After the first wave of electoral fever here in France last weekend, I felt like drinking something from other places.
Guess why? Well, the stupidly xenophobic party currently called "National Front" that has virtually no programme except for taking France out of Europe and throwing all non-French people out (I am hardly exagerating!) managed to get about 18% of the votes here on Sunday. At least they came in only third. In a way, it might have been better in the long run for them to come second, then they would have had to show their real and rotten mettle and would have been soundly beaten in the next round. Perhaps not on second thoughts.
Enough of that and on with some good things in life, ie 2 really good wines that I drank with friends the other evening.
1). Weingut Schloss Sommerhausen, Auxerrois Extra Brut Vintage 2004, Franken, Germany
On the left, the aperitive wine is a very fine sparkler from Germany's Franken (Franconia) region, in the centre of the country. This is probably one of the coldest wine-making regions in the world, and you can feel this in the incredibly fresh and crisp nature of this wine. The makers are obviously experts at producing sparkling wines, as this has very fine bubbles and just as much, if not more delicacy than many Champagnes. The bottle we drank was made from the rare Pinot Auxerrois grape, and was very lightly dosed as an Extra Brut (less than 5 grams, I expect). Amost clear as water in its colour, but the flavours are all there, with an incredibly delicate touch, perfect balance and good length. It leaves the palate feeling very alert and refreshed, wanting another glass.
I have seen it on sale at around 25 euros, which is not cheap, but it is well worth that. It goes to prove that one can find treasures amongst the vast mass of usually indifferent German sekt.
And here is a picture of part of their vineyards. Need some south-facing slope to get grapes ripe here, I expect:
2). Mazzei, Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2009, Tuscany, Italy
On the right of the top picture, a more classical choice (no play of words intended!) with this really good Chianti Classico from the very old family Mazzei, who have been established in Tuscany since 1435. That of course has no bearing on their ability or will to make a good wine or not, but it is a fact nonetheless. The wine is just about everything one could want from a modern Chianti: finely textured and full of fruit, with that gloriously juicy freshness that seems so regularly present in Italian reds, especially from hilly Tuscany,and just enough structure to ensure that it has the character to go with flavoursome dishes. This is not a huge overpowering wine: it proves once again that it is not necessary to be "big" to be beautiful!
I paid a little under 20 euros for this in a retail shop in Paris and it was worth every centime. When wines are that good, they just disappear so fast that you need another bottle. I didn't have one so we remained very reasonable in our consumption that evening.