Friday, January 10, 2014

a good read and some good juice

In this interview Buzz Osborne, guitarist and frontman of the Melvins, and, in my eyes, the undisputed king of not blowing it, gives us an unapologetic lesson on longevity in music. I found this to be a really inspiring read, and if nothing else, it'll turn you on to some cool music you may never have heard before, like The Cows. How have I never heard this band?


On the other end of the spectrum, I'd like to talk about a wine that isn't about longevity but is instead about instant gratification. Fleeting beauty. A place and a moment...

2013 Christian Ducroux Prologue

This wine is fucking awesome...

Beaujolais nouveau is a style of wine that is essentially barely fermented grape juice.  It's from the Beaujolais region in France and it is made from the Gamay grape using a wine-making technique called carbonic maceration. Carbonic maceration is process in which unpressed grapes are put into a large fermentation vat which is filled with carbon dioxide and sealed.  The carbon dioxide can either be pumped into the vat, or created naturally as the weight of the grapes in the top of the vat crush some of the grapes in the bottom starting a fermentation process that creates carbon dioxide as a byproduct. In this oxygen deprived environment, the grape juice begins another intracellular fermentation process inside the skins of the berries. The grapes are then pressed and the juice usually undergoes another more traditional yeast fermentation after that.  

This technique is used for a few reasons. The resulting wine is fresh, fruity, low in tannins, and very easy to drink. Another reason is that this style of wine can be made quickly, in some cases less than 6 weeks from the harvest. Every year there is a "Beaujolais Nouveau Day" celebration, right around Thanksgiving, when many of the big name wines are released. There are celebrations all over the world, and everyone enjoys their first taste of the new vintage. It looks something like this:

Critics of Beaujolais nouveau call it a marketing ploy, and dismiss the wine as being simple and not worthy of serious attention.  One critic famously likened drinking Beaujolais nouveau to eating cookie dough.  

I am not a Beaujolais nouveau-hater.  I think easy drinking, fun, fresh wines have their place.  Why should all wines have to be serious? Why shouldn't we eat cookie dough? But I understand the criticism. It is an overly commercialized aspect of the wine industry, and in addition, many of the wines are one-dimensional, candied and in some cases pretty gross.  

But Ducroux's "Prologue" is leaps and bounds ahead of any other nouveau wine I've ever had. It is unbelievably layered and complex. It has the bright red strawberry and raspberry fruit you would expect but also layers upon layers of fascinating earthy, mineral, herbal components. It felt like every time I put my nose in the glass I smelled something new. And on top of all that, it is fresh, juicy, and vibrant on the palate with great mouth watering acidity. This is by no means a big, in your face wine, but if you're willing to give it some attention it is deeply complex and satisfying. And at $13 this is about as good a bargain as you're likely to find anywhere.  

I imagine the reason for the outstanding quality of this wine is the winemaker's meticulous farming and his commitment to the nouveau style. He farms biodynamically, uses minimal sulfur, and plows by horse in order to promote soil health, all for extremely low yields. In an interview with Alice Feiring he expresses his belief that to make a wine of terroir, one should make a nouveau wine. I had never really considered this idea but it makes a lot of sense--it really is as close to the vine as a wine will ever be--but unlike many other nouveau efforts, this wine also tastes and smells like a wine of terroir, and with the layer of sediment on the bottom of the bottle you're reminded how close to the earth this wine really is.  

It is hard to imagine a better wine to accompany a simple, hearty winter meal.

I drank a bottle with a dinner of sausages in shallot and red wine sauce with fingerling potatoes and green salad, and it was perfect. In fact, right now I'm having a hard time wanting to drink anything else with any meal I cook. 

I bought a bottle at Chambers Street on a whim a few days ago, and after drinking it I immediately went back and bought 3 more. Go out now and buy a few bottles for yourself, otherwise I may buy all of them. 


Alice Feiring's great article about Christian Ducroux: 

The Chambers Street Wines write-up about this wine:

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