Noëlla Morantin, who left the Domaine de Bois Lucas earlier this year and has since been looking for vineyards and a facility to set up her own winery, has found both recently. As it was not possible to rent or purchase vineyards with their grapes in the middle of the year (before the harvest), her 2008 wines will be made from purchased grapes. The whites are already fermenting in their casks [picture above], the reds will soon follow suit and the selected vineyards she bought the grapes from are all organicly farmed like the ones she used to work on at Bois Lucas. The old farm she moved in (a rent) to inhabit and to make the wine (there's this beautiful cellar and all the surface facility she needs to work comfortably) is a double longère (two long one-story farms facing each other with a 20-meter courtyard in-between) on the edge of the plateau, with the Cher river down the slope.
But the real news is that she has now found the vineyards, and not any vineyards : Noëlla is going to rent 8,5 hectares of vineyards from Clos Roche Blanche as soon as the 2008 harvest is over. Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet from Clos Roche Blanche knew that Noella was looking for vineyards (Bois Lucas is very close) and as she is working with the same philosophy and passion for true wines, they proposed her 8,5 hectares of their own vineyards to let. They had been thinking about downsizing lately (they had until now a total surface of 18 hectares) and they saw that Noëlla would continue the good job with their vineyards and make the best of the grapes with a real-wine minded vinification style. This happened last june after Noëlla Morantin visited many vineyards, and nothing really fit perfectly. First, she had quit on the idea of buying because it puts so much burden when you start a winery to have mortgages to pay back, then the available vineyards for rent were not always what she looked for, or they were split in severlal locations, making the work harder to manage. Then came this offer, the perfect opportunity: beautifully managed organic vineyards, 6 hectares in roughly one block (including the one featured in this story), and 2,5 hectares in the lower Pouillé (a few hundreds meters from the first location). The down side is that there will be fewer Clos-Roche-Blanche bottles in the next years, but I'm sure that all the markets will have their share.
I'm looking forward for great wine discoveries here, and will be back soon at Noëlla's winery (I didn't even ask if she had thought of a name for it).
Noëlla Morantin can be contacted at noellamorantin [at] gmail.com.
At least we had a summer in Paris this year, compared to 2007. The best way to celebrate it was for once to pass the restaurants and their noisy terraces and set up your own terrace along the Seine. Circumvent the buying-power crunch on a grand way, and have a picnic ! Leave the crowds on their own on Paris-Plage (or Paris-Beach) on the other side of the Seine. Paris-Plage is an odd marketing-tool invented by the Paris City Council to promote its social values. Tons of sand have been brought to built temporary sandy beaches, and slatted decks, fountains and other attractions have been set up on the left-bank freeway which has been banned to motorists for the occasion. It is supposed to "give a taste of vacations for those who can't afford it". Good intentions, but the Paris working-poor would rather have the metro cleaned from time to time (not just swept) rather than this temporary beach on the Seine...
Whatever, let's find a quiet spot on the other side of the Seine. Here we are, a French-Japanese-Chinese party, walking down the stairs to the river-bank path near the Pont-Marie bridge. 9pm, the perfect hour to sit down and relax while the sun was gently lowering on the Seine downstream. I'll never say again that you can't buy a drinkable wine in a convenient store, the two wines that we had for this impromptu treat were very nice surprises (or again, is it that the context plays a role ?). And these wines cost a mere 6 to 8 Euro each at a nearby Champion convenient store. The first was a Brouilly 2007, Closerie des Pins, bottled by a Negociant from Nuits-Saint-Georges, Moillard-Grivot, a very nice Gamay with a real taste of authenticity. Loved it ! The second wine was a Crozes-Hermitage 2007 by another Negoce House : A. Monnier. This one was a well-balanced, not overtly high in alcohol like Rhone can be, and very pleasant on the whole. Lovely evening, and as more people had been coming for a picnic on this quiet spot along the Seine, I noticed on our left as the night was falling that we were not alone to have brought bottles of wine (pic on left)...
