A Fun Thursday Evening at Martin Bros.

Last week, perusing the shelves in the Loire section, I came across a bottle from the Cour-Cheverny AOC. Since I thought I knew the Loire pretty well and had never heard of this AOC, I concluded someone had stuck it where it didn’t belong. I concluded wrong.

Cour-Cheverny was created in the eastern Loire, as a sub-appellation of the Cheverny AOC, especially for the local varietal, Romorantin. Widely grown during the Middle Ages, Romorantin is fast disappearing from the French vineyard. Tellingly, among its many synonyms, Romorantin is also known as Raisin de Grave.

As it happened, my neighbor Jeff, the pianist, stopped by the shop while I was doing my research. I prevailed on him to buy a bottle and give me his opinion. According to Wikipedia, it was supposed to taste something like Chablis.

Last night, Jeff came by the shop and reported. “It tastes just like the Middle Ages. Ugh, it was horrible. Don’t sell it anymore. Phooey.”

“This is how we learn,” I responded, happy to have learned secondhand.

I turned my attention to a young couple who needed my advice.  They had up to $100 to spend on a gift bottle.  After some discussion about their friend, we ruled out cognac, champagne, port, then started in on Burgundy and Bordeaux. It wasn’t going well, so I shifted gears.

“Let’s go to Italy.”

They liked that. I told them about the 2004 Brunellos from my own experience, steering them away from the 2003.  I compared Barolo with Barbaresco, then pulled out my vintage chart to close the deal. In the Piedmont, 2000 was perfection and was priced accordingly, but 1997 was almost as good and was priced within their budget.

Jeff, who’d been shopping for bargains to fill out a case, joined us at the counter to see what we’d chosen: Famiglia Anselma Barolo 1997. He was effusive about the wine, the vintage, Italy. “I can’t believe I missed that bottle. Maybe I’ll buy one.”

“You’d better hurry, there’s only one left,” the young man told him. Jeff considered; the young couple consulted.

“We’ll buy them both,” the young woman announced giddily. “Why should Lester have all the fun?”

“I envy Lester,” Jeff said when the couple left. For his help as shill and wine-taster, I showed him an under-$20 Crozes-Hermitage. “This is fun.”

It is, indeed.

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