We followed the itinerary of sommelier Bunpei Someya whom I pictured once sabraging a bottle of Champagne. This passionate Japanese sommelier was working at Guy Savoy but left this prestigious job to get closer from the heart of the wine region : He joined 4 or 5 years ago chef Stéphane Léger and his gastronomic restaurant Le Chassagne located in Chassagne Montrachet (that's where we met him shortly the other day). Bunpei, who is an outstanding wine taster, could live thanks to this new job in the middle of an extraordinary wine region. The people who come eat at Le Chassagne are often either vignerons, wine VIPs or wine journalists and his sommelier expertise is really usefull. Plus, he is so close from everything that he often drives to the vineyards (he even finds time to help for harvest) or to the wineries after work, learning ever more week after week. That's this closeness to the origin of great wines that made him choose this job. This restaurant which was initially created by vignerons in 1999, is managed by Stéphane Léger since 2006. It sits on the central square of Chassagne, just upstairs from Les Grands Crus, a well-stocked caviste [picture on left]. Stéphane Léger who is originally from Nuits-Saint-Georges helped Le Chassagne earn a Michelin star. His offers several menus icluding two menus du marché for lunch, one at 22 Euro and a more elaborate one at 39 Euro. Then there is a menu at 49 Euro, plus the Atelier de Saveurs menu where the client gets 9 (59 Euro) or 13 dishes (78 Euro) and is led through a succession of different foods and wines.
Bunpei Someya helps the client make his choice through the wine list when necessary.What Léger likes about Bunpei is that he tastes well, appreciates the qualities of wines independantly from their labels, knows very well the terroirs of each wine and the relative location of vineyards from each other. He chooses well the estates where he wishes to help for the harvest : he went for example to Domaine Leflaive, which is THE reference in Puligny (THE reference in Chassagne being Domaine Ramonet).
Here is a restaurant that I'm tipping about even before having tried it in the first place... We met during a short stop in the Burgundy wine capital several guys from Luxemburg who were touring wineries and who had just eaten there and handn't but compliments to say about the place. The Bissoh is managed by a Japanese woman and its cuisine is centered on French products with a Japanese culinary approach. The restaurant room itself has an East-Asia feel for its decoration. But it seems that the food and the wines are definitely why people come here. The Teppan-Yaki menu (for two people minimum) costs 49 Euro for one dish, 66 Euro for two dishes and 79 Euro for threee dishes. After an Amuse Bouche, you get a nice choice of dishes :
-- Carpaccio de Liche, huile de shiso, gelée de Umé-zu
-- Tofu maison, sauce aux champignons
-- Salade de Saint-Jacques grillé, fenouils, sauce à la figue, sésame
-- Joue de Boeuf mijoté, légumes saison, sauce à la moutarde, miso
-- Poisson et Fruits de Mer Teppan-Yaki (Bar, St Jacques, crevettes...)
-- Thon Rossini
-- Steak de Boeuf, deux sauces (sésame, agrumes), gros radis râpé, échalotte, ciboulette.
This all with riz japonais (Japanese rice).
Dessert with a choice between 4.
You can also order à la carte and prices are like 7 Euro for Aubergine au miso, 13 Euro for Sashimi 3 variés, 18 Euro for Poisson grillé (grilled fish) or 33 Euro for the Steak de Boeuf cuisiné Teppan-Yaki for example.
But the guys from Luxemburg were particularly happy with the lunch meal (weekdays only) that they just had : for 13 Euro, they had an amuse bouche, an entrée, a dish with rice and a dessert. Extremely good value.
But the wine list of this restaurant is maybe even more valuable. Excellent wines, gorgeous list of artisan vignerons, with some bottles that you have even trouble finding in good wine shops. And this, priced very reasonably indeed. Just consider that they have at least 4 Chablis from Domaine Raveneau, one of them being for example a Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2005 at 81 Euro...
The wine : residual sugar, nice acidity, very refined. You drink that like milk, very easily. The nose is close to a Gewürztraminer and Alain Segelle says that it is actually from a close family. A very nice apéritif wine indeed.
