Some Clos Rougeard; or “Big Corks”
“there are two suns. One shines outside for everybody. The second shines in the Foucaults’ cellar.”
The Great Charles Joguet, in a quote that is necessary to add in any article about Clos Rougeard
Usually when discussing a wine it is customary to start off with the basics of farming, appelation etc. but in this case i’ll start out with the last thing to happen to the bottle before it is out of the hands of the vigneron: the corking. i would like to say first off that the pun “big corks” isn’t merely a crude joke (although it certainly is that as well). The corks that the Foucault brothers (Nadi-of-the-coolest-name-ever and Charlie) of Clos Rougeard fame use are larger than normal, of incredibly high quality, and expensive (i believe corks like these cost around 2.00 and up). This is a commitment to quality rarely seen, even from quality producers.
Now of course the size of the cork wouldn’t matter if the wine behind it wasn’t any good, and since i’m working backwards from the cork i’ll go there next. And i’ll tell you that the first time i opened a bottle i was…not terribly impressed for whatever reason. But, as certain things go, the wines grew on me (and grew and grew and grew). There seems to be an “intellectual” (whatever that means in relation to wine) component to the wines that is so rare. After about three bottles i was hooked for life, or as long as i can afford to drink them. Soon, in that lazy internet critic style that has infected so many of us, i began to use Clos Rougeard as a reference point to other cabernet francs (i hate lazy comparisons even more than tasting notes and points, and i probably do it more than i should). This is to say that these wines are unique.
Based in Saumur Champigny the Foucault brothers have become cult winemakers in the best way, through dedication, good farming (still using the plough for weed control), traditional cellaring, and (this one is tough for most people) being blessed with some of the finest terroir in which to grow cabernet franc. People selling fake cult wine should be ashamed of themselves. This is a family affair running back several generations. They make some five cuvees, the Coteaux (i can’t figure out what this one is), the straight Saumur-Champigny, Poyeux, Bourg, and the white Breze. Each wine comes from a different terroir and is treated with differing amounts of oak, with the Bourg being the wine of most reknown. Of these i have only tasted the Poyeux and the regular bottling, but that is enough to be smitten.
So two weeks ago a bottle of the 2004 Saumur was spotted at Chez Spencer and, without hesitation, ordered. Sure it could have used some more time in the cellar, but honestly if wines are drinking well young, i don’t mind drinking them young (so there, jerks). This monday, at the end of a bruising shift, i was offered a glass of the 2005 Saumur, decanted three hours. This is platonic ideal type cab franc right here. While you’re tied up in the cave looking at shadows of bottles of cabernet franc, someone is outside with a skirt steak drinking this. Both bottles were tremendous, and if i were a rich man instead of a poor blogger, i would buy more and more until i was drowning in cabernet franc (this is how i wish to die, world).
And store it for a long time. Because that’s why the corks are so big.
What to eat: i made up that skirt steak about two seconds ago, and i want that right now.
Question-of-the-post-a-new-saignee-feature-i’ll-abandon-in-a-week: i was discussing with guilhaume today about wines that you freak about and can’t get out of your head which was the inspiration for this post. What was your first freakout wine? His was Foillard, mine Belliviere.