Saturday, January 11, 2014

2010 Marigny Neuf pinot noir

"Les raisins bio d'Ampelidae," the label repeats in a rough, slanting script. Today's wine is a pinot noir from the Loire valley, an unusual combination. (We expect pinot noir to come from Burgundy, and to be put in a slope-shouldered Burgundy bottle.) My high school French is shaky, but from the PDF available it seems that the winemaker, Frédéric Brochet, "le savant vigneron," decided while working on his doctorate in oenophilia to farm organically ("bio") using as few chemicals as possible and interfering with the grapes ("les raisins") as little as possible. He got his financial backing from English friends with an interest in the romantic history of the Loire, and he calls his company "Ampelidae" after the Greek word ampelos, meaning vine or vineyard. Marigny-Brizay is the name of the commune where he farms; if you go to the website Bikely you can plan your bike trip "along the Marigny-Brizay wine route" starting from romantic Poitiers. From significant Poitiers, too. It was near here in the year 732 that Charles Martel and his 20,000 Franks defeated an 80,000 strong Muslim army entirely ready to go on slashing north through Europe, as for a hundred years other jihadist armies had already slashed through the middle East, north Africa, and Spain. It is incredible to look at a map of France and see just how far north Poitiers stands.

M. Brochet's wine is just what we had been discussing a little while ago when we told the story of the customer who returned a different pinot complaining it was "stale." Au contraire -- that one, a Castle Rock, was delicious and correct, having a pinot noir's clear light color, acidity, tart fruit tastes, and the slightly gamy or barnyard aromas that can be startling if you don't expect them. All those qualities appear again in this Marigny-Neuf. Dear things, do, do experiment with what the trade simply calls "pinots." Try particularly those from otherwhere than soda-sweet, jam-red California. Delightful.

Available from the California Wine Club, $21.

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