Here is a story where wine meets gastronomy. The 3-star-chef Michel Lorain, creator of the world-famous Joigny restaurant La Côte Saint Jacques decided to revitalize a forgotten terroir of Northern Burgundy as he was leaving the reins and the kitchen-keys of the restaurant to his son Jean-Michel Lorain [pic on the right], now another 3-star chef. No real retirement for Michel Lorain : He set shop on the other side of the street (the former restaurant location) and worked as passionately for the Joigny wines as he did to develop his gastronomic restaurant. He patiently bought plots on the hill just above the street in the early 1990s' and replanted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. I tasted his Pinot Noir 2006 at the Côtes-Saint-Jacques and loved it : this 12-Euro Pinot Noir has well-integrated tannins and offers lovely aromas of jellied black fruits and underwood. But this story is centered on a forgotten variety that he successively reintroduced in the region : the Tressot. He blends the Tressot with Malbec, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon and the result is something between a rosé and a white, a Vin Gris, a high-acidity, fresh wine with light flower (rose) and fruit aromas. Tressot was still allowed a few years ago in the Burgundy sparkling but was later outlawed (another weird Appellation-rule move). This Tressot-blend wine was served on the Royal tables of King Louis XIV who loved it and allowed exceptionally the Joigny vignerons to print the Royal flower de Luce on the bottles and thus avoid the tax (couldn't the modern rulers have such grand visions for the General Good and help share what they like !). His very small production of this wine (6000 bottles/year) coupled with its affordability (8,9 Euro) means that they try to satisfy every customer with a few bottles at a time.
Back in France, I looked for Russian Standard and found it at an Auchan supermarket near Paris. The 12-Euro 75cl-bottle that I bought there is probably the best vodka I ever drank, except for the 50-proof moonshine vodka (Samogon) that I had the chance to drink in Russia (see the last story of this post). This russian Standard was definitely a well-refined vodka, a pure pleasure with a velvety feel all the way down the throat. I would even add a warning to our fellow drinkers : this vodka is so smooth that you may drink more than usual. I even wondered if they had bottled their high-end Imperia vodka under their cheaper middle-range label to win the market. I never tasted Russian Standard Imperia but from what I enjoy with this one, it must be exceptional...
I discovered this Tunisian wine on Yatchyo's exhibition opening day. Yatchyo is a
Japanese friend who lives in Paris and
she is well known for her flashy miniature erotic creations made out pachinko parts. The result is a serie of plexiglass-boxed artworks full of fantasmagoric manga-like characters. She exposed at the Paris Museum of Erotism, a museum which has also an extensive Japanese-erotica collection. One of the wines at her recent exhibition in a private gallery in Paris was this interesting wine from Tunisia : Cuvée Hadrubal, Sidi Salem Appellation produced by Caves Ceptunes, El Karmia Grombalia, Tunisia. While we're looking to the New World wines as a menace on the Old Europe, here are some sort New World wines which came a long way from their Roman Empire roots. North Africa has known the wine culture long before the beginning of the Arab invasions in the 7th century, and this Roman heritage managed to survive under this very different culture. While much of the wine made there during the French-Administration days were mostly high-yield wines for mass consumption, the independance didn't bring much bettering of the wine quality. From what I tasted here it seems that they're back in the game. This red wine was a pleasure and well balanced. This is a typical standard everyday wine with no harsh side, really a nice job that we've not been used to taste coming from a Muslim country lately. Ceptunes was created 6 years ago exactly, and the young company invested heavily with the quality of the wine as its prime objective. Mr Ludovic Pochard, the Frenchman who manages Ceptunes, explains in this interview on a Tunisian news site (in French) the different steps he made this young winery go through until his wines won several international recognitions. The company owns a small surface of vineyards and buy the other grapes to contracted growers who are trained to do the right vineyard management : the pruning, the sprayings and the irrigation (this is the New World : irrigation is allowed). Ceptunes takes care of the harvest and of course of the vinification. They export 70% of the roughly 800 000-bottles yearly production. I don't know how much Ceptunes wines cost here in France but in this interview, Mr Pochard speaks about 1,116 Tunisian Dinar (without Tax) which seems very cheap. Look out for these Ceptunes wines, these might be our next-door New-World wines here in Europe.