For all of you who couldn't guess, T. Puzelat is a great host. After fetching Alessandra, Francesca and me from the train, he ferried us first to his place for aperos, paté, goat cheese and little white delicious anchovies, thank you very much, as well as some older bottles of Le Buisson Pouilleux, the old-vine sauvignon. That and conversation about the pros and cons of carbonic maceration and then off to check in to the hotel. Yes, a hotel. This is the trip that broke the piggy bank.
But if you're ever in Chitenay, near Blois, and need a little hotel, book the.....
Auberge du Centre, 34 Grande Rue 41120 +33 (0) 2 54 70 42 11.
Sweet, except for the perfumed sheets that drove me nuts. Strong wi-fi and a fantastic breakfast with organic everything this and that, good tea bags, delicious croissants, and the best coffee I had in France in a hotel, bar none. This joint had class and kudos for the LDMers for finding it.
The next day was Vini-Valaire International. A mini-Dressner tasting with vignerons. The Italians were up to something. Silvio of Montesecondo once again delivered a gorgeous 2009 Rosso, scratchy, fragrant and herbal fresh. But he also had an Anfora cabernet sauvignon. And right next to him was Francesco who god damn it, also had a Tuscan cabernet, and she macerated it into something intriguing. So what we had side by side were dueling cabernets, from Tuscany. And I liked them.
Silvio chose a Spanish vessel and both fermentation and elevage had been Anforized. The result was pleasing; earthy and caramel.
Then there was Francesca Padovani's Fonterenza 2007 cabernet, called Lupa di Fonterenza. She fermented the wine on the skins for four whole months and it finally turned into something one could call pretty, but still plum pepper, and driven by silty terroir. Yes, it smelled and tasted like Italy.
I still can't call cabernet my favorite grape but these were intriguing, and gave a very dull piece of fruit a fun and new expression.
Trentino's Elisabetta Foradori, is elegant and slow moving as a dream. Waving her hands in the air as if she were summoning a genie, she said how happy she was to be in the LDM Italian wine portfolio. It's as if she found her own personal anfora. "It is where I belong," she told me.
Her Teroldegos are always intriguing but this time, she had three wines done up in anfora as well. In general the wines, red and white, stay in the unlined anfora for 8 months with the skins. Then they are racked into old wood, acacia or chestnut for two months before they go into bottle. For 2010 she is contemplating ditching the wood and opting for cement tank for the wine to settle for a purer taste.
The Nosiola was racked into acacia, very pretty, and no sulfur. From chalk and clay terroir, the grape was low on aroma and high on spice, like allspice with a long finish that was kind of bitter, in the best possible way. Loved it.
The 2009 Sgarzon Teroldego. Yay. And as far as I'm concerned, this is the shit. From anfora the wine got racked into chestnut. As soon as I smelled it I started to salivate. Lots of licorice and lots of stability with a nice angular edge, tannin, rough, spice, tangle, more licorice and then sandy tannin action. Brilliant acidity.
From a different soil type, schist, granite and river stones, this was more backward, with cigar and root. More of a block of guy, the one who doesn't call after, almost brutish and needs time.
These seemed to be the standouts, overshadowing her regular bottlings, which were lovely but just not as dynamic. Elisabetta, who now owns 40 slender Spanish vessels (and more coming) noted, "The wines find their identity more quickly in anfora."
Maybe I should have put myself in an anfora? I wonder if that would have changed everything.
I'm not sure when they will arrive in the country, or if they will. There's not a lot available. If you're a restaurant, like maybe Anfora and your name is Joe C., you might want to put in a call.
++Best quote of the day came from Eric Texier: I love discovering a new vineyard. It reminds me when everything was new.