When I dropped by André Fouassier to buy 10 liters of wine in Bulk the other day, I tasted several wines from several vats and while his Cabernet vat (Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) was tempting, I had brought only two 5-liter containers on my motorcycle and anyway I wanted some white this time. So, I tasted several of his Sauvignons which are as usual quite atypical. André Fouassier doesn't prevent the malolactic fermentation for his Sauvignon (vintners usually prevent it with SO2) and the result is a wine with a nice richness but with a taste a bit different from the usual Sauvignons, something a bit oxydative, critics might say. I tasted also a nearby vat of Chardonnay/Menu Pineau and this wine has a light greenness and a more terroir-approach coming from this Arbois/Menu-Pineau variety. As I hesitated about which wine I would fill my two 5-liter containers with, and asked for 5 liters of each, he suggested instead what he says is the perfect blend for these whites : about 10% with the Chardonnay/Menu-Pineau, and the rest with Sauvignon. He says that the small Menu-Pineau share is enough to make a difference. That's how I ended having a custom blend made in these odd-looking plastic containers. the wine was bottled the same day. This is an every day wine, and the price (should I say it ?), a little more than one Euro a liter, adds a plus.
Bandol whites first :
__Bandol La Laidière (white) 2007. The reference in matter of white Bandols. From vines on marn/sandy soil. Pascal says that the Estienne family to make white Bandol. 60% Clairette, 10% Ugni-Blanc. Very aromatic. It is 3:20pm, the outside temperature is very high and this wine awakes me... Mouth : richness balanced with acidity. 14,5 Euro (bottle price if you buy at the Maison des Vins -- about the same price than at the estate)
__Bandol Domaine de l'Olivette (white) 2007. Clairette, Ugni Blanc and a bit of Sauvignon Blanc. Soil : clay/limestone, the blend will translate differently than the previous wine. I find some Muscat notes on the nose. Ripe-grapes aromas too. The wine glides beautifully on the sides of the mouth. 15,5 Euro.
__Bandol Chateau La Rouvière (white) 2006.The estate belongs to Bunan. 100% Clairette. One of the most beautiful terroirs of Bandol, Pascal says, with "narrow restanques" (man-dug horizontal plots) on very steep slopes. A very-long-keep white Bandol. 15 Euro.
Now, time for a few rosés :
__Bandol Terrebrunne (rosé) 2007. 50% Mourvèdre, 25% Cinsault, 25% Grenache. Color : onion peel. Typical rosé made with Mourvèdre. This is Terrebrunne, so the malolactic fermentation have been completed and the wine has more richness than others. 12,5 Euro.
Bandol La Tour Du Bon (rosé) 2007. 30% Mourvèdre, 27% Grenache, 23% Cinsault, 10% Clairette. Direct press, like for most Bandol rosés. Yields are 30 hectoliter/hectare, here. Malolactic fermentation completed. Very fruity. Citrus aromas, violet. After several minutes (a customer has dropped to buy a case of rosé), the wine has a super expression, with aromas sprouting one after the other. B. notes that there's a lower acidity here. 11 Euro.
__Bandol Chateau Salettes (rosé) 2007. Owned by the Boyer family. 40% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, 40% Cinsault. Direct press - no malolactic fermentation. Elevage : 6 months in stainless-steel vats. Nice balance. 13,5°. Soil : clay/limestone with stones, very arid soil, on slopes. A Roman Villa with proved viticulture and winemaking facilities was found by archeologists on the property a few years ago. 13,5 Euro.
__Bandol Domaine de l'Olivette (rosé) 2007. Relatively dark robe. 14°. Blend : 40% Mourvèdre plus Cinsault-Grenache. Warmful and pleasant mouth. A gastronomy rosé. Pascal reminds us that these rosés age well.12,5 Euro.
And the best for the end : a few Bandol reds :
__Bandol Chateau Salettes (red) 2006. Just arrived. Pascal says that this is the 1st 2006 that has been delivered at the Maison des Vins. Bandol reds must by Appellation rules go through a minimum of 18-month elevage, but many either stay a bit more, and are kept a few months in bottles before being put on the market. 70% Mourvèdre, the rest in Cinsault, Grenache. Very dark-red robe. Eucalyptus notes here, I find (B. doesn't think so). Cooked, jammy fruit too (that's her feel, we'll not fight over this, I agree). Tannic bite in the mouth, not to be drunk now, but makes me feel to come again in 4-5 years... Price for the 2005 was 15 Euro, this 2006 should cost about the same.
__Bandol La Laidière 2005 (red). 70% Mourvèdre, plus Cinsault & Grenache. Very concentrated mouth. Liqorice, zan. Refined tannins. Pascal says that the marn/sandy soil has to do with that. Makes a very beautiful mouth indeed. Must be even better in 2 to 5 years I guess. Love this one. 14,5 Euro.
