The Beaujolais professional wine fair is held every other year now, and for 2006 it was march 17-18, across 5 locations in the Beaujolais region. Extremely well organized fair, with in each location, a table with about 60 bottles (self-serve tasting) to have a quick sample (practical to choose which stands you'll go to) in addition to the dozens of stands. Definitely a fair to attend to meet many winemakers and negoce houses. You have to register online a few weeks or months before the event, and when you arrive at the first location, you are given a collection of files and maps. Plus, there's great food (lunch buffet) provided for free for the attendees at each of the locations. We've been at 4 of the locations (some set in medieval chateaus) and I took note of many valuable wines and wineries to visit.
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The off-fair event in the Beaujolais was organized by Marcel Lapierre and his friends-vignerons at his farm. While also present at the mainstream wine fair (in the Villié-Morgon location), Marcel Lapierre gave his imprint in this relaxed natural-winemakers gathering. The event, named "Dégustation Beaujoloise" gathered 12 vignerons. We spent very nice moments in the cool (even cold) end of the afternoon, tasting the wines of L'Ancestra (an artisan-winemerchant making small volumes of natural wines), of Christophe Pacalet, Domaine Robert Denogent, Guy Breton, and Domaine Prieuré-Roch.
And a surprise at dark : I had spotted the cellar (the door of which was open) and I was shooting a few pics, when Marcel Lapierre arrived and poured us some wine from a cask while explaining about his work. Then, friends and other vignerons joined and the vaulted cellar was soon buzzing with laugh and talk [picture].
I shot this picture as I was walking to a wine tasting organized on a barge, between the Bir-Hakeim bridge and the Eiffel tower in Paris. I thought it might be more fun for my post than a pic of a tasting stand. And it shows Paris is still Paris...
The tasting on the barge was organized march 23rd by the "Etablissements Vinicoles de France" also known as "Caves Vaneau", a caviste/wine-merchant located in Paris, 82 rue Vaneau in the 7th arrondissement. The company sells wine to restaurants and brasseries. Individual customers are also welcome at the cave rue Vanneau. It gathered 20 vignerons plus the negoce-company "La Médocaine". I went there alone, tasted Disznoko's wines and a few valuable Bordeaux at the Médocaine's stand, then several of the wineries newly selected by the company : Domaine de la Chevalerie, Bourgueuil (that I want to visit), Clos de la Briderie (Touraine-Mesland), Domaine Dozon (Chinon), Domaine de la Paleine (Saumur). Could'nt do all the others, but still tasted a handful of wineries after these.
I fell upon a TV fiction the other day on french TV channel France2. The story (named "du Gout et des Couleurs" by Michaela Watteaux) was set in the wine & wineries world in Burgundy. It was supposed to be a comedy but as often with state-subsidized movies in France, it was tainted with lots of ideological sub-text. A bit too much caricature spoiled the wine here : we had the wealthy/mysoginist/greedy/racist vintner, the allusions to (of course) the "uniformizing role" of a well-known critic (named Harper here), the victimized north-african worker, the beret-wearing good old vigneron, the progressive teacher coming from the city, and a few other recurrent stereotypes... I knew that many french state-funded programs suffered from an overflow of ideology but actually watching it in a wine story was strange.
Speaking of "uniformizing role", I wonder if state subsidies are why we are offered so many predictible fiction-dramas with little export potential other than to other european state TV channels (this was my rant of the day).
B. bought this bottle of deep sea water for me during her last trip in Japan. I had asked her to make the purchase as I was very curious and puzzled about this water. Not related with wine at first glance, but wait. Deep-sea water is a growing market in Japan, a country where natural products and high-tech equipment combine surprisingly for the best purity. The Kochi Prefecture had the good idea to encourage deep-sea water production in Muroto. The water on the picture is processed and bottled by Marine-Gold, one of the companies involved in the trade. This water is pumped at a 320-meter depth (with sea bed 2000-meter deep), is then desalinized, but retains its very rich minerality. Tastes definitely different. And it is supposed to have extensive health benefits (a video on their website even says it is good for pets...).
This makes me think to terroir. Terroir is a french word, but I think the reality behind the word is important for the japanese too. The japanese artisans who make the most sought-after tofus and sakes always highlight the importance of the water they use for its unique minerality, and of the other natural ingredients grown nearby. Added to their skillful work, it makes the final purity and quality of their product, and also a taste of place which is not reproductible.
It seems that the success story of Champomy, the "Champagne for kids" initiated by the french company CSR Pampryl in 1989, led new competitors to try to follow suit and cash-in on the lucrative festive-drink-for-kids niche market.
Sodiko NV, a belgian company, made these similarly-looking non-alcoholic beverages. Bright and fun packaging, real-glass bottle and plastic cork for the high-pressure (and pop sound) inside. The names sound close and not-coincidently end by a "Y" : Suzy and Tommy. The added plus is the gender differenciation here : Suzy Drink (strawberry- and grape-juice) targets little girls while Tommy Drink (apple juice) targets little boys. Good move if it accustoms our little ones to festive events, but I am not sure it puts them on the right path to appreciate good wines and Champagnes in the future...
Price per bottle : 1,09 Euro
While strolling in the Louvre, I fell upon this painting by Ippolito Andreasi (italian painter, Mantova 1548-1608) depicting the holy family resting during the flight through Egypt. It looks like an ode to the grapes and I thought it was worth showing it. Little Jesus is given here the passion grapes by angels. The detail in the icon shows angels harvesting and bringing the grapes in baskets.
Speaking of Wine and the Louvre, it is possible to have a guided tour of the Louvre's collections with wine as thread among Art works from the antiquity to the early 19th century. Email me if you are interested.