The first wine that I tasted at his stand was the yellow-labelled bottles he holds on the picture :
__ Jean-Yves Peron Cotillon des Dames, Vin de Table (2008) Jacquères. This outstanding white from Savoie is the result of one year of élevage sous voile. It was bottled march 1st without any SO2. He says that the oxydative notes should go away after a month or two. The wine is fresh and brightly mineral, with this oxydative side that I'm not sure to wish go away. He made two casks only of this Jacquère, or 600 bottles. 14,8 €. The soil is mica/schists exposed on the south. He farms organic and his vines are 100 years old or more. Very nice wine. It costs 14,85 € at Caves Augé and expect to pay less at his place in the mountains.
He says that the weather was never hot or even warm in 2008, which give a tension minerality to the wines of this vintage. The wine was bottled march 1st without any sulphur, but he is not sure to do it again next year, he would feel more confident for the stability of the wine to have a bit of it maybe.
__ Jean-Yves Peron Rosé Mondeuse 2008 "Vers la Maison Rouge". Unfiltered. Almost red, like a Pinot Noir. He says that the wine didn't like the road trip to Paris. One-year élevage in cask. His idea here was to make a very expressive and aromatic wine. The wine tasted very well back home, here it's so-so. He says that after a month rest in the Caves-Augé cellars it will be fine. 11,3 €.
__ Jean-Yves Peron Champ Levat 2008, Mondeuse. Vin de Pays D'Allobrogie. A still wine with beautiful tannins in the mouth, vividness too. The color is similar to a Pinot Noir, not very dark. He says that Mondeuse is a rather rustic variety, compared to a comparable variety which is Syrah. If farmed with high yields and harvested not ripe enough, it's doesn't make nice wines, so he is very careful in his vineyard management. 16,5 €.
__ Jean-Yves Peron, Côte Pelée 2008. This is a long-keep wine, he says. He did more extraction here, and also as his daughter was born this year, he did that in purpose, to enjoy this wine in many many years. Vinous aromas here with concentration. 21 €.
Domaine du Poyet Chardonnay 2009, Vin de Pays. Very aromatic, fresh. Quite rich. He has 0,5 hectare of Chard. Bottle cost 4,7 € public price at the estate.
Domaine du Poyet, Côtes du Forez Rosé 2006. Gamay. Nice reflections, onion peel.Richness, pleasant if not very aromatic. 4,15 €.
Domaine du Poyet Côtes du Forez "Fruité" 2009. On this Gamay, he made 5-6 days of carbonic maceration. Color is darker than other years he says. Nose ripe fruits. 3,9 €.
Domaine du Poyet Côtes du Forez "Cuvée du Poyet" 2009. 8-10 days of maceration in cement vats with epoxy lining. 50% destemmed, temperature control. Nose more complex, ample, warm mouth. 4,35 €.
Domaine du Poyet "Cuvée du Poyet" 2008. Lighter color here. He says that at the beginning the acidity was prominent on this wine but now it's fine. There isn't the substance of the 2009 but still nice. Speaking of the color, he says that he doesn't change it with additives. Nice pleasant mouth.
Domaine du Poyet Cuvée des Vieux Ceps 2008. Côtes du Forez. From a carafe. A bit more maceration time and extraction he says. 50-year-old vines at 400-420 meter altitude. Mouth rather pleasant, round and warmful. 12° or 12,5° in alcohol. 5,3 €.
Domaine du Poyet, Cuvée des Vieux Ceps 2007. More complexity, soft spices on the nose. melted tannins, nice to swallow. 5,5 €, good price. Was botled in august 2008.
Contact Jean François Arnaud, Le bourg, 42130 Marcilly Le Chatel, phone + 33 4 77 97 48 54 fax + 33 4 77 97 48 71.
He makes 12 cuvées, his wines are not chaptilized, which must be mentionned because the practice is legal and common in the region.
Fontenay rosé "Quoi de 9" (sounds like what's new ?). Picked before maturity. Very aromatic nose. Very light.
