RECIPES

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A BIRTHDAY AND A VOUVRAY


THE PRELUDE
This month in December the #winophiles are in Vouvray, Loire Valley, France. The Loire Valley is one of France's largest wine making areas but don't let the size sway your opinion. The Loire Valley and it's various AOCs are nothing to sneeze at. Some of the top wines come from there... Muscadet and oysters for a breakfast snack, anyone?! And that's just one example of the specificity of the Loire and its wines. Vouvray, as another example, is mainly about Chenin Blanc... chances are that unless you're really looking under every stone in Vouvray, that is exactly the grape you'll find bottled even though Arbois is very much allowed. Read an intro to Vouvray and the #winophiles here, where our December host Jeff Burrows offers a primer on it all!

Things have been a bit frenzied around here - in the best way possible. Besides work and contracts and proposals I've been designing our new master bathroom and it's been most fun. From the 3D model I made to help visualise the design to picking out the tile, finishes, light switches, and designing a half-wall to hang a barn door, it has all been fun. I've always done my best work with a tight timeline and this was no different.

THE BIRTHDAY
In the middle of all that, I had to come up with something special for my better half's birthday. Those who don't know him don't know that as blasé as I am about my birthday, he's the polar opposite. Questions about birthday gifts begin at least 6 months in advance, and questions about plans for the day and the champagne we'll drink start floating about a quarter year in advance. Needless to say, the pressure is on! Last year we went on a terrific bourbon country road-trip with friends. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do this year since we'd had a barrage of parties, eating out, networking things, and other scheduled events. I couldn't bear the thought of yet another eating-drinking-hobnobbing event at a restaurant, winery, or hip tech company office. Besides, we're off to Paris for a few days in January and Death Valley after that, so that's plenty of doing for the first quarter of the new year!

So we opted to have an evening in. No fussy meal or going anywhere, just a fun evening at home with a fire, music, conversation, books, sparkling wine - and since I had to plan a meal - Laura Chenel garlic and herb chèvre, and potato crisps. As we were in mid-December, the wine of course, was on trend with the December #winophiles Vouvray topic. Bubbly French wine generally means a cooler vintage workaround if you're a winemaker, but for most of us it means celebration! We started with a half-bottle of champagne and for after I'd selected a sparkling Vouvray. Domaine du Petit Coteau Vouvray Brut, to be exact. Both wines were a hit with the birthday guy... as evidenced by the one lonely photo of the evening!

THE WINE

SRP: $15
At the beautiful organic - and rather compact - Domaine du Petit Coteau, the wines are made exclusively from Chenin Blanc in varying degrees of sweetness, generally dependant on the location of the grapes. The grapes for this wine were harvested from vines planted in the classic Vouvray sandy clay soils over tuffeau.

We had a Brut, with less than 12 g/L residual sugar, and it was splendid with the salty crisps and the creamy-salty chèvre with a whisper of garlic. Who said crisps and chèvre isn't a full meal?! The wine is dry and juicy with overt notes of just-ripening yellow pear, honeysuckle, and caramelised apples with a medium finish. It is not too complex but it is a delight in any season!

THE SOIL
Mono Lake, July 2019
For the geology afficionados, tuffeau is not related to the other stone tuff, but it *is* related to tufa, that poetic stone best known for forming eerie spindly towers in Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierras of California. Tuffeau is not quite as smooth as chalk, the other calciferous grape-vine friendly stone, but instead it has the old skeletons of millions of microscopic organisms from the ocean beds of many eras ago. Because of those inclusions, tuffeau is far more porous than, say, a dense stone like granite. And also has far, far less compressive strength compared to granite, which, among other reasons, makes granite a favourite stone for the base of a building. So I wouldn't recommend a steel-framed skyscraper with a tuffeau base but of course, tuffeau is a fine stone for other types of buildings. And also wine!

Do see what my #winophiles friends are sharing about Vouvray this December!

6 comments:

  1. Great paragraph on soil. That tuffeau is good stuff when it comes to white wines. Have a fabulous time in Paris. I do hope the Gilets Jaunes are done by the time you get there as they've caused chaos in Paris.

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  2. It seems cheese and crisps or bread was a popular dinner pairing with Vouvray this month (I approve of course!)

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  3. Funny enough, a Laura Chenel cheese made it into my pairing as well. I was also in a very similar mindset and needed a chill night. Happy birthday to your other half!

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  4. Thank you so much for the Mono Lake reference! I had no idea! Having been to Mono Lake and not to the Loire, this is helpful in understanding the soils of the region! It sounds like it was the perfect Birthday Celebration! I wish you happy travels in the new year! Will you get to visit Death Valley while it is in bloom? We caught part of the super bloom a couple years ago and it is wonderful.

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  5. Wow! You've been busy! It was probably a nice treat to stay home, set out some cheese, and open a bottle of Vouvray bubbles. Enjoy your January travels - Paris is wonderful at this time of year.

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