Sunday, June 3, 2012

vinibrato, "envol de la fille," NV

envol de la fille

at the wine bottega, they said: "you like jura reds? you gotta try this one!" still, i was dubious about this $35 bottle of table wine with the mysterious labeling. (vin de france is the relatively new fancy name for table wine, the stuff you quaff with your coq au vin, or whatever. no vintage can be listed on a bottle of vin de france.) i took it home, then forgot about it for about 6 months. last week, cleaning out the basement, it hove back into view. hot day = perfect for beaujolais.

jean-marc brignot is a jura winemaker who apparently now mostly purchases grapes from other regions and vinifies them through vinibrato, his négociant operation. from patchy information found on the interweb, i deduce that brignot generally works with a light touch. according to this source, vinibrato wines will not repeat names across vintages. an interesting approach. the grapes in "envol de la fille" ("flight of the daughter") are grown by cathy and jean-luc gauthier in morgon (an appellation in beaujolais).

upstairs, i popped it open. there was a rush of tiny bubbles, suggesting that fermentation had continued in the bottle. the first sip was at cellar temperature, probably in the low 50s. a pronounced dark sour cherry aroma, with the barnyard in the background (by which, of course, we mean poop). light red with purple lights, light bodied, yet tastes warmish and as if there was more alcohol than the labels claim (11%, the back label says; the front claims 12%).

i let a glass of it sit out for an hour or so. the barn vanished, replaced by camphor and sandalwood. the nose on this wine was extraordinarily powerful. for the longest time, it smelled like the stereotype of asia: the heavy perfume of roses, precious woods, exotick resins (myrrh, mastic), honeysuckle, a mediterranean hillside covered in scrub aromatics on a hot day. eventually, the resinous aromas converged into the scent of a powdery shellac cut with ethanol. was this the ethyl acetate of which wine geeks speak? not, perhaps, entirely pleasant.

on the second day, i started it very cold. the aromas were dramatically different and more austere: strawberry candy (like these morinaga hichews) and fresh-cut cedar. when it warmed up, the nose was less opulent than before, a little quieter. no longer completely distracted by the nose, i began to be able to taste it in the mouth: transparent in flavour, water-sweet like birch or maple sap, with much bright acidity. a few hours later, the cedar and candy had also gone away. no longer funky or resinous, the wine was extraordinarily clean with a bit of sparkle in the mid-palate.

then i forgot about the remaining half-bottle. when i remembered it again, it was the sixth day. i poured it cold, just for kicks, and the nose was back! but this time, powerful without being hot. in fact, it was the essence of sugary cool: blackcurrant leaf, coconut, cilantro (in a good way), fennel seed. in the mouth, the taste of fresh sweet cream and lightly cooked soft wheat. finishing it on the spot was not a problem.

a remarkable wine. and one which makes me wonder: why do i try to drink through whole bottles mere hours after they're opened? envol de la fille was way, way better on the sixth day than on the first. and why do i so often drink reds warm when they change so much as they come up through a range of temperatures? clearly more morgon (and beaujolais) is in order.

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