It was minus 3°C that morning in Paris and to make matters worse, it began to rain before noon, but it did not impede wine amateurs to flock during the two-day event to this barge anchored on the right bank in the eastern-side of Paris. Tastings are regularly organized on barges in Paris and this adds a particular dimension to the experience, the old barge, the cobblestones of the pier, the pitching with the passing boats and the dim light of the early night when it's winter. An additional benefit of a barge tastings is that you can usually park your car nearby on the pier which is great when people want to purchase a few cases. This particular tasting was precisely also a private sale, at a time of the year when people re-stock their cellar for their Christmas- and New-Year treats. The organizers had highlighted the shared organic-approach of the participating vintners in the flyer but we all know it takes a bit more to make great wines, call it talent or intuitive choices, and these vigneron have this talent. Most of the vignerons here were apllying the biodynamie to their vineyard management, and incidently, quite a few of their wines had also be downgraded as Table Wine by the fellow vignerons who take the decisions in the Agreement Commissions.
This type of tasting experience fits the ideal scale for a wine tasting event : 15 participating estates, with the vintners in person to answer your questions and listen to what you feel in their wines. That's the type of event where you really can taste all the wines without being forced to do it mechanically. So, I felt I could brave this damp and cold weather and join the party.
My initial intention was to begin with the sole Champagne of the event, Champagne Fleury, but was it this cold weather outside or something, I chose to begin with Alsace Domaine Pierre Frick instead. Jean-Pierre & Chantal Frick are there today to pour their wines.
__Pinot Noir 2003. A start with whites seemed wise to me, but Jean-Pierre Frick said that "Blanc sur Rouge, rien ne bouge", a sentence which sounds like a verse and means something like "White after Red, nothing is disturbed". Well, why not, with Alsace reds maybe, but I would'nt begin with a red Côtes du Rhône or Languedoc. The wine : this 2003 has a nice pepper in it, with some tannicity. The wine is carafed. That's a nice beginning. He says that the 2005 is more silky.
__Sylvaner 206. Richness, welcome viscosity in the mouth. Lots of substance too for a Sylvaner. Chantal Frick says that alas many people choose to bypass Sylvaner at tastings. This variety is unfairly considered as a minor variety, maybe because it has been produced with excessive yields in the region. A nice wine for a mere 6,6 Euro.
__Riesling 2003. in 2003 they began to harvest before sept 15 when in 2008 for example they began oct 6. Nice. Balanced wine. 9,4 Euro.
Riesling Grand Cru Steinert 2005. A very different Riesling indeed. A dry wine with a nice freshness and exceptionnal minerality. Chantal says that even though the tasters feel great things in this wine already, it is even better to let it mature a bit more in a cellar to take full advantage of its potential. The soil here is oolitic limestone, with blocks. 13,3 Euro (prices on this page are tax-included).
__Pinot Blanc/Pinot Auxerrois 2005. Vinified without sulphur addition. This wine went through its malolactic fermentation (usually, they manage not to have the malo-ferm done). Soil : limestone/grès. She says I might feel some perly feel on the mouth but the bottle was opened a while ago and there's none. Very nice and interesting mouth. The nose has some very ripe grapes notes, also generous flower notes. 9 gr residual sugar. 8,5 Euro.
Crémant d'Alsace 2002. Sparkling wine from Alsace. Often a good alternative to Champagne. Pinot Blanc & Riesling. 8,45 Euro. Surprising after the Auxerrois 2005, feels too sugary. 13 g residual sugar. The second sip is already better, it is amazing as the previous wine can load the feel of a wine...
__Giboulot "Vin de Pays de Sainte Marie la Blanche" - Terres Burgondes 2007. 100% Pinot Beurrot (Pinot Gris).Sauvignon-like nose. Neat mouth with a beautiful minerality. Emmanuel Giboulot says that this variety is precocious and that he has to be careful not to let it go too far in its maturity, which could happen if he made the mistake to harvest it alongside the other grape varieties. He adds that 2007 brought an interesting plus in terms of acidity for the region's wines. Precise, tight wine. Only 12°. Made from a 60-are vineyard. 11,45 Euro. To drink in 4/5 years, he says, after, it may go toward apricot notes, which is not necessarily desirable.
__Giboulot Côte de Beaune 2007 la Grande Châtelaine. Chardonnay. Beautiful. 18 Euro.
__Giboulot Combe d'Eve 2006. Chardonnay. 18-month elevage in casks (no new casks). soil with lots of clay. Very nice mouth, balanced and quite long.
