For just over a year now, the natural wines of importer Louis/Dressner have been available in Wisconsin. “Natural” in this sense refers to a winemaking philosophy that strives to transmit the flavor of the grape into finished wine with minimal intervention. What do natural wines taste like? The flavors are immediate, yet they often have an earthy component to them. In short, these are living wines—they taste like something that’s culled from a plant with deep roots.
France (Sauvignon Blanc), 2009, $16
A mellow Sauvignon Blanc, with healthy but soft acidity and a great palate feel. Not nearly as fruity as new world Sauvignons, with a sweet grassiness. A nice salad wine.
Pinon Vouvray “Tradition”
France, (Chenin Blanc), 2009, $22
Alluring aromas of beeswax, brûléed pear and smoke. Seamless texture and flavors that recall the aromas, with surprising lift and vibrancy. A wee bit of residual sugar helps this shine with the flavors of the autumn table.
Eric Texier “Brezeme”
Cotes du Rhone, France (Syrah), 2009, $23
Deep purple hue with aromas that suggest crushed blackberries, menthol and damp earth. Stylistically opposite the California or Australian style, this Syrah is slender and tangy. Particularly fine with grass-fed beef, it also works well with richer seafood.
Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.
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