We finished with a red, a Santenay 2004, a Pinot Noir which went out fine in spite of a difficult millesime. Tastes well, and still will for another 4-5 years, he says.
_Rieslin Herrenweg 2004. Warm sand soil here. Fir tree resin aroma. He says that wines from biodynamicly-farmed vineyards are more subtle are more mineral too. 11,3 Euro.
_Riesling Rosenberg 2005. More spicy & less mineral. Heavier soil. Richness. 13,6 Euro. His wines ferment 2-3 months with the natural yeasts on the grape skin. 11 months elevage on fine lees and bottled in september of the following year or later. Only a bit of SO2 at bottling, not during the fermentation and elevage. He uses only natural sulphur. The industrial sulphur has potassium in it and it renders the wines pomaded, he says.
_Riesling Hengst 2004. Marn-clay soil. Spicy. This wine needs time to open up. He says that 2007 should be an exceptional millesime, the equivalent of 1989 for Alsace. August was cloudy but not rainy and for dry wines the conditions were fabulous, especially with the sun in september. But no noble rot, and he says jokingly, call me if you speak to a vigneron who says he had some noble rot...
_Pinot Blanc Rosenberg 2004. Variety that resembles Chardonnay. Raised in big-capacity foudres. White flowers, hazelnuts, toasted bread. Harmony between the nose and the mouth. 10,6 Euro.
_Pinot Gris Herrenweg 2004. He says that the light smoked-bacon aroma is typical of Pinot Gris. Very nice nose on the empty glass too. 12,1 Euro.
_Pinot Gris Rosenberg Calcarius 2005. Demi-sec (half seet). Clear gold with greenish tones. Good acidity.
_Gewürztraminer Rosenberg 2005. Semi-sweet. Very, very nice nose with complex aromas. Outstanding. Lots of freshness. He says that this wine really took its time : more than one year for the fermentation ! 13,1 Euro, really a bargain.
_Gewurztraminer Steingrubler 2004, semi-sweet. Soil : complex undersoil with granite & limestone. exotic aromas, cherry. higher sucrosity but also higher spicy feel. Very nice viscosity in the mouth. Very nice indeed. 18,6 Euro.
_Pinot Noir Reserve 2005. 100% destemmed, 18-year old massal-selection vines. Baked fruits aromas. 13,6 Euro.
This inocuous-looking empty container took my attention as B. and I were leaving after dining with friends in Montparnasse. It was late in the night, the trash containers were ready for the early morning garbage collection and someone from the Japanese restaurant nearby had left this 19-liter (5 gallons) sake box near the trash cans. You can read on the box "Ozeki Sake Inc. Hollister, Ca 95803 USA". We already knew that many japanese restaurants in Paris were actually managed by Chinese owners whose staff are regarded by the Japanese as having lower culinary standards, which prompted by the way some Japanese to try to set up a "sushi police" and make a list of the "real japanese restaurants", like they did on this page. But here is another thing : American Sake served in a (Chinese?) Japanese restaurant...American companies making Sake (and lots of it), that's one of things few people know, like the fact that Japan is one of the biggest Whisky producers, and if I can judge from the bottle of Suntory, Single Malt Whisky, Yamazaki 12 years that we finished recently, it can be of very, very good quality. I can't tell about the American Sake, because if I ever had some in a Japanese restaurant, it was not presented as such (and also because I'm not an expert in Sake), but Ozeki seems to be known for its quality, plus it is backed by Ozeki Japan. Opinions vary about the quality of American Sake and John Gautner (sake-world.com), an American living in Japan and who wrote 3 books on Sake does not view them favorably, and says in an article : "American sake makers, he adds, seem content to make cheap, standard sakes, for which a typical table rice is adequate. If they were to upgrade their sakes, they'd have to plant strains of specialty rice three times as expensive as table rice." We have here another terroir issue, I guess...
_Saladin Per El 2006, Côtes du Rhone Villages (Viognier Marsanne Clairette Grenache Bourboulenc). A rare white of the southern Rhone. Elegant and aromatic. 10 Euro.
_Saladin Rosé Tralala 2006 C.d R. 7 Euro. Mostly old-Cinsault bled wine, coming from a bit of each cuvée. The wine was intially named Ouh La La because when they stayed with Bonny Doon in 2000-2001, they were joked over for saying Ouh LaLa all the time, but the name being already registered they chose TraLaLa instead.
_Saladin Loï Côtes du Rhone 2005. Red. Grenache, Carignan, Clairette Rosé. Carbonic maceration. Tannins are not too hard. No cap punching. Harvest at a good maturity. 7 Euro.
_Saladin Fan dé Lune 2006, C. du R. Villages. Mourvèdre majority. Very very nice nose here. 10 Euro. She says that they don't touch or move their wines in winter, they just make their life. Not filtered, but not turbid.
_Saladin Chaveyron 1422 C.d R. V. 2005. 1422 is the year indicated by some documents they found, tracing the family as already farming here. Super wine. Syrah-Viognier. 100% Destemmed, long maceration. They made only 50 hectoliter for a 1,5-hecatre surface, or one foudre. 15 Euro.
