Thursday, December 10, 2009

Racing Toward 2010

Starting around mid-November the hands on the clock seem to speed up. The days are shorter here in the Northern Hemisphere. The requirements for family, society, camaraderie increase. While we would like to retreat and cocoon there is gift-giving to arrange. FĂȘtes to attend. Wine is obviously the perfect gift. But notch it up and round it out. Pain Vin et Fromage. That is actually the name of a restaurant in Paris. Bread, Wine, Cheese. I first ate there many years ago and enjoyed the Raclette. Grilled cheese accompanied by small boiled potatoes, pickles, pearl onions and slabs of baguette. The perfect repast. A version of the English Ploughman's lunch. Think of this as you plan a gift. A bottle of interesting wine, a loaf of excellent bread and an artisanal cheese. Done.

Some suggestions: A Sancerre Rouge, a Sancerre Blanc, a Crottin de Chavignol, and a baguette. The most intriguing part of this gift array is the Sancerre Rouge. They're not at your local grocery. My current favorite is from Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy, their 2007 Terre de Maimbray. This is Pinot Noir as an ascetic. Austere, pungent mushroom and strawberry which alone requires an extra level of understanding. But when paired with a rich goat cheese such as a Crottin from a nearby hamlet becomes harmonious and right. And with the same cheese a crisp minerally Sancerre blanc is an elegant counterpoint. The baguette is for good measure to round out the meal. Sadly, Nicolas is no longer with us. But Pascal carries on and is crafting lovely wines. Reverdy is a common family name in the area so don't be surprised if you come upon other wines from other Reverdys.

Here's another option: A luxurious Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, such as Alion from Vega Sicilia, with a chunk of aged Manchego and a container of Membrillo (Spanish quince paste.) And might as well throw in a tin of toasted Marcona almonds. Holiday in a basket. Alion, while not inexpensive, is less purse threatening than Vega Sicilia's premier offering Unico. It is a rich aromatic blast of cherry, tobacco, toasted vanilla bean and espresso. When you put this together with the salty but creamy Manchego, a morsel of sweet Membrillo and a toasty Marcona almond you have a universe of flavors, all in harmony.

You get the idea. Choose a country. Choose a wine and a local cheese. Add a condiment. You've achieved thoughtful gift status.

Happy Holidays. Peace and Wine. And remember: "Wine rejoices the heart of man, and joy is the mother of all virtues." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...Joy to the World