I still wanted to try to match this sort of cheese with a wine and went to ask to Alain Segelle, a sommelier with a keen knowledge of wines and foods. He pointed to an old Sancerre first, more than 10 years old, for example a Cotat Sancerre. Considering a 10-years-more Sancerre will cost 60 Euro or more at Lavinia where I'm speaking to Alain Segelle, I'll pass this option. He says that there's another option for this old goat-cheese : a Rancio sec (dry), like for example this one from La Tour Vieille, Rancio sec Cap de Creus in the Banyuls Appellation. It is made by Vincent Cantié & Christine Campadieu and costs 22 Euro at Lavinia. It is an oxydative wine about 30 years old which has some common particularities with an Amontillado Xeres, maybe a bit drier that an Amontillado. Alain Segelle says that the particular texture of the cheese goes well with this type of Solera or veil wine. He says that it may be because the veil wine has gone through a similar aging process which has concentrated the aromas of the wine.
I ended up choosing a wine that was given to me by Christophe Foucher earlier in 2008, Christophe is the owner of Domaine de la Lunotte : a Sauvignon 2005 which went through a 3-year elevage in casks. This lightly oxydative wine with floral aromas was the last wine that I had tasted during my visit at the estate and this atypical Sauvignon waited in my fridge for the right opportunity. Its light residual-sugar feel disappears when you've just eaten a piece of this old cheese, and while the strong cheese keeps the upper hand in the balance, I think that it still can do a good job here.
Note : this goat cheese wass more than 4-month old as I kept it another month in the fridge.
Note : if the wine isn't enough to warm up the thickest of winter, here are a couple of "for emergency use only" music tracks : First, Lazy Afternoon from Pete la Roca's Basra. Steve Kuhn is doing a beautiful, sensitive solo at the piano in a recording made in 1965. Another great piano track is Bill Evans' interpretation of the theme of M.A.S.H. in his well-named-album You must beleive in spring.
If there's a place where I didn't expect to fall upon a wine-related subject, it was the Japanese Design Exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the Louvre. Made possible by a French-Japanese cultural cooperation, this Kansei exhibition wanted to shed light on the deep roots of the delicate Japanese designs and many Japanese designed object were displayed, sometimes as ordinary-looking as a Pocari Sweat plastic bottle. I think btw that the bottle was more chosen for the iconic status of this soda drink in Japan than for the design of the bottle, and Iseki's One-Cup would have been a better choice.
The exhibition was divided in several design groups along particular aspects that are very important to the Japanese way of feeling the things, like kime where you feel the grain and the touch of an object, mottai where the substance of an object must spring visually to the eyes without any distracting and unnecessary artifact, karoyaka which makes objects feel light and aerial, or habuku for objects where simplicity is pushed at its maximum and a design thought to make the handling obvious.
The wine-related object was a one-cellar bottle designed to be placed on a table. Hard to think of a more minimalist cellar and it makes the 6-bottle table-cellars that are common in Japan look ostentatious. It is not clear if this cellar is intended to age a unique bottle like a Romanée Conti for years under the prying eyes of the guests, or give a temporary respite to a bottle between the cellar and the decorker stage. Designer : Mr Michio Akita, created in 2003. It was displayed in the tatazumai section, for the allure of this object, its right proportions and its ability to find its space in the room...
The cuvée Super-U Venarey-les-Laumes, priced 1,82 Euro, seems to be a special cuvée made for this particular supermarket, it bears the name of a Négociante of the region, Anne Laroche, but the wine is said to come from the Loire, from all the white varieties of that region, with the taste hinting for a majority of Sauvignon. Flower aromas on the nose. Flat, short mouth, no complexity. Not very pleasant feel in the mouth.
The second wine is a Chardonnay 2007 from the Yonne, a part of Burgundy that is home to both prestigious wines and cheap wines like this one. Estate name : Domaine Eugénie Carrion, an estate also known for making Chablis. The wine could come from younger vines or grapes deemed unfit for the Chablis. The label says "bottled in 21190, which is a ZIP code from the Côte d'Or (not the Yonne) where it was probably transported by tanker truck and bottled. Nose typical with a Chardonnay. Relatively correct mouth, without ampleness though. Some minerality, maybe a bit too dry (lacks richness). Mostly correct for this price range (Priced 3,20 Euro). Maybe one day these vineyards will turn out to be another success story of a mass-produced-table-wine turned sought-after-quality-wine, but there's probably still some changes ahead in the vineyard and in the vatroom before that.
This beautiful horse who befriended us along a road in Burgundy had several thing in common with these whiskies, like strength and tenderness at the same time.
The drinks menu shows that luxury can come without being overpriced, the coffee starting at 3,5 Euro. The wines : The entry glass (What I ordered) is a Corbières Rosé by Chateau Hortala in the Languedoc (15cl glass priced 6 Euro, in spite of the menu saying 8 Euro). The glass is served with delicious olives and other pickles. A nice, solid bled-rosé wine which is probably made with Grenache. B. chose a Café Amaretto, a nicely aromatized coffee. There are a few Champagnes on the list beginning with a Champagne Ladurée at 13 Euro a glass. The Champagne Ladurée is made by Maison Pierre Mignon. Among the few wines by the glass, there is a Lalande de Pomerol at 8 Euro (Chateau Treytins), a Sancerre white (Domaine Reverdy) at 10 Euro and a Saint-Joseph (Domaine François Villard) at 9 Euro
I also bought a few bottles of Jo Landron Muscadet. After tasting several of Jo Landon's Domaine-de-la-Louvetrie wines, I rediscovered how the unique Melon-de-Bourgogne grape-variety could make beautiful white wines. Every single Muscadet there was a hit but my top notes went to his Muscadet Fief du Breil 2006, a very mineral wine with a very classy and long mouth. When I visited Joe Dressner in the Maconnais last summer we spoke about the ability of well-vinified Muscadet wines to age, and if this Fief du Breil is already a great wine now, it certainly can age 10 or more years like this page might suggest, which I might try to wait with the bottles that I bought that day.
The other wine which was a surprise that weekend was a magnum of Sauvignon of Junko Araï's Domaine des Bois Lucas (Loire) which was given to us by Noëlla Morantin after a visit there (page on the Sauvignon harvest). The unlabelled magnum [pictured on the right with our friend Junko from Osaka, with whom we wanted to taste Junko-Araï's wine] stayed months or years in our fridge, and the last 6 months in a not-so-cool cellar. This unfiltered Sauvignon had deposits inside the bottle. Very beautiful atypical Sauvignon, with aromas of rose grapefruit, ananas, mango and other exotic fruits. Neat attack in the mouth with richness and length. A pleasure that we enjoyed for two days. After these years of poor storage I was expecting mixed feelings from this bottle but the wine was beyond our expectations, an exceptionnal wine indeed. One more proof that little- or no-sulphured natural wines have an energy within to withstand adverse conditions.The wine also paired perfectly with the roasted free-run chicken that we had for lunch.
The restaurant is located at 13 Bd de la Tour-Maubourg 75007 Paris. It is open 7 days a week. phone : 01 44 11 72 00