By The Glass
Domaine Dupeuble ’04 beaujolais is fine
"What's your favorite wine?" This is a question I am asked frequently. It is something I've written about more than once. Times change, after all. Tastes change. Seasons and weather change. Moods change. And I change, as well.
Last week, when I was asked the question at a cocktail party, I replied that because of the muggy conditions I was hankering for a very well-chilled bottle of French beaujolais, in this case the 2004 Beaujolais Nouveau from Domaine Dupeuble.
Nouveau? Isn't the 2004 too old? In many cases I probably would agree, but the 2004 Domaine Dupeuble was vividly fresh, alive, completely refreshing and an absolute delight to quench the thirst on this humid night. Not all producers are equal. Dupeuble is one really worth seeking out, nouveau or not. Serve it chilled -- and often.
Soon afterward, a group of us were tasting some of the "new age" red-wine makers of southern France. I often end up with a delicious, dry, pink wine from this region, because of its food-friendliness and they way it quenches the third in warm weather.
On this day, the tasting focused on a handful of producers who have risen to winemaking superstardom because of their incredible talent, hard work and passion. It was enlightening.
At the top of list is still Domaine Tempier, from Provence. The winemaker's deliciously dry, crisp 2004 Bandol Rosé, for instance, is superb. If you are looking for a wine to go with heavier soups (beef luau, pig's feet, oxtail) or fried seafood, this is the wine.
We also tried three Bandol-designated wines; two were named Cabassaou (2002 and 1996) and one named "La Migoua" (2002). All were excellent. I was instantly reminded of why I try to stash a couple of bottles of each away whenever I can. The 1996 was especially outstanding and the few years of bottle age just heightened its innate greatness and incredible perfume. I couldn't help but wish I had bought more.
Also worth mentioning are the exceptional and world-class reds of Leon Barral. Look specifically for Barral's "Jadis" (mainly syrah and grenache) and "Valiniere" (mainly mourvedre) bottlings. If you can, buy a bottle or two of each and stash them away. You will thankful you did.
Two days later, a group of us set up another tasting, this time of rieslings. Two wines were dry, "estate" rieslings from Germany's Weingut Gunderloch, a 2003 and a 1997. The younger wine was ripe, fresh and provocatively minerally, with a sweet-sour interplay on the palate and a long finish. The 1997 was more nutty, with dried-apricot nuances and a rounder, more texture creaminess.
The next two wines were from the same producer and vineyard, but this time both were slightly sweet rieslings.
The 2003 vintage was again fresh, alive, vibrant, slightly sweet with a crisp, sweet-sour finish. The 1989, was more waxy, with much more roundness, texture and harmony. Everyone was astounded at the difference.
So, as you can see, when I think about answering the question, "What is your favorite wine?" -- I first need to ask, "For which day?"
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to email@example.com