Monday, March 2, 2020

Gentil and Passetoutgrains: Two Less Usual Blends Worth Seeking Out

Gentil and Passetoutgrains:
 Two Less Usual Blends Worth Seeking Out

You find Gamay in Beaujolais, hectares of it. You also find Gamay in Burgundy; not just the village of the same name but also some Gamay grapes growing. It was once a main grape here but, in 1395, the local duke declared this “disloyal grape” was to be replaced, in the Côte D’Or, by Pinot Noir (source: The Finest Wines of Burgundy).

What little Gamay is nowadays grown here is blended with Pinot Noir to make what the above book terms “a refreshing gutsy wine to drink young”. This wine has an appellation of its own:  Passetoutgrains.

The influential wine writer, grower and importer, Kermit Lynch declares that Passetoutgrains is a word based on old local patois and generally meaning “toss it all in”. Gutsy and toss it all in might put you off but the bottle below has nothing rustic or rough about it at all. Au contraire!

Sometimes hyphenated to Passe-tout-grains , it must contain more than 30% Pinot Noir, more than 15% Gamay, and the proportion of other allowable grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris) must be less than 15%. Not too sure what the exact blend of our bottle is.

I am much more familiar with the Gentil blend from Alsace, an excellent white wine, and have enjoyed superb bottles from the likes of Hugel and Trimbach. Gentil started, about 100 years ago, as a kind of toss it all in white grape blend. Today, the name Gentil is reserved for AOC Alsace wines conforming to the standards of a blend of superior quality. 

This blend must be composed of a minimum of 50% Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and/or Gewurztraminer, with the rest made up of Sylvaner, Chasselas and/or Pinot Blanc. Before blending, each varietal must be vinified separately and must officially qualify as AOC Alsace wine. Gentil must mention the vintage and may not be sold commercially until after quality control certification in bottle.
This Meyer-Fonné consists of Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

Meyer-Fonné Gentil Alsace (AOC) 2018, 12.5%, €18.00 

By coincidence, I’ve seen (on the Le Caveau website) that the Kermit Lynch mentioned previously is a major fan of Félix Meyer: “ … Félix Meyer still has humility, still has a sense of wonder, and is still capable of self-criticism. He is a seeker and a perfectionist. Quantities are limited because while he makes several different cuvées, the domaine has only eleven hectares of vines. He is a terroirist, and when he speaks of a granitic soil, the wine in your glass tastes of it.”

And this Gentil, a blend of Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, is really excellent. Light straw colour, green tints. Quite aromatic, citrus to the fore, touch of ginger too. Fresh and bold on the palate, a passing kiss of sweetness. Quite complex really but it is engagingly fruity, spice in the mix too, excellent texture and a long dry finish. A gem at the price and Very Highly Recommended.  

Indeed, many Gentils are pretty well-priced and offer an attractive entry to the area’s wines and this entry level beauty enhances the confidence to go and seek out more wines from this Alsace estate which is run on biodynamic principles. Food pairings? The man himself: “It is a pleasure wine, multi-use from aperitif to meal with friends.” Santé!

Domaine Lacour Bourgogne Passetoutgrains (AOP) 2017, 12%, €16.95 

Domaine Lacour, with Fabrice and Antonin at the helm, can be found in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune, about halfway between Meursault and the village of Gamay.

Here, the Lacour family blend Gamay and Pinot Noir, two of my favourite grapes. I was expecting good things. It turned out even better! Mid ruby colour. Beautiful aromas, mainly red fruits including strawberry. Light, smooth, gentle and elegant, it has rounded flavours, smooth tannins, and deliciously long finish. What’s not to like? Very Highly Recommended. Suggested Food pairings: BeefVealvenisonPoultry

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