Not my favourite, but perhaps the perfect wine for you: Domaine de Ribonnet Clément Ader 2001

No substituting a Gamay for a Malbec in today's post -- although I will say I'm going to pretty much offer a bonafide endorsement as this bottle was darned close to making it into my fave top five last year.

I thought I was the owner of all remaining bottles in Montreal back in November. And I think I was until the SAQ went and restocked the warehouse with more. Now there's enough for everyone who reads this website. Which is a good thing. Plus, not only is it back on shelves, it's still appearing as the great 2001 vintage (click on the label image for vendor product info). And because it's a typical Bordeaux blend, this wine is just starting to show off its stuff.


But you know, I guess I put all these things it had going for it aside. Because in the end -- after all the bottle hunting, schlepping them home and the copious note-taking -- I didn't think this was among my personal favourite wines. I'm down to two bottles of it and I'm not even planning on getting more of the new stock that's been released. Why? Maybe Eric Asimov's current discussion at The Pour on why people increasingly "hate" Bordeaux (or Cabernet-based wines that approximate Bordeaux) has something to do with it.

(For the record, to "hate" Bordeaux is to value taste over judgment, which, for so many reasons, is fine in wine criticism as long as you know you're doing it... Lyle Fass seems to be aware of this and I think Eric Asimov is too.)

Without further ado, here's what to hate:

This is a classically styled wine blending the big Bordeaux grapes -- 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc -- so no dangerous change-up from blackened Cahors to light-bodied Beaujolais on tap here.

It's actually classic Bordeaux grapes in the form of a vin de pays or French country wine. The vdp region is Comté Tolosan, which lays outside the doorstep of the Gironde, nestled in the Pyrenees that approach the Midi of the South of France. The location means it can only ask for a fraction of what you'd expect to pay: $18.75, or a total of exactly $225 for a case.

So this, folks, is where your bargain wine is at.

Domaine de Ribonnet Clément Ader Vin de pays du Comté Tolosan 2001 (Note: Clément Ader is not a winemaker, but rather a French aviator to whom this cuvée is dedicated.)

Eyes: Deep purple with dulled edges.

Nose: Rich red fruits, grenadine and lots of berries, stewing, with hints of licorice and leather and maybe animal, and over time, a crystal clear impression of muddled strawberries with white pepper. Yummy.

Mouth: Decanted for about two hours to open it up, the Ribonnet Clément Ader possesses dusty tannins and a gauzy minerality. It works against the fruit at first pour but after three hours in a carafe, the earthiness begins to balance fruitiness. After longer than that black fruit and licorice start to dominate the flavour profile. A solid wine that combines both the austerity of a fine Bordeaux and the sunniness of a Midi wine.

Stomach: Wraps itself around food quite well at this point. It leans on it and perhaps needs it when first opened, a half-dozen years into its life (with at least another half dozen to go).

Christian Gerber, Beaumont, Lèze, France. 13%. Certified organic wine.


Joe said...

there you go - I had never heard of VdP Comté Tolosan - amongst many VdP wines. I really need to go trolling at the SAQ someday - too bad I can't get someone else to fund my misadventures!

Marcus said...

There's not too much to stumble across, even at the VDP-friendly SAQ, so I'm not surprised. I think that there are three bottles total.

Speaking of funding, the SAQ is not giving me good answers about why the prices are going up again, when the dollar has just gotten stronger again and the GST is lower in 2008! Help Joe!

Joe said...

Hey Marcus - I finally gave up and began buying under $12 "gems" - will go through those in the next few weeks. Help?! How can I help? It is my incessant drinking that is driving up the prices!