Fontenay "Le Rosé Nu" Côte Roannaise. Naked bottle, without label, the info is printed directly on the glass. 11,5°, not bad, almost as light in the mouth.
Fontenay Côte Roannaise Expression 2009. 7-8 days of maceration. No SO2 at any time for this wine. Bottled since january. Interesting nose with dark fruits aromas, complexity. Minerality and a spicy side. Dark color. He made two pallets of this wine. Very pleasant. 8 €. He put on the label in French "to drink before summer". Yields are 45 ho/ha.
Fontenay Cote Roannaise "Vigne de Saint-Sulpice" 2008. 7-8 days of maceration. A bit of reduction on the nose. 5,6 €.
Fontenay "7" (like N7 or Nationale 7, the iconic French highway going from Paris to the Provence). This is sweet sparkling, a méthode ancestrale one : only one fermentation which was stopped at one point. 50 to 60 gr of residual sugar. Very nice nose, lots of pleasure, with notes of red fruits. Very well balanced in the mouth with candy feel. Hard to believe there is 50 or 60 gr here, it doesn't feel that sweet. He made it with 6 months of prise de mousse on fine lees. The fermentation was slowed by the cold and the pressure. After that, they had the bottles emptied entirely and made a sterile filtration and the wine went back in the bottles...amazing process. There is 4 gr of SO2. The vinification is similar to the Blanquette de Limoux or the Cerdon Bugey, or also the Clairette de Die. The bottles are kept laying for storage. Costs 8 €.
Read Jim's report in the Domaine du Fontenay.
Whatever, thanks to Gerard, here I was with my big piece of wild-boar meat riding my motorcycle back to Paris. B. was busy fixing her soon-to-come exposition in Paris and I had carte blanche to cook the meat. I did it in the electric stove, the meat covered with two spoons of grape-seed oil, pepper and a bit of salt. I cooked it thoroughly because I read somewhere that a small proportion of wild boars carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans (I saw a notice about it outside a village city-hall in Provence last summer). After checking and noticing that the meat was still bloody in the inside, I cut it in several pieces and put it back in the oven until deep thorough cooking.
For this unexpected treat I decided to open one of the Israeli wines that I brought back from there last year : a Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 made in the South Hebron mountains along the Negev, and vinified by winemaker Eran Goldwasser. I chose the bottle because I loved it back then, and the wine was again a pleasure with the wild boar. The meat was a strong gamey meat, but not as wildly strong as I thought a wild boar would be, the wine was round with spicy aromas an red pepper notes, it was fleshy, very onctuous and its tannins were not prominent.
Philippe Pinoteau had a secret argument to have all these vignerons come to Paris : Raquel would prepare their lunch (Raquel is he first asset of Le Baratin, the other being the wines). In the case you don't know it yet, Le Rouge & Le Blanc is a must-read magazine (in French only, alas) for those who have learned to appreciate the artisan wines and also the natural wines. It's absolutely non-commercial and non-mainstream in any way and it features insightful reports with black & white pictures about these goldsmiths-vignerons and their work. Read a few of their articles on this page (links to Pdf files).
At one point, I enjoyed tasting (and drinking) Pacalet's wines, especially that they were poured and explained by the best Ambassador Brazil could send to us : Monica. She told me how her first contact with Philippe Pacalet's wines was an awakaning experience. She said that back in her native country she had drank wines from different regions, Argentina, Chile and she was not a novice in wine. But with his own she discovered wines where the alcohol was so completely integrated that she could feel just these wonderful, rich aromas, these flowers. She now has more references in terms of wines and tastes other estates of course but still, his wines stand out. She says that it's only with very old vintages that she finds some matches. There's a particular wine that Pacalet didn't brought that day that she likes particularly : the Chambolle Musigny...
