While I wrap up a few longer pieces that require a more robust attention span than is currently at-hand in my new city (a phenomenon that extends to quite a few unpacked boxes from the move six months ago, so don’t feel especially neglected), here are a few notes on very worthwhile wines that were already being used elsewhere, so I figured y’all could see them too. All of these wines should be in the low $20 range and easily available through any decent wine shop. If you have trouble securing any of them, get in touch and I’ll hook you up.
Domaine de Pallus Chinon, Les Pensées de Pallus 2011
Chinon (and its sister appellation, the neighboring Bourgeuil) is up there with Barolo, Burgundy and Beaujolais as one of the world’s unmistakably terroir-possessed wines; when you’re drinking Chinon, there’s no doubt you’re drinking Chinon. Also not in doubt is that this family estate makes some of the best Chinon around. Extended maceration and aging really bring out the sweet herbs, geranium, spice, wet stone and fresh earth that marks this dark blue fruited Cabernet Franc as being from this particular place in the Loire. So light at first it seems to magically appear on the palate, but fine sparse tannins quickly fill out the medium-bodied palate as savory grilled meat and dried flower flavors race through the finish. This is difficult to resist right now – especially with some rillettes, simple grilled salmon or a classic bistro salad – but just a couple more years in the cellar would open it up even more. This is very worth seeking out, as is their top cuvée in the years it’s produced. Fans of Baudry, Breton and Joguet will be impressed. (Imported by The Rare Wine Co.)
Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly, Cuvée des Ambassades 2012
If the label looks familiar, it’s no accident: This is a sister wine to Château Thivin, the other top name in the Beaujolais cru of Côte de Brouilly, who use essentially the same label. Known for balancing ebullient dark cherry-berry fruit with the earth endemic to Beaujolais, Côte de Brouilly is already evocative nearly by definition. One eyes-closed whiff of a glass of this, though, and you’d swear you were tromping around this dewy, granite-strewn vineyard at the forested peak of Mont Brouilly. Rose perfume, plump currants, cranberries and that omnipresent granite dance all around the palate until fine tannins ease in to carry this to an upbeat finish that demands another gulp, and soon. The overly patient could lay this down through 2018 or so and drink a fuller but no less vivid wine, but if you come across a good roast chicken (or turkey, since cru Beaujolais rules the Thanksgiving table) before then you may want to open this up to have with it. (Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports.)
Le Rocher des Violettes Côt, Touraine 2012
Xavier Weisskopf must’ve just gone with the first thing that came to mind when naming his domaine because “rock of violets” (as rocher des violettes translates) is as good a summation of this wine as any. Worlds apart from most Loire Valley Côt which tends toward either anorexic astringency or blunderbussian overextraction, this wine’s flood of mouth-filling velvet shined up with keen fruit zip and a garden’s worth of its namesake flower indicate an understanding of this land and this grape (better known elsewhere as Malbec) matched by few. It also indicates fruit from some top quality vines, many of which were planted in the late 1800’s, as this kind of precocious complexity is uncommon in young serious Côt such as this. The flavors themselves are pure Malbec, all dense black bramble fruits, black pepper, black rock, black leather and any number of other black things, but the assured elegance of how its disparate heavy/light and earth/fruit elements fit so seamlessly together belie the grape’s origins in Burgundy. A little chill wouldn’t hurt this one bit, at least if you drink it before its maturity in about three years, and especially if you have it with some charcuterie and mild bleu cheese like Bleu d’Auvergne or Fourme d’Ambert. (Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports, who are on a bit of a roll lately.)