Caves Augé, Paris (116 Bd Haussmann)
This wine shop 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 shop. And the vintners who are invited for this very natural bottling-with-tasting, are among the most well known in the natural-Wine 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 domaine)...:)
The event began shortly before 11 am, saturday november 20th, and Marcel Lapierre was the first at work. Marcel Lapierre, who at the beginning of his career as vintner, made wine the way everyone else did at the time (that is with lots of un-natural manipulations), began to go against the industrial trend 30 years ago and looked for a natural vinification with the help of enologist Jules Chauvet, who died in 1989 at the age of 83. He was among the first to refuse chaptalization and systematic use of chemicals on the vineyard. Marcel Lapierre is now widely known for his natural wines.
With bottles continuously filling up at the twin copper tap on the cask, Marcel Lapierre 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, he says, by preventing the natural yeast to die in the first place : That is, there is no chemical spraying in the vineyard that could harm them, and he also stresses the importance of the manual work on the vineyard's soil, tilling, plowing, just like it was done in the past. Marcel Lapierre 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 who poured his wine for free that day, René Mosse, is from Domaine Mosse (in Anjou, Loire), he used a small hose and gravity to fill his bottles. Lots of fun too. His wine poured today is a red from Anjou : a Gamay/Grolleau blend, also a natural wine (Grolleau, also named Groslot is a Loire variety). Very nice aromas. Pepper. Nice nouveau wine.