This visit was definitely a highlight on a recent trip to France. To get to Thierry's, we made the short walk -- perhaps 30 paces -- from the winery of Auguste Clape, where we were privileged to taste with three generations of Clapes. But that's for another blog post. Today the topic is Thierry Allemand, and especially the two interesting lessons that Thierry took it upon himself to teach us on that day.
Let’s talk about fried chicken. It is a perfect food (when made correctly, of course): the tender, moist interior and the crunchy, salty, skin do that magic contrast act that gets our tastebuds out of bed in the morning. And cooking the bird in breaded pieces rather than whole improves upon nature with respect to the crunch/meat ratio.
As promised in my introduction to the 10 Crus of Beaujolais, here is the first Cru-specific chapter, devoted to Moulin-a-Vent. Moulin-a-Vent is plum in the middle of the northern half of the 10 crus, sandwiched between Fleurie and Julienas. Moulin-a-Vent is a hill. The name means windmill, and the cru is named after a 15th-century windmill that sits at its top, at 258 meters.
Beaujolais is a great place to travel when you're with the team from Kermit Lynch. No U.S. importer has done more to promote the wines of Beaujolais than Kermit Lynch. Among his other great finds is the entire line up of the Gang of Four producers of Morgon: Thevenet, Breton, Lapierre and Foillard.
From Joguet we drove directly to Pierre Breton. We had hung out at Pierre’s place only a few months earlier and it was good to see him again. On this visit, unfortunately, time was quite short and we headed straight to his underground tasting room and started opening bottles.
Charles Joguet is the domaine that put Chinon on the map. Joguet liked Burgundy, especially how each itty bitty plot of land seemed to make distinct wine from its specific terroir. Joguet noticed that Chinon was a bit like that too: his great vineyards produced wines that were consistently distinct and delicious on their own, without any need of blending. He decided Cabernet Franc was a great grape variety, deserving of the full Burgundian treatment. Single vineyard Chinon was born, and the world became a better place.
If you've ever gotten a little tired of wine as it is, you should feel guilty. The wines of the world are as different and changing as the light of day. But, if maybe you might have had any doubts that there was wine enough in the world to dazzle you forever, then you might want to try Madeira. It's an effective go-to for fine-tuning your taste buds and refreshing your palate for the good old Reds and Whites.
It was a great appointment with Philippe Foreau – 90 minutes longer than he had slotted us in for – and so we were late to an embarrassing degree for our next appointment, with Pierre Breton.
After Huet we just had time to squeeze in lunch at la Geule Noire, a nice farm-to-table in a cave carved out of tuffeau stone where the chef attempts to “fuse” Basque and the local Tourainaise cuisines (razor clams, pig’s snout, pig’s feet, veal with Serrano and Manchego, washed down with the local beer Noirette and a bottle of Pinon’s Silex Noir 2010). One of the best meals of our trip and highly recommended.
Day 3 would turn out to be our longest day, and the five hours of sleep after numerous bottles of wine was not ideal preparation. Still, we managed to pile into the car early enough to arrive in Vouvray only 20 minutes late for our appointment at Domaine Huet.
We drove straight from Marc Deschamp’s domaine in Pouilly-sur-Loire to Domaine Thomas Labaille in Chavignol. Chavignol is in the Sancerre appellation, on a hill across the valley to the west of the actual town of Sancerre. The narrow country road connecting the two villages is extraordinarily beautiful, passing through hilly vineyards with great views of medieval Sancerre up on the hill. The Labaille winery is right on this road, just before entering the village.