In today's wine world, this blog and today's reviewed wine could be considered black sheep. Thoroughly blackened. Domaine Bousquet 2003 (click image above), as a French vin de pays, is all about blending lesser-known grapes -- the antithesis of popular New World varietals. And as for Weingolb, a quick scan down the index of entries in the sidebar reveals that as of this moment I have not made one mention of a single Californian wine. Ooops! Or I mean Baaa-aaa...
Well maybe black is my colour because I believe blends and other non-varietal wines are nothing to be feared, shunned or neglected. I get the impression that California has instilled in the wine-buying public a desire to drink a particular grape when they dine. Matching grapes to plates is a fine idea but so is a match based on a wine's style, terroir or any other attribute that transcends the presence of a certain grape variety.
Opening a bottle of Domaine Bousquet may be the ultimate test for followers of New World trends. It's a total mystery wine as far as the ingredients go. Like Colonel Sanders' 11 herbs and spices, the recipe here is not divulged, even within this descriptive record for vintage.
You have to be pretty proud (and possibly very French) not to reveal the grapes you've vinified to make your blend. Or maybe you just need to think about wine differently. What I mean is that this wine comes from the French department named Aude in Roussillon (of Languedoc-Roussillon, an industrious and sprawling wine region in south of France) and that might be all you really must know in order to make an informed decision about whether this Domaine Bousquet is the right bottle for you to open tonight.
Classic Roussillon style usually includes flavours of dried fruits, a dusty nose, and robustness that lends itself perfectly to simple everyday Mediterranean cuisine. It also sells for song, as many vin de pays do. This is perhaps the biggest reason not to get all fussy about whether your favourite grape is given top-billing on its label. Take a chance! The low pricepoint is like an invitation you can't refuse. Why not try something new and off the beaten path?
AN $8.95 GAMBLE REALLY PAYS OFF
The Domaine Bousquet 2003, with its secret juices and cheap cheap price, is an instant winner. I had made a flavourful and zesty gratin dish (rotini with zucchini and mushrooms with veal and pork meatballs) that carried the essence of good Mediterranean cooking; the wine had all trappings of a Roussillon as I suspected it would. The result was per-fection.
After a few sips, the wine brought more than I anticipated to the table. There was savoury quasi-coffee-ness about it. And it's hard not to notice all the wonderful jam-packed fruit shedding its sun-baked 2003 skin. The more I drank the more I remarked on how fruit-forward it was, offering up all kinds of berries.
Blueberry is mentioned in every tasting note I've come across for this wine, and while the rich and ripened pithiness of plump blueberry is definitely there, I also got fresh strawberries, topped with cracked peppercorn. This was not the effect of air opening things up since I chose not to decant and besides, mere minutes had passed since the cork came off. I guess this was a case of a hugely "food-oriented" wine accelerating upon contact with the ideal food pairing.
On the second night the wine was more cherry and more round. This made it more Rhône than Roussillon. In fact, it was reminded me of a very-cherry Valpolicella. This was not a predictable progression -- and because this is a light-to-medium-bodied wine, it was not as endearing as the night before. But then my perfect pasta dish was all gone, so it might've been the pairing that made my second tasting a little less explosive than the first.
For those of you still require convincing, please try it while it peaks now in all its youthful glory! For those of you don't require, stock up, uncork, and drink now!
J. M. Bousquet, Lezignan, France. 12%.
Ten days ago, I wrote about how I needed to stock up on some of my favourite Australian Shirazs. When grilling season is at hand, you never know when you will require one and at short notice too.
As it turns out, also 10 days ago, SAQ shops started their Easter sale. It included the Deakin Shiraz out of Victoria, which along with Jacob's Creek, is one of my favourite Shirazs. What timing, what luck!
Lucky, except the SAQ doesn't want to advertise their best-value sale items. They put out a circular that nine times out of ten promotes their bottom-of-the-barrel cuvées that have to be cleared out and instead keep the reduced Deakins and Jacob's Creeks a secret. You won't find it on sale online, you won't see it in their ads, and you definitely won't see it in the listing of sale items in that circular. But all of the sudden on the last day of the sale (which is today, by the way) you'll stumble upon an empty shelf in one of their stores and it will say you can save $2 a bottle on Deakin Shiraz. I don't mind if my wine features a grape composition that's hidden, but what on earth is the point of a hidden sale?
Dear SAQ: Raincheck please!