Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chateau de la Chesnaie Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, 2008

Ever since reading Asimov's post on chablis, I've been hankerin' for dry, mineral heavy whites. Assuming one can in fact "hanker" for fine wine.

Wine consumes a relatively small proportion of my food consciousness compared to gourmands of ages past. With food lovers of my generation (I'm avoiding having to say "foodie" -- shudder), wine is much less cool than Belgian beer or artisanal hard cider. However, wines such as Chablis and the Muscadet pictured above have excited me more than any others. Ever. I want them all the time.

Perhaps that's because this kind of wine -- dry, chalky, citric -- was previously so unfamiliar to me. Who ever took a sip from their parent's glass and tasted limestone? ( My all time favorite wine guy, Chris at West Concord Liquors, described the taste of a particular rosé as being like sucking on a lime - mmm!) I just wasn't ever exposed to anything like this.

I've had plenty of Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons that have been equally good at being Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons as the whites that I've been drinking, but they could never be as interesting. A good peanut just isn't as good as good olive.

I know what you're thinking: "I should check my e-mail." But here's what would be a convenient thing for you think at this point in the post: "Sure these wines sound great, but what about the price?" Well I'm glad you asked.

Notice the above photo. See the cute little chateau, the confusing array of French words (which is the vineyard, which is the region, which is the year?). Now notice the price tag. That bottle costs thirteen bucks and is as good as anyone needs wine to be, yet it's about a Brazilian times better than so many other boring bottles you're apt to get for the same price. And it was way better than Avatar, which set me back about the same amount.

I've been told (by people and by the backs of bottles) that Muscadet is "the" wine to drink with oysters, but the hype didn't prepare me for just how symbiotic the paring would be. The highly mineral wine already has notes that taste like oysters, or oyster shells to be more precise, plus citrus. Kind of like an alcoholic oyster with a squeeze of lemon. The oyster of course brings zinc and salty sea breeze. My mouth puckers and waters just thinking about it. Why did steak and lobster get to be called "surf and turf?"

This wine also wins the "most improved by swirling" award. I was absentmindedly rolling my wrist with glass in hand while thinking about something else in the same way I might play with a paperclip, but when I tasted the wine again it had undergone a complete transformation. (Paperclips taste the same no matter how much you play with them.)

After a few laps around the glass, the slight effervessence was gone but all of the sharpness and flavor remained. It was as though the wine had slipped off its glove and I could now feel the warmth of its hand. (I was going to write something much, much dirtier.)

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