An Easter ham dinner set the legitimate stage for tasting one of several newly acquired bottles of Coudert’s 2008 Clos de la Roilette from Louis/Dressner Selections. Tinged with intrigue and mystery, the vineyard was originally classified Moulin-a-Vent before Fleurie was declared into existence back in the ’20s, causing an angered owner to spite France’s wine market by exporting his entire inventory every year. Since then, the vineyard has been acquired and rescued from a period of neglectful oversight, earning a developed reputation for producing long lived Gamay that can take on Pinot like characteristics over time. Besides the dust up about the loss of Moulin-a-Vent classification, there is even more that interests me about this clos and producer as referenced here by David Schildknecht:
…intriguingly, Alain Coudert has trained some of his old head-pruned vines to wires in the belief that this ultimately labor-saving measure will have no negative impact on quality, ‘though naturally he is monitoring this closely! In contrast with many of the top growers of Beaujolais, he lightly chaptalizes his wine every year, since – like many vignerons of the Cote d’Or – he deems that a useful way of prolonging fermentation. The wines are all matured for a time in large casks, but Coudert says he takes them back out as soon as he achieves just the balance and hint of maturation there that he desires.
It is not a wine to chew on and it harbors no big fruity center. It is a pretty (with a capital “P”) wine featuring dark berry pie-like aromas upon first whiff and a deceivingly lightweight attack evident in the first mouthful. Round, pleasing notes of mellow sweet cream, a touch of allspice or clove , herbal backdrop mixing with the bright side of fruit character, and a smooth and elegant mouth feel are backed up by good acidity and earthy flavors that fully coats the palate and lingers for longer than you would expect from a wine without any tremendous ripe fruit-forward profile. With sweet berries and only the most appropriate touch of heat, its long finish is an impressive treat. Clos de la Roilette sells in the low $20 range (I paid $23 in Huntington, Long Island at Seaholm Liquor) and is so individual in its nature, the only chance to taste this kind of wine is probably by supporting the Couderts and picking some up. Remember, drop any expectation of chewy fruit or exaggerated ripeness and be prepared for a pretty, classy, herbal enveloped, sweet, light, bright, and well structured package. I would drink it with some appropriately spiced white meats, strong flavored seafood, ham, game, or fowl. If this tasting note does not move you to try it, then maybe some of the unique history, current day farming techniques, and wine making approaches will. Optimistic and curious, I wonder how this wine will taste 10 years hence. Unless I stumble across more for sale, I am going to drink one bottle in 2015 and hopefully another in 2020. Best of luck to me….it would be a shame to waste the opportunity to drink the wine exactly the way it shows today.