You may have been through these sidewalk tastings quite a number of times, comes the spring and its nice mild weather, and you just can't resist the urge to spend a couple of hours tasting at Caves Augé. One can easily get hooked to these sidewalk tastings, they're casual and professional at the same time, it's almost a family thing where the children learn their first good-taste lessons, and they've got just about the size that allow me to go round all the tables (the casks, actually) with enough time to chat with each winemaker and with whoever happens to speak to me. It may look that I spend all my time there on Boulevard Haussmann but I missed many of this wine-shop's tastings for different reasons, like not being in town or having other things to do.
The thread of this particular tasting was the women-winemakers and the event was dubbed "Wonder Women". Some 10 female winemakers from different regions of France were pouring their wines in person and answering to any question about the cuvées. This women-only thing was fun, and it may be just an impression but there were maybe a bit more women among the tasters too...
As always at Augé the invited winemakers for these tastings are vinifying their wines without additives corrections and their vineyards are usually farmed organicly or even biodynamicly. I'm always surprised to see these winemakers come here in person for these sidewalk tastings, Marc Sibard (the wine shop manager) must have a trick. It maybe the fact that they all have a dinner together at Le Baratin (a natural-wine bar which is also famous for its food) the same day...
Judith Labouygues is a vigneronne from Mazières in the Corbières (Languedoc), near the Pyreneans. In spite of being in advanced pregnancy, she made the trip to take part to the tasting and present her wines. She took the lead of the small estate of Domaine de Mazière after her father passed away in 2006. From a tiny 2-hectare surface she makes wines on the most natural way possible, like her father always did, and to make things easier to understand, her chai/cellar doesn't even have the electricity. All her wines are labelled as table wines. This energetic woman is 34 and when it comes to tasting and checking the wines in the cellar, she is helped by her daughter (aged 11 and half) and her husband. She is the one in charge of the winemaking.
__Mazière Macabeu, table wine. 10-year élevage in cask, sous voile (veil wine). Beautiful legs in the glass. Oxydative side. Nice stuff.
__ Mazière Grenache Blanc, table wine. Also 10 years sous voile in cask. Very beautiful color, like dark gold. Super Savagnin-style nose, or Vin Jaune. Judith says that she's been alone at the wheel of this small winery for three years now, but she has been working on the estate since the last 5 years. This wine is great with strong-type cheeses, she says, also with Comté, dry fruits and even chocolate. A bottle costs 21 € at Augé.
__ Noella Morantin Chez Charles 2009. Sauvignon. Aromas of various exoticfruits, ananas, apple too. Some sucrosity in the mouth but she says that the wine will be dry when bottled. It's still in casks right now (the bottle is a sample). Will be bottle unfiltered, sometime during the summer.
__ Noella Morantin La Boudinerie 2009. Red wine. 100 % Gamay with yields about 29ho/ha. Nice peppery nose, complexity. I like that, nice substance.
__ Noella Morantin Marie Rose. 100 % Cabernet Sauvignon. From a magnum but actually, this wine is not bottled yet. Gouleyant and gourmand (chewy).
I also tasted the wines of Sophie Armenier (pic on left) of Domaine de Marcoux (Chateauneuf du Pape). Her family can be traced as far as in 1344 on the Chateauneuf du Pape area. Their estate has a total surface of 21 hectares. Sophie and her sister Catherine are in charge of the estate since 1996.
__ Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape 2008 white. 80 % Grenache Blanc, 20 % Bourboulenc. Bottled in may 2009. Elevage : 70 % in stainless-steel vats, 30 % in 1 or 2-year-old casks. Note that the 2009 whites were bottled earlier comparatively, in february 2010. Nice intensity in the mouth.
__ Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 red. 80 % Grenache, 10 % Mourvèdre, 7 % Syrah and 3 % Cinsault. Vinified in cement vats. Elevage in cement too. Superb nose, here. 15,5 ° alcohol, but just fine to drink. Some freshness, I would even say. She says that in 2007 the grapes had a very beautiful maturity. Price : 40 € at the winery, public price.
__ Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 Vieilles Vignes. They made only about 3800 to 4000 bottles of this wine. they make this cuvée every year, except in 2002. Vines 70 to 110 years of age, from three sepârate vineyards. Grapes from old vines go also to their "regular" Chateauneuf du Pape cuvée, but they put some grapes aside (not particular grapes -- just part of the old-vines grapes) for this old-vines cuvée. Vinified in wooden tronconic vats, elevage in there too (they're probably of the Grenier-type, wooden vats that can be used open or closed). Beautiful nose with encense, spices, hard to name, eucalyptus among them, and other dry leaves. The mouth is really outstanding, concentrated and with a bright freshness. Candied liquorice, menthol notes. Price : 100 €. There's not really much availability anyway, except maybe if you drop at the winery. You can get it at Augé, albeit a bit more expensive.
