Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A timely wine.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 6:22 PM

click to enlarge Les Jamelles Merlot

Like many people in New Orleans, my husband and I are in the midst of home restoration. While this project is underway we (my husband, son and I) reside in the carriage-house-cum-pool-house on our lot.  We are right on schedule with renovations now, just about 20 months into a 6-month project, 125% into our budget and there is no end in sight.


Because we live in a house we were planning to use only for pool users and weekend guests our entertaining capacity is exactly two.  That is us.  We have 2-stools, a minibar sized refrigerator and the only high-chair that fit in the confines of the space was one that clips onto our breakfast bar leaving Cheerio cantilevered off of the counter at such a precarious angle even Frank Lloyd Wright would be nervous.


However, our limited space and temporary living conditions do not preclude us from having dinner parties.  Most famously we invited everyone we knew in the neighborhood over for a BBQ exactly 4 days after we arrived from London and moved into the carriage house.  Tables were made of saw horses and old doors and it took us 7 tries before we found the box that contained our wine glasses.


So last night, when Nick’s plans to meet a friend for drinks fell thru because of illness and exhaustion, we decided Slice Pizza at our place was the natural answer.   Our friend Eric came over, we had amazing Pizza, ice-cold beer and great conversation.


The two guys were happily drinking beer and chatting about the economy and politics when I opened a bottle of wine, poured three glasses and returned to my perch on the sofa and waited.  It took them a minute to switch from beer to wine, but they did.  As I knew they would.  Sip.  Bite of pizza.  Sip.  “Hey – this is great wine.”  Nick picked up the bottle.”  “What is this?”  “A Merlot from Southern France.”  I answered.  “Mmmm.  It is really good.  Where did you find it?” I stayed quiet for long enough to let them think they were drinking a small vineyard wine from Southern France and enjoying it with their gourmet dinner selection. Then I let it drop, “The wine was $9.99 from Dorignacs.”    Since the conversation was largely about the poor state of the economy, it was a well-timed bit of information.

The wine was a 2006 Les Jamelles Merlot.  Les Jamelles is a Vin de Pays d’Oc – which is both a region and a designation.  The region is the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in Southern France including along the Mediterranean.  This is France’s largest wine-growing region with over one-third of the vines in France growing there.   The term Vin de Pays is the French term for country wine, just a step up from the ubiquitous Vins de Table or table wine which can be made from a blend of grapes from anywhere in France.  The d’Oc in Vin de Pays d’Oc means this country wine is from  grapes from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.  Les Jamelles has two wine makers (including a female head-winemaker, which is a bit of a rarity in France) who source grapes from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region allowing them to create consistent blends of good quality without the overhead needed to run their own winery.  The result is a good, accessible, easy drinking wine.  They  produce wines under three main labels and several different varietals and varietal blends.


Les Jamelles Merlot 2006 is a rich dark Merlot with a full mouth and long finish.  It is smooth and well balanced and is not too heavy on the palate, which makes it an easy-drinking wine you can pair with a number of dishes.  It has a rich dark berry aroma with hints of smoke while the palate is smooth with light tannins and a long finish.  It would pair well with anything from fish with a rich heavy sauce to grilled, braised or stewed meats to, well, pizza.   The wine makers say it can be laid down for 2-3 years, but I think this wine is ready to drink now.  As in tonight.  Get up.  Go get some for the debate.  You’ll need it.


You can find Les Jamelles Merlot at Dorignacs for $9.99 a bottle.




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