__Hautes Côtes de Beaune Sous le Mont 2007 (the reds, after having tasted many other whites in-between). Not very dark in color. Nice presence in the mouth. Chewy, fruity and vivid.Fermented in wooden vats and elevage in casks. 13,8 Euro. 30-years-old vineyard located in Villers la Faye, at the bottom of a small mont (mount).Destemmed grapes.
__Giboulot Beaune Lulune 2007. Also a nice clear-red color. A vineyard plot already known in the 11th century, he says. It is actually the ancient location of the village of Pommard, right at the bottom of this slope.The village was later moved further down to its present location.The top of the slope has some dry bushes, quite Mediterannean because of meager soils and the left part of the slope has some sources with trees and more green foliage. 13-month elevage in casks on its lees.Jammy fruit aromas.Probably a bit early to drink this wine, deserves a few years for its potential.
__Tour Grise les Amandiers 2005. 100% Cheninc Blanc. Roundness. 10 Euro.
__Tour Grise les Amandiers 2003. The heat-wave year. 14 gr residual sugar. Still well-balanced between the acidity and the alcohol. 10 Euro.
__Tour Grise Zéro Pointé 2008 (white). From the Zéro Pointé range (red, rosé, white), sparkling wines made without dosage and with wild yeasts. Labelled as Table Wine. 100% Chenin. Nose with citrus aromas, and also of freshly-pressed apple, a bit of pear too. In the mouth, the freshly-pressed apple comes forward. 7,5 Euro.
__Tour Grise Zéro Pointé rosé. Cabernet Franc sparkling.
Then, the Coulée de Serrant, where Virginie Joly [pic on left] pours the wines. Nicolas Joly arrives later in the day. His son Vincent was also around.
__Nicolas Joly, Savennières Les Vieux Clos 2007.Bottled las june. Elevage in casks in a surface, non-aircon cellar. A full-bodied Chenin Blanc with minerality. Very nice mouth. 20 Euro.
__Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant 2007. Bottled late august. This Chenin-Blanc wine is one of the Loire most outstanding whites. The soil : schists. This may explain the particular richness and deep substance of this wine. You typically taste the bottle repeatedly stretched over several hours and will find new things coming out.
Domaine Saladin :
__Marie-Laurence Saladin has only one white on the table, along with several reds. Per El 2007. Côtes du Rhône Villages. Marsanne (40%), Viognier (30%), Clairette (20%), Grenache (5%), Bourboulenc (5%). They added only 5% of Bourboulenc because this year there were very few grapes of it. Fresh and mineral. Roundness. 13,5°. 13 Euro.
I tasted several red wines made by the Saladin sisters at the last Paris wine fair and so skipped the reds here. If I find my notes (I bought them a few bottles of reds) I'll put them here.
__Domaine de la Pinte Arbois Pupillin Chardonnay 2005.Vinified in vats with a 15-month elevage in old casks. The malolactic fermentation is completed. Nice aromatic range. Roundness in the mouth, balanced. 9 Euro.
__Domaine de la Pinte, Arbois Pupillin Melon à Queue Rouge 2006. "Melon à Queue Rouge" is an ancient type of Chardonnay that has mostly disappeared. This particular vineyard-plot is 50-year old. I hear the Philippe Chatillon, the owner, explain to a couple that this wine well with green asparagus or lightly-fried foie-gras because of its anise-like aromas and its richness. Poweful aromas of ripe fruits. Nice refreshing mouth. 16 months in casks and very low yields for this variety, about 20 hectoliter/hectare. The traditionnal low yields of "Melon à Queue Rouge" explain why it has been mostly uprooted and replaced by more productive types of Chardonnay.At la Pinte they have about one hectare of it and make 20000 bottles. 16 Euro.
__Domaine de la Pinte Arbois Savagnin. 4 year-elevage in casks, with the particularity that 80% of the casks were not topped-up (sous voile) and 20% were topped-up. The non-topped-up casks develop a veil at the surface as the wine evaporates through the wood and a pocket of air grows at the top. This type of non-interventionist elevage suits particularly to Savagnin and when performed on nearly 7 years, it gives the unique Vin Jaune with its oxydative aromas and oddly fresh feel at the same time.This wine has this recognizable oxydative character. Very nice balance in the mouth. 16 Euro.
__Domaine de la Pinte Arbois Cuvée S (Savagnin) 2006. This wine has been topped-up, 18 months in new casks. Very very low yields, about 10 hectoliter/hectare. Nice maturity and substance, ripe fruits. Philippe Chatillon says that what is important is to have a good adequation between the plot qualities (including terroir), the cask quality and the millesime. He adds that he has been looking for this particular result for years and he condiders that 2006 was his first success. While sipping this gorgeous Savagnin, I begin to feel the pulse of this tasting event and relax. Winter has been blasted away by these wines.
