By Christopher Matthews
A lingering late-winter cold spell here in the northeast US probably has most folks still jonesing for substantial comfort food dishes, paired with big, hearty reds to wash them down. This is a natural — and laudable — reflex.
But as time goes on, I find myself increasingly attracted to more aromatic, medium-to-light bodied red wines with zesty acidity, lower alcohol levels, supple tannins and bright, clear fruit – regardless of season. Elegance over brawn. And the fact is, these types of wine, like the Cab Franc-based reds of the Loire Valley (Chinon, Bourgueil, Samur-Champigny) and the Gamay wines of the Beaujolais Crus (e.g. Morgon, Fleurie, Julienas, etc.), also stand up well to, and even excel with, robust, wintery fare.
Recently, I had a stellar example of such a wine: the Domaine du Salvard 2017 Cheverny Rouge.
Cheverny is a small French wine district (AOC) in the eastern Touraine region of the Loire Valley. In fact, the AOC takes its name from a famous Chateau near Blois, which I visited some 26 years ago, when Cheverny first received its Appellation status (1993). It is a charming, bucolic region, where five generations of the Delaille family have been producing wine on the 42 hectares of sandy, clay and limestone soils of Domaine du Salvard.
Imported by the estimable Kermit Lynch, a legendary patron of quality, artisanal wines, Domaine du Salvard is best known for its crisp and minerally Sauvignon Blanc-based whites; the reds are compelling, too. I found the 2017 Rouge a few weeks back at Sipperley’s wine shop in Red Hook, NY, where a good number of Kermit Lynch wines find a nice platform.
A blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 43% Gamay and 2% Cot (Malbec), the 2017 Salvard red reflects in microcosm the grape composition of the AOC itself. Both fermented and aged in stainless steel vats, it sports a bright ruby color, an aromatic nose of spicy blueberry fruit and an elegant, energetic palate of blueberry and red currant, with a touch of black pepper, finishing clean, mineral and long. Delicious, vibrant, versatile and food-friendly – even with heartier dishes, like the mélange of kale, Andouille sausage and white beans below — this is great wine to have on hand anytime and, at $17.00 a bottle, is a no-brainer case buy.