Sunday, March 27, 2011

France and Switzerland

Been a while since I've posted anything up here. I've been in France and Switzerland for about three weeks or so. Instead of posting a whole bunch of random notes about these wines, I thought that photos would be more appropriate. Like Italy, wine that's available in France and Switzerland, especially at grocery stores and relatively inexpensively at restaurants, has a lot more acidity than the states. Although we went to some great restaurants (including Le Chateaubriand, featured on No Reservations, named the #4 restaurant in the world by Pelligrino, and more or less reviewed breathlessly by everyone who's been there), wine was way less expensive than in the States. Maybe I'm crazy, but I saw a lot fewer opportunities to drink "trophy wines." That could have been a function of where we went, but I think that people want wine that goes with food--which explains the preponderance of stuff like Saumur-Champigny and other Loire wines on lists (the Loire is also the closest region to Paris aside from Champagne). Just about every wine that we had had lots of acidity; we didn't have a single blowsy, over-oaked piece of crap the entire time we were there. We weren't looking; we could have gotten it if we wanted. 

The best wine that we had (with the exception of the regrettably forgot pairing details at Le Chateaubriand, which featured a Champagne, an amazing Mersault, a crunchy Saint-Jospeh, Saumur-Champigny ((both white and red)) and a Norcino with cheese) while we were over there were the Thierry Germain L'Insolite White Saumur that we had in Saint-Malo with a huge plate of seafood (including whelks, cockles, crab, oysters). Pure, crisp, salty, limey, and just absurdly delicious. 

Switzerland had a lot of domestic wine, which you don't really see in the states. We didn't have a bad Swiss wine. They were all high acid and food friendly. No wonder they don't export them in great quantities to the States. They'd also be pretty expensive I'm guessing, since Switzerland was just out of control expensive. The dollar is worth about 40% less than the Swiss Franc was last year mid-year, and it really shows. We were stunned by how expensive everything is. Coupled with the Swiss apparently being fairly passive about getting the best price and having the mentality that "that's the price you have to pay for quality," you get stuff like $16USD 40's of Old English, with a shelf tag calling out the 50 Cent connection. Wow. I'm just going to leave it there, but that may be the most absurd and funny picture I took over there. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Domaine La Coutale Cahors 2008

12$ from the LA Wine Company, and of course, a Kermit Lynch Import. Lots of blackberry and blueberry character, but in a style different from both the slick New World style of Argentina and the wild savage stylings of the Loire. Lots of depth and poise behind the fruit, giving the wine hints of chocolate and spice. Good structure, and balance between acid and tannin. This wine is awesome and a great value, but I definitely feel as if I did not get the entire spectrum of it. I imagine that a few more years worth of aging will probably do that. B+/A-