Embracing the charms of dry Moscato could be your wine revelation of 2020. The grape takes on myriad forms depending on where it grows, absorbing the local flavors in a way that few other varieties can, whether it be in Alsace, Corsica, Sardinia, or anywhere else. This example, produced by the lovely Padova family in the Val di Noto of southeast Sicily, is a unique interpretation of chalky white soils, wild Mediterranean herbs, and coastal sea breeze through the lens of organically farmed Moscato. Delicate, stimulating, and completely dry on the palate, it delivers citrus zest and floral nuances with a faint bitterness on the finish that works wonders at table.
If a handful of Côte d’Or villages, like Volnay, Meursault, and Gevrey-Chambertin, have been consistently prestigious for centuries, Marsannay lies at the other end of the spectrum. Despite having been preferred by the dukes of Bourgogne as far back as the fourteenth century, it has largely been overlooked throughout the last couple of centuries, and its reputation has been on the rise only in the past few decades with the accumulation of talented vignerons such as Régis Bouvier. Why did Burgundy’s northernmost appellation languish in obscurity and misunderstanding while its neighbors prospered?
Third-generation vigneron Jean Boxler makes his world-class wines in the immaculate, storybook village of Niedermorschwihr at the eastern base of the Massif des Vosges. It’s surprisingly sunny this far north, and quintessentially Germanic. Colorful, half-timbered houses are topped with pointy gabled roofs that slope as steeply as the surrounding vineyards. Cheerful and orderly, the place is unlike any other in France, and Jean’s wines are similarly unique. He works with nine different grape varieties, all farmed organically in accordance with traditional Alsatian savoir faire. If you’re looking to spice up your wine routine in 2020, look no further than these three wines.
The unbeatable association of vin jaune with a slice of aged Comté or Bandol rosé with bouillabaisse attests to the small but hardly trivial part of terroir that resides in pairing a wine with its culinary counterpart. A good rule of thumb is to serve a given wine with its region’s typical fare. Not so with Chenin Blanc. Of all the French wines I’ve known, this Loire Valley pillar must be among the most versatile to pair with our American melting-pot cuisine and worldly specialties. Below are three expressions from Vouvray, Jasnières, and Chinon, with a few food suggestions to spark your creativity.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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