Wine Review: 2008 Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie Poncié

22 07 2011

Confusing label, but quality white wine substitute.

Butter chicken was on the dinner menu tonight, but after having white wine for the last two nights in a row, I didn’t want to have it again, thus depriving me of the most natural spicy food wine pairing (as discussed previously here):  a slightly sweet, lower-alcohol, low (or no) tannin white like a German Riesling (natch) or a Chenin Blanc.  Since tannin and alcohol are notorious enemies of hot and spicy cuisine, I dug around for the red in my cellar likely to have the lowest levels of both, a difficult feat since booze and tannin are two of the hallmarks of most good red wines.  I came up with Beaujolais, a red wine region in the southernmost part of Burgundy in southeastern France that may be the world’s only premium red site focused on making wines from the Gamay grape.  Gamay is an ideal white wine pinch-hitter because it is generally light in body, fairly low in alcohol, and most importantly, extremely low in discernable tannins; it has the fruity punch of a red with the delicacy and texture of a white.  Not to say that it’s a match made in heaven with Indian food, but it stood the greatest chance of not clashing horribly.

This wine might have one of the most misleading labels for wine initiates I’ve seen in a long time.  When you look at a label, you generally want to find out the producer, region, and grape of the wine; in this case, Domaine du Vissoux, Beaujolais and Gamay respectively.  Strikes 1, 2 and 3.  This label features “Pierre-Marie Chermette” (the winery owner) in large capital letters, with “Vissoux” in tiny italics underneath.  Instead of Beaujolais showing up anywhere on the front label, “Fleurie” and “Poncié” do instead:  Fleurie is a village within Beaujolais, one of 10 top villages in the area known for making superior wine (known as the Beaujolais Crus), while Poncié is the name of the single vineyard in which the grapes for this wine were grown.  The name of the grape rarely makes an appearance on French labels; instead, you just have to know that Fleurie means Beaujolais and red Beaujolais means Gamay.  Or you have to know the URL of this blog.

Cork Rating: 2/10 (Another wasted opportunity...not even the producer's name on the cork!)

The delicacy of Beaujolais as compared to heavier red wines was immediately apparent in the glass, as this Fleurie, only 3 years old, was a transparent garnet colour with slight salmon hints on the edges.  It was still bright, though, and featured a nose that straddled the line between fruity and complex:  the immediate initial note was pink bubblegum, followed by juicy strawberry and cherry notes, then a metallic aroma almost like smelling a glass of pennies, and wrapping up with dusty, spicy undertones of cinnamon and earth.  It was textbook Gamay on the palate, with a feathery body, fairly high acidity, no alcoholic heat (the alcohol was 12.5%; a standard red these days is usually 14%ish) and very low levels of smooth tannin.  It was light, soft, floral (mainly violets) and surprisingly earthy, but the ripe exuberance of the fruit on the nose was replaced by a more bitter tinge on the raspberry/strawberry flavours, leading to a tart, peppery finish.  All in all, sort of a quieter, unplugged take on red wine.

Can I recommend it with butter chicken?  Not exactly.  It did as well as any red could be expected to do, in that it and the Indian-spiced chicken didn’t get in each other’s way.  It handled the spiciness deftly and didn’t conflict with the meal, but it wasn’t one of those wine/food matchups where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts…it was definitely still just parts.  Stick with a semi-sweet Riesling for your Indian fare (unless you have another pairing solution, in which case, let me know!).

87 points

$25 to $30 CDN



One response

27 09 2013
pochłaniacze wilgoci

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