A Mikulski and Dettori Dinner
Last night I joined my buddy Sean from Vinifico for a little wine geek camaraderie over food. The evening featured two exciting producers well loved by many in the ‘natural wine’ crowd – a fitting preview to the larger ‘natural wine’ tasting I will be attending tonight and writing up soon after.
The first wine – Francois Mikulski’s Meursault 1er Cru Charmes 2005 – had a completeness and subtle exuberance that coupled the classic Meursault richness with more fruit expression. Mikulski (nephew to the famous producer Boillot), is a new entrant into Burgundy who leases all his land and is happy to mix modern techniques with tradition. That said, he uses an approach to vineyard management called La Lutte Raisonnee, which essentially only applies any treatments as a reaction to what is going on and for the most part never uses any preparations – rather, the focus is on microbial health and biodiversity in the vineyard. This approach is not as intensely fanatical as some so-called natural wine makers, but it is certainly producing outstanding results.
The wine’s delicious apple and lemon notes all got drawn together in a deep seem of minerality that really made this some exciting juice. I loved the wine because it wasn’t showy and didn’t really need to be – it was just really compelling and easy to drink. I was pretty amazed at how quickly we downed the bottle (along with some simply prepared scallops that I undercooked a little but still went really well with the wine), but that is surely the best indicator that a wine is seriously good. I’d rate this Excellent.
The second wine – Dettori Tenores 2005 – was truly magnificent and very tasty with Sean’s boar prosciutto pizza. Pouring a hazy red, the sedimentation in this obviously unfiltered wine never settled but remained suspended in the wine for the duration of the evening. The sedminentation was completely unnoticeable when drinking however; and drink we did. The Tenores was a magnificent expression of Grenache, or Cannonau, as it is known in Sardinia, where this wine is from.
Allessandro Dettori is much more of an extremist than Mikulski, making wine at the whim of what the natural world gives him each year. He is decidedly non-interventionist in a real way, doing very little to the 100+ year old vines he tends. He tries very hard not to impose a particular philosophy on the wines he makes – but I am not so sure that is even possible with a man-made product such as wine. Non-intervention, in all its forms, is certainly a form of philosophy that translates into the wine. I do, however, always highly appreciate a respectful approach to agriculture, and Dettori is nothing but. All the wines are fermented in cement, an unconventional route for making the kind of serious Grenache based wines that he does – but the results speak for themselves.
The nose on the Tenores was so nuanced and floral I almost just wanted to smell the wine – luckily the urge to consume got the better of me. The palate had a gamey characteristic, but also very pretty ripe cherry fruit that was amazingly vibrant in a way I have never tasted in Grenache before. The wine also brought things down with earthy, rooty and mineral qualities that made me want to contemplate the wine endlessly as I was guzzling it. Its 16% alcohol was unnoticeable and the prettiness and lack of glyceral weight was all the more impressive for it. This is easily an Excellent+ wine for me – and perhaps the best Grenache I’ve ever had. Seek it out. Thanks to Sean for contributing the bottle.