Friday, August 22, 2008

The Catching up Blog and Extinction

Yes, yes, I know, it’s been two months since the last post. How many times do I have to hear about it??? The only excuse I can give is that it’s been very busy at work. I’ve also had a birthday and a trip to California and Southern Oregon (yes, there was wine which will be discussed in another blog entry soon).

The hard part now is what to cover. With two months of wine under my belt as well as tons of good food, friends and fun, etc, etc, etc, choosing which thing to write about is difficult. So, I’ve decided to run a series of releases to the blog, so get ready to keep up (that's a hint to sign up for the RSS feed - see the link on the left side of the blog).

There has been a significant amount of wine consumed over these two months and I have tried to keep the “wines consumed recently” relatively updated. However, the one wine that continues to make me smile and that I head to regularly is a QPR that is not only an easy, quaffable wine, but is also very interesting as it is all but extinct. The wine?

Bodega Campo Negro Finca El Reposo Saint Jeannet 2007

This wine is just as good as a QPR can be and has a great story to boot. First, as with any QPR, the price just is amazing for the quality of the wine, generally $8 almost everywhere (if you can find it as it's disappearing fast). What is very surprising is that it isn’t in the $15 - 20 range as it is definitely that good.

The wine is a lovely pale, but vibrant straw gold with a touch of green.The nose is pleasant – with hints of honey, pear, wet stones, with some grassiness – just for grins. On the palate – dry, crisp and refreshing – think tart pineapple with lemon zest scattered about and a bit of melon to soften the blow. As a fan of both Loire and Southern Rhone white varietals, it really hits as a cross between the grape varietals common to those two areas. A friend thought perhaps Sauvignon Blanc crossed with Marsanne and/or Roussanne and I must agree. The Saint Jeannet has a wonderful mouthfeel. Even though it only sees the inside of stainless tanks, it does go through full malolactic fermentation.

Now I also mentioned there was a story associated with this wine. The grape is extinct – or perhaps the better comment is that it was thought to be extinct. Now, how they can tell it is an extinct grape variety has me a bit confused – if it’s extinct, how can they know it’s no longer extinct as there’s nothing around really to affirm that it’s the same grape or not. Hummm, if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it…

Nevertheless, it is commonly accepted that this is the Saint Jeannet grape which seems to have had origin in Greece, and then passed through Italy and France, finally coming to land in the Mendoza Valley in Argentina. There are only 4 hectares (think 2.5 acres per hectare – yes, you have to do math). The vines are over 95 years old and produce very few grape clusters per vine. Accordingly, there is not much of this great, little wine available.

The producer Bodega Campo Negro named the vineyard “Finca El Reposo” or “Resting Vineyard” to reflect the antiquity of the vines. The vineyard is location in Cruz de Piedra in the Mendoza Valley just east of Lujan de Cuyo at an altitude of 3,214 feet above sea level. The soil is stoney and very poor which really can be seen in the character of the wine.

I just love this little wine. If you haven’t had it, go find a bottle, then sit down with some grilled shrimp or fried calamari and enjoy. If you have had it, go and enjoy it again while it lasts. As always...te souhaitant le meilleur de la vigne
(wishing you the best of the vine).

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