I also chatted with Michel Archovsky (on the right) who has been following Philippe Pacalet for years like a father and seems a very wise man. I also of course. I liked particularly the Gevrey-Chambertin Village 2008. The nose seemed to me enormous and it shined in the mouth when swallowing. Michel Archovsky says that it's still so young. The Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux Saint Jacques 2008 was obviously a notch up, and in the mouth I felt distinctly that here this wine was just raising out of its youth with promising years ahead. I asked for another sip after the end of the range. My stars were tilting toward the Gevrey-Chambertins that day...
the Cuvée Florine vin de table (2008) which is not bottled yet. Nice acidity, nut aromas and honey notes in the mouth.
His Grusse de Brillat is another Chard in table wine made from vines planted in 1960. Onctuous mouth with some wood. Fresh and powerful at the same time.
His Cuvée Marguerite is made with Melon à Queue Rouge, which is an ancient selection of Chardonnay. A 2008 like all his wines here, it got yields as low as 7 hectoliter/hectare this year ! The mouth is lightlt oxydative, nice wine.
His Chardonnay les Chalasses Vieilles Vignes (old vines) is rich, powerful but with a striking acidity.
His Chardonnay les Grandes Teppes Vieilles Vignes is another nice Chardonnay (no notes here).
His Savagnin les Chalasses Marnes Bleues Côtes du Jura 2008 has a nice Savagnin nose with hints of oxydation notes but this wine was topped up in the cask. Neat mouth, acidity, the wine envelops beautifully the back of the mouth. He says he had a 2,75 ph here for an acidity level of 8.75, the Savagnin havin always a very high acidity. Very nice wine indeed.
His Savagnin Cuvée Préstige "Sous la Roche" Côtes du Jura 2004 is a "sous voile" wine. Super freshness with ample and long-lasting walnut aromas. Speaking of the price of his bottles, he says it goes from 10 € to 35 €.
I tasted only one red, I left to speak to someone and missed the rest of the reds, sorry. Cuvée J'en Veux (red) 2008. It's a blend of these completely-forgotten varieties names above, and that he is alone to do. Nose with a bit of reduction, clear red color. The wine has a discreet peppery side. Opens in the glass after a while. That's a nice experience and I can't understand how I missed the rest of the wines. More about Jean-François Gavenat wines later.
Benoit Courault Gibourg, table wine (2008) Chenin. Exquisite mouth, a feel of honey candy. Only old vines in his vineyards. He uses casks aged from 2-3 years to 5-6 years. 16,5 €
Benoit Courault la Coulée, table wine (2008) 100% Grolleau. Beautiful exciting nose with fresh fruits notes. This tastes like a thirst wine which is still lightly tannic. Fermented whole-clustered but no carbonic maceration. He says that it is still young and will have to wait a bit.
Benoit Courault Les Rouliens, table wine (2008). Cabernet Franc. Nice nose with freshness and a certain complexity. This is the very beginning of the life of this wine, you feel it beyond the tannins. This is a blend from two plots, a 70-are one and a 30-are one. Old vines too like the rest. 12 €.
Benoit Couraut opens a Magnum : Les Rouliens 2008 "Presse". This is the press wine, he made 4 hectoliter from a total of 20 hectoliter. He wanted to bottle magnums because that's the birth year of his son and he wants to keep some of these for a long, long time... Very nice mouth, tannic too, it's early for Cabernet Franc, it's more powerful and concentrated. Nice texture, this wine will certainly begin to be better appreciated in 2 or 3 years. The magnum costs 25 e, a bargain. Contact : 49380 Faye d’Anjou phone +33 6 79 25 78 24
Thiery Allemand Chaillot Cornas 2007. This red has a very complex and suave nose. Classy, well-balanced mouth. Also fruity and light. Made with vines younger than 40 years.
Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynards 2007. Made with vines older than 40 years. Very complex. The smoked side of the stone here, the soil is granite. See this page with interesting information and pictures of the Chaillot and Reynards terroirs. Thierry Allemand says that there is only 5% to 10% of clay in the earth there on Reynards, the stones are granitic debris which are almost sandy. This wine is really outstanding, no way. He is doing his 27th vintage, he adds that he is helping a young vigneron in the vicinity and he has to calm him down because he was refused the agreement for one of his wines and panicked. He told him, stay cool, you have now a table wine which is better than many Appellation-granted wines and these guys didn't get that what they thought was a default wasn't one at all actually.
