Monday, April 07, 2008

Jenny & Francois Follow Up

I was very much impressed with the Jenny & Francois portfolio, so much so that I decided to buy a few and taste them at home with dinner. I'm happy to tell you that these wines are even better with a meal than they were at the tasting.

You know what this means? This means that there's a whole new crop of under $20 wines that I am confident about buying. This is important, as the dollar buys less and less wine these days. And by the way, all of these wines (and many other Jenny & Francois wines) are available at Astor Wines in Manhattan.

We don't drink a whole lot of wine from southern France, as those we've tasted are too big and roasted, a bit hot, and they don't drink easily with food (or at all). But these wines are graceful and perfumed, elegant sometimes. Here are the wines we sampled at home:

2006 Domaine Rimbert St Chinian Les Travers de Marceau, $14. This wine is from St Chinian, an appellation in the western part of the Languedoc. The blend is Mourvedre, Carignan, and Grenache. We enjoyed this wine with a simple meal of skirt steak and baked potatoes. Nicely perfumed, very fruity and floral, good acidity, very lively, and definitely had the muscle to stand up to the steak. A great value for everyday drinking.

2005 Clos Siguier Cahors, $12. Maybe this excellent wine is so inexpensive because Cahors is not a fashionable wine region. Whatever the reason, if I had to choose right now I would select this wine as the value red of 2008. This wine is just so good, so interestingly and enticingly perfumed, so nicely balanced, so lively in the mouth, and such a great compliment to food. And this is Malbec we're talking about, with a little bit (5%) of Tannat thrown in. We had this with a cuisine grandmère dish of French green lentils stewed with russet potatoes, pork shoulder, and thick-cut bacon. Ladle it right into a bowl, a green salad with a bright vinegary dressing, and YUM. Anyway...This wine benefits from 30 minutes of airtime. You can decant it too, no shame in that. Aromas of raspberries, flowers, and something herbal initially, then with air comes lots of black licorice and bit of cocoa. This is a bright and airy nose, very pure and enticing. The flavors echo the nose, and although the tannins are a bit coarse, the wine has nice texture and is just delicious. It is surprisingly light in body, but also quite deep in aroma and flavor.

2005 Blandine Chauchat Coteaux de Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup Les Tonillières, $17. But I got it on sale for $13 at Astor, which makes it all the more absurd. Blandine Chauchat has a plot in Les Tonillieres, a vineyard owned by her husband Pierre Jequier's family, the family behind the Mas Foulaquier estate. This is a blend of Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache. Lovely nose of rich dark fruit and soil, some black licorice with air time. BrooklynLady picked out sea water too, which I understood in the context of the mineral streak running underneath the fruit. The palate is well balanced with ripe earthy dark fruit and good acidity, and there are lingering licorice and soil mouth aromas. Sounds heavy maybe, but it's not - medium bodied and easy to drink. This wine has nice structure too, with fine dusty tannins. Worth the $17, a steal at $13.

2005 Comptoirs de Magdala Côtes de Provence Escapade, $16. I loved the 2006 vintage at the tasting. Both the 05 and 06 were available at Astor so I figured why not try the more mature wine, especially when it's a bit cheaper? It was very good, but it was less ripe and much lighter than the busty, dense, and spicy 2006. Very enjoyable, but not what I'd hoped for. It almost didn't stand up to our beefy grass-fed hangar steaks. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but not I'll-have-to-taste-this-importer's-other-wines good. So I'll try the 06 at home next.

If they're available in your area I really encourage you to try one of these wines. Jenny & Francois are bringing in wines that reflect a sense of place, and the craftsmanship of the wine maker. And the prices make it pretty easy, too. If you do try, please let me know what you think.

9 comments:

Tim said...

Great reco's. When I read, "I would select this wine as the value red of 2008" you know I have to start hunting it down. Cheers!

Deetrane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deetrane said...

Good luck finding it, Tim. All a Google search is likely to do is take you right back to this page!

Brooklynguy said...

hey Tim - if you're talking about the Cahors, Chambers Street Wines carries it, and so does Astor Wines - same price at both places. Both give case discounts and will let you order for delivery.

Steve L. said...

We tried the 2005 Escapade and both deemed it almost completely characterless, deciding it offered little in the way of aromas or flavors. I've enjoyed several vintages of the Rimbert (a direct import by a store here in SF) and found the wines consistently very good. The Pic St. Loup seems to be MIA around here. I will certainly look for the Cahors.

Brooklynguy said...

hiya steve - i liked it more than you did, maybe because i wanted so much to like it. the 06 was a whole new ballgame though, honestly. worth trying. sounds like you're been doing your Jenny due diligence, pal.

Joe said...

Hi Neil - I always, always love Pic St-Loup. Your notes sound familiar. Will seek that one out.

Steve L. said...

Cabernet Franc fans, here's another J&F import worth trying: 2006 Sebastien Bobinet Saumur Champigny 'Amateus' Fresh, juicy, snappy acidity, perhaps a mineral streak, and well structured so, while quite nice now, could well repay mid-term aging. Classy packaging, too, or so I thought.

Skinny said...

I just started carry the Jenny and Francois wine down here in North Carolina and they have been a big hit. You should also try the wines from Cousin-Leduc and Sablonnettes. My favorite from them so far has been the Cousin-Leduc Le Cousin red (100% Grolleau
) and the Sablonnettes Les Copines aussi (100% Gamay)...althought I have not had a bad bottle from Olivier Cousin yet. He also makes this really cool sparkling wine that to me like a cross between wine and belgian beer. In a crown cap even...

Cheers,
Skinny