Sunday 20 December 2009

Robbed of My Senses

My cold came back to bite me on the arse... or rather, the nose. For a week I've been unable to smell or taste anything. It's a very strange sensation, losing such a fundamental sense. Smell can trigger so many happy memories, but just try remembering a smell when it's no longer there.
Well, Chinon's more than just a smell, it's a town in the Loire. I'm fairly sure it's still there and it's pretty hard to forget.
The attractive vineyards slope gently towards the enormous nuclear power station by the river. In the local Musee du Vin, nestling among the old wine presses and casks, there's a wax effigy of a local poet proclaiming something utterly bizarre about his 'apres toilette' technique. The chap's name is Rabelais.
So, how much pleasure can a wine I know, from a town I've visited, give without it's bouquet?

Charles Joguet trained as an artist in Paris before returning to the family domain after his fathers death in 1957. 40 years later he went back to painting, by then he'd made a big impact in the region and the domain still carries his name. This 'young vines' cuvee often has a piercing streak of blackcurrant fruit with a whiff of green pepper and a nice, complex, mineral taste. This one probably did, I kept trying to remember what it was like a few weeks back. That bottle had too much sulphur on the nose but tasted great. I've no idea if this one did too. Instead of breathing in sweet vapours, I just kept worrying that my sense of smell would never return, while thinking of Chinon and the extract from Rabelais I'd read in the museum...

"Afterwards I wiped my tail with a hen, with a cock, with a pullet, with a calf's skin, with a hare, with a pigeon, with a cormorant, with an attorney's bag, with a montero, with a coif, with a falconer's lure. But, to conclude, I say and maintain, that of all torcheculs, arsewisps, bumfodders, tail-napkins, bunghole cleansers, and wipe-breeches, there is none in the world comparable to the neck of a goose, that is well downed, if you hold her head betwixt your legs. And believe me therein upon mine honour, for you will thereby feel in your nockhole a most wonderful pleasure, both in regard of the softness of the said down and of the temporate heat of the goose, which is easily communicated to the bum-gut and the rest the inwards, in so far as to come even to the regions of the heart and brains." (Gargantua, 1534)

Rabelais didn't mention quail. I decided to eat mine, smeared with a paste made from allspice, crushed garlic, paprika and lemon juice then roasted... they may have tasted divine, they did last time.

Charles Joguet, Les Petit Roches, Chinon 2007, £9.99 Waitrose... probably worth every penny.

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