Though this idea is surely anathema to any hardcore red Burgundy devotee`, in my humble opinion, sometimes pure Pinot Noir is a disappointment, and can often benefit from a little companionship. That happens in Burgundy only in the form of the almost afterthought-grade wine Passetoutgrain whose name literally translates as “all grapes included”, and figuratively sort of means “anything goes”.
In reality, when it comes to passetoutgrain, everything doesn’t go, but in the place where one of the world’s great grapes is elevated to its loftiest, any adulturation of Pinot Noir is considered to be nearly a scandal. Not so in the Loire. The two “brothers” about which I speak are of course Pinot Noir, and the oft-maligned, but still very Burgundian red grape variety, Gamay.
Let’s face it, Pinot Noir can be a real pain in the ass, if you’ll pardon my French. It’s notoriously difficult to grow, and all too often what amounts to really odd or even downright cruddy wine can be passed off as the oenological version of the emperor’s new clothes. Enter Gamay.
In the Eastern Loire’s Cheverny region these two Burgundian brothers have long mixed together with the most pleasing results, and a wine from this obscure appellation is just what we drank tonight. For me, Gamay has just the right combination of color, acidity and exuberant earthiness to make it a perfect foil for Pinot Noir’s tannic structure and ethereal fragrances. Let me be clear about this, Grand and Premier Cru Burgundies have no need for the much more humble Gamay, but let’s face it, not everybody’s got the scratch to buy these kinds of wines, or want to assemble the menu to match them. So in lieu of these top Burgs, the little brother Gamay can lend big brother a real helping hand.
The menu I put together to go with this fun but still serious wine was a hash of goat cheese and smoked salmon with chives and parsley smeared on toasts as a first course, and then a main course of a roasted pork tenderloin marinated in olive oil, orange juice and zest, garlic, tarragon, parsley, and rosemary, with steamed and buttered broccoli on the side.
Le Clos de Tue-Boeuf Cheverny Rouge 2011
Slightly cloudy, pinkish ruby color. Big nose of mixed wild berries, dill pickle, toasted bread, spiced apple cider, dusty earth, lilac and violet. The palate is medium-light in body and quite elegant with a great acid/tannin balance and vivacious, round and “sweet” flavors of strawberry, cherry, and fig fruit, and secondary notes of minerals and hot cocoa. Quite long and warm finish.