Anglore Sels d'Argent 2003. Grenache Blanc. Taken from a cask, not bottled yet. He will check the moon and also the fruit days for the schedule, the bottling may take place in july. Very well balanced, nice mouth. Vines planted in 1991 on a plot with only 15 centimeters of earth. At the time, everybody was asking why he planted Grenache blanc, he didn't know why himself then.
Anglore Tavel (rosé) 2009. The best rosé around, according to a caviste I spoke to. 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and the rest divided between Carignan and Clairette. The mouth is gourmande, that's beautiful indeed with this ripeness feel.
Anglore Terre d'Ombre. Grenache. Harvested august 23rd. Not bottled, taken from a tronconic vat where it's being blended. Refined nose, intensity. The mouth has an almost saline side with a nice concentration. Spîces, nice acidity too. This comes from a 1-hectare vineyard between Nïmes and Sommières that he bought, Alain Allier of Mouressipe having bought another part of the vineyard nearby.
Anglore Cuvée de la Pierre Chaude 2009. 90% Grenache, 10% Clairette. On the Tavel area but labelled as vin de table (it's a red wine). The wine is relatively light in color. It's gourmand and delicious, you just swallow the pour here. He says that this terroir is very nice with lots of stones, it's a hot place and at the same time it's exposed on the north, so it has also colder conditions at times. Costs 11,35 € public prices, a very good deal.
Anglore, Traverse, vin de table (2009). 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache. On Tavel zone too. He couldn't get the agreement anyway with this sort of wine, he would be obliged to change his viticultural practice for the worse for that, he says. the wine is turbid with a color which is not very dark. Refined spices notes on the nose. Fruit. The mouth is really very nice and pleasurable. Costs 13,1 €, a stael.
Anglore Béjade, Mourvèdre 2009. Taken from a stainless-steel vat where it's been blended. 34 hectoliter of this. Stayed in casks since 5 months until this blending. Will be bottled next june maybe. The wine is also relatively light in color, the nose is peppery, the mouth ewquisite and ample. Balanced with something brilliant on the palate.
Anglore Sels d'Argent 2008, a white with 7 or 8 gr of residual sugar. Grapes picked up toward sept 20. Now there must be about 2g residual sugar. Very pleasant freshness with yet a powerful side. About the SO2 addings : he just put 1g or 1,5 gr at the blending stage, nothing at bottling.
I must admit that I didn't take any chances and selected among the very best of the region, and I had already tasted these wines myself, except the Chateau Musar. This estate has a cult status among wine lovers around the world and I understand why now. The vineyards are located on the Bekaa valley at a relatively high altitude and the white varieties (Obaideh, and Merwah) grow even higher on Mount Lebanon.
The order of our tasting :
__ Sea Horse James 2008, Chenin Blanc (Israel)
__Musar Jeune 2007, Syrah-Cinsault-Cab-Sauv (Lebanon)
__Sea Horse Elul 2007, Cab-Sauv-Syrah-Petite-Syrah (Israel)
__Margalit Enigma 2006, Cab-Sauv-Cab-Franc-Merlot (Israel)
__Flam Superiore 2007, Cab-Sauv-Syrah (Israel)
__Hevron Heights Reserve Syrah 2004 (Israel)
__Chateau Musar red 2002 (Lebanon)
Al the wines got a pretty good reception from the tasters, who weren't familiar at all with this region before. Pierre Guigui, Gault et Millau's wine director, took part, and I was curious to listen to his comments. The only white, Sea Horse's Chenin Blanc, was widely liked for it's balance and aromas, including by Pierre. The best red among the list, according to Pierre, was the Hevron Heights Syrah 2004. He said that this wine was very well done with a great refineness and a perfect integration of the wood. As for me, my three preferred reds were this Hevron Heights, the Musar Jeune and the Chateau Musar, shortly followed by Enigma and Elul. The quality of all these wines was such that I'd recommend trying them if you come across the bottles. Some can be quite expensive like Enigma 2006 which cost 74 € in Paris. I had chosen the wines from tastings and only after, I asked for samples, which I got. The only wines that I had to buy were the Musar Jeune (16,5 € at Juvéniles) and the Chateau Musar 2005 (25 € when bought to Paul Tracy, a Brit who lives in Paris and is the importer of the wines for France at Fine Wine World).
