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Be ready with compatible wines when seafood is at peak

June 11, 2018

Criticizing the wine critics by Oliver Styles made me chuckle. To get a sense of it, he writes of his favorite review, from a Naked Wine customer, "This was a free bottle. Totally delicious!" I will attach a link at the end. Too many of you guys and gals have not been reading the entire paper and ads before rushing off. The Gazetteers gotta eat, ya know. Support those who place ads with us. Tell 'em Dennis and Trish sent you.

At some point it will get warm, I promise. When it does, and the crabs and flounder are running thick, you will be happy if you bought a few bottles of 92 McD Yves & Pierre Martin Chavignol Sancerre 2015. A case of 12 sets you back $216. Bright, fresh starfruit, lime, with hints of smoky habanero. Also goes great with oysters and lobster. Those who want to get Martin's best can order Les Monts Damnés. Those damn mountains are said to be the best damn terroir in the upper Loire Valley. These run about $27/bottle. They compare very favorably with the better-known Gerard Boulay Sancerre from right around the corner. They run about 30 percent less in price. Big-buck boys and gals may want to spring for 92-point Francois Cotat Sancerre Chavignol Culs de Beaujeu 2012. This is a bellwether. Pale yellow. Spicy lime and lemongrass nose with honeysuckle nuance turns to citrus and pear flavors, and devolves to a honied floral mid-palate. Finishes very clean and long. The Cotat is far more complex. Even at $100 it is a good value.

I served it with a gorgonzola pasta sauce. Killer! Ingredients for sauce to cover 1 lb. fettucine, about six peeps: 2 tbl each butter, minced shallots, 1/2 c. heavy cream, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 lb. Dolce Gorgonzola diced. Gold the shallots in butter, stir in heavy cream, reduce about 5 minutes on low, add coriander and cheese just to blend. Toss with freshly cooked fettucine, al dente, please. Just strain; do not rinse. I like to place some butter in the water to prevent sticking. Not a good idea here. Add fresh-ground black pepper. Take note, no salt added. Some like more sauce. This recipe multiplies easily; the math challenged can use a calculator. Takes longer to reduce for larger quantities.

Recently all the scribblers, including moi, have been writing up S.A. Carignan. Some are quite good. I decided to revisit some from a longtime great, Cotes Catalanes, Roussanne producers, Eliane and Jean Marc LaFage. As expected, the Tessellae Old Vines Carignan 2015, from 70-year-old vines, was up to snuff. These folks consistently rate 88-91 when I review them across a wide spectrum of wine. I think, due to their roughly $156/12 case price point, I can add 2 price points and get it to 91. These are wonderful value under $170/case or $15/bottle. The 2014 Nicolas Grenache Noir, 100 percent Grenache, has black raspberry, licorice and crushed violets, smooth tannins, 89 McD. The Cuvee Centenaire has floral, citrus and apple aromas, which move to grapefruit and lemon flavors, dry with very clean finish. Think seafood and butter, hold the lemon, 91 McD; it is also excellent and in the same price range.

Folks, beware of writers labeling wines as fruit bombs, and slamming RP and his palate. While I sometime disagree with RP, I respect his opinion. In too many cases, the skinny, open-shirted or emaciated androgynous soms and their enablers, "modern" wine writers, are trying to drive the herd to lean, austere, acidic, floral wines, from obscure patches of land high in the Himalayas or on the banks of the Orinoco. As a longtime wino, I went through the dumbing-down of Cali wine in the '80s. Then the trend to huge, fruit-forward high alcohol in the '80s and '90s. Through it all, the best producers stuck to their guns, letting the terroir speak. Long experience informs our evolving palates, not what some effete wine blabber like myself wants. At the risk of having the wine police, child welfare and the FBI knocking at my door for child abuse, next time you see one of the kiddies filching a drink from the table, let them proceed and check out their face. You will note their clear complexion. "Variety is the spice of life" has been around forever, because it is true. As promised, here is a fun read: www.wine-searcher.com/m/2018/05/criticizing-the-wine-critics.