The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Scratch Baking, Domaine Oudin Chablis

I think constantly about food and wine. Mostly about food, but inevitably when I arrive at the 2-3 things I really want to eat for lunch or dinner, wine ends up on the table. Funny coincidence.... I really like eating Phoebe Lawless' pies for lunch. I like to buy two, a savory one for a Saturday midday meal and a dessert pie of a mid-afternoon snack. I asked Phoebe to sample out pies at my new store on November 13th from 6-8, and surprisingly she said yes. Surprising because she's selling all the pies she can make as it is, so it's just extra work for her. Extra pie for me, and a chance to hear about piecraft from a master and wine pairing from a bozo for you. Contact 3 Cups for details.

Planning the Scratch thing got me thinking about the overall miserableness of most wine dinners. Long. Speeches. Awkward seating arrangements. Chefs and winemakers are not skilled orators. There are few exceptions. A feeling of being broke and injected with butterfat by the end of the meal. Phoebe is part one in my million-part quest to re-imagine learning about food and wine pairing. So step one is make it fun, not stuffy. You and I will talk to Phoebe and each other one on one, informally, like people with a shared passion, not teacher-student auteur-audience.

In remembering all the wine dinners I've been through, I thought of the Oudin family. Great wines, but the daughter was painfully shy in front of a room of people. Lesson learned. It was at a wine dinner in March that I hosted the father-and-daughter winemaking team from Domaine Oudin. What nice people! I felt lucky to meet a talented duo of winemakers whose obvious passion for their native terroir shows itself in the desire to share a deliciously different version of their region's wine with the world. Chablis with flavors that seem to come from a past era. Oudin's 2005 shows a light, clean, more delicate side of Chablis; a promising start for Jean-Claude's daughter. 2005 is a great year for her to take over the estate, a vintage laden with potential for greatness. Still, it's nice to notice the mark of a confident winemaking hand, so clearly in command in her inaugural vintage.

Les Serres is a hillside site with Jurassic marl and limestone soils, above the Oudin's home village of Clichée. It is close to the Preimer Cru of Valcupins, a vineyard where Jean-Claude also owns vines. The family plow their eight hectares of land to improve soil health and eliminate the need for herbicides. As a fan of natural, chemical-free farming methods, I am sad to note that in the first decade of the 21st century, few growers in Chablis plow. It's easier to spray.

Surprisingly, no oak is used in the vinification of this wine. It's not nearly as nervy as most stainless fermented and aged Chablis. Both Oudins believe in using as little sulfur as possible in their winemaking. They also stick to natural yeasts for fermentation, and are organic in the vineyard and the cellar. Domaine Oudin is an estate that shows the best of Chablis, reaching this standard through careful, natural farming and attention to regional winemaking tradition. They manage to be a top estate without a single Grand Cru vine, and with limited human and financial resources. I am happy to see a family winery succeed in this way. I hope we'll see the Oudins in North Carolina again, and will have the chance to talk more informally. Maybe we'll serve their wine with Phoebe's butter bean pies. . . .


At 10:47 AM, Blogger Mara said...

Hi, Jay!
Congratulations on the new venture. Looking forward to visiting you at 3 Cups, and to seeing their new location. Take care and keep the good wine coming!

At 5:27 AM, Blogger Julian said...

We've just taken delivery of our first pallet of wines from the Oudins, after keeping them waiting a year and more since M. Oudin's visit to Cork, Ireland, where his daughter was working for a while. Would you mind if I recycled some of your information about the estate when I blog our new arrivals - of course I'll link and acknowledge - ?

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Jay Murrie said...

Feel free to use any Oudin info from my Blog. Cheers, Jay

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Nadia said...

Hi Jay

I read your comments about Domaine Oudin, they do have superb wines. I am also an winemaker(assistant), it would be great if you can contact me if you come to South Africa as I would love to do an tasing with you, to learn about your wine knowledge.

South Africa


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