Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

I'm a sucker for obscure wine regions. If I see a bottle on a shelf from a region I've never heard of, I'm probably going to buy it. And why not? Maybe that place has wicked good dirt. Hence my joy with these two bottles, solid wines with close ties to important regions, but which are mostly off the grid. The best thing about unknown wines is the price- who's going to plunk down good cash for a shot in the dark (other than your spendthrift author)?

First up a 2008 Menetou-Salon from Domaine Jean Teiller, imported by Free Run, LLC. This Sauvignon is not as stately as those from its neighbors to the east in Sancerre and Pouilly, but it's fine for a workaday blanc, precise with attractive citrus and mineral flavors, and proper acidity. Purchased from Garagiste.

Writing of Menetou-Salon, this is a good opportunity to heap praise on the wines of the Loire Valley. I started my great, big, financially irresponsible wine obsession there, and I've never really left. For me, this is the place to start any figurative wine journey through France. And I expect those who start there will return frequently.

My next offering is from Burgundy in general and the Cote d'Or (Volnay) in specific. Not exactly off the grid, huh? Well, what if I told you it's made from Gamay rather than Pinot Noir (actually there is some Pinot in there, but we'll come back to that). Then, Gamay + Burgundy = Beaujolais, right? Not this time.

This 2006 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain from Domaine Michel LaFarge, imported by Connoisseur Wines (a Becky Wasserman Selection) is good to find. Made from a minimum one-third Pinot Noir and Gamay (according to the oracles) this wine recalls youthful, thirst quenching reds you would find in a Parisian bistro, but it also channels nuanced dirt from the famed Cote d'Or. For less than $20, it's well worth exploring the unknown.

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