Monday, November 22, 2010

Cotes du Rhone & Mussels

Some may think that a nice, big Rhone red is a bit too much for moules-frites, but I figure they must eat a lot of mussels in the South of France, so what's the problem. I'll just jack up the flavouring on the mussels a bit and add a little more garlic to the aioli.

We don't drink enough French wines for me to be familiar with many producers. One of the few that I tend to run across now and then is M. Chapoutier though - perhaps that's because I've generally had a tendency to drift to the Rhone and its Syrahs when it come to France. Chapoutier is certainly one of the better known names in the region.

650. 2005 M. Chapoutier Les Meysonniers (AOC Crozes-Hermitage - France)

The winery has a long history in the Northern Rhone, having been established in 1808. It's been passed down from father to son since that time; however, the winery's presence really started to build in the 1980's. World-famous wine writer, Robert Parker, had started drawing continual attention to the Rhone around that time and the newest generation of the Chapoutier family had recently taken over in the late 1970's.

The change in control also came with a shift in the winery's approach to its winemaking. It was becoming clear that the wine world was changing around them and that there needed to be a shift from quantity to quality in order to stay in the spotlight. Foremost among Chapoutier's changes was a switch to organic and bio-dyamic viticultural practises in almost all their vineyards. There was also a distinct decrease in the amount of fining and filtration that was used on the wines before bottling. Add to that an eschewing of the use of cultured yeasts over natural ones and the result is a determined expression of everything that the soil has to offer.

An attempt at a higher degree of terroir in the country where terroir is king.

All considered, the wine didn't strike us as fully as we might have hoped. Everything about the winemaking sounds right and we do love our Syrahs - but the wine itself seemed a bit lean with understated fruit. Maybe we're just a little too accustomed to big Aussie Shiraz.

Any wine, however, is going to disappear without a problem when moules-frites are on our dinner table. This was no exception.

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