__ Cécile Tremblay La Croix Blanche 2009. This Pinot Noir was taken from a cask, the wine is still through its malolactic fermentation. Clear color, aromas on the fruit side. Nice.
__ Cécile Tremblay Morey Saint Denis Très Gerard 2008. Refined nose, soft pepper. Very nice chew in the mouth. Very nice wine. Soon to be bottled.
__ Cécile Tremblay Vosne Romanée Vieilles Vignes 2008. Tannins, but well integrated already.
__ Cécile Tremblay Chambolle Musigny les Feusselottes 2008. This is a very very nice wine to drink, there's what I feel like being a striking minerality, and a freshness that makes you feel the rock on your tongue. That's why I asked her about this vineyard. She says that in the past the name of the vineyard, of the climat, was Les Fosselottes (meaning small pits) and it seems that the undersoil is very diverse, with small pits alternating with thin upper-soil zones, even if the surface is even from the outside. In some parts of the vineyard there's enough earth depth for the roots (where there are pits) and on other parts there are just 5 centimeters of earth and comes the rock table, making the vines on there suffer a lot in summer or even in spring because it gets fry very quickly. These diverse conditions help bring complexity also in this wine. She has very small-sized grapes there because of the tough conditions, and she picks in several times because the grapes don't mature together. Very nice wine. She has a half-hectare vineyard on this climat.
__ Treille Muscate la Vagabonde 2009, AOC Corbières. Marsanne & Macabeu. Nice glide in the mouth, nice aromas, one of them being Moka. 12,5 ° only. Some residual sugar. Unfiltered. Costs 8 € at the estate.
__ Treille Muscate Rosé 2009 Coule Douce. Grenache saignée. Peppery nose, garrigue aromas. The mouth is fresh with some minerality, it seems to me. 12,5 °.
__ Treille Muscate L'Insoumise 2009, Vin de Pays de Cucugnan. Red, 100 % Merlot. Vinified in resin vat. Interesting mouthfeel, red fruits.
__ Treille Muscate L'Effrontée 2008, Vin de Pays de Cucugnan. 100 % Carignan. 13°. White pepper notes. Yes, I think I like that.
__ Treille Muscate Bel Gazou 2007. AOC Corbières. Grenache-Carignan. One year in demi-muids (large-volume casks) which were 5 to 10 years old. Nice wine, costs only 11 €.
The table/cask next to Catherine Marin-Pestel's was the one of Marion Fontanel (picture on right) who is making wine in Fitou, in the Languedoc. Fitou is a little-known region inside the diverse Languedoc where there are I think lots of nice wines to discover when they're worked artisanally). The name of her 15-hectare estate is les Fénals :
__Les Fénals Fitou 2004. 40% Carignan, 40 % Grenache and 20 % Syrah. Eucalyptus and other aromas of the same family. The nose is a pleasure. Freshness in the mouth. The wine was raised 18 months in cement vats. Costs 5,23 € at Caves Augé.
__ les Fénals Fitou 2006. Same blend, more or less. Nice albeit rough tannins, balance. 5,27 € at the shop.
__ Sainte Anne Bandol 2008 Blanc (white). 50 % Ugni Blanc, 50 % Clairette. Anise notes. She says that this wine often get trouble to pass the agreement commission because it's so different from many of the other Bandol whites. She has to bring the wine to another agreement later, en appel. Many of the other wineries around use lab yeasts and they get accordingly wines that are easily recognized (and accepted) by the agreement. Her wine has a square touch, it is mineral and fresh. There is this anise side in the mouth too. She says that it's a wine that you have to make an effort to reach and understand. 12,5 °. Nice length. Goes with many dishes, she says.
__ Sainte Anne Rosé 2009. Just bottled. Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault. The wine is not cool enough but I appreciate the treat. Nice nose on aromatic leaves notes. Gastronomy rosé for sure.
__ Sainte Anne Bandol 2007 (red). 60 % Mourvèdre plus Grenache, Cinsault & Carignan. 12 ° only. The vineyards are on the east side of the Appellation like Terrebrunne, it's what is called a "cold" terroir, in august it's often only 8° C in the early morning. The mouth is delicious with tight tannins, well integrated to the whole. Liquorice. She says that they do extractions that are soft on the juice. She says that this wine is best when drunk after 5 to 7 years, even if it can of course stand longer keep. The empty glass is so nice...
