Grapevine Archive for Josmeyer

Mon 14 Nov 2011

Biodyvin

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Biodyvin is a wonderful, eccentric, eclectic mix of growers who cultivate their vineyards biodynamically. Its aims are wholly admirable: to produce wines that reflect their origin in the most natural way possible – a concept all Wine Society members should applaud.

Naturally they have mixed success. Nature can be cruel. But at last week’s tasting the fruits of their hard work and passion were a joy. Alsace was well represented particularly by Josmeyer and Zind Humbrecht but I would like to commend particularly three brilliant producers from the Loire and the one and only, but quite outstanding, producer from Germany, Bettina Bürklin Wolf.

Bürklin Wolf have holdings in the heart of the great vineyards of the Palatinate, once the most highly valued white wine in the world. Wachenheimer, Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg make lovely, individual wines but their single-vineyard from Forst are among the greatest long-living white wines of the world.

My earliest baptism into the wines of the Loire came from Jean Vacheron in Sancerre and Gaston Huet in Vouvray. Jean Vacheron had a remarkable palate and understanding of the quality that different soils of Sancerre could produce which he passed on to his sons and to his neighbouring producers. On my first visit with Wine Society buyer John McLusky, we went with Jean on a leisurely Sancerre vineyard crawl of all the cellars of growers who might have been considered his competitors to discover the true nature of Sancerre. His childern and now his grandchildren always ploughed back the money they made into buying good vineyards and better cellar equipment. His particular favourite (and mine) is the Sancerre produced on silex (flint).

John McLusky’s predecessor, Christopher Tatham MW, introduced The Wine Society to the Vouvrays of Gaston Huet at the same time as Vacheron. Gaston had an outstanding record of resistance in the war and was mayor of Vouvray from 1947 to 1993. He also alone was able to resist the French government’s plans for the TGV which now not only did not cut through his vineyards (as the government planned) but also do not disturb the subterranean cellars because the tunnels lie deep below on specially cushioned rails. His son-in-law, Noel Pinguet, is an agnostic believer in biodynamism and his wines have a parity and longevity that would make his father-in-law proud.

The new Loire eccentric is Eric Nicolas who cultivates 14 hectares of abandoned vines of Jasnieres and the Côteaux du Loir north of the larger Loire: dry white wines from chenin, quite different from Vouvray, but with amazing personality and length of flavour.

Why don’t you try some of these wines below:

Germany: Forst Pechstein Bürklin Wolf, 2009

Loire: Sancerre La Reine Blanche Vacheron, 2010
Jasnieres Premices Domaine de Belliviere, 2009

Sebastian Payne MW
Chief Buyer

One of the many remarkable things about Alsace is the longevity of many of its wines. And to prove the point many growers still have stocks of older vintages, a very few going back a hundred years or more.

Another remarkable thing about Alsace is the time devoted to food in one way or another. And Alsace being at a crossroads in Europe with influences come from many different cultures, gastronomy is particularly varied.

Odile and Jean Meyer from Josmeyer

Anyway, these two remarkable things very happily came together one lunchtime at Josmeyer. The occasion was a thorough tasting of the 2009 vintage which is excellent in Alsace. I was also especially pleased to be with Jean Meyer again as he has had a tough year battling with ill health. There is no one more passionate about food and wine matching than he, and on this occasion Jean produced a master stroke.

The wine came first and was in itself a revelation. Jean had found a few bottles of old gewurztraminer. The vintage was 1982, great in Bordeaux of course but not that special in Alsace. Indeed it was a vintage only famous for the huge size of its crop. So Jean was expecting nothing when he thought he’d open a bottle to see. Of course it turned out rather good, even very good and so he chose it for my visit this year.

But what to serve with a 29 year old gewurz? Often the wisdom in such things is to have the wine on its own, forgiving any faults of old age and admiring its complexity, grace and depth of flavour. Not so chez Josmeyer and instead, and after much thought and a trial or two, Jean decided on a risotto which his wife, Odile prepared to perfection. The gewurztraminer grape produces wines with a lot of flavour, body and relatively low acidity. It copes well with dishes where there is some sweetness as in a risotto. Old cured ham such a Serrano from Spain and aged Parmesan work wonderfully well with old white wines such as good dry oloroso style of sherry, and for the same reason they combined brilliantly with this aged gewurz. Another marriage made in heaven!

1982 gewurztraminer is of course no longer available, but Odile Meyer was quite happy for members to have the recipe for her delicious risotto:

400g de riz Arborio rice
An onion
1.5 litres chicken stock
Really good Serrano ham, such as pata negra and preferably cut not too thinly
Sugar snap peas or mange tout
Carrot, celery and courgette, finely chopped and sautéed in olive oil until soft
A good 100g of fine old Parmesan
A couple of table spoons of crème fraîche
Huile d’olive
Glass of white wine

Finely chop the onion and soften in some olive oil
Add the rice and stir
Add the glass of white wine and then the stock, stir and leave to simmer on a gentle heat for 15 minutes
Add the Ham, coarsely chopped and the vegetables
Continue cooking for 5 minutes
Remove from heat, stir in the crème fraiche and Parmesan and serve.

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