In both cases, drinking 2005 Clos Rougeard (click for review) and luxuriating over dinner at Barbara Lynch’s Menton (click for review) in Boston’s Fort Point extension last week were opportunities for critical return visits. I first tasted the entry level 2005 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny a couple of months back and made my one and only previous visit to Menton in April, just a few weeks after the restaurant opened. Only this trip around, I stepped up to the 2005 Clos Rougeard Les Poyeux, the Menton project had more time under its belt, we shared dinner with our friends Jeffrey and Jennifer Loomis from Loomis Family Vineyards, and I lost my iPhone containing the tasting notes and photos of the evening.
It is a funny coincidence that on an evening featuring a singularly unforgettable wine and food pairing achievement, of the nature that becomes eternally emblazoned in memory banks of wine and food enthusiasts, I lose my notes and images. In this case, the tragedy of coincidence was eased since notes are less meaningful when the moment of perfection is as clear and concise as it presented itself this evening.
The 2005 Clos Rougeard Les Poyeux, figuratively, knocked me backwards. If the ’05 Saumur-Champigny I tasted (and raved about) a couple months back had sweet, bright, rich, cherry liqueur characteristics then the Les Poyeux cranked it one more level, relying on some new and some one year-old wood barrels and fruit from a specific sandy soiled vineyard bearing 40-something year old Cabernet Franc vines, and delivered a more brooding but completely approachable and enjoyable black fruited wine with exotic aromatics of truffle, earth, game, and flora. Inexplicably, there is also mineral and fruity ripeness striking fitting partnerships with the previously noted rustic characteristics. Consistent with the entry level bottling of Saumur-Champigny, the mouth feel is thick and silky, almost defying the dramatic component flavors and aromatics. There so much going on in this wine, and it is simply as good a wine as I could ever want to drink. Every sip is a magical wine moment, and you can buy it at retail for $75. If I recall correctly, it is on the Menton list for approximately $160. You would be hard pressed to find a wine as profound, enjoyable, or unique on the restaurant’s Burgundy-rich list even close to that price. I ponder the similarly magical experiences I have had with top single vineyard wines from the Northern Rhone and Burgundy and just don’t see what they offer that ought to command 2X-4X the price of this exotic and alluring Cab Franc made by the Loire’s Foucault brothers. It is a complete steal in its price range, and justifies a serious corner spot in collectors’ cellars. Everything I suspect, read, or hear about these wines indicate they age really well and advance in favorable ways.
This wine is an ultimate “Wine-Zag”; a wine so many have never heard of at a quality level very few ever get to experience….and at a price that is not cheap, but justified in all ways.
I want to share only one small moment at Menton this evening. Certainly, the entire episode was perfect with Champagne, Sancerre, and multiple courses of pin point perfectly presented dishes providing explosive flavor and texture. And every little detail that was just slightly out of place a few weeks after opening was never in evidence this time around. But it is white truffle season and when we settled on a prixe fixe menu instead of the Chef’s tasting menu, we added in a truffle course accompanied three ways: eggs, single ravioli, and risotto. The eggs were airy and rich all at once, the fresh pasta was firm enough to hold onto the loose egg yolk center until the first cut, and the risotto was coarse and creamy with the required restrained flavors to grant top billing to the truffles.
These white truffles and the Clos Rougeard were perfectly matched. The pairing was a certain accident, but a rare and memorable moment of harmony nevertheless. There was one moment that I sat in my chair, enjoying the warmth of the company of my wife and two good friends I just dont see often enough, holding the wine to my nose, noticing the lingering truffle finish of the risotto and the shot of earthy truffles flowing out of the wine, and I thought for that one moment that food, wine, and dining could just not get any better.