I like Stephanie Roussel, and I like her wines. Two weeks ago I tasted her newest reds at Laurent Mélotte and talked to her in person, and she seemed somebody as vivid and interesting as her wines. She did not bring her "Blanc qui Tente", the "white that teases", sold out unfortunately, but i remembered then that somewhere in the depths of my cave there was still a bottle hanging around.
A 100% semillon of very old vines in the Côtes de Marmandais, a small appellation in the Sud-Ouest, close to the vineyards of the Entre-Deux-Mers, this bottle was a surprise from the first to the last. You don't get 100% semillon's very often, and Stephanie belongs to the Vins Naturels movement, those non-interventionist winemakers that are currenty the hype of the moment. So no filtration, no artificial yeast and no sulphur. The nose was very herbal, with liquorice, but also with apricot and wax. Long and fresh finish, excellent, even lush, and a very special wine. A bit like Stéphanie, I guess.
I bought a lot of the red Lassolle's and will keep you informed about them. By the way, the price of this white was 8,84 euro, and the wine was made with grapes from the 2007 harvest. www.truegreatwines.be for Belgium.
Despite all criticism, despite the obvious errors that sometimes happen, and despite the "I am better than thou" image that they often cultivate, the so-called natural wines will never cease to surprise me. A few weeks ago a friend called me from a tasting of biological wines at "De Wassende Maan" in Ghent, and enthousiastically yelled that he had just tasted a fantastic wine and did i want some ? Of course I did, and this evening i opened one and looked on the internet for more information, and i read about a surprising history and a touch of eccentricity that i really like.
The Bressan Pinot Grigio 2006 is definitely one of the more extravagant wines in my memory, but i enjoyed every drop of it. The colour is quite surprising, like a walnut liquor, and the aroma is so special i can not really place it. In the mouth I tasted walnut, almonds and things I did not recognize but liked, and it is dry like a Jura wine can be dry, or a sherry. I love this wine, but i'm keeping it for visitors who really appreciate this kind of things. There will be long talks about this one, I guess...
And, yes, the character of the winemaker shows in the wine !
All picture were downloaded from the bressan website: www.bressanwines.com
I think it is allways refreshing to travel in a classic wineregion and to travel as other travellers do, so not accompagnied by other winelovers, winemakers or, in general, one's own prejudices. This way I learned to appreciate the fresh vinho verde's of the Minho, straight from the farm, or the harsh cheap Cahors wines, so good with the local farmer's fare.
I passed through the Alsace twice this week and both times i stayed overnight at a Bib Gourmand (if you sleep well, you might as well eat well too) restaurant-inn, and in both places i ordered a pinot noir wine (well, it is winter, is it not ?).
To my surprise both bottles were served cold, straight from the fridge. I could understand this in the summer, and i occasionally order cold Beaujolais or Bourgueil wines myself when it's hot, but pinot noir ? Even the oaked one on the picture, by Jean Sipp, and a very nice one, came cold and in a cooler to keep it so. I asked one of the owners why, and he said it was just tradition (looking odd at me, the stranger...).
But, I have to admit, it does has something, and it suits the wines quite well. Very often i was by the way the only one drinking red, most locals had whites, even with a hearty meat-dish.
By the way, I had a fantastic paté en croute as a starter and a wonderful dish of alsacian tripes, and the restaurant of the Auberge de l'Illwald is romantic and cosy. Nice rooms too. http://www.illwald.fr/fr/auberge.php
The pinot noir came from Jean Sipp, www.jean-sipp.com, was from 2009 and raised in barriques. Very well done, and alltough the oak was quite dominant, it was a very very nice wine, a bit untypical maybe, but great.