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Fragrant, snorting cave bear WBW 29
The idea of Wine Blogging Wednesdays is that you try a bottle of whatever's nominated and blog about it, then some long-suffering person collates the entries to the common weal. This time, number 29, the wine has to be biodynamic, and Jack and Joanne of Fork and Bottle are the long-suffering, &c.
After the disappointment of yesterday's corked bottle, I'm delighted to report that a second foray into the cave yielded a perfect example of Christine and Eric Saurel's Montirius Vacqueyras 2001.
The Saurels' gaff at Sarrians is not so very far from the Chauvet Cave, which is where prehistoric man, insufficiently civilized to make wine, used to keep instead a stock of gigantic furry beasts to see him through the winter, TGIFs &c. You can see some of the graffiti here.
If you fancy the robust and warming embrace of a cave bear but don't know where to get your hands on one, you could do worse than invest in a bottle of this magnificently robust and warming blend of Grenache and Syrah. It's not the more expensive Clos Montirius Vacqueyras that Gary Vaynerchuk is tasting here; last time we sampled the two side by side we felt that the plain Vacqueyras represented better value. This vintage weighs in at fourteen and a half per cent alcohol, and although it's obviously a big wine, it's in perfect balance and has much sweeter breath (a little chocolate-y) than Ursus culpaeus can ever have had. The real pleasure for me was in the vibrant, muscular pulse of cherryish fruit that pushed through the darker flavours and dense structure of every mouthful. You won't be surprised to know that the finish is long and assertive.
On a food and wine matching note, this Vacqueyras was very nearly as satisfying with my hurried plate of egg (daughter's, discarded) and chips as a hot cup of tea would have been. More thoughtfully paired, and brought up to its optimum temperature, it could hardly fail to be sublime.
As for the biodynamics, as I've said before, the Saurels are not doing it for fun, or as a way of differentiating their wine from their neighbours', &c. One look at their website should make that fairly clear. I don't think you can taste biodynamicity, (though organic wines do generally seem to me less fuzzy-tasting, sometimes a little briefer in the finish, than their conventional counterparts) but at the same time the utter commitment of Montirius to making the very best wine possible in accordance with a set of non-commercial principles (of course they do have to run a business, too) is no bad thing in my book. Of course it wouldn't matter how organic or biodynamic they were if the wine were horrible.