Montlouis Sur Loire "Les Tuffeaux" 2005, François Chidains (from Paul Marcus Wines)
This aromatic and viscous beauty is a "vin tendre" cuvée, which is the sweetness level between "sec" and "demi-sec". M. Chidains grows this organically, but prefers to classify that as the obvious way to grow, rather than something to crow about. The result is a very clean wine with a pleasantly off-dry sweetness that is a perfect aperitif. I served this with Grilled Squid stuffed with Spanish pinmenton peppers and harissa, and Sicilian Pecorino Pepato cheese. The slight sweetness was a great foil to the slighly spicy, earthy peppers inside the squid and the saltiness of the pecorino.
The next course was sautéed skate with brown butter and parsley, and braised artichokes and potatoes with lots of olive oil. I wanted something tart and aromatic to cut through the buttery sauce, so I chose the 2005 Nigl's Kremser Freiheit Grüner Veltlliner. Its a simple Grüner, but has plenty of floral scents and a clean finish. I tend to pick things on the acidic side for buttery sauces to cut through the richness. My guest, A. also brought a winner for this course, a Syvaner from Alto Adige "Sudtrirol-Alto Adige Eisacktaler from Della Valle Isarco. This was remarkably similar to the Grüner, with a nice exotic scent, a nice tartness, and low alcohol.
After a simple salad of greens from the garden, it was time for dessert. I made the year's first cherry clafoutis, (from the wonderful Chez Panisse Fruit book), and cracked open a 2001 Chateau de Malle Sauternes. De Malle makes a great, though under rated Sauternes, and since the 1970s, almost every bottle I've tasted had a prolific amount of tartrates in the bottle. Not the most powerful of the 2001s, but a nice balanced Sauternes with lots of character and flavor.