In my youth, I worked building dry stone walls across the UK and it is one of the more serene and meditative pursuits I've experienced. I loved spending the whole day in the countryside, searching for the right stone to fill the next space. The old men that taught me had been doing it their whole life and some were over 80 and still going. They had a tranquility and wisdom about them that was so special.
I thought I would share the above picture of the makeup of a dry stone wall as it really reminds me of how a good wine is created and the components that make it just sing in your mouth. In wine terms, the Foundation is the rock that defines the place where the grapes are grown. This and the tannins create the building blocks that provide the skeleton for everything to integrate into. The minerality is like the Footing and First Lift, which is where the wall starts to take shape. Then comes the complexity of the fruit seeping through all this like the Through Stones, which tie the wall together. Finally, you have the acids and perfume leading up to the finish, or Cope, which is the pinnacle of the wall or wine's expression. All together these components create a beautiful complete wine. A good wall built like this will last for years and not collapse. Likewise, a great wine will do the same.
Our special red wine for you this week is a product of stone walls.
Restanques de Pirbarnon 2019 ($59) is a wine from the Bandol region of France. This tiny region sits on the coast between Nice and Toulon at the base of Provence. Steep hillsides are broken up by Restanques, or dry stone walls, creating terraces in the limestone and chalk. This little area has unique soils and rock that are 150m years older than the surrounding. The limestone gives great tension and the softer chalk acts as a sponge for water, then slowly releases it during the hot Provencal growing season so the vines never get too stressed.
The blend is Mouvedre (70%) and Grenache (30%). This is the 'second' wine for Chateau Pirbarnon, which is made with younger vines and as such is more approachable than their 'first' wine (in the mouth and wallet), and it is just a wonderful glass of wine. Lovely plump fruits in the plum and raspberry area with the minerality of the limestone providing those walls of structure so the fruit is not overdone. It has such a great sense of place, you can close your eyes and hear the Cicadas chirping. Anything on the BBQ will go perfectly with this beauty, especially on the short ribs side.
Moving from limestone to volcanic wine, we come to our white for the week:
Moric Hidden Treasures Balaton 2019 ($28) This is the new vintage of Moric’s wonderful project from the shores of Lake Balaton in Hungary. It definitely wins my vote this year for best wine for the price. This 50/50 combination of Riesling and Furmint is just a gorgeous mouthful of yumminess. The acidity really makes this wine sing, but the depth and weight in the mouth are phenomenal. That wonderful Riesling minerality merges with rhubarb, pear, light honeysuckle, herbs, and lemon zest. They all just go so well together and I can sip this all day with or without food. On the pairing side, it has so much going on that it will go well with richer fish dishes, or most any pork or chicken. A wine for all seasons. Treat yourself to both these wines and sit on your wall and enjoy.