Posted by: tomciocco | April 13, 2010


For all of Pinot Noir’s indisputably great attributes, I’ve always been a proponent of blending Pinot with its looong time Burgundian vineyard-mate – the oft-maligned Gamay grape – as a way to provide just what a somewhat inscrutable Pinot  can lack – a certain cocksure acidity, and sinewy directness which can help to define Pinot’s perfume and mystery within  a more etched silhouette. 

And in fact the all-too-infrequently seen bourgogne passetoutgrain is just that – a more every day blend of Pinot Noir (singing melody) and Gamay (providing the harmony). From time to time, the hipper importers can pry a few stacks of the stuff away from the bistros and winesellers in Burgundy that serve a more local clientele.

And so it also goes a few score clicks west of Burgundy in the eastern Loire appellation of Cheverny. Pinot is blended with Gamay (in the case of the Domaine du Salvard in equal parts) and as in Burgundy, successful collaboration ensues:


Pale purple ruby color. Direct nose of cherry skin, earth, briar wood, and “sweet tarts”. Flavors of raspberry and cocoa powder are carried on a fresh, clean, and balanced frame of tart fruit acidity and tea-like tannic grip. This is not a chewy or mouth filling wine, but it still delivers a spunky pop of flavors.

 Here’s an easy formula for a quick and elegant appetizer:

Grab a fennel bulb, trim it down, slice it in 1/4 inch slices parallel to the root end and pan-roast/braise it with a chunk of butter and sprinkle of salt, covered, over low heat turning once until nicely browned. Remove to a plate to cool.

Forage for cheese – somewhere in your refrigerator, just like in mine, there is the place where the “cheese butts” live – you know, those odds and ends you save to…make dishes like this one…locate one or more soft or semi-soft cheese remnants and grate on the coarse side of a box grater (I found a knob of decent soft goat cheese and some Portuguese Flor de Estrela ) mix together.

Toast up a few pair of Italian or French bread slices in the toaster oven. Mound up the cheese on the warm bread slices, top with the roasted fennel, and dust with some hot paprika, Aleppo pepper, or as I did,with some piment d’esplette…also pictued below, Pork with prunes, shallots, and cream, and pan-roasted radishes…



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