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euro scribbles: a mid-summer night’s dream at la beaugraviere.

That night, we had to go to La Beaugraviere in Mondragon. It is one of our favorite restaurants in the world. The food is very good and reflective of local specialties. Actually, they are regionally famous for their talent in truffle hunting. You can enjoy your truffles just about any which way you desire. Mostly, however, I salivate over their wine list. It has the image of an old fashioned handwritten book, featuring one region after the next, a producer at the top with vintages and parcels filed below. The hardest part is making the decision. We would need another person to help us out with a couple bottles…

Rudolphe de Pins, winemaker and proprietor of Chateau Montfaucon, joined us. We began with a 1992 Domaine Guy Amiot Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Les Vergers’ 1er Crus. A rather spotty vintage that saw a bit of rot, marked with whites of ample flesh and lower acidity, this Amiot was nevertheless divine. Though it was not as vibrant as other vintages are sure to show in more optimal conditions, it wore its year gracefully, honestly and with charm. Eastern facing vines may have kept it together a bit better as well. Rich, nutty and expressive, this wine was fully mature with flavors of stone and mushrooms. It is only just beginning its slow decent. Its evolution and complexity persisted through the evening, holding up to a variety of cheeses near the end of our meal.

When in the Rhone, why choose between Grenache and Syrah when you can have both? We enjoyed a 1995 Fonsalette as well as a 2000 Thierry Allemand Cornas. For the former, 1995 was one of the best of the decade. These wines were concetrated, fruit forward and although lacking a little acidiy, the best express a fine balance between fruit and finesse. The Fonsalette is no exception to this. Though revealing more density that I typically attribute to this ballerina-like Grenache blend, the fruit was still that of sun-kissed red berries and a dried assortment of herbs and flowers. On the palate, it fell quite evenly along the palate, even if not entirely refreshing. It wore the mark of Reynaud– a heavy hand of sandalwood, garrigue, black tea and cranberries. It has a soul that cannot be replicated in any other producer’s style. Across the board, Reynaud has  a personality in their entire line (Pignan, Chateau des Tours and, of course, Rayas) which radiates place and quite literally is like drinking all the sensations one feels when in this part of the world through eyes, ears, nose and tongue. If one could bottle an experience of the Rhone, these wines tell the story word for word. Much better than a postcard…

The Cornas was in a very delicate phase of its life. I have had it once before, maybe 2 years ago. It had a bit more fruit and timbre on the palate. Now, as I brought the glass to my nose, I received little fruit. Rather, an assemblage of bell pepper, tomato leaf and an ash tray that has been sitting for a while undisturbed. It sounds gross, but I actually mean to describe this in the most accurate way. It did not taste of ash whatsoever. And that part, in fact, faded quickly on the nose. It was quite elegant. It had a serious, studious structure almost, like it had been reading up the works of Homer before I came to try it. I loved the feeling this wine had on my tongue. It was understated and spoke in hushed whispers. It was proper and contemplative. My preference that evening was for this one, but I think it was the kind of mood I was in at the moment.

The food, as always, was very delicious. I enjoyed a warm vegetable salad of squash, carrots, mushrooms and squash blossoms followed by some lamb. Rudi was quick to order an omelette with truffes (truffles). Unfortunately, however, they brought him the same starter as I had. He was quite upset. The waiter just said ‘desole’ (sorry), as though there was nothing he could do about the mistake. Even Rudi did not seem to insist that he receive what he, in fact, ordered. He just kept huffing and expressing his disappointment, while the waiter continued to offer his empty apologies. It was all very strange to me, this whole exchange. France sure has some curious ways…  Ah well.

And so to bed, for tomorrow holds what is sure to be a great visit at Rudi’s home and domaine: Chateau Montfaucon.

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About mistralwine1982

Originally from Wisconsin, I moved to Colorado in 2005 in order to get closer to the mountains and rock climb. When it occurred to me that I would never make money with that hobby, I went to grad school. I received a masters in English and American Literature from New York University in May of 2009. I have since then opted not to pursue a PhD, for studying and writing about wine is far more fascinating (well, perhaps not moreso than Virginia Woolf, but still… for the long haul?). My favorite wines come from the old world, especially the Rhone, Burgundy, Rioja, Piedmont, and Tuscany. I am also smitten with roses, Italian hard-to-pronounce white varietals, and dessert wines from around the world. By day I run a wine shop. By nite, I sip and tell. It’s rough… but someone must do this.

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