Friday, November 22, 2013

Green Man & French Horn

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Our last night in London, I wanted some French food. And some French wine. And holy Mary, I got both. Green Man & French Horn, a charming, cozy little place off Leicester Square featuring Loire cuisine and wines, including a deep selection of natural wine producers. A brisk, rainy night, we started with the freshest radishes, sea salt and butter ...
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...  followed by a salad of foie gras ...
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... and continuing with a beautifully cooked, pink, roast partridge and chanterelles ...
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... before ending with our server's suggestion of Saint-Nectaire cheese.
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Top: Les Cailloux du Paradis L'Icaunais | VdF
Bottom: Puzelat Bonhomme Le Telquel | VdF

But what put me into hysterics was the wine. I was desperate for some French wine, something interesting, something inspiring ... something with deep, deep feeling. And it's amazing that I actually found it in not one, but two bottles in one restaurant. By far the most exciting, intense wine experience I've had in the past 12 months.

What is humility? Is it to deflect praise, to spread the credit, to be unassuming? Yes. But in wine, in these wines, it's a bit more. It's that indescribable, awe-inspiring way a winemaker totally subjugates himself (or herself) into the wine. They not only express what the wine is ... they become the wine. The two wines here are not correct. In fact, many people would probably find them unacceptable. But they are unapologetically true to themselves - true confidence. Look at the first bottle, the Les Caillous du Paradis L'Icaunais. It's from Touraine, made by Etienne and Claude Courtois. It's made from the gascon varietal, a completely native (and incredibly rare) grape. On flint soil, the wines are aged in old wooden tanks and bottled in the spring. Good brightness of colour, an immediate minerality and freshness, but what's most amazing is this feeling of purity. An absolute purity, in aroma and texture. Earthy but with great finesse - an excellent example that proves that elegance and rusticity are sometimes in union.

So we finished dinner - fantastic - and I needed to have another wine. The list has all these incredible old vintages from Chinon, but I really wanted to taste another natural wine. So we sat on the bar, and the bartender poured me a Puzelat Bonhomme Le Telquel. Mind blown. Made by Thierry Puzelat, the wine pours completely cloudy, a pale, faint colour reminiscent of my father's homemade grape juice project. You smell it, and the wine smells pickled. But on the palate, that beautifully floral fruit, those red berries, those fine, compact tannins that coat your mouth in the most gripping, interesting way. Pinned down and ravaged by a Rubenesque French woman - a life changing experience. Mon Dieu.

In a lot of ways, London was disappointing. But for this night, all was right. All was right. Inspired me all over again that I want to be in this business, I need to be in this business. Humility, honesty, authenticity, the holy trinity of what it means to be a true wine. Something for me to keep in mind as I inch towards my first MBA finals.

DF

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