Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Best Grape You Have Never Heard Of

It's not surprising that most people have never heard about Pineau d'Aunis. It's an obscure little varietal that comes from the Loire Valley in France, a region mostly known for its whites (think Sancerre and Vouvray). It is also called Chenin Noir and was popular among French Nobles during medieval times. My first introduction to this grape was last Thanksgiving when Matt raved about a new wine we had brought in by my favorite French producer Thierry Puzelat called La Tesniere. It was a revelation. The wine had a light to medium body very much like a Pinot Noir but instead of the delicate (or ripe ones these days) fruit flavors this wine had warm flavors of cinnamon and dark prune all balanced by mineral and earth flavors normally stripped away from wines these days.

This wine was different, food-friendly and didn't wear out my palate with a syrupy texture or huge alcohol. Needless to say it was a hit among everyone present and a testament to a more restrained style missing so often from retailers shelves. It's the kind of wine that has a subtle beauty that reveals itself with each sip; so unlike most of the wines consumers normally seek out which try to impact the palate as heavily as possible right from the get-go. Do I sound bitter? Only a little. I wish we sold more of these wines than huge Aussie Shirazes, but if we can just develop a few more fans for these wines that would be OK with me.

Our newest Pineau D'Aunis is from another talented producer Christian Chaussard. This one is blended with a bit of Cot (Malbec) for richness and sells for the insanely low price of $21.99. I know $22 is not an inexpensive bottle of wine, but it is for this wine. If you are curious about it we have it in the Enomatics right now. Oh and both of the wines I mentioned are grown under strict organic and biodynamic standards, naturally made and have minimal sulfites added.
2006 Coteaux du Loir Rouge ‘La Dérobée’
From around 90% Pineau d’Aunis with Côt. Polished. Deep appearance. Youthful ruby red. Dense fruit character on the nose, although not obviously Pineau d’Aunis on first sniff. Broad, creamy, vanilla flavours on the palate. Soft tannins and well structured. Pepper and spice to finish. The small proportion of Côt adds density. Drinking now, but could be expected to age further. (12/08)

1 comment:

Matt said...

There's also a painting on an insane clown on the label which is pretty cool.