So, last night my husband and I, with another couple went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant in the second district of Lyon called Ponts et Passerelles. We love this place for lots of reasons; they do some of the most amazing varieties of traditional French dishes- and the desserts are AMAZING! We also have fun with the owner talking about wines and different regions in France, most of which I have not heard of because they are so small. Last night turned into another fun tasting night of sorts and, fortunately for me, I knew all the regions this time! I feel like I’m getting somewhere with my small French wine regions.
So, stay with me a while and we will go through the three bottles in order…
Eric Louis 2011 Menetou-Salon
To start we had the Menetou Salon- well, I choose this one for my aperitif wine. I always choose this for a starter. Menetou Salon is the closest wine I can find to being like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or maybe it’s the other way around. But it had aromas of citrus and grapefruit all mixed together on the nose, then a cool, crisp, refreshing taste on the palate. It doesn’t stay very long and won’t age forever, but it is nice and fresh on a hot day. I think it’s gorgeous!
Menetou-Salon itself is located in the eastern most part of the Loire Valley near Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. It is actually closer to Burgundy than most of the Loire Valley wines, therefore giving it unique soil and climate characteristics. It reminds me of New Zealand because it has so much citrus and grapefruit on the nose- however, for myself, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc must also have the smell of fresh cut grass in it. The soil near Menetou-Salon itself is mainly limestone and considered to be ‘lesser’ than the Sancerre just next door, but I find it more crisp and explosive than some Sancerre… You will have to find a bottle and see for yourself!
Domaine Jaffelin 2007 Pernand-Vergelesses ‘Clos de Bully’
Moving on we had wonderful bottle of 2007 Pernand-Vergelesses with our main dish. Ironically we all had a chicken stuffed foie gras dish- not something you would normally pair with chicken stuffed with foie gras- but, since I am trying to break down this idea of ‘pairing’ , we decided to try it. Again, a little disappointed with the pairing. A great dish with a great wine, but when put together it wasn’t horrible, but definitely did not enhance anything.
The wine itself is from the most northern part of the Cote de Beaune, as far north as you can get before it becomes the Cote de Nuits. Meaning it has some similar terroir to the great red pinot noirs of the Cote de Nuits (while not the same price tag). The things I love about Pernand-Vergelesses is that it is rather round and fruit without being alcoholic- normally. The bottle we shared was a little more on the dried fruit side (because of the age of the bottle) rather than bright fruits and also was a little hot on the back of the throat (which I would contribute to the vintage). A bummer for me, mainly because I had a preconceived notion of what the bottle should taste like, but not entirely a bad bottle. Again, not helped however by the chicken stuffed foie gras.
Domaine Bernhard & Reibel 2011 Muscat Vin d’Alsace
And to the surprise of the night- Alsace. You know how every once in a while someone will pull out a bottle of wine and your heart just moans because you know you aren’t going to like it… then you taste it… and BAM! Not at all what you thought, could have ever imagined, and to your surprise, you loved it! I just got off the phone with the ladies at Domiane Bernhard & Reibel because I wanted to order a case of this wine. One hundred percent Muscat- dry, and refreshing with just trace amounts of residual sugar on the tongue. Man it was good!
I have found in France that there is a tendency to start the night off with sweet wines in the aperitif and finish with sparkling wines at the dessert. In the states, we seem to do the opposite. Therefore, when the owner came out with a sweet wine my heart moaned a little bit, because while I have a large sweet tooth, I do not have a huge palate for sweet wines. This Muscat was so balanced and fresh with just the right hit of residual sugar it was very pleasant for the end of the meal. I can’t wait to get my case ordered! Maybe even plan a trip up to Alsace soon…