I've said before that I like "little wines" - obscure wines, regional finds, things that fall off the radar and for which you need a map that doesn't include Margaux or Nuits-Saint-Georges. That said, I don't like the philosophy that if it's rustic and unconventional, it's better. Americans used to love big, shiny tomatoes or apples; now, little, warped, bruised fruits are seen as perhaps tastier, and at least a proud flag planted painfully in the foot of homogenizing big business.
But wine is different. Now I'm coming back to classicism.
Part of this springs from a straw breaking my back this weekend. Already, we were hip-deep in the largest vinous plunge I have ever taken part in (thanks to Arnaud's parents, who are world champions in the matter). So, to change tacks, to slow us down from the flood tides of St-Emilions that just kept coming at us like so many logs down a torrential Canadian river, I decided on Sunday to pop open a bottle I'd purchased a few days before at a small wine shop in the 13th arrondissement.
It was a pinot noir from the Loir-et-Cher, an independent vigneron's artistic statement of vin de pays, which was labelled (with considerable design investment) "Pinoir de Soif". Supposedly down-to-earth ("soif" meaning "thirst"; shocking! to talk about thirst when tasting wine). Supposedly unpretentious juice. So why was the price tag 11€ when you can get two good bottles of Cheverny, Anjou, or Marcillac for that much?
We opened it to go along with two roast pheasants that had been splattering away joyously in my oven for 45 minutes until Didier, Arnaud's dad, cut them up into a huge number of pieces.
I poured a little Pinoir de Soif into my glass, swirled, sniffed, and took a sip. Soap! Bananas! Some murky juicy things! CO2 burbling up. I put down the glass. "Yuck."
Arnaud leaned over and took the glass, sniffed too and sipped. "Yuck."
Ten seconds later I had the keys to the cellar in my hand and was off to seek out a 1995 St-Emilion...