__Domaine de la Pinte Arbois Poulsard 2005. Clear red color. Light wine with the personnality of this Hura variety. 8 Euro.
__Domaine de la Pinte Côtes du Jura Port Lesney 2004. Wine blend made of complanted red varieties. Very nice nose with candy notes. Also a very clear red.White pepper. You have in this wine Melon à Queue Rouge, Trousseau, Poulsard, Pinot Noir.
__Domaine de la Pinte Poulsard 2005. No label on this bottle. Carbonic maceration. Clear, evolved color. Turbidity.Very nice. The price ? he says 8 Euro without label, much more with one...
Domaine du Traginer is located in Banyuls and the vintner's name is Jean-François Deu, a guy who is about 40 and speaks with the southern accent of this mountainous region near the Pyrennean range. 8 hectares (Banyuls, Collioure) on steep slopes, with tiny low-wals encircled surfaces. Uses a mule for the most arduous vineyard plots. Traginer means btw mule rider in the region.
__Traginer Collioure Blanc 2006. White. Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Malvoisie, vinified in 1/2 muids (600-liter casks). 14 months elevage. Nice ampleness in the mouth.
__Traginer Collioure Blanc 2005.No Malvoisie here. Very different indeed. Oxydative notes. Some residual sugar made it into the bottle and the wine continued to evolve.
__Traginer Collioure 2006 (red).Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre. Tannic wine.
__Traginer Collioure 2005 "Cuvée d'Octobre". red. Elevage in 4/5-year old casks.Bottled not long ago. Nice intensity in the mouth. This wine needs to wait more before being fully enjoyed. 17 Euro.
__Traginer Collioure "al Ribéral" 2006.Grenache, Carignan, Syrah (50%), Mourvèdre.Partly in stainless-steel vats, partly in casks. Nice, intense nose. Substance in the mouth. No SO2 here. This estate doesn't use any external yeasts, enzymes or any usual additive. 16 Euro.
__Traginer Collioure Capatas 2004. Very steep vineyard plot facing the Mediterranean. That's where the mule is useful.Syrah (70%), Grenache, Carignan. Yields as low as 17ho/ha.Lots of concentration. Must be great with a meat dish. This is of course a long-keep wine only at the beginning of its life.
__Traginer Collioure Capatas 2002. Magnum. Nose : mushrooms, underwood. Very nice and long mouth, spicy notes. 60 Euro for the magnum.
Marcel Richaud speaks about the weather and the harvest this year, he says that in 2008 they were obliged to discard lots of grapes because of different reasons like mildew or unripe grapes because of flowering problems.
__Marcel Richaud, Terre de Galets 2007 (red). Grenache mostly, plus 10% Syrah.Red, ripe fruits aromas. Beatiful mouth, a bit too warm because of the temperature of the bottle. 7 Euro.
__Marcel Richaud, Cairanne 2007. Liquorice, soft spices as we say in France (épices douces). Quite well balanced for its 15°alc.
__Marcel Richaud, L'Ebrescade 2006. Here is a long keep wine (if his other wines were not already long-keeps). Small astringency in the mouth but still a nice balance. He says best for this bottle would be to drink it beginning 2010 only. 17 Euro. L'Ebrescade is Marcel Richaud's most advanced cuvée, and he regularly has problems to get the INAO agreement, making him one of the most energetic resistant to the diktat of the agreement-commissions who expell the natural wines from an Appellation because they don't taste like the standardized wines of the region. By the way, if you're in Paris, go to Le Verre Volé wine shop (rue Oberkampf or rue de Lancry, they have two shops), they happen to have a Marcel-Richaud red wine which was barred from the Appellation by this Commission and is sold as Table Wine (and priced 4,7 Euro if I remember). I think it might be what was formerly L'Ebrescade (not sure though).
I went then to Pierre breton's stand.
__Domaine Breton, Bourgueil Dilettante 2007. At Domaine Breton, the Dilletante cuvée is vinified by Catherine Breton, and depending of the year, she may make a red, a white or a natural sparklint (Pet-Nat). She is not on the barge today. Pierre says that it is made through carbonic maceration with whole clusters and this unfiltered wine just got a very tiny SO2 addition at bottling. A light-colored Cabernet Franc. Too bad Catherine is not there today, I like that wine, very enjoyable mouth.
__Domaine Breton, Bourgueil Nuit d'Ivresse 2007. Red. Zero SO2 (during the vinification or at bottling), no additives of course.Elevage in 2-year-old casks. The wine gets its malo-ferm completed.Beautiful fruit.