__Bandol Lafran-Veyrolles 2005, Cuvée Spéciale. Pascal opened this bottle a hour ago when we walked in (we've been tasting Bandols for an hour already, shame on us...). Very very nice nose. Jean-Marie Castel is the vinification master here. Refined and complex wine. The nose is a real beauty. Mouth in line with the nose, very beautiful wine. Light astringency, but on the whole, very civilized tannicity. The best of this tasting flight until now. Pascal says that the wine is made from the old vines of this estate. Soil : clay and limestone. The "chemin de l'Argile" is a good terroir located betwen Plan du Castellet and La Cadière d'Azur (two villages of the Bandol Appellation). Even the empty glass is full of things, spices, pepper, myrtle too, adds Pascal. And though, it is still so young... 20 Euro.
__Bandol Pibarnon (red) 2003. Pascal says that it is not logical to taste this one now, but let's go. This is just a remaining wine, the bottle having been opened some time ago now. 90% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache. Very blackcurrant, says B. Pascal notes that these tannins of 2003 have taken the right route in spite of very astringent beginnings a couple of years ago. 25 Euro.
__Bandol Chateau Pradeaux (red) 2002. 90% Mourvèdre & 10% Grenache (like the Pibarnon). Not a millesime with lots of concentration. Typical Mourvèdre nose, he says. 100% whole-clustered. Something like old furniture, polish aromas. This wine went through 4 years in foudres. Pascal Perier says he is impatient to taste their 2004. 2002 was a rainy year, and the Pradeaux weren't at their best. 17,5 Euro.
__Bandol Terrebrune (red) 2004. 85% Mourvèdre plus Cinsault & Grenache. A bit of reduction on the nose, usual with Terrebrune but wait for what comes from this wine. Light perly mouth, the protecting-CO2 come out. Nice wine. This wine is alive and coming back after a few minutes, new aromas jump at you. B. finds a sucrosity feel in the mouth. 18,5 Euro.
__Bandol Gros Noré (red) 2000. This estate had its 10th anniversary in 2007. Nose : spices, myrthe. These wines are forever, Pascal says that he tasted a year ago their 1997 and it was still very young. Mouth : superb balance. He went to the 2002 harvest and witnessed that the pickers were said to cut and let on the ground any cluster and grapes that were not fit. Nose : also blackcurrant in alcohol., zan. Very complex indeed. 20 Euro.
We finish with a rosé to refresh our mouth :
__Bandol La Laidière 2007 rosé. The nose looks quite like a Sauvignon. Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Grenache. This Sauvignon feel comes from the Mourvèdre bled wine. Tropical-fruits aromas too, like goyave, mango. Lemon peel too. 14 Euro.
__I tasted a Basque cider. Very refined, ample, beautiful unfiltered
__The second that I tasted was from southern Morbihan, in Britanny. Very thin bubbles. Reduction gas on the nose. Mouth : suave with a nice acidity. Indescribable aromas. All these ciders are made by small producers from different regions, and organizing the delivery to the Paris shop/restaurant was quite a hassle, said the owner, who opened this place 5 years ago. They also stock many Calvados and the Britanny equivalents, Fines de Bretagne, plus a few Pommeaux. A glass of cider costs 4,2 Euro, and Calvados/Fine de Bretagne (there are 25 of them) cost between 3 Euro & 12 Euro for a 2-centiliter glass, or between 4,9 Euro & 19,8 Euro for a 4-cl glass. A few examples : Domfrontais Pacory 16 years : 6E/9,9E (glass). Coeur-de-Lion Drouin 1963 : 12E/19,8E (glass). Marquis de la Pomme 15 years : 5,5E/9,2E. Pommeaux cost 7 Euro for a 4cl glass. The people at Pomze also make apple jam including from apple grown organicly at the Potager du Roi in Versailles. When I visited the place, there was 80 kilograms of apples in boxes just being delivered from there [pic on left], Reine-des-Reinettes & Canada-Blanc (varieties).
But Pomze is also a restaurant where most of the dishes have to do with apples, and pastries and desserts are made on location by Naoko, a Japanee pastry chef.
Pomze is located on Bd Haussmann (#109) , very close to another drinker's high-spot, the Caves-Augé wine shop (#116).