Monday, February 7, 2011


I had an all-too-infrequent wine session with my friend and colleague Nicolas Soufflet recently at Vinoteque on Melrose in Los Angeles.  Nicolas is a young man determined to make his mark in the wine industry.  Hailing from France, he has an extensive knowledge of that country's wines and, in fact, has worked forChapoutier.  He also has experience in Italian wines - I have witnessed his expertise in hosting tasting sessions featuring the wines of Italy.  His recommendations to me are always taken to heart.

This evening, the conversation ran wildly from one topic another.  Nicolas extolled the virtues of French wine and disparaged the cult wines of Napa Valley, in particular.  Some good wines, and good wine places we have shared were also up for discussion.  The state of our personal and professional situations caused some lively banter - all good on the personal front and somewhat guarded on the professional.  My illustration of the sad shape of my own professional outlook when I was at his age didn't seem to brighten his spirits much.  I remember the same sort of conversation with my elders at that time had the same effect on me.  We let the wine dominate our evening, however, and that proved to be a good thing.

Nicolas - no surprise - enjoyed a Vouvray and a Burgundy.  I spent a couple of hours ruminating on a Rhone blend from Lirac and a Douro vinho tinto.

The 2003 Roger Sabon Chapelle de Maillac blends Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignane, with the Grenache taking the lead.  Nicolas mentioned that Lirac was adjacent to Châteauneuf du Pape, and I understand the vineyards are on hillsides full of stones and chalk.  The wine is $8 by the glass at Vinoteque.

Its nose features very dark fruit and notes of tobacco and tomato, or tomato sauce, actually.  The palate shows smokey blackberry and black plum.  Starting out a little hot, it really smooths out after half an hour.

The Douro entry, Lavradores de Feitoria Vinho Tinto, is also $8 per glass.  A blend of native Portuguese grapes Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca, this red shows very deep color due to prolonged maceration and shows particularly dark aromas and flavors considering the steel fermentation.

I pick up smokey black cherry aromas with an overlay of tar and a taste of plummy cassis.  A very firm structure paired well with the treats on the table.

We had some Garrotxa cheese made from goat's milk in the Catalonia region of Spain.  A peppery salami and some mini crab cakes were also nice.

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