Monday, July 13, 2009

Drinking the Jaja

I am still wondering if summer is really here. At least here in New York the weather has had more in common with mid spring instead of early summer. The days are reasonably cool, there has been lots of rain, and only recently have we been having much sun. I am loving that there is no excesive heat, but it gives me pause when I think about the possibility to another long indian summer in October and November. Global warming sucks.

Taking into account that I should be grilling and cooking foods that do not turn my apartment into a raging hot box, I pulled out one of the recent samples I received. Le Jaja de Jau Syrah 2007 seemed the perfect wine to try out with some grilled peppers, onions, and ribeye. I liked the simple label, however figuring out what it actually says took me a good five minutes.

The wine is from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France and classified as a Vin de Pays D’Oc. What does that mean? The French system of classifying wines is one of the reasons most people do not “get into” wine. However, once you understand the rules, the classification system (for all wine regions) is supposted to help you understand what is in the bottle. By better understanding what is in the bottle, you know whether or not you want what is in the bottle.

France for instance has three levels of classification: Vin de Table (Table wine), Vin de Pays (Country wine), and Appellation d’origine contrôlée (Controlled term of origen). Most of the wine you see in the store is going to be designated AOC. It doesn’t mean that the wine is good, it just means that the wine in the bottle was made within a specific region (Bordeaux for example) and that it was made within the guidelines set by the government body that controls the AOC (the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine).

Something I learned from Kevin Zraly is that you should think about everything in terms of circles. The USA is a big circle. Within that is California. Within that is the North Coast. Within that is Napa Valley. The idea is the same in France. You have France, then you have the Bordeaux, then you have Medoc, then you have Pauillac, and then to the idividual Chateaux.

So, for today’s example, we have a wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region classified as Vin de Pays D’Oc, as is most of the wine produced in this region. This one in particular is the entry level wine from the Chateau de Jau. In fact, according to the winery, Jaja means an everyday wine. I would absolutely agree with that assessment.

This wine is not meant to knock you down and make you pay attention. It is smooth and round, with a little bit of spice to compliment a barbeque and a healthy amount of acidity to stand up to any meal. Easy to drink as you watch the sun dip below the horizon. And for $8.99, an easy wine to pick up and serve for a gathering…

And one more thing. I took a look at what Pasternak Imports (the company that sent me a sample0 had to say about this wine and I found something much better. Pasternak helps you actually find the wine near you so that you can actually buy it. Go to their website and type in your zip code and the top five or six retailers in your area will appear. Seriously good customer experience.
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