I shot this pictures in Paris where I fell upon Jean Foillard delivering a few cases to Gilles Manzoni, an artisan-wine distributor in Paris. I remember once walking near Denfert Rochereau in the 14th arrondissement and being honked by a passing van : it was Hervé Villemade who was samely delivering his clients himself. The reason of these self-deliveries are not only economical : that's the straightest way for a vigneron to be sure that his wines didn't wait for hours or days in wharehouses or trucks under unsuited temperatures. A real wine is alive, you just don't subject it to extreme conditions.
Delivering personally the wines is also the occasion to meet the buyers, get paid a couple of waiting payments, and open a bottle...
We like particularly these cherries, first because that's an aroma that we both like to recognize in a wine (and one of the rare aromas that I can put a name on !), then because similarly to great local grape varieties, they're disregarded by the average consumer in spite of the outstanding qualities that they offer (even the birds seem to shun them !) : cook them 10 minutes in a microwave with a bit of water and a couple of spoons of sugar (not a winemaking recipe) and once brought back to a colder temperature you have one of the most enjoyable, vivid and simple dish that mother nature has ever intended for you. And this acidity is probably one of the healthiest diet at this time of the year. This acidity is also probably why they stand so much time on the tree in spite of the warming temperatures while the regular cherries rot very quickly.
Astrid Terzian (picture on right), whom I met recently, is the woman behind a new concept : bringing the wine pumps previously found only in the coops and in the wineries into the wine aisles of the French supermarkets. The per-liter retail price for these wines is about 1,5 €, which is the equivalent of maybe 1,2 € for a 75 cl volume. For this price you usually got crap in stores, bottled in plastic or glass, when there is room for better quality table wine at this price when the bulk wine is purchased at selected coops or négoces. The self-serve system allows lower prices compared to bibs (bag-in-boxes) and the consumer has more flexibility and can buy from, say, one liter to 20 liters or more depending of his needs.
Astrid Terzian, who worked for the food giants Danone and Blédina, developped this idea and concept from scratch, looking in the first place for a company that could design the right self-serve machine, as there was nothing of the sort on the market. She has already several of these wine pumps in use in supermarkets across France (Auchan in Metz and Leclerc in Royan for example) with several more to be set up soon. The modus operandi of the machine is as follows : you walk into the supermarket with your own container (or you pick up an empty container on the spot for that purpose), you fill it yourself with the pump, then press a button to get the stickable bill, which will show the volume and final price. You'll pay the bulk wine along with your other picks at the end of your supermarket walk. A machine can sell two types of wines, for example a red and a rosé. The machine is 1,12 meter wide and 1,82 meter deep including the filling table. Its capacity is 500 liters per type of wine, the huge bibs being easily removed and replaced with a forklift when empty. Typically, she buys the wine from a coop or a négoce after selecting the wine from a vat. You'll find for example in one of her machines a Vin de Pays de la Méditerannée in both red and rosé, and the end consumer will pay them 1,5 € a liter. The supermarkets which set up the machines reported rapidly rising sales of bulk wine, plus it brought in lots of new customers who walked in to fill up their containers and bought other stuff. Some stores decided to provide cheap 2-liter plastic bottles (in addition to the 5-liter plastic jugs) for the customers who didn't bring their own.
Astrid Terzian's company, Reserves Précieuses, earns money on the wine sales, not on the machines. She also sells bottled wine in the stores under the Réserves Précieuses label, at a unit price of about 3,5 €.
Beyond this bulk-wine venture, Astrid Terzian plans to open up a new front in the self-serve machines business : olive oil at the pump...
Article & interview of Astrid Terzian (in French).
Astrid Terzian can be contacted at : astrid [dot] terzian [at] hotmail [dot] fr -- phone : + 33 6 23 09 43 47
Rimauresq lies in the inner Var département in the midst of wooded hills. Dropping for a visit at the winery near Pignans in the Var département. We tasted their other wines, including the upper cuvée R which oddly seemed less interesting (at least now) than the estate red cuvée. We tasted also the rosé and the white (Clairette and Ugni Blanc).
The wine is probably made by a hired winemaker because the owners, who are British, also own a winery in Australia, a tea farm in Kenya and a Whisky distillery in Scotland (Wemyss) where they live I guess. Here is the website/portal to access to all these outstretched estates. You can't taste the Aussie wines but you can taste the whiskies (they have dozens different) and I can tip you about a great one : the Speyside single cask Toffee Apples 1990. That's a beautifully powerful and silky whisky which is worth the 55,65 € they ask for a bottle of it.
Everybody can have a say with Yelp : travellers, locals or expats (who as you know are often more informed than locals). The goal is to have a fresh picture of Paris and other towns, and report on what's hot and good in all matters of life.
