and altitude. The first sparkling wines were produced by Laurent Gruet and partner Farid Himmeur in 1987; production is now up to 45,000 cases and distribution reaches 25 States.

The most popular of their sparkling wines is the Non Vintage Brut. (Brut means Dry.) Comprised of 75% Chardonnay grapes and 25% Pinot Noir, it is aged for 24 months on tirage and is exceedingly good value at just $13. We shared a bottle on Christmas Day, and found that its crisp nose of green apples and citrus was balanced by zesty miniature bubbles, a racy acidity, a dry and slightly bitter taste of apples and toast, and a creamy, almost soupy finish. Comparable to the finest French Champagnes? Of course not, but in its price bracket, definitely more interesting and effervescent – and authentic - than many a Californian or South American bubbly. A pleasurable introduction to a new state of wine production.

MUSIC??
It's glamorous, it’s glitzy, but it has credibility while championing uncharted territory. Tiga's DJ Kicks, heavy on the electro and full of underground artists, is an ideal match.

DOMAINE LOUIS CHÈZE,
"CUVÉE RO-RÉE, 1999
SAINT-JOSEPH
FRANCE, $20


Of all the heavyweight red wine grapes, Syrah is my favorite. I adore its earthy aroma of dark fruits, its lean, meaty, flavor and its firm, muscular backbone. I find it incredibly food friendly and often imbued with a puckering peppery finish. Yet for all those masculine descriptions, good syrah balance the aforementioned qualities with an alluring and often subtle femininity.

Syrah has its spiritual home in the northern Rhône, where it's the only red grape allowed in each of the five red wine appellations. Three of those appellations (Hermitage, Cornas and Cote Rotie) make incomparable but highly expensive and slow maturing wines. The other two appellations are each good value, but I generally find the better Saint Joseph to be more fruity and forward than the similarly priced Crozes Hermitage.

But let's not generalize: Saint Joseph has provided as many innocuous experiences for me as it has profound ones. Yet year in year out, one particular wine stands as my benchmark for the region: ever since buying a bottle of the 1996 for a Valentine's Day dinner (so I'm a hopeless old romantic; so what?), I've been thrilled by the Domaine Louis Chèze, Cuvée Ro-Rée. (Cheze also makes an excellent Viognier from Condrieu.)

The 1999 vintage is particularly rewarding across the northern Rhone, making this Saint Joseph even more pleasing than usual. The nose has the usual peppery/meaty/earthy aroma one finds in good syrah, but also a hint of olives that seems peculiar to St. Joseph. In the mouth, the Cuvée Ro-Rée balances fresh acidity with supple tannins and a delectable touch of sweetness brought on by the ripe fruits, and while it has that peppery kick on the finish, it manages a near Hermitage-like silkiness in the mouth. You can serve anything Mediterranean/Provençal (mushrooms with olives come highly recommended) and rest assured that the wine and food will each bring out the best in the other. And you can't do much better for Valentine's Day.

MUSIC: It's classy, upfront, friendly, and manages the unlikely task of marrying fruity femininity with male muscularity. It delivers with great confidence yet it manages to assume subtlety. The new Groove Armada album Lovebox was made for it.


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iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2003.