Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wine Review Wednesday (On Thursday): The Wines of Xavier Flouret

The wines of Xavier Flouret represent something new and altogether wonderful in the world of high-end wine. According to their web site, which lays it out more succinctly than I can, “Xavier Flouret Wines is a curated portfolio of high-quality, boutique wines from generations-old family vineyards around the world.” As such, and considered individually and as a collected whole, they represent both the unique vision of Mr. Flouret and his team, as well as a fascinating, individualistic view of what’s possible when small, dedicated producers around the globe put their minds and their efforts to crafting the best wines they can from the land and grapes they know so intimately.

I met both Mr. Flouret and his partner, Vincent Renault, at Italian Wine Week in New York this past January, and was impressed by how enthusiastic and determined they are to keep on finding these fantastic producers and bringing them to the market. Below are my tasting notes on three of their more recent releases--all of them, as expected, excellent.

Xavier Flouret Chenin Blanc “Fynbos” 2010, Produced and bottled by Mooiplaas Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The nose here is so evocative of honeycomb, peach, beeswax, and apricot--the complexity is fabulous, yet worn with a remarkable sense of lightness: No heavy-handedness here. With time, pineapple, lemon, lemon verbena, and toffee emerge too, as well as brown Southeast Asian spices. On the palate, it shows plenty of fresh and baked pear, quince, and a sense of lemon-blossom honey that also manifests itself in the texture. There’s so much depth here, so much nuance and concentration, all of it livened up perfectly by acidity that’s astoundingly balanced. Just a gorgeous chenin blanc, its hints of sweetness attenuated by a savory quality. Fabulous.

Xavier Flouret Quattro Canti IGT 2007, Produced and bottled by Fantascià, Sicily

There’s a notably warm, comforting nose here, with notes of fig paste, smoked plums, and chocolate-cherry caramels. On the palate, an intriguing balance between the velvety feel and the lighter body than that texture implies. It’s surprisingly complex, too, with flavors of dark cherry, more fig paste, tobacco, and, on the finish, an iron-like sense of minerality. Really well-made and complicated, with a beautiful interaction between two grape varieties that you don’t typically see together (nero d’Avola and cabernet franc). Lovely and exciting. Very well-integrated and rip tannins, solid structure, and sexy right now, though the cocoa-powder tannins on the finish, and nicely fresh acidity, promise a life of 5 - 7 more years.

Xavier Flouret uQamata 2007, Produced and bottled by Amani Vineyards, Stellenbosch, South Africa

What a nose on this wine: Sweet roasted green bell peppers that are perfectly ripe and expressive, chalk, sweet cigar tobacco leaf, and plenty of spice: Complex, integrated, and varied. Wow. On the palate, all of the notes of the nose come through with crystal clarity, and are joined by mouth-watering acidity, perfectly harmonious and sweet tannins, and flavors of cherries, wild raspberries, birch bark, licorice, and subtle minerality. The finish shows oolong tea and chamomile, and the grip here is unexpected and perfectly balanced, and makes this wine amazing right now and super-promising for another 5-7 years. Cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon.


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