Philippe Gilbert Menetou-Salon Rosé 2015
Wine: Domaine Philippe Gilbert
Region: Menetou-Salon, Loire Valley
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Menetou-Salon is Sancerre's quiet twin, the one in glasses with her hair pulled back and a bookish personality. But when they reached college, Sancerre's popularity found competition among the other coeds and Menetou got contact lenses, let her hair down, and suddenly her beauty commanded attention. But she's still the shy one, and most people overlook her.
Sancerre sits a little east of Menetou-Salon and has both more acreage under vine and more popularity, so much so that one could argue Sancerre might be, at times, overpriced. In the hands of producers like Philippe Gilbert in Menetou, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir can be every bit as expressive and delicate and alluring as its neighbor. I discovered this producer in Neal Rosenthal's portfolio last summer and fell in love immediately with the rosé, so when I saw the new vintage at Keife & Co., I did not think twice.
Philippe farms his 27 hectares (a fairly sizable chunk of vineyard land in this part of the world) with biodynamic practices and is certified organic. Philippe was a playwright in his previous life, writing and producing plays for the theater, but the call of the vines was too strong to resist and so he returned home to take over for his father and run the family winery, which dates back to 1768. That's a hard legacy to walk away from, and I'm so glad he didn't.
The Domaine Philippe Gilbert Menetou-Salon Rosé 2015 is, in a word, gorgeous. The delicacy of the pinot noir grapes balance ripe fruit without being juicy, stoney notes with great acidity and a long, long finish of all these lovely entwined flavors, like a lover unwilling to leave your side. About 300 cases are allotted to the US each vintage.
It's a great quaffer on its own, but I paired it here with the burrata and herb salad from 1,000 Figs in the Bayou St. John neighborhood. I first dined there last September when I came down to New Orleans to look for an apartment. What began as a food truck called The Fat Falafel - in operation since 2012 - branched into the brick and mortar that produces this incredible cream-filled mozzarella ball of goodness so fresh and divine that I've developed a regular craving for it. Seriously, I have to cap myself at one order a week.