Import Selection: Lee Poo Yee, NV. Armand Roux

Let me point out that, no, Lee Poo Yee is not from an obscure estate hidden away in the pictu­resque hills of some exotic prov­ince in China. It does come in­stead, from the familiar Loire Valley of France. This is a regional blend identified in the industry as a “negociant wine”.

Though the term might suggest it, “negociants” are not scheming wine salesman out to hustle a buck. In fact, quite the contrary. The term “know the shipper” has long been a key watch word in the European wine trade; many ship­pers wines are often found to be extremely interesting from both the palate and the pocket book. When done properly, such wines (fre­quently marketed under a brand name ie. Lee Poo Yee) provide the consumer with a consistency of quality unattainable by individual estates. A highly regarded nego­ciant firm, Maison Armand Roux is a reputable company dating back to 1842. Armand Roux, the man, traveled extensively to Belgium and Holland where he developed quite a clientele of well-heeled wine lovers each of whom he would visit once a year and do two very simple transactions. One, he would take and order for the cur­rent years wines and two, he pick up a check for previous years de­livery!

The marketing story of Lee Poo Yee is obviously the Chinese din­ner trade. Identifying a void in the restaurant market, Armand Roux set out to produce a wine that would compliment Chinese food but be versatile at the same time (unlike the current options such as rice wine). Thus, Lee Poo Yee.

Chenin Blanc grapes contribute 70% to this wine; the remaining 30% is Sauvignon Blanc. Both of these grapes are predominate in the Loire Valley wine region. The for­mer gives the wine accessibility and fruitiness while the letter con­tributes structure and crispness. Each adds its own share of aromat­ic nuances, so blended to comple­ment the complex flavors of orien­tal dishes.

Lee Poo Yee has a very pale green/gold color with a subtle bou­quet reminiscent of green plums, melons and lychee nuts. This is re­markable mellow in the mouth, le­mony, yet not tart; very well bal­anced. It leaves the palate clean and ready for the main entree.

Serve well-chilled with nearly any dish, but it will have its brightest moments next to Asian appetizers and seafood entrees.

Cellaring Notes: Not for age­ing… at its best now to one year.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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