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Clos de l'Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Clot de l’Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Southwest of the Languedoc lies Roussillon, a region that has too often been reduced to mere suffix. Roussillon stretches from the river Aude in the north to the border of Catalonia in the South. In the West, the snow-capped Pyrenées rise above 2500m in places, with the jagged peaks of Pic du Canigou at 2,786m (9.140ft) above sea level. A sharp descent eastward brings you to back to the stifling heat of the Mediterranean coastline, where Vin Doux Naturels reign supreme. Roussillon is primarily known for these wines, which are made from partially-fermented grape juice that is fortified with alcohol before it fully becomes wine. Made from the most common regional varietal, Grenache (whether is be Noir, Gris, or Blanc) , these aperitif “wines” benefit from early ripening fruit in some of the hottest, driest vineyards in all of France. Overall Roussillon produces 90% of all French Vin Doux Naturel, the most famous of which is Banyuls, made in the southeasternmost corner of the region. In Banyuls-sur-Mer, Grenache grapes are grown on steeply-terraced schist slopes, allowed to shrivel on the vine, fermented, fortified, and aged in barrel for years at a time at which point they can achieve a depth comparable to vintage port.

The extremes of the Roussillon climate have long posed challenges for winemakers, and abundant sunshine and high temperatures have caused some natural producers to revert to old practices. Whole cluster fermentation, in which the the grapes are left with their stems during the fermentation process, combats over-ripeness and high acidity by adding a greener, fresher element to the wines. Particularly in Burgundy, where the conditions are more temperate, whole cluster fermentation has been frowned upon as being rustic and imprecise, but it has been a very useful tool for some Roussillon winemakers. Today, more and more quality red wines come from the Côtes du Roussillon-Villages appellation, where producers benefit from the distinctive black schist of the upper Agly Valley. With a focus on low yields and traditional methods of production, local winemakers have produced stunning results.

Over ten years ago, Marc Barriot fell in love with winemaking and began a journey that ultimately brought him to the Roussillon. Barriot trained at a college in Beaujolais and traveled to vineyards throughout Australia and the United States before making natural wines at a Château in Bandol, Provence. There, he was captivated by natural practices and committed himself to founding his own sustainable vineyard with terroir-driven wines using regional varietals. Barriot’s Clot de l’Origine is a collection of small parcel vineyards across five communes around Maury, in the upper Agly Valley. Practicing biodynamic since 2004 and certified organic since 2009, Barriot grows seven regional varietals (primarily Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan) and ferments them separately in whole cluster. All of the work is done by hand (harvesting, pruning, bottling, etc.) except for the steepest terraces that require a mule. Filtration is rarely used, sulfites are never added, and the results are captivating.

Soif de Plaisir, or “Thirst for Pleasure” as it is literally translated, is quite aptly named. Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah provide a high-toned, slightly funky bouquet that is distinct to natural wines. This wine is full-bodied and rich with voluptuous black currant and cherry fruit. Whole cluster fermentation yields a mouthfeel that is silken and seductive and notes of cloves and nutmeg add a depth of spice redolent of a hearty Côtes-du-Rhône. Soif de Plaisir is perfect for a chilly autumn evening with roasted squab or braised duck in red wine, root vegetables, and baked apples.

 

Rory Stamp is a classroom instructor, Wine Buyer, and cheese monger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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Pascal Pibaleau Rosé

Pascal Pibaleau Rosé

Close to the town of Tours in the heart of the Loire Valley, Domaine Pibaleau sits nestled between two of the region’s historic Châteaux: Azay-le-Rideau and Langeais. The 12 hectare Domaine Pibaleau has been family owned and operated since 1886. Here Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Grolleau are grown on organically farmed sandy-clay soil near the banks of the river L’Indre. Domaine Pibaleau has organic certification, and they work according to biodynamic principles.

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Gruyère Alpage

Gruyère Alpage

We knew it would be a fast trip, and the time spent waiting for our flight in the Newark airport did not make it any easier. Switzerland was calling and we could not have been any more prepared (and less ready) for what we were going to experience.

We landed in Geneva and made haste to the Jura region of France for a brief stop at Marcel Petite’s famed aging rooms at Fort Sant Antoine. As always, visiting Claude and the crew to taste and pick our wheels of Comté was a resounding success. The Comté offered to us was as spectacular as ever and we were introduced to new fruitières* with all new flavor profiles. This means in a few months, our customers will also be introduced to these new flavors. Exciting, but I digress…

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Reuilly Rosé perfect for summer sipping!Reuilly is a wine growing appellation in the eastern Loire Valley, not far from Sancerre. The three main grapes grown there are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and a tiny amount of Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio). Pinot Gris is a sub-clone of Pinot Noir that has a very pale, blueish-grey skin. Much of the soil in Reuilly consists of Kimmeridgian marl, a type of limestone perfect for the production of aromatic, delicate wines.

Domaine de Reuilly is a 17 hectare organic estate in the heart of this commune. Denis Jamain’s grandfather first planted vines here in 1935, when he also purchased a small parcel in the local forest. Denis has been managing the estate since 1990 and has the luck of being able to select oak trees from his grandfather’s forest to be made into barrels for aging his own wines! (more…)

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Last fall, I had the opportunity to travel to the Jura with Ihsan and Valerie, owners of the Formaggio Kitchen shops, and visit Fromageries Marcel Petite, affineur (or ager) of Comté cheese.

All cheesemongers on our counters hear a tremendous amount about Fort Saint Antoine where Marcel Petite ages their finest wheels – it is a storied and highly respected place for us – where Philippe Goux, General Manager, and Claude Querry, Chef de Cave, bring wheels of this extraordinary mountain cheese to its full potential. Here are a few photos from my first visit – a very special experience for me as a cheesemonger and cheese lover. (please click on one of the photos to open the slideshow)

Meredith Rottersmann is the General Manager and Classroom Coordinator at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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Flying into Paris

Flying into Paris

One of the great perks of working at Formaggio Kitchen is the opportunity to travel around the world in search of delicious foods. Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal, owners of the Formaggio Kitchen family of shops, feel strongly that being on the ground to meet with farmers, affineurs and food producers is the best way to find the most delicious goodies to stock our shelves and fill our cheese cases. That philosophy has yielded and continues to yield marvelously tasty results! (more…)

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Laherte Fréres, Chartogne-Taillet and Jean Vesselle Half Bottle Champagne

A half-bottle of Champagne is the perfect size for starting off an evening of romantic dining for two. The bubbles refresh and perk up your palate, but you still have room to share a full bottle of wine with dinner. Likewise, a half bottle of bubbly can give you just the right amount of buzzy cheer if you’re serving it with a bit of cheese in lieu of a large meal. Here are three of our favorite Champagne halves paired with three Valentine’s Day moods. (more…)

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