The boss has been lost in the Loire all summer. He’s drunk Cabernet franc, Gamay, even the obscure Pineau d’aunis and ranged from Cheverney to Chinon and Saumur. The boss will buy something from Sancerre or Vouvray when his wife wants a white, but he leans red and completely avoids wines made from Muscadet and Chenin blanc. The former is a classic pairing for shellfish, but maybe the boss shies from shucking his own oysters lest he slice one of his fingers and have to go easy on the blogging. That, or he just doesn’t want to talk about the grand cru Chablis he drinks when he heads to the Jersey shore and has Wellfleet oysters flown in from Maine.
The boss has even less use for wines made from Chenin blanc, which often contain residual sugar. After all, those Chablis are perfect with the succulent lobsters the boss favors, so he doesn’t need to pair them with chenins. But I’ve picked up a few chenins for the club, and last week I tasted one I bought and two others.
I began with a non-vintage sparkling Vouvray from Francois Pinon. The wine smells and tastes a little like sherry, because like that beverage it’s exposed to oxygen, but the bubbles and the sugar from the grapes (none is added, as is the case in many sparking wines) make for good quaffing.
I also drank a glass of Pinon’s ’08 Cuvee Tradition, a wine similar to one I picked up this winter for the Big-Time Spender. BTS is suave, single, and willing to stretch both his palate and his budget, and the wine store suggested a chenin for a pumpkin curry with naan that BTS was whipping up that weekend. BTS liked his wine, and I loved my glass of the Pinon: clean on the tongue, a slight hint of honey balanced by some acid and tropical fruit (I don’t know what anyone means by tropical fruit, but I mean intriguing, non-citrus tastes that were too shifty for me to pin down precisely.) Sophisticated, mysterious, and damn tasty at $20 a bottle.
I also went out on a limb and had a Savennieres 'Croix Picot' Chateau l'Eperonniere 2008, a Chenin named for the Loire town in which it’s produced. Savennieres can be bone-dry and needs time to age. The one glass I had previously – never let ignorance get in the way of a blog post – at Heirloom Café in San Francisco last year, was a 2000 Baumard that had a lovely, delicate nose but a much cleaner taste. This one was a touch sweet and went well with a spicy octopus dish and fritto misto, but it wasn’t in the same class as the ’08 Pinon – of which, for you law geeks out there, a certain MLipton is a huge fan according to www.cellartracker.com. MLipton was even more rapturous about the sparkling Vouvray.
Now, it would be too good to be true if MLipton were corporate law legend Marty Lipton, but who knows? Maybe the sparking vouvray flows at Wachtell, Lipton when they sign up a big deal.