Eric Solomon Recap: Part Three - Savoy, Sancere, Chablis, Rivesaltes, and Macedonia

March 24 2012 - 11:39 PM

One of the hidden treasures of French wine comes from the area of Savoie.   Nestled near the French Alps, Savoy (Savoie in French) wines are racy and lively, exciting, but hard to find.  Eric Solomon Selections importers, distributed by Maverick, had a lot of wines on display from the nooks and corners of France.

The first wine I started with was from Domaine Giachino (website in French – use Google Chrome to translate), featuring their '11 Abymes Monfarina, made from the Jacquère grape, a wonderful compliment to cheese fondue.  Crisp, minerally, and medium bodied, with a peachiness this was a wonderful way to wake up the taste buds.  I followed this by the same producer's Altesse Roussette de Savoie, made from the Altesse grape, also minerally, with some lemon and peach notes.   A fantastic wine, and very memorable.

Giachino's 2010 Apremont, 100 percent  Jacquère, was also excellent, having orange rind and grapefruit notes.   It's '10 Primitif, also from  Jacquère, had a pleasant floral nose.   In sum, four great wines from the same producer, which prides itself in organic viticulture and respect for the environment.

Roger Champault had two different styles of Loire whites from the Sauvignon Blanc grape featured in the tasting, both from the 2011 vintage.   the first was the Les Pierris Sancerre, which had an almost new world style to it, with a big grassy nose, a nice mouthfeel and a good finish to it.  Next, was the Clos de la Cure Menetou-Salon, a more subtle style having more citrus notes and not as much grassiness.  Both wines could lay down a couple years to mellow the wilder qualities of Sauvignon Blanc.

As the event was winding down, I got a quick taste of some Chablis from Jean Paul et Benoit Droin.  Their Vaillons Premier Crus were featured from '09 and '10.  I didn't have a chance to really do a side by side comparison, but it had a long finish, with good acidity, and the citrus and good terroir expression (more stone than chalk from what I recall) that makes for good Chablis.  

The very end of the event meant that I had to go to the sweet wine table  I couldn't find the notes on the producer but I jotted down Domaine Lafage Rivesaltes.   What little I've had from Rivesaltes is nothing short of amazing, and if I sat down and analyzed it I would come up with a huge list of secondary notes in this Vin Doux Natural fortified wine with brandied notes.  

From Macedonia, and out of the blue was Tikveš Winery, featuring some very reasonably priced wines usually at 50 or 100 percent higher prices in other parts of the world.   I thought the '11 Rkaticeli Special Selection white, from the grape with the same same, with a suggested retail price of $10, was floral, citrusy, and food friendly.    

The '10 Barovo, of 85 percent Kratosija, a red wine found in Macedonia and Montenegro, and 15 percent Vranec, was more full-bodied, with a good finish, and great acidity, but a bit tight, which is a reward for those of us who have the patience to see what this will really taste like in time.   Aged in oak for six to eight months, this could open up very well after a few years aging in bottle.  The '10 Bela Voda, 70 percent Plavec and 30 percent Vranec, was softer, but had good acidity and raspberry notes.    The folks at the table told me Plavec is the same as Zinfandel, but that theory appears to have been debunked, though Zinfandel is purported to be the father of Plavec.  (Zinfandel is the same as the Primitivo grape, grown in Apulia in Italy.)  This was ready for drinking either now or after perhaps five years' aging.

Wines from the former Yugoslavian republics and Soviet sattelites are some of the best values in wine today, with many quality bottles in the $10 range that otherwise would be sold at 50 percent higher, possibly double the price.

Part four of the series will cover Spanish wines of various types.