Zeeva Bellel is herself an expatriate who left New York for Paris where she became a consultant through her Paris by Appointment Only website which took the slow lane since she's been developping Yelp.
The event in the Marais tarte shop was a great time for all of us, and I got the opportunity to come to know the interestesting people who give their tips and opinions on Paris places.
The Yelp Elite event was a great way to enjoy good food (the Tartes Kluger which are made right in this workshop) and good wine (Zero Pointé natural sparklings, and a very nice red about which I can't find my notes, not even the name, shame on me!) all the while chatting with French and foreign Yelp tippers. Here is a Flickr page of this nice evening. And you can watch on the right a short video that I shot in the street that day, lots of people as you can see (including Christine who was shy in front of the camera), and these streets are so cool in the evening.
I spotted the statue of Saint Vincent standing proudly in the vatroom, and the woman explained to me that the family winery was chosen as the depository of the holy statue for 12 months, until the next procession which will land the Saint in another winery.
Then I bought more Sauvignon, samely bulk wine with a pump, at the Valençay coop, where wines cost about 4 € a bottle for all colors. The bulk rate per liter was about the same than at the winery but I wasn't either satisfied, I think that the 2009s have been more corrected than usual. I left these wines (that I bottled myself right after the filling) on the side for a few weeks and will check again soon.
The pic on the right is about a wine I wished to try but it was lunchtime when we passed that sign and there was nobody around in the office or in the winery buildings. Too bad, I'm pretty sure this would have made a reasonably-drinkable wine for the evening apéritifs outside on the terrace... It seems that the 5-liter bib was at 10 € only and I wanted to see how it tasted. this was in the Drome (southern Rhone), in Chamaret, a charming village in a samely charming and Provence-style hilly region.
Speaking of volume wines...
This is one of the must-see museums of Burgundy regarding wine and archeology : The Musée de Chatillon is where you'll see this incredible artifact known under the name of the Vix Krater (read the NY Times' coverage of the topic). This huge bronze container which dates from circa 530 B.C. was made in southern Italy (which was then part of ancient Greece), it was used for the funerals of a Celt princess near 480 B.C. (the Lady of Vix) whose anthropological study estimated was in her early 30s' when she died. This was a very important person and the funeral was a very richly adorned one, and as usual in the Gauls, there was lots of wine. The Krater was thus filled with wine for the ceremony. The artifact was found in 1953 among many others in Burgundy a few meters underground near the village of Vix in central Burgundy in a place now known as the Vix Grave. The container is the largest vessel of the Antiquity ever found.
This is a very impressing object (better pic here), with a very refined quality, it is 1,64 meter high and weighs 208 kilograms. We know from studies that this type of containers (which were generally made of clay) were used to mix the wine with water before consumption and possibly add a few aromatic elements. The guests would help themselves in the container. Imagine : 1100 liters of wine poured to the mourners of a cherished young princess, these people were civilized indeed... That must have been a one-in-a-lifetime event for the community or local kingdom where it took place. Research teams keep looking for clues about who this Dame de Vix could be exactly, and this document (Pdf) in French says that the palace of the mysterious princess could have been located.
I was particularly impressed by the lid (pic on right), which seems supposed to be also a sieve (look at the many lined holes on this lid), probably to filter and retain the aromatic herbs when filling the Krater.
Link to the museum's website. Here are other pictures of the Vix Krater, also known in French as Vase de Vix.
the museum display also hundreds of archeological founds related to the Celts and Galloroman era. The only thing I regret is that an estimation date for the artifacts is not always included.
Summer time is harvest time, I mean for wheat and other mainstream crop, and even though enjoying the scene of a machine harvester doing its job may look childish, I like it. The weather is beautiful, this seems to be a real summer with sunny days coming after sunny days, and for once I will not feel bad about this relentless roar that you can hear in the countryside.
This short video which almost carries the wheat-dust smell with it will help us in the middle of winter to have patience and wait for the next summer...
That's another harvest and summer story cum video : B.'s parents got tons (dozens of kilograms actually) of plums in Burgundy this year from a bunch of plum trees which have been part of the hedge for ages. This is a local variety we haven't put a name on, yet. The fruits were great to eat but there was so many of them that we had to devise a strategy not to loose them. They were just cooked batch after batch with a small amount of sugar (no water added), which translated in a delicious compote with lots of acidity, more actually than in the raw fruits (could have been released from the skins).
There's nothing like doing these fruit cookings the traditional way to understand the value of natural acidity. Seems mother nature designed these fruits, like also the quinces, so that we can stock up this healthy acidity for the following winter. Acidity is an element of importance in wine, and even if we don't always make consciously the difference, corrected acidity can't match the natural one, and it's also probably night and day for their respective health benefits.