Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dinner with a Vieux

Francois Thienpont is about as charming as they come. Just look at him...wouldn't you want to buy wine from this guy?

Born of Belgish (is that a word?) descent, his family has graced the Bordeaux landscape since the 1920's. Purchasing the hallowed Pomerol estate, Vieux Chateau Certan, the Thienpont clan has embarked upon a singular mission to create the best they possibly can from the top-notch "terroir" to which they have at their disposal. Seems simple, and at its very core, it naturally, don't use chemicals, avoid the pitfalls the vintage tosses your way, and wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, when the vine whispers to you that the time is right, you pick the fruit by hand. You ferment the grapes with its natural yeasts, you allow malo-lactic fermentation, you rack to barrels and then you wait. Easy, right?

But there is talent involved and that talent lies in the hands of Francois' brother, Alexandre. His touch with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is feather-light, a bit of an oxymoron when referring to Bordeaux. But if Pomerol is the Burgundy of Bordeaux, then Vieux Chateau Certan is the Vosne Romanee. It's velvety and sleek, certainly the most sexy of the Right Bankers. In short, I adore the wines of VCC.

Francois came to a Grapes for Good wine dinner in his honor at Culinariane in Montclair this past week. He humbly told the tale of his family's estate, described in-depth the winemaking philosophy of his wines and showcased gorgeous examples of his wines ranging from $11 to $179 per bottle. Hell, he even helped me personally double decant all of the reds prior to service. Spilling a bit, it was refreshingly hilarious to hear a Frenchman curse in both French and English! But his wit, charm and moreover, his wares won over the group who sampled them along with the devastatingly delicious delights of Chef Ariane Duarte, my hometown culinary goddess. Many proclaimed the Yogurt Marinated Lamb Chops, Vadouvan Carrot Puree, Raita, Petit Seasons Mix and Maldon Sea Salt, the best lamb to every pass their lips. High praise from the experienced foodies in attendance...

Four wines really stood out to me that night:

2006 La Gravette de Certan Pomerol - arriving in a week or so
2006 Vieux Chateau Certan Pomerol - arriving in a week or so

These wines are essential Bordeaux. Naked, honest and real...

JCB the 4th

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