Monday, November 23, 2009

TN: Pascal Janvier 2008 Cuvée du Rosier

Get ready, here's another Kermit Lynch import: Pascal Janvier 2008 Cuvée du Rosier. The varietal of record here is Pineau d'Aunis, which has all manner of bizarre characteristics ascribed to it such as the flavor of pure pencil lead and Pinot Noir spiked with Pine Sol. Moreover, the wine hails from the Loire appellation of the Coteaux du Loir (that's not a typo, Loir has no 'e' in this version), an apparent ellipse of vineyards nearly due north of my beloved Chinon and Bourgueil.

Clearly, this is not going to be your typical tasting experience. Here are my notes:
Whoa! This wine defies numerical ratings, it's in its own orthogonal space. The bouquet resembles a good Beaujolais. There's tart red fruits like pomegranate and cranberry. Then pepper and meat. The flavors are very much cranberry-like, too. Tart red fruit attacks, then the bizarre finish sweeps in. It reminded me of retsina, the Greek wine made with pine resin. While it was weird to me, it didn't make me shudder. There are dusty tannins despite the rosé-like weight and color of the wine.

There was also a slight tongue tingle, maybe due to in-bottle fermentation. Decanting will get rid of this. This would be a flaw in a generic wine, but I suspect in the curious world of 'vin naturale,' this is a feature. Regardless, the purity of this idiosyncratic wine was impressive.
Strange yet not cringe-worthy sums it up. My girlfriend felt differently, however, so this is not going to be a general crowd-pleaser. It's a food wine, for certain, as it is intensely dry and mineral-laden in nature. And I have a suspicion that very little sulfur dioxide was used, which likely means each bottle will be unique like a snowflake. In-bottle malo-lactic fermentation can yield a slight spritz of carbon dioxide as well as meaty aromas, thus I suspect there might have been a bit of ML taking place.

Flawed? Unique? Memorable? Bizarre? Fascinating? Brilliant? Welcome to the outside of the box. I'm not sure I'd want to live there as some wine geeks do (see Feiring, Alice), but it's an interesting place to visit. I think I'll take 20% new French oak and sulfur dioxide before bottling 90% of the time. This is for that other 10% of the time.

Pros: Fresh, Dry, Light Body, Food Friendly
Cons: Potential Bottle Variation, Difficult/Weird Resinous Finish
Decant: Yes, allows CO2 to dissipate
Price: $17 from K&L Wines
QPR: Fair (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)


Jeff said...

Sounds really interesting and different. Isn't it fun to taste something that up-ends all of your pre-conceptions?

CabFrancoPhile said...

Totally, this wine was a definite win. I suspect this is exactly what it's supposed be like, too, which is what I want in this price range.

Speaking of defying pre-conceptions, the Wine House has a bunch of Havens Cellars wines on close-out. The few I've had have shown green, earthy and Bretty aromas and aren't over-extracted/over-oaked like a typical Napa wine. Which, combined with mismanagement after a corporate buy-out, is probably why the producer folded.