June 2, 2008

5 Days In Joly

Out of the gate, I thought we'd test Nicolas Joly's claim that his wines require vigorous decanting (it says so on the back label) and are better after several days. Joly makes funky, complex, and sometimes extraordinary Chenin Blanc's in the Savennières region of the Loire Valley. He's a noted proponent of biodynamic farming, a New Agey, organic approach to viticulture advocated at the turn of the 19th century by occult philosopher and all-around weirdo, Rudolf Steiner (pictured). You can say what you want about Steiner, but biodynamic wines are better. Period. Perhaps this is something we'll try to prove in later trials. But for now, I think it's enough to know that wine made from grapes that weren't sprayed with chemical herbicides and dosed with petroleum-based fertilizers are preferable to the industrial wines that are (here's a very helpful list of biodynamic wineries from Fork & Bottle). Some would argue that Joly has taken biodynamics too far, as he apparently stopped using sulfer dioxide in 2003 (sulfer dioxide is an important anti-microbial agent and kills a lot of little funky things that want to mangle your wine; I've had a couple post '03 Joly's that were off. But I digress...).

Joly's most famous wine is the monopole appellation, La Coul
ée de Serrant, a vineyard that has its own AOC and is one of the best patches of terroir in France. His website claims he makes this and two other wines. And neither of the other two are the bottle we're using for this test? Bit of a mystery...

But I have photographic proof that the bottle exists (see my next post). It's called Les Clos Sacr
és, and we're drinking the 2004 vintage. I bought it at the Wine House in L.A. for $29.99.

Day 1: bottle opened, 3:34 PM. Decanted into a Riedel Decanter (from
Target! If you don't already know, Riedel makes a specialty line for Target which is the same science at half the price!). Tasted immediately after decanting to establish a baseline. Beautiful nose, with aromas suggesting off-dry. Honey, apricot and lanolin. In the mouth, not so beautiful. Thick with overbearing limestone minerality, almost bitter, nearly non-existant fruit...

First taste: 7:30 PM. After 4 hours in the decanter in the fridge, I poured a glass and let it come back towards the recommended 55 degrees (again, the back label). The nose has receded noticeably, but there are still hints of honeyed marzipan. In the mouth, utterly different than 4 hours prior. The fruit is showing and the minerality is better integrated. But it all feels a bit closed.

Stay tuned...


Jack at Fork & Bottle said...

Actually, I believe he (and his daughter) make six wines per year, plus he's made a dessert 3 times over the last 25 years or so. Not every wine is imported into the US, though...i.e., I had one in the Dordogne recently that I didn't know existed!

J David Harden said...

I know he does a base cuvée Savennières and a Savennières Becherelle that aren't imported into the US. And the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant is occasionally vinified as moelleux. But he only claims 3 wines on his website (http://www.coulee-de-serrant.com/presentation.html) I still think Les Vieux Clos and Le Clos Sacre are the same wine.

But I've been wrong before.

A lot.

J David Harden said...

By the way, I've pimped your list of biodynamic producers here at the Lab and elsewhere. And I'm sure I will continue to do. It, like the whole rest of Fork & Bottle, is a tremendous resource. Thanks for coming by.