Perennial summer value
Here's an excellent response to our Netscape WineLovers Community poll on your favorite summer sipping wine: Domaine de Pouy, a crisp and snappy white from the Gascogne region in Southwestern France, is now on retail shelves hereabouts with the fresh 2004 vintage, and it's a fine potable for a hot summer day, with or without a meal.
Armagnac, like Cognac and all other brandies, is distilled from grape wine, and the base wine used in both regions is a simple, acidic, neutrally flavored white made from varieties that, in the wine universe, are lightly regarded. Ugni Blanc (known in Italy as Trebbiano) is the top grape; Colombard is another. Ugni Blanc in particular is so heavily planted that it is the No. 1 variety in France in vineyard acreage, but virtually all of it goes into brandies. Only a small amount ends up in consumer wine, most of it forgettable.
Domaine de Pouy is an exception, a perennial value favorite that the producer, P. Grassa Fille & Fils (particularly the winemaker fils, Yves Grassa) makes primarily for U.S. sale through importer Robert Kacher. A blend of 80 percent Ugni Blanc and 20 percent Colombard, it's handled with exceptional care, cool-fermented to retain its fruit, kept three months on its yeast lees to impart complexity, never touched by oak and closed with a synthetic stopper.
Domaine de Pouy 2004 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne ($11)
This is a clear, straw-color wine with fresh citrus aromas of lemon, lime and a touch of grapefruit. Crisp, clean and tart flavors, juicy citrus and zippy acidity, food-friendly and refreshing. A surprising tangy-citric aftertaste hung on and on, an odd but not entirely unpleasant phenomenon. U.S. importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2006)
FOOD MATCH: An excellent seafood match, it went beautifully with fish cakes fashioned from leftover halibut and shredded potatoes.
VALUE: It wasn't a bad value even at the $11 price I paid, but that's the highest price I've ever seen anywhere for Domaine de Pouy. It is widely available under $9 and, in a few markets, as low as $6, at which point it's worth buying by the case.
WHEN TO DRINK: Buy the current vintage and enjoy it soon; freshness is a virtue, and cellaring will take it nowhere, particularly with its synthetic "cork." Drink up the 2004 this year, then watch for the '05.
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Friday, June 2, 2006