_Saladin Haut-Brissan C.d.R.V. 2005. Vineyard on a plateau. Very nice nose, complex aromas. Very classy. 100% Grenache. The southern-most cuvée.
Now, there is a new place in Beaune which is a bit different from the somehow pretentious wine places targeting tourists: "Les Mille et Une Vignes" [picture on left] is an easy going wine bar/shop managed by a 25-year young woman, and where you can have a glass and eat a plate if you want to. The wine shop has a huge wine list, some 1500 wines spread on 150 millesimes (!), the oldest wine being a Sauternes Chateau Rayne Vigneau 1904, and the oldest non-wine being a 1795 Madeire. They have also many 18th and 19th century Cognacs and Armagnacs. Staying with the wine, they have basicly every year of the 20th century, even if with a single bottle sometimes. About the "normal" recent wines, they have a wide selection of bottles to go or to drink in the bar (no cork fee!!). For wines by the glass, they have 10 or 15 wines, all at 4 euro, plus a couple of 1er Crus and Grands Crus at 6 Euro. They aren't Burgundy exclusive and have a few surprises from other regions. One of the burgundy wines by the glass : A Maranges 1er Cru Clos Roussots from Domaine Charleux. The Maranges wines offer some of the best deals of Burgundy. You can also taste here the wine of Domaine Masse in Givry, the son having just been nominated as the best young vintner of Burgundy this year.
This is just an old postcard that I found in a flea market, the date on the back reads june 13th 1943 and the stamp bears the image of Maréchal Pétain who headed the Vichy regime under the German occupation. The fine print says "Haut-Vivarais; transport of goods in the Boutières region", the Haut-Vivarais is a mountainous area west of the Rhone valley. Boutières is the most arduous and mountainous part of the Vivarais and at that time, according to this page [Word file] about Boutières, the "caravanniers viticulteurs" (caravan vintners) were travelling across it to go sell their wine in the Forez area and then came back with wood to make their casks. Boutières, the name of the region, comes from "Boute", which means "outre à vin" or wine skin. The wine was routinely transported on mules to remote villages during these times in this part of France, especially because glass bottles were still an expensive item in these remote and destitute parts of rural France. A very rare manuscript, named Deschomets from the farmers family who wrote it along 150 years beginning in the mid 18th century, relates plenty of details about the daily life of this region, and it gives insightful informations (page 30 of the manuscript's summary-Pdf), like the maximum wine load that a mule could carry, a 10-bucket volume or 162 liters. The measures and units varied from a village to the next and in Tence, in the Vivarais, a bucket had a 16,2551-liter capacity.
These echos from the mid-1940s' seem light years away from our modern world...
_Jean-Marc Brocard, Chablis, Domaine de la Boissoneuse 2006.Low acidity on this millesime, there was no overmaturation. No fining. A wine to drink without delay. Patrick Piuze says that he does not want to put on the market wines that can't be drunk now and that you need to wait 20 years. Boissoneuse is a separate estate owned by Brocard and it is also organicly farmed.
_Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos 2006. That's different. Minerality, neat nose.He points to the good balance between the fruit and the minerality. Nice wine. I was just saying to B. that the wine temperature was a bit too high when he said that he chose deliberately to serve it at this 16°-17°, because he wanted to show that even at this temperature, you couldn't find a flaw. And it will begin to reach its best time soon, like 5 years from now. He says that in the Chablis region, there are things to improve, the prestige of the region is such that when a bottle of Chablis is on the table, people see the Appellation (and maybe the millesime) and not much beyond that, there is not enough work from the estates to shed some light on the vigneron's work and on the terroir.
_Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaumes 2002. Magnum. From 5 different climats. Even more fruity, and less minerality. To drink soon.2002 is a good year, he says, and nature made great things that year. The color of the wine is a darker gold. Aromas of ripe grapes, plus underwood, mushrooms, mosses. Good for fat cheese. This wine is 5 years old and is already delicious, but he says that it will stay for long. Length in the mouth too.
_Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis 1er Cru Montée de tonnerre. Clear gold with greenish reflections. Bottle opened 1/2 hour ago. He also asked it not to be served too cold because otherwise the wine doesn't tell his story. Very nice and smooth feeling inside the mouth. Acidity.
_Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 1995. Magnum. Also gold with green reflections. Raised in vats, never got any oxygen (no wood), which may be why their wines age so well. 1st note on the nose very pure. Anise, eucalyptus notes. In the mouth : what a beautiful wine, and it is 12 years old...well-structured, length, everything. Asked about the estate's production, he says some 3 million bottles. In the place where he worked before, he was producing 250 000 bottles, that's quite a jump. He says that at Brocard, the staff is atypical, a Canadian Chai Master, and only women in the vathouse. He says that they are very rigorous (more than men) and they bring their own thoughts about how they feel the wine. He says that he wants to make refined wines, even though he knows they may not come out first in blind tastings : his wines are not high in alcohol. He says that there are two schools of thought in Chablis : the wood school and the no-wood. Wood makes big mighty wines and he is convinced that Chablis is good for refined wines, so he'll keep with his vat-only philosophy. He says that he loves his job, especially that at Brocard he is free to try many different things, sometimes even working with mathematicians... and he enjoys looking his two young daughters grow.