Jasnières - $20
Coteaux du Loir Rouge "Cuvée du Rosier" - $18
Why do we love wine? What is it about wine that so captures our imaginations? Yesterday a few of us opened a bottle of the newly arrived 2014 Pascal Janvier Jasnières and stood around marveling at it, turning it in our glasses, raising them to the light coming in through the window, dipping our noses below the rims. Not just the taste, but the color, the aroma, the way the liquid played as it swirled around in the bowl. We tasted what was there and remembered what had come before it.
Wine allows us to linger in places that the rest of life attempts to rush us past. Wine is a protest against the violence, the speed, the accumulation. Reflection, memory, grace, being, a sensory impression of the history of the world. No wonder the West's founding document is ostensibly centered on a single moment, a supper, in which a man asks his companions to take, drink, remember. That's not meant as sacrilege, or provocation, but as an ode to the power of the sip.
Geology, culture, climate. Three elements that change at vastly different speeds, orders of magnitude apart. And yet their patterns reflect each other, they are dependent upon each other, and in our encounter with a wine of purity, they are expressed together as an integrated whole. Yeah, I know, the tectonics of wine is not exactly what we're thinking about when we pop a cork. Most of us just like the flavor, the buzz, maybe the cute label, whatever, all the rest is beneath the experience, even pretentious to talk about, but it's also foundational, undeniable, the way the shape of the ocean floor determines the rhythms of lapping waves. It's there, we just don't usually think about it because it's enough to watch the sunlight dance, and smile.
Not to elevate Janvier beyond his actual earthly accomplishments, which are enough in themselves to warrant praise. But to tie his humble enterprise to the great mysterious gift of wine, in the cosmic sense, because why else do we care? Without the connection, it's no never mind to be paid. Why drink this guy's moldy grape juice from half a world away? Why not vodka and Redbull?
Pascal and Dominique started renting vines in 1991, in an area that has been all but neglected since the reign of Henry IV. 66 tiny parcels of land owned by 22 different proprietors, which add up to less than one-tenth of one square mile, all managed by Pascal, who barely makes enough wine to be recognized outside his home village. And yet here we are. If you think about it too long it starts to hurt.
I've waxed enough for today, but this is one of the great small wines that holds in it the mysteries of the universe. There's nothing to it, and yet everything within it. It's dynamic, balanced, pure. The Jasnières region is the northern-most aspect of the Loire River Valley which stretches across the heart of France. It's small, out of the way, unsexy in the commercial sense. Just plain. And perfect. And 2014 is one of the best vintages they've had in two decades.
In addition to the Jasnières, we're getting in Janvier's Pineau d'Aunis, a red wine so light and vibrant you may mistake it for a rosé. A delightful summer red that will surprise you again and again.
These aren't wines you'll want to slug, but they are wines that will make you wonder: What on earth am I drinking? And that's a very good question to ask.
So come and get it. Taste. Drink. Remember.