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


Samantha Dugan said...

My Dear Freind,
Wow, that Samantha chick and I share similar taste, I think Thierry is making some of the prettiest wines in the region. Unlike you I came to the Rhone rather late in my wine loving/buying life. I first fell in love with the wild nature I found in the wines from the South, felt a kinship with their untamable style, (something I am sad to say is lacking more and more these days, they have been dumbed down, softened, stripped of some of that edge I so adored about them) and there was something fun or playful about those Grenache based wild kids. The Syrah based wines from the North just seemed so, I don't know...serious maybe? Took a trip to Cornas to flip my switch and Allemand was just the man to do it.
As a fan of grace and elegance his wines just sang to me, lifted me and changed my mind or opened my eyes to how freaking beautiful and pure Syrah can be. Fell in love with the Northern Rhone on a freezing cold January was the 2004 Allemand Cornas that started that love affair. So glad you liked it too. Those Samanthii, they have good taste in wine, even better taste in friends.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

How can I thank you for the wonderful birthday gifts? The Allemand was outrageously good. He may not just be making some of the prettiest wines in the region, he may be making the only pretty Cornas.

I disagree with you about the wines of Hermitage and Cote Rotie. They have more stuffing than most Cornas, but that doesn't mean they lack elegance or grace. Fred Astaire wasn't the only graceful man, after all, think Jackie Gleason. Wow, there's a stupid analogy.

Can't wait to try the other two wines, Love. I don't deserve such an amazing and beautiful friend.

I adore you

Samantha Dugan said...

I think for me to understand Cote Rotie or Hermitage I need to taste an older one...don't think I said they lack grace but there is a very serious and powerful thing that seems, (for my palate) more like the wine is marching, (straight backed, perfectly balanced and powerful...but more rigid) across my palate as opposed to dancing across I think your Astaire and Gleason analogy is perfect. Don't think we disagree, just think our palates are different....what kind of fun could we be if we both tasted the same?!

You are a truly wonderful person, (see, not going to misspel "friend" again...fuck, I hate that there is no spell check in the comments section) and I adore you as well.

Samantha Dugan said...

I just saw the disclaimer....holy crap I almost peed! Damn you are adoreable....