Here are the wines that we had along the dinner (which was mushroom and meat centered) :
__Moulis en Medoc Chateau Poujeaux 1997
__ Fronsac Chateau Renard Montdésir 1998
__ Pomerol Chateau la Cabanne 1999
__ Margaux Chateau Brane Cantenac 1993 Cru Classé
__ Mystery wine for us to guess. I proposed a Grange des Pères (a Languedoc) and it was actually a Corbières Chateau Lastours 1994
__ Saint Julien Chateau Lagrange 1986 Cru Classé
__ St Emilion Chateau Canon 1985 1er Grand Cru Classé
__ Pessac Léognan Chateau Haut Bailly Cru Classé 1985
__ Fronsac Chateau La Rivière 1990
__ Coteaux du Layon Domaine des Maurières 1990
__ Rivesaltes Rancio Domaine Grand Guilhem
That was indeed an exceptionnal dinner with gorgeous wines that you don't drink (this is a dinner, not a soul-less tasting !) every day. Thanks Alain for the selection.
A cold temperature serve fits this wine well. It takes several sips to really appreciate this wine, I feel. B. says that it is a woman's wine. In addition to the residual sugar, there is this light bitterness and also this acidity that compares well with the grapefruit feel
__First a Chignin Bergeron 2006 by Louis Magnien (a 4,1-hectare Savoie estate), a white wine with a very nice mouth, a gliding feel, a richness and a good balance with the alcohol which is relatively high here at about 14°.
__Then there was this Bugey Lièvre d'Automne 2008, a Chardonnay which has been taken from the vat for this tasting and will be bottled in the next few days (dec 2009). Very nice mouth, a bit perly. Aromas of flowers, maybe hawthorn.
__Then an Apremont Jacquère 2008 (white) by Domaine Giachino, a small organic estate working on 8,5 hectares and making low-alcohol wines. This Apremont with 11° in alcohol only is fresh and very well balanced. The vintner says that he makes also a 9° wine without sulphur (he says that it is a bit fizzy). He didn't bring any of this wine and I'm looking forward for tasting some one day, I'm sure that these sulphur-free low-alcohol wines have a future, they're a direct heritage of the tradition (wines were this low in the 19th century, I've heard) and they're very easy drinking.
__Then the Cuvée Euphrasie 2008 by Domaine Adrien Berlioz, a 4-hectare estate in organic-farming conversion. The wine, which is made with Roussane, is superb, very nice. Complex mouth, lotys of pleasure here. 13,5°.
__Prieuré Saint Christophe, Roussette de Savoie 2007 : length, balance between acidity and alcohol. Nice wine. Burgundy-style elevage with 9 months in casks (25% new) but discreet wood here. 18 Euro.
__Prieuré St Christophe had other outstanding wines there : Mondeuse 2006 (a red) which spent some time in wood. Very, very nice, classy wine at 17 Euro. The Mondeuse 2005 (no casks here) had a slightly reduction on the nose but an intense, aromatic mouth. The Mondeuse 2004 (old casks) had notes of spices with integrated tannins (very beautiful and elegant ones). Then, last : Mondeuse prestige 2002, something that they don't do every year on two vineyyards ideal for reds (clay limestone soil). That's a very complex wine on the nose, very refined. 38 Euro for individual customers. Kudos to Michel Grisard on the pioc azbove for his wines....
__ Autrement, Roussette ede Savoie Altesse 2008, a white made by Jacques Maillet [pic on left-he's on the left], an easy going guy who likes to joke and chat with people. His approach is totally additives-free and he works out a very small surface : 2,5 hectares of whites (in 2 plots) and 1,5 hectare of red. So, this Altesse has zero sulphur, is a bit perly and its mouth is very pleasure oriented. Its label says 13,8° but it's more like 12,5° in the feel. There's a René Mosse in the general style of this wine. I tasted also several nice reds from this vintner, each named Autrement rouge with different vintages.
__ I also liked Louis Magnien's Gamay 2008, a very nice wine in the mouth, very well balanced, nice wine at 8,5 Euro only. He makes this wine from 60 ares of vineyards only. His Mondeuse 2007, Cuvée Vieilles Vignes was also very nice, complex and beautiful tannins. I see a great quality coming out of this wine after some more cellaring time.
__Les Peyrouses 2007 Vieilles Vignes Syrah (planted before 1900). Clay/sandy soil with gravel underneath. The vines aren't that big. Smoky side on the nose. The elevage is made in 225-liter casks (4-5 wines old) for 18 months. 30 ares of Syrah on flatland in the plain with houses all around. Among the first to have been replanted after the Phyloxerra. 11 Euro.
__ Cornas 2007. 2 hectares but with three different terroirs blended at the end : a granitic one, a clay/limestone and a lower slope with silt deposits. 21 Euro. Nice aromas of cooked fruits, tight tannins, ripeness feel. Bottled last april. He considers that it's closed right now.
