Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wee People.....Big Tasty Wine

As we bumped along in the minivan on our way out of Burgundy, and on to Beaujolais my buddy Mairin leaned in and said, “The owners of Chignard are…um, teensy”. In true moi form I scrunched up my face and said, “Are we talkin’ like dwarf tiny or just little?” Mairin sat there wiping the water she had spit all down the front of herself, (it was that or choke on it) still not quite used to my lack of tact, and replied, “Um, just little”. This was mid January of 2008 on the Kermit Lynch buying trip, we had only met 6 days before but for some reason we just clicked…but it would take a few more days before she lost the “Oh my God I can’t believe you just said/did that look” and embraced the “PC loses in the face of funny” attitude of mine.

Now before this day I had no love for Beaujolais, more than that really, I kind of hated it. Village, Nouveau or Cru, none of it made sense to my palate and I had no place for it on my table, a fact that drove my boss Randy absolutely nuts! It took 4 days in Burgundy, tasting nothing but young wines….hundreds of them, shrill, harsh and full of fierce acidity, before Beaujolais and its soothing gentle fruit would make sense to me, and much like my friend Mairin learned…. I just had to love them for what they are.

We were scooted into a fairly large tasting area at the Chignard estate, the room was large but the furniture…was not. I looked around at the teeny, low chairs and tables that looked like they belonged in a 3rd grade class room and thought, “What the hell? Who can fit on those?” enter Michel Chignard and son Cedric. “Holy crap” I blurted, “I feel like I am in The Lord of the Rings. It’s Billbo and Frodo Baggins!”

Our Hobbit-ish friends began pouring us wine and I stood there, (yeah, stood…so not going to be the big American chick that smashes the tiny furnishings) mesmerized, at first by Frodo & Billbo and their tiny-I-want-to-pick-you-up-ness but it was the wine that ended up stealing my attention, still Burgundian in style but oh so much more willing to give up some fruit…kind of like the slightly less good looking sister, if you know what I mean.

I was reminded of this whole scene when I popped a bottle of 2006 Domaine Chignard Fleurie Les Moriers Beaujolais, ($26.99) last week, not only was I transported back to the shire but more importantly, I was reminded how delicious this wine is! Saturated with exuberant red cherry, cranberry and tons of cracked pepper. So friendly and dripping with approachable fruit but with lovely texture and a fairly grippy finish that you don’t expect from, quote unquote simple wines. I had the wine with a plate of spicy salami and strong cheese and I don’t think there could have been a more harmonious pairing for that food…well, except for maybe ham, which is why this is going to be the wine at my Easter dinner table. A big, fruit blasted wine, (without that clunky sappiness or clumsy oak) plump and round but infinitely drinkable…..a big friendly wine made by teensy little people!

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