Thursday, August 20, 2009

M. Chapoutier ‘Deschants’ 1997 Saint-Joseph Marsanne

You know how sometimes you get in a rut and things just seem to go along grey. Right now there isn’t really that much happening over here in Brunswick - some street work happening outside and two people bickering about who knows what in an accent I cannot seem to pick. Apart from the skies opening up and Henry spending another night crying and wanting to play, nothing much is really happening.

I needed a buzz other than coffee. So as I was sneaking past Henry’s room so as not to wake him up, and still wearing my pj’s, the thought of posting something other than, 'this is nice, this goes with that' got me going, so off I went to my recent wine archives and pulled out this gem - to write about, not drink; it is only nine in the am right now.

So here goes. M. Chapoutier ‘Deschants’ 1997 Saint-Joseph from the Northern Rhone. This is a wine I paid about $10 for back in 2003 at The Wine Societies Xmas sale where they were flogging wine that people either did not want or did not know. Ten bucks is damn cheap so I took all three that were available.

Now the ‘Deschants’ is 100% Marsanne grown biodynamically in the Rhone, and a variety that is lost in the ocean of Savvy B and Chardonnay that is on the market today. It is also a variety that can be drunk young or cellared for 20+ years. Yet it is also a variety that demands a good growing season, with natural acidity being its hallmark to a great wine.

On a side note, M. Chapoutier has since 1996 transcribed Braille on to all of their labels. Far from being a gimmick, the symbol draws on the history of the Hermitage vineyard. Maurice Monier de la Sizeranne is the owner of the plot of the Hermitage, ‘la Sizeranne’, is also the inventor of the first version of abbreviated Braille.

So the wine.

Like I said, I got all three for $30 – a steal I thought. The first one was oxidised to the be-jesus, not a good start. The second was soaked in cork-taint and at this point I was thinking I had got jibbed. So the third bottle was neatly tucked away in my cellar until last week when I was doing a bit of inventory and happened to come across the forgotten third bottle.

Now it is fair to say that I was quite pessimistic about this one, with its two siblings failing to show the goods. There was promise on looking at the bottle, with no ullage noticeable. In the glass the wine had the appearance of Botrytis orange, and at only 12.7% a/v, I thought the horse, and the wine, had definitely bolted. But alas, this one was the gem! This nose is possibly one of the best I have come across for any wine, with very noticeable honeycomb coming through in the form of the crunchie bar chocolate. In the mouth was very viscous, with wax and more honey bobbing up. The real pleasure of this wine was that Erin did not like it. More, or actually all, for me – mucho fantastico!!

Great balance, wonderful length and real complexity. Just a shame that it was my last one.

Drink now
Drink with braised Rockling with a leek and butter sauce

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