March 25, 2009

Real Wine Assault Portland

Last Thursday evening I had the pleasure of seeing old Joe Dressner and the Louis/Dressner(/McKenna) trio at E&R Wine Shop in Portland. That and tasting lots of excellent Loire and Beaujolais wines from the LDM portfolio poured by the makers themselves.

As readers may know, CaptainTumorMan Joe Dressner has brain cancer. Never one for self pity -- he's too busy pissing people off -- Joe's blogging on all things malignant, including an acrimonious family squabble that I'm hoping is just one of his many online fictions.

Dressner may be the Borges of the wine internet. However, this night everything was real and good.

I began with two whites from Marc Olivier of Domaine de la Pepiere. His 2007 Muscadet was excellent, crisp and pure melon, while his 2007 Muscadet Clos des Briords was even better, so mineral and pure but flavory and long lasting. Olivier and I discussed -- I questioned, he answered, that is -- the agebility of his wines. The 1988 apparently is going strong. Not that we see older vintages much here in Oregon.

Next, Evelyne de Jessey and two wines from her Domaine du Closel. I've had mixed experiences with Closel wines in the past. These two were certainly good, but not favorites in this group. They just seemed a bit soft. The 2006 Savennieres La Jalousie was quite fruity for this appellation. The 2005 Savennieres Clos du Papillon was more complex, smelling of spiced jelly candies but showing some alcoholic heat in the mouth.

I was much more impressed with the Domaine de Belliviere wines, poured by Christine and Eric Nicolas. Like the Closel wines, these are made with chenin blanc, but they are lightly sweet where Savennieres are typically dry. The 2005 Eparses VV Coteaux du Loir Blanc was aromatic, perhaps a tough volatile but nicely honied and crisp despite the 15g/L residual sugar. The 2005 Jasnieres Les Rosiers was superb, with a wildly intense aroma and flavor. A touch sweeter too with 20g/L. These are quite distinctive wines, though I'm not sure what to serve them with.

Moving from the Loire to Beaujolais, two red wines from Jean-Paul Brun's Terre Dorees. First, the 2007 Beaujolais Rouge V.V. L'Ancien, this is classic Brun. Light bodied, peppery with crunchy acidity and cherry flavors. Simply delicious wine. Then the NV Beaujolais Petillant FRV100, indeed effervescent with apple cider aromas and light sweetness. This is ok, good for a hot day I suppose.

Next to Brun was Alain Coudert of Clos de la Roilette. The 2007 Fleurie was typically more intense than Brun's basic Beaujolais, but still light and crunchy with nice soil, cherry, and autumn leaf flavors. The 2007 Fleurie Cuvee Tardive, from older vines, was similarly delicious but not necessarily distinct from the main bottling.

Moving back to the Loire, two producers of red wine. The first was Pierre Breton, who began by pouring a rare white wine from chenin blanc. This 2006 Chinon Blanc Beaumont was yeasty with green apple and a pleasant hardness to the flavors. With time this might soften and become more waxy in texture. Then two reds, first the 2006 Bourgueil Trinch! Usually this seems to be a basic but delicious cabernet franc. This bottling had more intensity than I expect, with nicely grippy tannin. The 2006 Bourgueil Galichets was a big step up, and at $20, the bargain of the tasting. Chalky tannin that will need time to soften, but terrific intensity and length. I loved this wine.

Next to Pierre was Matthieu Baudry from Bernard Baudry. His 2007 Chinon Les Granges was a little green, not unpleasantly so. This is the basic bottling and shouldn't need time, but this wine might be a little tight from recent bottling. Who knows. Then the 2005 Chinon Les Clos Guillot, something completely different. Dark, saturated color, with a toasty and minty aroma more akin to the new world than Chinon. Firmly tannic in the mouth, I would have bet this had substantial new oak but Matthieu says no. This wine is hard to read. It's certainly atypical from the wines tonight, but perhaps time will calm down the intensity.

Finally, Kevin McKenna had his own table with a mix of things. First, the 2006 Degli Ulivi Gavi Filagnotti, a white wine aged in acacia wood that showed a little unpleasant cheese rind on the finish. Perhaps this is too "real." Then the NV (really 2005) Ulysse Collin Blanc de Blancs Brut Extra, a dry, lightly oxidized and yeasty Champagne that everyone but me seemed to love.

I preferred the last three wines. 2005 I Vignere Etna Rosso smelled like dry port without the weight of dessert wine, nicely peppery. Then the 2006 Camillo Donati Lambrusco dell'Emilia, simply delicious lightly fizzy red wine, with dried fruit flavors but nice freshness. I could drink lots of this. Finally, the 2006 Bera Moscato d'Asti, a nice sweet finish to the tasting with lots of lemon lime flavors and aromas. Perhaps a bit like soda pop, but I liked it.

During the event, MC Joe Dressner hushed the crowd with a Polinous-esque promise of brevity, recounting everything from the improper leverage ratios of Wall Street and chicanery of Bernie Madoff to the fine foods of our Willamette Valley, eventually mentioning the artisan producers here tonight and the authenticity of their wines.

I pulled Joe aside during the event to reintroduce myself. "Ah, the famous wine blogger," he chided sarcastically, with a big smile. Joe needed to sit down, so we went in the back of the shop where there weren't really any seats. I didn't know what to say, so I joked that he's not in my prayers, and he asked me to not keep him in my thoughts. Joe has rules for what one should and shouldn't say to a cancer patient. I drew a blank in the moment and mumbled something about what I'm up to, making wine from the overly fertile soils of the Willamette Valley. Joe showed restraint and seemed to be listening. Then he asked me to report here that "cancer's really whipped Joe Dressner" so that he doesn't even have the energy to rant against the forces of evil in the wine world. Maybe that day will come, but for now big Joe is still going strong.

Hey Joe, that invitation to drink from paper bags under the Burnside Bridge is still open. Maybe next time.


Joe said...

Thanks for calling me "Old Joe Dressner."

It was great seeing you.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

I had written "old man Joe Dressner" but figured that was overdoing it. Maybe I should have gone with "good 'ol Joe Dressner."

Keep me in your thoughts.

Marshall Manning said...

"The first was Peirre Breton, who began by pouring a rare white wine from chenin blanc."

As opposed to the more popular red wines made from Chenin Blanc?

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Oh come on. Read what I wrote again. Pierre (yes, I've corrected the spelling) was pouring a rare white wine made from the chenin blanc grape. Nothing incorrect about saying that. The rare wine is Chinon blanc. The similarity of the terms chenin blanc and chinon blanc seemed useful to split into two sentences. Any more questions?

Joe said...

Good 'ol Marshall Manning!

Marshall Manning said...

Yeah, Joe, someone has to keep this Fritzsche guy honest.