after DRINK RIBERA, DRINK SPAIN! at taberna de haro, i stopped into the wine press across the street to see what there was to see. the selection was divided between unremarkable stuff and some promising options. i picked up a bottle of lagrein rosato from cantina convento muri-gries ($12.99, on which, more later; also see this nyt article on lagrein) and the dry chenin blanc "tradition" from domaine brazilier.
chenin blanc can be grimly ascetic, sweet with no character, or, when done right, really beautiful. in the relatively newly minted coteaux du vendômois AOC, compliant white wines must be made with at least 80% chenin blanc and no more than 20% chardonnay. the brazilier blanc sec is a 100% chenin blanc wine at the good end of that spectrum. made with native yeasts, in the glass it is a pale gold with orange tints. full of acid, but balanced with richness and sufficient residual sugar to taste vinous and delicious.
the bottle label says it has "un nez frais et complexe, avec des arômes de pêche blanche et de poire bien mûre." to this untrained nose, it was not particularly aromatic and had an unsophisticated note even after it warmed up to the recommended service temperature (50 to 54F). however, it is true that the aromas were light, cool, and fresh, and that in the mouth it had the particular juiciness of a ripe packham's triumph pear (combined with the mild fat sourness of dried apricots). this wine's flavours were less distinct than its sensation in the mouth: a mellow and pleasant tartness, hitting at the top middle of the mouth. the kind of delicious acidity that makes me want to sip and keep on sipping.
i kept it open for 4 days and experienced not much change. i liked it best when i started it out very cold (in a chilled glass) and tasting very dry, acid, and austere, then becoming more full-bodied and balanced as it warmed up—this way of drinking wine is admittedly heterodox. particularly nice with ripe pears and comté. a great deal, especially on sale.
producer: domaine brazilier
region: loire (coteaux du vendômois AOC)
grape: chenin blanc
price: $11.99 (discounted retail at the wine press)
drunk over: 4 days. resealed with the cork and stored cold.
starting temperature: approx 40F
availability: this bottle is imported and distributed in massachusetts by vineyard road (selected by thomas calder) and available for retail at the wine press in brookline.