A Soft French Red with Chinese Food

Domaine Tissot Poulsard Arbois Vieille Vignes 2006
Harvey Steiman
Posted: May 14, 2009

"Let's order something else," said my friend Richard, an ex-sommelier. He and his family had joined me and my wife for lunch in San Francisco at Heaven's Dog, the new Chinese restaurant from Charles Phan of Slanted Door. We had consumed a nice bottle of Savennières, the crisp dry white wine of France's Loire Valley, and a nice soft red seemed like a good idea to follow.

From the short list, we homed in on Domaine Tissot Poulsard Arbois Vieille Vignes 2006, especially when the wine server confessed it was his favorite wine on the short but eclectic list. It is a red wine from the Jura, in the foothills of the French Alps, better known for its whites. Arbois is the region; Poulsard the grape variety. At $42 on the wine list ($20 at retail), it seemed worth a try for something completely different.

Jura reds have a reputation for being very gamy, and this one was not unacquainted with brettanomyces (a yeast that can add spicy notes in small quantities but contributes barnyard aromas in higher concentrations), but this wine compensated with so much lovely fruit character that it didn't bother me much. I loved the texture—soft and inviting—with enough backbone of acidity and tannins to keep it feeling fresh, but that was kept under wraps. The wine opened and flowered in the glass as we drained the bottle over 40 minutes or so, and it held its own with a second order of Shanghai dumplings filled with pork. 87 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more wines from the Jura, plus read Bruce Sanderson's blog about his recent tasting of Jura wines.

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