__ Cornas 2008. Eucalyptus notes. Blend made from the casks, the bottling will be in next march 2010. 14°. Paradoxally, he says, this wine is riper than the 2007. Elevage in 1/2 muids (600-liter casks), there are tannins here and you must project the wine in a couple more years, should be quite good. The mouth is already very well balanced, with a solid structure. The vines were intially planted before 1910 and have been replanted (partly as I understood) from 1976.
__ Cormerais Gros Plant VDQS, a simple white wine with lots of freshness. 4,7 Euro.
__ Cormerais Muscadet 2008. On lees, Melon de Bourgogne variety. 5,7 Euro. Fresh, richness, neat mouth. Stayed on its lees, no stirring, no fining. Very good value wine.
__ Cormerais Muscadet Vieilles Vignes 2007. 14 months on its lees. 40-year old vines. 12°, feels more in the mouth. Nice aromas though. 7 Euro.
__ Cormerais Vieilles Vignes 2006. Very nice, precise mouth. 6,5 Euro.
__ Cormerais Muscadet Prestige 2005. Color : green and acidulous. Nice. 8 Euro.
__ Cormerais Muscadet Clisson 2006. Soon-to-be Communal Appellation in Muscadet. Granitic soil, a very special terroir, 14 vignerons make wine on the terroir of Clisson. Very nice minerality indeed here. 10,1 Euro.
__ Cormerais, Cuvée Bruno 2004. 52 months's elevage, bottled january 21st 2009 (he is very careful when choosing the bottling time and he takes the moon into account). He begins to sell the wine. Very precise wine, concentration. Freshness and minerality. 10,6 Euro.
__ Cormerais Muscadet Clisson 2005. 1,5-hectare vineyard declared. He harvested 30 hectoliters in there last year and in 2009 a maximum of 45 hectoliters. Classy mouth, nice wine.
Her first name is Fleur, she is from a family of farmers and she discovered this estate on a market or a fair (I don't remember the details), it was the stand next to hers and these people seemed so arrogant and full of certitudes about their wines, but she tasted them and that was it, she joined the team and now works for Chateau Massereau...At Chateau Massereau, the philosophy is nature oriented and low interventionist. The less-than-10-hectares estate is stretched between 6 hectares of Bordeaux, 1,8 hectare of Graves and 1,1 hectare of Barsac-Sauternes. They use only indigenous yeasts for their wines
__ Chateau Massereau 2005, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot & 20% Petit Verdot.Very nice nose with clafoutis, cooked cherry notes. Very nice mouth with substance.
__ Chateau Massereau K 2002. Red. An anthology vintage in regard to mildew (if I read my notes right). They harvested early november after having taken down all the damaged leaves and grapes. The result is lovely, that's one of their favorite wines. Elevage in D'Arnajou casks made with wood from the Allier. 13,5 Euro.
__ Chateau Massereau K 2003. Red. The weather was just the opposite here, she says (heat-wave year). Unlike some (many) others, they didn't acidify their wines with additives that year. They didn't take down the leaves, there was a good work done on the soil. Very elegant, very nice.
__ Chateau Massereau Graves 2005. Easy vintage again, she says. Very ample mouth, very classy. That's goooood.....20,5 Euro.
__ Chateau Massereau Barsac-Sauternes 2000. Very refined nose. Oxydative notes in the mouth, very nice wine.
__ Chateau Massereau La Pachère 2006. A wink in the choice of this name, means not expensive, because it is half the price of a same-quality Sauternes. Costs 478 Euro. Clay limestone soil
Arts are also given a front seat in this venue, comedians (she is also initially a comedian) and poets are invited now and then for performances and shows, and the good wine or food is never far don't be anxious about that. Just ask Morgane when you visit the place, she'll send you the newsletter with details about the next thing at Ma Cave Fleury. You can also just check Ma Cave Fleury's website to see what's up. My feeling when I visited the place was that I wouldn't have expected to have come into so many other wine and food regions by dropping in that supposedly Champagne shop... Morgane Fleury (she's the woman on those two pictures) has quite a few friends and that's another side of this story, these people like fun in addition to good drinks and that means that you may spend more time than planned when you open the door...
You can have a big plate of artisanal charcuterie with cheese for 10 Euro and there are smaller such plates for 3,5 Euro. The place being small, if you reserve before it can be wise.
Ma Cave Fleury : 177 rue Saint Denis (map and directions), 75002 Paris phone 01 40 28 03 39