Cave Augé( 116 Bd Haussmann , Paris ) had the good idea for its 7th tasting event to invite several vignerons for an artisanal wine-bottling and -corking operation in front of the store. And the people invited for this very natural bottling-with-tasting, are among the most well known in the Natural-Wines World : Marcel Lapierre , Thierry Puzelat and René Mosse . The idea was to have each come with a cask of their respective Nouveau Wine, have it bottled and manually corked in front of the store, and of course tasted by the visitors.
As usual at Cave Augé, this was a lot of fun. And where else can you chat with such outstanding artisan vintners while drinking their wines... But the manual corking added another layer to the fun. Watching as Marcel Lapierre worked expertly on several bottles at the same time, I told him that this amounted to deceptive labelling, as the printed words on the corks say "Mis en Bouteille a la Propriété" (bottled in the estate)...:)
With bottles continuously filling up at the twin copper tap on the cask, he skillfuly juggled with the empty bottles, the new cork to insert on the machine and the lever. He looked as if he had done that all his life. Meanwhile , his wife packed the bottles in boxes.
Marcel Lapierre's wine has nothing added in it , 100%-pure grape juice. No external yeasts of course . Asked if every year he can work with indigenous yeasts, he answers yes . It is made possible by preventing the natural yeast to die in the first place : That is, no treatment in the vineyard that could harm them , and he also stresses the importance of the manual work on the vineyard's ground, tilling, plowing, like it was done in the past . He says that the indigenous yeasts are part of the terroir and that without external chemical interference, they adapt and interact with the soil and the grape variety, becoming an essential part of that terroir.
I look closer at the old-but-in-perfect-condition corker, I can read on its side "La Mondiale Bte SGDG", the name of the make I guess. He says that it dates from the 1950's. Thinking about it, I'm sure that the (now defunct) mail order company Manufrance sold a very similar-looking corker well into the 70's. This one is virtually immune to breakup. Easy to use. As he offered me and other people a try, I sat at the command and worked quite a few bottles. You may have been drinking one of the bottles that I corked myself....
Later, helped by Marcel Lapierre and Marc Sibard, Thierry Puzelat had a wooden tap driven into his cask and he too began filling and bottling [ Picture on the left ]. His wine is Sauvignon Blanc : "Le Sauvignon 2004 du Clos Tue-Boeuf", labelled as "Vin de Table" (table wine). When and if the INAO agreement will be obtained , this wine will part of a blend. His estate is located near Cheverny, in the Loire. The wine is still very turbid, which doesnt bother me. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation have just finished, he says, but the wine still has the flavors of the "vin nouveau" or "bernache" in the mouth, it tastes a bit like when the just-pressed juice begins to turn into wine. This wine will stay in vats till march, then it will be partially filtered.
The sidewalk was soon busy with wine amateurs, tasting at will the two reds and the white , and occasionally exercising with the lever corking machine. Easier indeed than the small home corker tool that I use sometimes and which is unstable if not tightly pressed on the bottle's top. The third producer , René Mosse, from Domaine Mosse (Anjou, Loire), used a pipe and gravity to fill his bottles. Lots of fun too. His wine today is a red from Anjou : Gamay/Grolleau blend, also a natural wine (Grolleau, also named Groslot is a Loire variety). Very nice aromas. Pepper. Nice new wine .