I am so fortunate for a wide variety of reasons, but I am most keenly aware of it when I learn something entirely new. I feel a childlike amazement in that moment, an excitement that is better than chocolate! My most recent discovery: Auvergne.
What? Where is that, you might ask. Yes, that is right, it is a region that you may have neglected, certainly have not visited, or maybe did not even know was there, but you need to know about the cool culinary treasures that derive from this region. For one, Le Puy Lentils, love love love (yes, we have them at the shop & they are amazing topped with some of Chef Jenny's house cured salmon), but that is not all. Who doesn't love Forme D'Ambert? Blu D'auvergne? That's right, now the name sounds familiar, I bet. Well, in addition to some of the best blue cheese around, you can get some fantastic and super interesting wines.
The wines of Grosbot-Barbara are unique and delicious, and not to be missed. Not to mention that the wine maker is one of the most memorable people on this planet. Dennis Barbara took over wine making from M.Grosbot in a somewhat unusual way, chosen form a number of applicants by the previous owner who had no heir to whom to leave his property. Dennis admitted that he wanted to be a winemaker for a long time, but when M. Grosbot called him to ask if he wanted to take over, he said, "well, I have to think about it." The commitment, the work, the challenges are serious ones, but he very quickly smiled and jumped at the opportunity. He admits he was lucky to be selected.
Dennis has a broad and contagious smile, he is tall and thin, and deeply philosophical. He is dancing even when he stands still. His energy is dynamic and joyful, and his wines bespeak all of his wonderful brilliance and character. There is a word that comes to my mind, and that is abundance. Abundant in all senses, and in the most charming way.
We tasted through twenty wines during a four course lunch that his wife graciously and generously prepared for us. The food was spectacular and the wines delicious, each one bringing the food to new heights. There are too many for me to describe here or you would delete this before you finished reading my analysis, but I can tell you that the wines are interesting, exciting, and great food wines.
He works with Tressallier and Chardonnay for his whites, Gamay and Pinot Noir for his reds. Mostly familiar with the exception of Tressallier, which was interestedly more widely planted in Burgundy than Chardonnay at one time not that long ago. In fact, the appellation, which only received its AOC designation in 2009, was producing highly esteemed wines in the 13th and 14th centuries, and were favored by the aristocracy during that time. Like many things, fashion changes and now these wines are overlooked, but I am going to do my best to change that, and you can help me! The wines remain a good value because of their somewhat obscure origins, so you can get a fantastic bottle of wine for a lot less.
All of his wines have a delicate quality, powerful but with freshness on the nose and on the palate, the wines sing and will charm you with their alluring subtle nuanced flavors and wonderful acidity that are a reflection of his care in production to allow the grapes to be true their character and the terroir of this unique region to shine through.
It was such a treat to visit Dennis and Melanie in their home, and even more of a thrill to see where and how he makes his wines. You can samples these and others from my travels this weekend at the shop. Babs will have them open for you and Jenn will serve up some delicious paté and some delicious cheeses for you to try along with the wines (it is almost as if you are here with me!).