Wine with Dinner: Randomly Chosen in February

Epesses, La Trinquette 2013, Pascal Fonjallaz, Lavaux-Vaud (chasselas): From a parcel located adjacent to the Grand Cru vineyards of Dézaley. Shimmery, mid-straw color. An aroma of gen-mai-cha, white flowers, pear and nuts is front and center. A medium-bodied palate follows with pear-like fruit, roasted notes and a firm mineral streak typical of chasselas. The texture is fat and unctuous with the typical saline soapiness of the variety. Not a heavyweight but a very good wine.

Petite Arvine 2014, Domaine de Beudon, Valais (petite arvine): Domaine de Beudon is one of the most interesting properties in Switzerland, known as much for its colorful owner Jacques Grange as for its position as a pioneer of biodynamic methodology. Here is heroic viticulture at its finest: 900 meters altitude on a steeply terraced mosaic of parcels accessible only by private elevated tram or helicopter. Very pale straw in color. This has a zesty nose of agrumes, fresh white flowers and minerals. The palate tingles with high acid, compact lemon and grapefruit flavors with a mineral streak and and a touch of residual CO2. Super-fresh but not as fleshy as most examples of this variety. This is perhaps a good candidate for the smoothing effects of a malo-lactic regimen, but perhaps lengthy aging will serve the same purpose. I loved this but it’s a bit early to drink.

Paien 2012, Denis Mercier, Valais (savagnin): Luxurious gold in color. Very powerful nose of honey, melon, mango and marzipan. Incredibly rich and viscous palate. Very ripe surmaturité quality which is not a surprise as this domaine likes to pick late. Great weight and sweetness on the palate with more marzipan and less tropical fruit. No malo-lactic here but hard to believe given how rich it is. Absolutely no show of acid. A really fine drink.

Pinot Noir, Chalofe 2013, Thalheim, Aargau (pinot noir): Visually the Chalofe cuvée is somehow “weightlessly” pink in color and entirely transparent. It does morph into a shade of darker ruby and develops a greater herbal accent with air, but the initial nose jumps with red fruit, sweet spices, savory herbs and a mix of balsam and cedar. There is no sense of alcohol present. A big part of its appeal is textural: it offers a precise, lacy balance that seems hung together within the thinnest matrix of glycerol and fat. It is as pure and light on the palate as it is intensely flavored. There is no unfinished angle or unpolished edge. This is an architectural pinot noir of the Le Corbusier school.

Syrah 2014, Jean-René Germanier, Valais (syrah): Ruby colored with an opaque blackish core. Somewhat diffuse nose of roasted red fruit and charcuterie with a dose of stinky reductive aromas. The palate starts acidic and astringent but gives way to some savory, meaty fruit mid-palate. Doesn’t gain much beyond here before finishing slightly tannic and short. This and the cornalin below were both grocery store purchases. Take that for what you will.

Cornalin, Perles du Valais 2013, Robert Gilliard, Valais (cornalin): Gilliard owns some of the most dramatically positioned vineyards in the Valais. His separate cuvées from these steeply terraced parcels, Les Grands Murs, are well known and much sought after. This cuvée is representative of what could be called the “grocery store line” and is cornalin in name only. There is nothing unpleasant about it other than a lack of cornalin snap. There is a hint on the nose, a somewhat faded mulberry/blackberry core, surrounded by thin, washed out fruit and an astringent palate. The flavors are also washed out and uninteresting. All in all this seems rather commercial.

mondeuseMondeuse 2014, Mermoud Vignerons, Lully-Geneva (mondeuse): Violet with blue flashes. Aroma of fermentation and reduction with earthy, mushroom scents. Very tight cranberry fruit palate. Obviously just a baby and very primary but with an assertively herbal and powdered pimenton nose in combination with red and black fruit. The quality and depth of fruit is adequate to take this wine through several years of positive development. This wine has fared well in professional blind-tastings with mondeuse from the French side. Very nice wine but I think I caught it at an awkward time.

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