Friday, November 6, 2009
What's the HoseMaster Drinking?
Thierry Allemand 2004 Cornas "Reynard"
The first wine region I fell in love with outside of California was the Rhone Valley. All of it. I fell so hard I almost changed the spelling of my first name, but Valley Washam sounded stupid. I came sort of late to Cornas, after long love affairs with Chateauneuf-du-Pape (which, translated, means "new house of David Ortiz"), Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, but Cornas is a fascinating region. Cornas is a very small appellation (unlike Ricky Skaggs, who is a small Appalachian) where the wines are required to be 100% Syrah. The classic producers of Cornas are Auguste Clape and Noel Verset (Clape is sort of Pop Cornas, rather salty), a couple of old-timers who are nearing retirement (hell, they're both in their 80's, I think, so they're more accurately nearing the Grim Reaper--which, by the way, is not Kermit Lynch's nickname). But now there is Thierry Allemand, and he has begun to eclipse those old masters. Where Clape produces wines of great stature and impermeability, Allemand crafts Cornas that is ineffably elegant. For my recent birthday (Hello, Grim Reaper!), my wonderful and brilliant friend Samantha sent me three bottles of wine; the 2004 Allemand "Reynard" was one of them. Friends, this is brilliant Syrah. Allemand manages to escape the fierce tannins so commonly found in Cornas and produces a wine of great depth and balance. It seems clear he doesn't destem the fruit from the structure and mouthfeel. But you stick your nose in a glass of this and you are instantly engaged. It has great purity and power, waves of aromas and flavors. Over the course of the meal it smelled variously of blackberries, smoke, dried herbs, violets...Wow. Every sip commanded your attention with its fantastic richness and concentration and length. And, like all great wines, the last sip was the best. I taste a lot of Syrah, far too much of it from California, but I can't remember the last time I tasted one so intriguing and complex and beautiful.
Disclaimer: I received this wine as a birthday gift from a gorgeous woman. If your erection lasts more than four hours, call your doctor. Thank him