__ Elodie Balme Vin de Pays du Vaucluse red. Nose is nice. This wine is made from different vineyards which are not under an Appellation. Fruity, pleasant to drink, warmful. Costs 5,3 € at Augé (prices indicated here for sale at the shop are when 6 bottles are purchased).
__ Elodie Balme Côtes du Rhone 2009. Sugary feel in the mouth. 7 €.
__ Elodie Balme Côtes du Rhone Rasteau 2009. 80 % Grenache, 20 % Syrah. The mouth shows concentration, sugary feel too. Richness. 14,5 °. She says that in general wines from 2009 have less acidity than usual. 11 €.
__ Elodie Balme Côtes du Rhone Rasteau 2008. Lots of freshness. Something particularly bright in the mouth. Nice, poweful wine. 15 °. 11 €.
__ Catherine Breton, La Ritournelle 2009, Bourgueil. Rosé de Saignée, very small volume wine. This is a try with Cabernet Franc, she says, because C.F. is not an easy Pet'Nat to make with, because this variety hasn't much residual sugar, and it ferments to quickly. She says that a longer fermentation has different types of yeasts playing their part, which translates into interesting things on the aromatic side. Mouth : morello-cherry notes, freshness. Very pleasant wine even though the temperature of the wine is a bit too high. Zero SO2 in this wine ! She made 900 bottles of this only.
__ Catherine Breton la Dilettante Vouvray 2009. Surprising white, after the residual sugar of the last wine. This Chenin gives the mouthfeel of an interesting minerality. 11,9 € at Augé.
__ Catherine Breton la Dilettante Vouvray Méthode Traditionelle 2007 (sparkling white). Chenin. Beautiful ripe-wheat nose. Freshness and balance. At this point, Catherine goes tasting elsewhere and I can't ask her more details.
__ Catherine Breton Bourgueil la Dilettante 2009. Nice thirst wine with silky tannins.
__ Les Bastides Blanc de Blancs, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence 2009. Still wine. Sauvignon Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Rolle. Sorry, no notes. 9,6 e.
__ Les Bastides, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé 2009. Grenache, Cinsault. Saighée (bled) rosé. Nice freshness. 9,6 €
__ Les Bastides Coteaux d'Aix 2006 (red). A bit hot in the mouth for me at this stage. 11,35 €.
__ Les Bastides Valeria 2005. Red wine. Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a bit of Mourvèdre. 2 years in casks. She says that it is a gastronomy wine pairing well with refined cuisine, this is also a winter wine, so I'm not sure the weather and temperature this day were perfectly fit to enjoy it at best. Fermented in vats (stainless-steel & enamelled), then élevage for one year in the same containers, then 2 more years in 50-hectoliter wooden foudres, then at last one last year of élevage in bottles. 10,45 €.
__ Les Bastides "Vin cuit selon la vieille tradition Provencale". an atypical, out-of-the-charts wine, that's the one that Catherine Breton came here to taste (picture). Very beautiful. Superb mouth, no question. The winemaking process is odd, but it's a traditiona Provence recipe : Cooked grape juice during the harvest, the juice volume shrinks by a third through the cooking, and then it goes to ferment lenghtly on the natural yeasts. I asked if the cooking was a problem for the natural yeasts, she says no, somehow, the wines keps its ability to ferment by itself afterthen. The fermentation lasts between 1 month and a half and 2 months and takes place in a vat. Nothing added, there's also no SO2 in there. The wine was just lightly filtered. Kudos, great job. 12° and 180 grams of residual sugar. Delicious and such a freshness in the mouth... 21 € at the winery, great value.
Look at this tasting, that's the way tastings should always be, unpretentious yet with some serious interest and love for nice wines. Plus, whole families attended, can't you dream of a better way to initiate the children to the beauty and mystery of wines ? All the good ingredients were there, the weather, the breeze, and just enough smiling artisan-vintners women pouring wine generously in your glass so that you could spend time with each of them without hurry. I can't understand how it wasn't more crowded, Parisians are spoiled, I tell you...There was a bit more people later in the day though, and along the time I stayed there, I saw an amazing number of Japanese tasters, a few Anglos and these Chileans on the video.
See in the very first seconds how the venerable plane trees in front of the shop get their share of good wine too (they also are spoiled, believe me)