Monday, August 06, 2007
Dazza and I took a trip to the Pontchartrain winery in Tammany Parish last week. We spent a good four hours there talking to John, the owner and wine grower, and, of course, sampling wine! You may think, like I did, that wine made in Louisiana cannot possibly be good. I was wrong!! The wine is actually really good. John makes it with a lot of passion and care, and he truly loves his product.
My favourites were the whites - Le Trolley (made from Blanc du Bois grapes and crisp and dry - very nice), Roux Saint Louis (made from the same grapes but stopped in the fermentation process to preserve some sweetness - it is sweeter that the Trolley but not too sweet - perfect to go with strawberries on a picnic!) and Louis D'Or (a woody white with Voignier grapes and Blanc du Bois - it was quite a shock after the other two but after a couple of sips it was quite addictive - unusual woody nutty taste that was crying out for some chicken etouffe).
Before the reds was a rose called "Zydeco Rosato" which was the most unusual colour - salmon pink. It is about as far away from a Zinfandel as possible (thank goodness) and was a real blend of the red and white grapes. It was on the dry side and I think was asking for a little spicy cajun food to accompany it.
His red that he makes from his own grapes (he grows only two - the Blanc du Bois and a red Norton - the Norton was damaged by Katrina - he hopes next year to get a harvest he can use) is made into "Rouge Militaire". The one we tried was the 2002 vintage and it was one of the most unusual wines I've ever tried. It had a nose that promised that it was port in the glass not wine but the wine, although with a lot of port qualities, was not port. It is a dry earthy, nutty flavour that doesn't apologise for its ruggedness. It take a few sips to get into it and understand its complexities but we came to love it (hence taking a bottle home). John said he had a girl come up to him at a tasting and tell him that she loved this wine because it reminded her so much of growing up in Louisiana. This is what John is passionate about, creating wines that reflect the region in Louisiana.
The other reds he has he makes from grapes that he buys from California. They are 'Le Grand Louis' a syrah and his cabernet sauvignon 'Criolla Rosso'. We also tried his port which is a real treat and its called 'Port of New Orleans'!!!
We had a great day, learnt lots, and I truly hope that John's little winery continues to grow and develop because they are producing good quality, original wines that are well worth drinking. I would highly recommend a trip up to see the place and taste the wine.