May 2011

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Tale of Two Columns
Most often the menu on the table shows two sides – one white, one red. The white side has the favorites you’ve heard of, the red side has 4 wines, maybe 5. At the top of the list (read: lightest body), you see Pinot Noir, followed by Merlot, followed by Malbec or something you don’t recognize, and then Cabernet slams it home with the bass line.

Rugby on the Menu
However, once in a great while, there’s a wine that doesn’t fit the menu. Mansois is that wine. Not sure whether it’s heavy or light, tannic or not, dark or light. It defies categories. In fact, this wino went straight to the internets after trying it to find out what this strange wine involved. SW France, rustic in some parts of the region (translation: heavy and tannic), light with paprika in other parts. Almost nobody outside of the region (renowned for french rugby and Armagnac) grow this grape. So, thank you Rugby France – you’ve managed to break free of the menu in a really top-quality way.

Detail Up!
Marcillac 2009 Domaine Du Cros from Marcillac, in SW France “Lo Sang del Pais”

Fantastic body – fills up the mouth with none of the sticky tannins at the back of the tongue that clog up other wines. Bunch of strawberry and something black and sweet on the lips but kinda peppery too. Really different combination – like the first time you saw Angelina’s lips.

Google Randoms:
* Mansois has an everyman codename: Fer Servadou. Fer= iron, which should make you think twice before chopping down its vine.
* “Lo Sang del Pais” – blood of our country. Slightly heretical perhaps, but all delicious.
* The “corrida” join rugby and Armagnac on the list of SW French specialties. H/t Spain.
* Virginia plants a little of this Fer Servadou. Could use more of this here in the USA

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We’re #10!
“Romania – they make wine?” That was my reaction to my sommie friend’s description of this Romanian dessert wine he wanted me to try. To be honest, Romania wasn’t much on my mind at all. About anything. But wine they have. Loads of wine based on quick research and Sommie Seleño’s briefing. In fact, they’re in the Top 10 wine consumers in the world. Admittedly, they’re #10 but still. Australia and Portugal don’t even make the Top 10.

To the East for Dessert?
Muscat Ottonel is one of those multitude of variations on Muscatel, that Abraham of wines from ancient times. While not a native wine of Romania, Muscat Ottonel does grow in Translyvania where the Romanians make it into dessert wines. Based on the wikientry, there’s a pretty big divide on Muscat Ottonel. Whereas Western Europe (mostly, Alsace – that part of France on the German border) and Central Europe (Slovakia and Hungary) turn the grape into dry wine, Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia and Ukraine) converts it into dessert wines. I read once in a Champagne book that Russians loved their wines sweet and now I’m kinda wondering if there’s a trend toward sweet wines in the East and dry wines in the West. Only time (and tasting) will tell.

Very apricot. Sweet wine, chilled like a cocktail. Light body, heavy flavors like LiLo pre rehab. Cider looks and tart apricot taste. Strong structure, acid holds up. Overall, a one note bugle.

Detail Up!
Muscat Ottonel from DOCC Murfatlar in Romania. Unknown producer, unknown year.

Google Randoms:
* Romania has 4 big wine-producing regions: Tarnave (whites), Dealu Mare (soft reds), Murfatlar (late harvest wines) and Cotnari (dessert wines).
* Muscat Ottonel is one of the 4 best known Muscats (sorry gummo), the other three being: Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc, and Muscat Hamburg.
* Muskotaly – coolest synonym of Muscat Ottonel, is what you ask for in Hungary
* Specialty imports of Romanian Muscat Ottonel are actually available to many states in the US. Noroc!

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