Here is another of those small-size, natural-wine tastings that I like (and it's open sunday evenings !). This one took place recently in a restaurant (and also a bar) with a well-thought wine list, the Louis Vins, which is located near the Boulevard Saint Germain in the 5th arrondissement in Paris (and close to Notre Dame). Anne who sends us lots of invitations for various tastings and events, is the one I must thank for tipping me about this one. Although it's free entry and open to whoever likes good wine, you don't see announcements in the mainstream papers and if not with Anne's mail I might have missed it.
Babass, on the picture above, is the one who with Pat created the Domaine des Griottes 10 years ago. His first wine was a nice drink :
__ Griottes Sauvageonne, table wine (Vin de France) 2009, bottle on the pic above. Unfiltered. This Sauvignon was atypical and so pleasant to drink. Very nice, gets down easily. Perly wine (no sulphur here). You swallow this wine like fruit juice, that's what you can call a thirst wine indeed. Costs 6 € a bottle at the estate, Babass says. 13 ° in alcohol but feels like 11,5 °. That's how simple, hearty wines should be, so savourous and healthy that you finish the bottle without noticing it.
__ Griottes Anne François Joseph, Chenin 2009. Vin de France. Unfiltered Chenin (all wines are unfiltered if I remember). Named from the couple of old people to whom they rent this 35-are plot. These sister/brothers had been making wine there since 1956 without using SO2 and they had to stop making wine themselves because of their age. Turbid. Nice drinkability too. More minerality here. Costs 10 € at the winery.
__ Griottes Epona 2009, Vin de France. From a small vineyard of Chenin where a few vines of Pineau d'Aunis are complanted. Very mineral wine, and elegant too. You swallow this and you understand that you're getting high on a beautiful way. Very god balance and freshness. All these wines are of course additives-free and fermented on their wild yeasts. Costs 10 € a bottle, a steal again.
__ Griottes La Poivrière 2010. Pineau d'Aunis, Vin de France again (they don't ask for any Appellation). Bottled a month before this tasting took place. 11 ° wine ! The nose is discreet and lightly peppery. In the mouth, a beautiful Pineau d'Aunis indeed with its pepper character. That's what I call a wine with a vibrant flash of life. Tannin feel on the side of the mouth, but gentle. Zero SO2 here too.
__ Les Cailloux du Paradis, Romorantin 2009. the emblematic white variety of this part of the Loire (Cheverny and the Sologne). Etienne says that usually they make a 30-month élevage on this wine but the 2009 got 18 months, because the 2008 hadn't finished its malolactic fermentation. Very mineral wine, nice structure. This is a serious wine.
__ Les Cailloux du Paradis Quartz 2008. Sauvignon growing on argile à silex (clay with flint stones) plus silica (powedered, degraded flint stones). In the mouth, you're drinking liquid stone, liquid rock... This is mineral for sure. All in 20-year-old oak casks. Splendid wine, precise and mineral. and served at the perfect temperature.
__ Les Cailloux du Paradis, Nacarat 2010. One of my favorites that I keep on the side of my mind. Rather clear color, looks almost like filtered. Very fruity, candy like, on the nose. Lightly perly, grenadine aromas. 1500 bottles of this cuvée.
__ Les Cailloux du Paradis, cuvée des Etourneaux 2009. Made with 2 sorts of Gamays, Gamay Chaudenay (a dark, tenturier Gamay) and normal Gamay. Concentrated fruit feel. There was a maceration here, a light one to keep it light and mineral. 24-month élevage before bottling. Almost tannic for a Gamay, and the flint stone is also well present.
these are the only wines we taste here, but lets remind that this 8-hectare estate is making 20 cuvées overall...
__ Clos Cristal Anjou, Hospices de Saumur 2010. Chenin. Oxydative nose. Mouth too, very pleasant to swallow, good drinkability. 12 ° in alcohol only. Both the nose and the mouth are elegant, with split impressions between a light oxydative feel, exotic flowers aromas and what I would say white fruits notes. Acidity and minerality, the latter coming from tuffeau limestone (the soft sandstone that you find everywhere in the Loire). Makes 13° in real. This wine has zero SO2 and costs 9 € public price.
The man who created this Clos in the 19th century was an original who wanted to make natural wine, as there was already a debate then about the tricks and counterfeit practices in the profession.
__ Clos Cristal Hospices de Saumur, Saumur Champigny, Récolte 2010. 100 % Cab Franc. SO2 free, bottled a month before this tasting. Well integrated, melted tannins. 2010 was an ideal year, Eric Dubois the winemaker says. Costs 8,5 € public price.
