Mon Nouvel Amour

Have you ever noticed how aromas can bring back vivid flooding memories of days gone? This lovely little wine did that for me..

I hadn’t really ever heard of Jurançon much less ever had one of these regional wines, but my wife brought this back to me from a girls’ trip to Paris. I was intrigued to say the least. Jurançon is in Southwest France, by far the up-and-comer in the French wine kingdom.

I’ll call this the poor man’s Sauternes. Incredible sweetness, acidic and complex, this wine had me baffled upon first taste. I wasn’t expecting this in the wine. The viscosity obviously was the first clue I was dealing with residual sugar, but the complexity blew me away.

I love a good dessert wine or one of those nectars that makes me want to eat four pounds of seared foie gras while enjoying glass after glass of wine. This was it. Crisp bracing acidity that was highlighted by very ripe if not close to overripe fruits, think about a pineapple you’ve waited too long to cut. Unctuous sweetness meets acid, that’s all I could think of. Then the flavor memories hit.

  1. My Grandmother only bought golden raisins, she preferred their lightness and acidity versus dark raisins. She took this a step further, she ALWAYS plumped her raisins in warm water as soon as she bought them. She would then drain and dry them and transfer them to an old butter dish and put them on the counter for my Granddad to enjoy at his leisure. If he didn’t eat them fast enough, they would begin to ferment. The sweetness magnified.
  2. The next wave of flavor hit me reminding me of the chain-link fence in my backyard during my youngest years. The fence hanging with dense succulent honeysuckle vines.  I could stand out at the fence in the early morning for hours…pulling honeysuckle blooms off and sucking the sweet nectar from them. The vines were always covered in butterflies and I would be out there with them, eating as many as I could while the morning dew was still dripping from the leaves.
  3. My grandmother also made a fruit cocktail cake that was my brother’s favorite cake, every year, every birthday there was a fruit cocktail cake. It was dense and sweet; the canned fruit had now been baked into a sweet batter with cinnamon and toasted coconut. My mouth waters as I sit and type this. Grandmother would always pour me a bit of the “light syrup” the fruit was canned in. A mind-blowing treat for a 4-year-old.
  4. My first experience with lychee fruit was in my early thirties. I was attending a sparkling wine symposium taught by the magnificent Master Sommelier and Master of Wine Karen McNeil along with heralded wine maker Hugh Davies of Schramsberg Vineyards and Holly Peterson-Mondavi, an accomplished chef and wine professional herself. One of The French Laundry’s sous chef were in this week-long class with me, and he introduced me to lychee fruit. Textural and flavor explosions..

This Jurançon was all of these memories rolled into one massive memory meteoric jolt.

Pair this with panna cotta to seared foie gras…I wish I had cases of this in the cellar.