17 March 2014

Two Wines from Cognac One

Cognac One imports an impressive array of wines from around the world, some of which are branded under specific marques like the beautifully curated Xavier Flouret line that I've had the chance to try over the years.

Both of these are exceptional bargains and are highly recommended if they are distributed in your area. Both exhibit perfect balance in a restrained yet complex Old World style. The Portuguese red will let you experience what those grapes can do if they're turned into wine instead of Port, and the perennial favorite French rosé will make you weep over every cheap White Zinfandel that ever passed your lips.

In addition the two wines are food friendly with a wide range of dishes. I could have done a better pairing with the Douro (perhaps braised pork shanks with a shallot, dried fig, and red wine reduction), but I believe I hit it out of the park with the rosé.

2010 Quinta Do Pessegueiro Aluzé
Douro, Portugal
20% vinhas velhas, 35% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Francesa, 15% Tinta Roriz
$18, 12.5% abv.

Deep black fruit aroma with lots of plum, a touch of cinnamon, and rich cassis. Very low tannins and low alcohol contribute to a very mild red wine. It was perfect with a pizza topped with lots of cured pork, where the fruit and structure were boosted by the salt. Note that 20% of the grapes are listed as vinhas velhas, meaning "old vines". In Portugal, this is the name given to a vineyard that is old and not completely identified by ampelographers. I'm a big fan of old vines and field blends, but am still curious as to which varieties are included in that mix.

2013 Xavier Flouret Nationale 7
Domaine de Rimauresq - Cru Classé
Côtes de Provence
34% Grenache, 33% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre, 7% Carignane, 5% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Tibouren, 3% Rolle
$17, 13% abv.

This is the third vintage of the Nationale 7 that I've had the pleasure to try. Light and delicate with the most beautiful expression of wild strawberries imaginable. Firm but not tart acidity, sort of the difference between a lemon and an orange but tasting like neither. Gentle finish and amazing balance. The Rolle in the blend is the local name for what is known as Vermentino in Italy, and the general Mediterranean expression of this wine led me to pair it with clams once again...

I had some great saffron linguine and decided to buy two pounds of littleneck clams to go along with it. I boiled the pasta and drained it, setting it aside. I heated up some olive oil and gently cooked four cloves of garlic and a healthy dash of red pepper flakes, then added in a splash of the Nationale 7 and some white vermouth. Time to steam the clams, let them open, add a pat of butter, and then toss with the cooked pasta.

It's important not to overcook any of the clams, but to let the various liquids cook down to the perfect consistency before plating and topping with toasted breadcrumbs and fresh parsley. My ratio of linguine to vongole is pretty heavy on the vongole, but it was delicious and matched perfectly well with the wine. And one great thing is that you don't really have to add salt thanks to the natural saltiness of the clams. Even though it was cold and rainy on this Sunday morning in Memphis, for a moment I could imagine that I was on the sun-kissed coast of the French Riviera.

Note: These wines were provided as samples for review.

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