__ Clos Cristal Hospices de Saumur, Boutifol, Saumur Champigny 2008. This is the actual name of ther Clos on the cadastral registration. 2000 bottles for this cuvée, aged 2 years in 1/2 muids caks (400-liter barrels). 2008 is a different vintage with tannins being particularly noticeable. Soil here : sand. Sand is yielding elegant wines and wood could have marked too much, so he used large-volume casks for a 3-month élevage. Tannic wine but nice aromatic resonance in the mouth. Good red wine. I'm looking forward to taste it again in a couple of years, should be really nice then. Costs 10 €. Yields in general are 30ho/ha. The winemaker says that he doesn't even use sulphur wicks for the casks, he fills them the same day that the previous vintage is racked.
__ Damien Bureau, Saperlipopet, Vin de France 2009. A pet nat (natural sparkling) made with Chenin. 2300 bottles (he used half an hectare then). thin bubbles. Fullness in the mouth, lovely. Costs 9,5 €. Nose : flowery. Zero SO2. Damien's wife raises organic snails for a living. He keeps a day job as viticulture chief on a 25-hectare estate.
On the next table there was Sébastien Bobinet who had brought a cuvée :
__ Sébastien Bobinet, Amateus Bobi Saumur-Champigny 2009. Carafed. Maceration of 30 days, with pumping-over at the beginning of the alcoholic fermentation, and not a single punching or pumping over after that. Raised 12 months in casks. Unfiltered, zero SO2. 15 days after bottling, he says, the wine went into a reduction phase and he was quite worried but lately the wine has been recovering and tasting well. Nice peppery nose. In the mouth, well integrated tannins with an aromatic character still atypical.
I taste now a wine from Domaine de la Paleine, 37 hectares in Saumur. The guy who poured the wines was Marc Vincent, if I'm right.
__ Domaine de la Paleine, Saumur 2008. White. 100 % Chenin, harvested at 13 hectoliters per hectare. Very quick press on acidity and élevage in oak (new casks). The mouth is really very mineral. This is a micro cuvée, 700 bottles only. The soil is made of tuffeau, this chalky soft stone with which the houses are built in the Loire. Very nice, but the winemaker says that after 5 years this wine should be much better. I like it already as is. Costs 25 € at the winery.
__ Domaine de la Paleine, Saumur Arietta 2009. Chenin. Narrow selection of grapes, 3 pickings in the same vineyard. Atypical Chenin, he says, to go with spicy, exotic food, he says. The wine has a late harvest style in the mouth. The mouth is beautifully long. I like that. Better keep another 3 or 4 years he says. SO2 : only a bit for bottling. Costs only 8,5 €.
Let's taste some wine from Lapalu now :
__ Lapalu tentation 2001. Beaujolais. 12 °. Sorry, no notes.
Lapalu Brouilly 2010. Old vines. I'm beginning to feel the effect of the tasting (not in the chronological order, this was near the end) as I'm not spitting enough. The vigneron is stting with the others for lunch and I'm pouring the wines myself.
__ Lapalu Beaujolais Villages 2010 Vieilles Vignes (old vines). 12,5 ° like the previous wine. That's even better...
__ Vinibrato Sauvage 2001. Natural sparkling made with a Gamay base. Vin de France (table wine label). Négoce wine. The Gamay grapes were purchased in the Beaujolais. 1500 bottles for this cuvée. Very very light color, thin bubbles. 11 €.
__ Vinibrato Beljoloise, Vin de France. I didn't note the vintage. From the Beaujolais too. Beautiful nose. Fruit and length, very nice. Vinified at the facility of vignerons who have a good approach with winemaking. Jean-Marc Brignot says that he puts the name of the vignerons on the label, in addition to the négoce one. 12,8 °. It is a canon d'été, says Jean-Marc. Got a maceration one week and a half long and then let dry by dripping (égouttage) for about the same time. Costs 9,5 €.
__ Vinibrato, Envol de la Fille 2010. Gamay too. Opulent nose, compote fruits. Terroirs from Morgon. Vin de France, like all the wines he makes. Vinified with whole-clustered grapes in semi-carbonic maceration (1 month). Very lovely wine, my choice at this table ! Bottled 15 days before this tasting. 2500 bottles in all. Costs 16 €. 11,5 ° only in alcohol ! incredible.
asked about where to find these bottles in Paris, he says Saturn (Ewen's restaurant), the Cave des Papilles near Denfert Rochereau (14th), Paul Bert, Racines.
__ Vinibrato, La Fille en Cage 2009. Vin de France from Morgon. More powerful, more on the cristallized fruits. Wax-topped bottle like the previous one. 12,8 °, lightly perly. Mouth : powerful but pleasure. Unfiltered, no SO2. Again, living-wine feel... My choice again for this table... Intense beauty in the mouth and when swallowed. 16 €. 5 week maceration, whole clusters. Vines : 30 to 50 years old.
Sorry for the other vignerons I didn't taste the wines of, I'm into slow tasting and each time I miss a few nice tables.