C’est Pas Mal

Michael Feuerstein, the one-man side show of Pas Mal wines, came by the restaurant Friday with a few samples. He’s another one who focuses solely on French wine, especially Burgundy. Some people get Burgundy in their blood and nothing else will really do. I tasted one 2004 red burgundy, two 2005s, a Vouvray and pilgrimage in a bottle from the Rhone Valley.

2005 Burgundies, where it was a very good year, are starting to sell out and many are drinking very well right now, so are the 2004s, a lesser year.

On the roster were Les Vins de Vienne Reméage Blanc NV, Maison Merieau 2005 “La Fleuve Blanc,” Vouvray, Domaine Clos Solomon 2004 Givry 1er Cru “Clos Solomon” and Domaine Compete Senard 2005 Aloxe Corton.

The Reméage is the product of three Rhone heavyweights Yves Cuilleron, famous for his Condrieu; Pierre Gaillard, a young star of the Northern Rhone who’s moving into the south of France; and François Villard, also notable for his Condrieu. A blend of marsanne, chardonnay and viognier (and, some say, cunoise), the wine is non vintage and is made for early drinking and priced to sell. It should appear on the shelf for under $17. The name comes from the traveling between the three vineyards to select the fruit for wine. In northern Rhone argot, Reméage means pilgrimage.

A word on marsanne, which I always mix up with its frequent blending mate roussane. One provides structure and is easy to grow, the other adds finesse and is hard to grow. What does Jancis say?

increasingly popular white grape variety worldwide, making full-bodied, scented white wines. Probably originating in the northern Rhône, it has all but taken over here from its traditional blending partner Roussanne in such appellations as St-Joseph, St-Péray, Crozes-Hermitage, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Hermitage itself, where wines such as Chapoutier’s Chante Alouette show that the variety can make exceptionally good wines for ageing. The vine’s relative productivity has doubtless been a factor in its popularity, and modern wine-making techniques have helped mitigate Marsanne’s tendency to flab. It is increasingly planted in the south of France, where, as well as being embraced as an ingredient in most appellations, it is earning itself a reputation as a full-bodied, characterful varietal, or a blending partner for more aromatic, acid varieties such as Roussanne, Viognier, and Rolle. The wine is particularly deep coloured, full bodied with a heady, if often heavy, aroma of glue, sometimes honeysuckle, verging occasionally on almonds. It is not one of the chosen varieties for Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in which Clairette supplies many of Marsanne’s characteristics, but France grew a total of 1,200 ha/3,000 acres of the variety at the beginning of the 21st century. It is known, as Marsana, in north east Spain.

The wine is good and fresh. But to tell the truth, I’m kind of sick of wines with viognier in the blend. Soon, I believe, all blended whites outside of appellations will have viognier in them. It’s a favorite here in Long Island Wine Country.

What the staff liked the most was the Vouvray. My tasting note says it smelled like banana cream pie. “This wine says ‘Come and get me, I’m here'” said Michael. “It’s a slut wine.” This was after he kissed me on the hand and practiced a dip dance move, complimenting me on eye contact. It does have a little residual sugar but the acid from the chenin blanc sears right over it, and it’s a light 12 percent alcohol. It has medium body, great mouthfeel and a long finish. It should retail for under $20. I could sell this.

Got to get to work. The Burgundies will have to wait.


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1 Comment

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One response to “C’est Pas Mal

  1. Marissa Copeland

    Can you tell me how I can reach Michael Feuerstein? I want to see about getting some of his wines for my restaurant. Thank you.

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