__Domaine Breton Bourgueil les Perrières 2006. Bottled two weeks ago (very long elevage). Les Perrières is for me THE Breton Bourgueil to buy and preciously keep a few years to best enjoy its potential, tasting it now is a curiosity or a sin because it is a bit early. 70-year-old Cabernet-Franc vineyards. Fermented in open-top wooden vats (Grenier type). 20 hectoliter/hectare yields. Elevage in 1/2 muids (550-liter casks).
__Chateau de Roquefort, les Mûres 2005 (Côtes de Provence). Well-named, this red wine has also dark-sherry, and other jammy-fruit notes. Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet, Cinsault. Nice second mouth, with suppleness and balance. Has only a tiny percentage in casks, and there's only a Japanese taster who guessed it once even though Raymond de Villeneuve had decided not to say it.12,5 Euro.
__Chateau de Roquefort, Vieilles Vignes 2004. Elevage in wooden tronconic vats. The usual grape varieties.
Chateau de Roquefort, Rubrum Obscurum 2004 or 2005, sorry, I'm not sure of my notes. Old vines of Grenache (majority), Mourvèdre, Carignan. Considered as one of the most outstanding reds of the region. Bottled opened since quite a long time. Very nice substance, Sttructured, with black-fruits aromas. Long-keep wine for sure.
Now, Domaine Saint Nicolas (les Fiefs Vendéens), a Loire estate located in Vendée, a region also known for its resistance against the French revolution, which committed there one of the first genocides of History as retaliation. The Domaine Saint Nicolas benefits from a marine micro-climate, being located on the Île d'Olonne, an island. Organic farming with biodynamic principles, on a 37-hectare surface. Introduced by the Romans in the region , the vineyards expand in the 9th century. D. Saint Nicolas made a lot to bring this little-known sub-Appellation of the Loire on the radar. The total surface of the Appellation is only 500 hectares, with about 40 vignerons making a living of it.
__Domaine Saint-Nicolas, Fiefs vendéens, "Gammes en May" 2007. A beautiful, fruity Gamay, as its humorous name may suggest it. 6,5 Euro. Very low yields indeed : 12 hectoliter/hectare in 2008 (18ho/ha in 2007).
Domaine Saint-Nicolas, Fiefs Vendéens, Cuvée Jacques 2006. Named from Thierry Michon's Grandfather. 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Cabernet Franc, destemmed grapes. Yields : low again, at 25ho/ha. 18-month elevage in old, 400-liter casks. foot punching-of-the-cap, during 8 to 10 days. Short maceration. Very nice mouth, the wine glides with a beautiful viscosity on the sides of the mouth. 18 Euro.
__Domaine Saint-Nicolas, Fiefs Vendéens "Plante Gâte" 2006 or 2007 (sorry, not sure again). 100% Pinot Noir. Thierry Michon began this cuvée in 2000 but it isn't made every year. They also made it in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, there will not be any in 2008. Soil : rose schists with clay at the surface. Beautiful nose, I feel eucalyptus notes. A nice Pinot Noir from the Loire, refined and fresh.
__Domaine Saint Nicolas, Fiefs Vendéens "La Grande Pièce" 2003. 100% Pinot Noir from the oldest vines of the estate (massal-selection vines - 1976) on grey-schists soil. Atypical year (heat wave). 15-month elevage in big (400-liter) new casks (that's why the name, "Grande Pièce" which means big cask). Is it the schistic soil or the micro-climate, this Pinot Noir is one of the Loire's best. Needs sometimes to be carafed to let remants of CO2 out. Deep, intense mouth, a pleasure.
__Domaine Saint-Nicolas, Cabaret 2005. Best tasted at the end because of its character.
This estate has also very interesting rosés that I didn't taste this time.
__Causse Marines, Mysterre 1996. Name plays with Mystère (mystery) and terre (soil or land). Mauzac. A veil wine (vin de voile), meaning the wine has been let alone in the casks without being regularly topped-up, like Jura's Vin Jaune, developping along the years an oxydative style with unique aromas. It takes two years in old casks to develop the veil, but it kept aging there until it was bottled in february 2007 (10 years in total without topping-up). 29 Euro. They made trials with other varieties for this type of vinification, but Mauzac seems the only variety that stands it here. Beautiful, intricate aromas of veil wines, a pleasure with lots of freshness. And of course, an opened bottle can stand days.
Again, even with the small size of this tasting event, I couldn't stop at each stand, missing Chateau Lagarette (Bordeaux) and Chateau la Grave (Fronsac), plus a few wines at the other stands...