Wine Picks September 2010

Posted on September 2, 2010 – 8:17 AM | by OldManFoster
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Couly-Dutheil, “Les Chanteaux”
Chinon Blanc
Sacramento Co-op $23.99

The Loire Valley is a land flowing with chalk and honey. Tuffeau stone, the chalky soil in Vouvray, Montlouis, Savennieres, and Chinon, has been indispensable to the architecture, mycophagy (mushroom eating), and viticulture of the area. Wines made from Chenin Blanc and grown on tuffeau quiver with acidity that accentuates the mineral flavor of these wines. The inherent characteristics of Chenin Blanc — like honey and hay — are subtle, which makes it a good terroir grape. Critics, and many adherents, of the concept of terroir (the influence of the earth on wine) are quick to point to scientific research that shows no direct link between the mineral make-up of the soil and the flavor of a wine. True as that may be, Chenin Blanc grown on chalky soils like tuffeau, tastes pleasantly of chalk. That taste, combined with notes of honey, is the hallmark of these beguiling wines; and Couly-Dutheil’s Chinon Blanc is a lovely example. White wines from Chinon are rare, as the village is known almost entirely for its reds made from Cabernet Franc. I recommend you buy a bottle and open it with a warm goat cheese salad.


Georg Mumelter
St. Magdalener 2009
Corti Brothers $14.99

Alto Adige is the Italian name for the region full of alpine valleys just south of the Austrian border. The locals primarily speak German and have another name for this area, Südtirol. Georg Mumelter runs a small-scale wine farm outside of Bolzano. His home and winery are one and the same, sitting at the base of an amphitheater of South-facing vineyards. His St. Magdalener, or Santa Maddalena in Italian, is made from the Schiava grape with a little bit of Lagrein and tastes like berries with a tannic bite. Comparisons to Beaujolais are unavoidable, but it has its own inimitable Tyrolean character and reminds me even more of Austrian Zweigelt. When the Tirolese make wine, they usually have pork in mind and this is no exception.  Spring for some Speck, a salted and smoked ham that represents the cultural amalgam of this border region between Italy and Austria, and enjoy the cooler nights of September.

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