I also tasted some wines from L'Aventure, a winery working from 27 hectares and based in Paso Robles, CA.
__L'aventure Estate Cuvée, 50% Syrah, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest in Petit Verdot. Beautiful nose. Powerful mouth, a bit hot but not as much as its 15,4° could yield.
__L'Aventure Cote à Cote Estate, 40% Mourvèdre, 40% Grenache and 20% Syrah. 40 casks of this wine. The malo was completed in the casks. Got a 15-month élevage in casks. Really to hot in the mouth for me : 15,9°. The winery was created in 1998 by a Frenchman, Stéphane Asséo, who was joined later (in 2001) by Dominique Méneret. One of them (or both) come from the Bordeaux region.
__Coppola Rosso 2007. This is the "basic" cuvée. Blend with grapes from different regions, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah.
__Coppola Zinfandel Diamond Series 2007. I like this one. Nose with clove, encense, freshness. 13,5°.
__Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Series 2007. Still young, it's a CS but I'm waiting for what it will turn like in a while.
__Coppola Director's Cut Zinfandel 2007. 100% Dry Creek valley in Sonoma.
__Rubicon Cask 2006. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. From vineyards managed organicly and with some biodynamy. Delicious mouth.
__Rubicon 2006. Cabernet Sauvignon (95%), Cabernet Franc (1%), Petit Verdot (4%). Beautiful fruity nose, cooked cherry. Complexity. The mouth is a bit warm for me though.
__Rubicon Edizione Pennino 2007. Very nice wine. That's a small-batch cuvée, if I can read my notes, there has been made 600 bottles of this wine. Aromas of incense and eucalyptus. Onctuous. That's the bottle held by Larry Stone on the picture. This cuvée is a tribute to Francis Ford Coppola's maternal grandfather and Italian emigrant to the United States whose company "Edizione Pennino" was publishing music. Note that Zinfandel is associated with Italian immigrants in this country. The bottle reads 15,1° but Larry says that actually it's 14,7° only.
The Seghesio family has been making wine in California since 1985 and Camille was present at the Embassy to pour and speak about her family estate. I was tipped about this stand by Christian Bourgeois whom I know for a few years and who was there too and I shot a video for the occasion (see on left). The Seghesio Family owns the oldest Zinfandel vineyards in California, with an age of 80 years. Her ancestors came from the Piedmont (Italy) and settled in California in 1886 [I think Joe will allow me to use the words family estate here...]. The yields are very low sometimes about 10 hectoliter/hectare. The whole surface of the estate is about 224 hectares and 50 hectares of rented vineyards. The maximum yields are 40 ho/ha, she says. With such yields, their grape cost is very high but they're maximizing the profit on the wines like they could do.
_Seghesio Zinfandel (oddly, I was distracted and didn't note the vintage, but I think it was 2007). Refined nose with intensity. 24$.
__Seghesio Zinfandel Old Vines. Shame on me, too busy listening to Camille Seghesio, I didn't take notes but I loved these wines, these were suave and round with different aromas in the mouth among which spicy things. This particular wines (I think both were 2007) cost 36 $ retail in the US.
I also tasted a couple of Pinot Noir from Flowers, the one that I preferred being Andreen-Gale 2007, with a complex feel on the nose and a relatively intense mouth with still some lightness. I understand that the vineyards are very close (2 miles) from the ocean on a very thin soil which translate into very small yields.
I don't report on all the wines That I tasted here, but I missed one : I saw several times the Ridge table with a crowd around it tasting the Montebello, so I passed it each time thinking I'd be able to come back later. Alas when the crowd evaporated there was no more of their wine left. Lesson to learn : never do later what you can do now, even if there's a crowd in-between.