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  • By Jon Rimmerman
    2/5/2010, (See more on Garagiste...)

    (CLOS DE VAURIOU Ricard) 2009 Rouge

    Dear Friends,

    As long as we're gobbling up 2009s, why stop with white wine?

    Great expectations are on the horizon for the 2009 Loire red campaign but the excitement over the deep, dark vats of smoldering Cabernet Franc will have to wait a bit. With that image as a background, we eagerly begin here...

    Domaine Ricard may be known for Touraine (blanc) but like Clos Roche Blanche, they are also known for their red wine. This is Ricard's naturally produced, 100% Gamay and it is already bottled and set to depart the cave. It is so pure and refreshing, the wine almost tastes like pulverized fruit - actual fruit, not a fermented version of the juice. Combine ultra-purity with a backbone of sifted rock and an extra shovel of oomph from the grand growing season and you have another candidate for the most popular wine of the year.

    Vinified 100% in tank, this is as reflective as it gets in the $8-10 range. You taste the fruit, earth, sun, wind and stone - just as nature intended. The wine has beautiful symmetry between extract, acidity, light tannin and what I refer to as "overall presence" with a delicious flavor of red berries left in the mouth. It is delicate but also steeped in deceptive power (just like last night's white). If you are into Flourie or Moulin-a-Vent, this wine will be very popular at your dinner table.

    For those of you new to Gamay, the grape typically produces bright, lively red wine that relies on its expression of angular minerality - not on its glycerol richness (Gamay is the polar opposite of something like Cabernet or Grenache). It is an exceptional food wine that acts as a low-alcohol accompaniment to food, not as the food itself. Many wine enthusiasts who find Gamay too lean and acidic while first exploring the breadth of the world's varietals come around to it later in their collecting career. I often hear stories about young collectors with a cellar full of Shiraz and Napa Cabernet that end up sending all of it to auction ten years down the road so they can stock their shelves with cru Beaujolais and Loire Cabernet Franc. If this sounds familiar, today's offer is just what the doctor ordered.

    Regardless of your palate preference, a bottle of 2009 Le Clos de Vauriou acts as a refresher rather than a hammer and that's the only excuse required to open a bottle any night of the week. In 2009, that excuse carries a lot more weight (must weight, in fact) but it remains a gentleman with enough dirt hidden under the white gloves to reveal its true identity.

    In the end, this is a lighthearted and grand $10 example that will be slurped and enjoyed for its induction of frivolity no matter the occasion. Due to the strength of the raw material, it will easily last for 2-4 years.

    Philip Pirrip would be proud.

    VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a terrific bargain from a top vintage.

    ONE SHIPMENT ONLY (Ricard has even less of this than last night's Le Petiot blanc):

    2009 Domaine Ricard "Le Clos de Vauriou" Touraine AOC (rouge)

    Thank you,

    Jon Rimmerman
    Seattle, WA


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