The weather had turned unexpectedly cold a few days before the 3rd thursday of november, which is Day One for the simultaneous release of Beaujolais Nouveau around the globe. The temperature was not that cold in comparison with the deep winter, but for some reason, the humidity or something like that, it was feeling very cold, and I was thinking that touring the bars for the Bojo might not be fun. But when thursday november 17th came, it was again the mild autumn that we've been enjoying so far. I thought I might hop from wine bar to wine spot with my bike and see how was the mood. B. was spending the day in Rouen with a group of Japanese and she would be home late, leaving me free rein to scour the streets of Paris looking for wine fun.
Scouring the streets of Paris is an exageration of course, I made a plan of 5 or 6 wine bars & wine shops where I knew there would be an enjoyable scene and went there after work. Doing more would have been feasible but traffic is not getting better in Paris (even on a motorcycle) and also 6 wine places are beyond my own resistance, especially when you know how wine is being poured on this occasion... I had planned initially to go to Les Pipos in the 5th, but I called there and the owner told me that he had received a letter from the Prefecture ordering him to refrain from any particular event, the neighboors having probably complained about the noise. This is too bad because Les Pipos has been for years a golden spot for Beaujolais Nouveau (and anti Beaujolais-Nouveau) craze...
I shot this picture above in the wine shop, this drawing makes a good counterpart to the triple-A debate about the endebted French state which begins to put the spotlight on the ever-increasing spending by the government, the regions and the major cities in France. Here at least, we're sure that the debt-free, additives-free wines will keep their triple-A rating in the hearts of the happy consumers (AAA for Artisanal, Amable and Appetizing)... The drawing was made by some one I didn't note the name of, and who works for the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo (I hope they'll not get a fatwa for this one).
Speaking of triple-A rating and credibility, there's a major scandal on its way in the world of wine, with this Jay Miller/Pancho Campo story involving large sums of money extorted from the wineries for organizing winery visits and bottle tastings by the wine critic in Spain. This is all well explained by wine writer Jim Budd (read this page, also this page and also this page) and this will probably durably impair the credibility of Robert Parker's people in Spain, even though Parker may not condone such schemes himself.
[Edit] Read about further developments on this Jay Miller/Pancho Campo-gate story in this post and this one.
[re-Edit] Other rounds of developments of the Campo/Miller-gate on this post. Seems like a triple-A downgrade for Jay Miller.
[Edit again] Another post by Jim Budd.
[Edit] Further light, more figures on this story by Jim Budd.
[Edit] Wine scandal swirls around Baltimore critic, story.
[Edit] Another post on this affair, here.
[Edit] More on Wine Business International.
The guy there was very friendly, there was already someone tasting the wines, which made the place roomy and easy. Parisians are spoiled or grossly misinformed, I tell you : 5 Bojos from some of the best winemakers for free and still some room around the table ?!? All right, it was maybe 6:30 or 7 but still, this is mind boggling... So I tasted the wines along with eatings bits of the artisan saucisson and baguette offered by the wine shop. The pours were generous, not really what I call a tasting, this was a nice drink of each wine.
__ Beaujolais Nouveau by Michel Guignier (pictured on right). The man pouring the wine says that there are two guys with this name in Beaujolais, which may induce mistakes when you order the wines. This one is based in Villié Morgon and works on 8 hectares in biodynamy. The nose of the wine is intense, almost mineral, while quite acidic in the mouth. Very aromatic and pleasant Beaujolais. Costs 8 € at the shop.
__Beaujolais Nouveau 2011, Chateau Cambon Lapierre. Costs 10,5 € No notes, sorry.
__ Beaujolais Nouveau Villages Georges Descombes. Costs 9,6 €. Not the best Beaujolais that I had from Descombes, but still fine. I sting to my cases of Morgon of Descombes and every time I open a bottle, it's an enjoyment.
__ Beaujolais Nouveau Villages 2011, by Lapalu (pictured on left). Costs 8 €. No notes, but interesting wine from what I remember.
__ Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 by Jean Foillard. Costs 10,5 €. No notes but I remember loving this one.
The guy at the wine shop told me they were bottling Lapalu's wine and selling the bottles, and when I arrived there, there were these two girls joyously filling the bottles and corking them. There were obviously not very familiar with the trade but learning well. A man I believe is the manager was serving onion soup for free on the sidewalk (picture on right) which was enough to salivate and jump to another wine try. I walked into the bar, which bears some of the standards of the wine places nowadays, a Merkel slicing machine for the charcuteries and traditional wooden chairs. The room is still simple and warmful, and the place can be used as a wine shop, I mean you can hop there late in the evening just to buy a bottle and go, there is no cork fee in that case.
I didn't want to taste again Lapalu's wine so I asked for something else than Beaujolais, and I was suggested this gem : a very beautiful Syrah named Mon Ptit Barriot by a winery named Vin de L'Origine, managed by Marc Barriot. Superb wine, with a bright mouth, aromas of dry eucaptus leaves and the likes, ink and stones. They sell the wine for 5 € a glass and you mustr try this if you're around. They served the wine carafed, filled from a bag-in-box to make it affordable by the glass. The bottle is available at Le Vin en Tête, I think the guy told me. On this website, it's sold for 9 € a bottle.
Whilst sipping my glass at the end corner of the bar, I could enjoy the buzz of the place, this was really a hot day for the staff, they were opening bottles all the time, as well as preparing charcuterie plates to go with. On the left when you walk in, you have all the bottles you can choose from, either to drink there with a cork fee, or to go. Very good selection of wines of course here, many outstanding natural wines, some well-known, some coming out of the blue like the one I tasted.
I'm not always keeping up with the last developments on the wine scene, and I thought I'd find Michel Moulherat at the wheel there, but learned that he had left the management of the venue to two brothers, Arnaud & Axel Baraquin, who have been extending the table side of the maison. There'll be less references than under Moulherat (he had more than 200 different wines), but still, they'll keep a good range of 110 wines. They have 80 of them already, and will increase gradually to reach their goal. When they took over the place, there was no stock remaining so they had to reconstruct it from scratch.
When they took the management of the Cave, Arnaud and Axel had to figure out how to distribute the tables and sittings, Michel Moulherat had during his time put a high table at the end of the room if you remember, but it was not there anymore, so they designed this other high table near the door, which plays the role of a bar counter for a casual glass or even a couple of plates between friends. Michel Moulhérat had started himself to serve food in addition to wine in here, that was a couple years ago if I'm right. Now it's on a larger scale, which makes an easier business than just selling wine. Plus, when unsuspecting clents come here for dinner, they may discover wines that they wouldn't have the opportunity to come across in a conventional restaurant.
I think I couldn't have "made" another wine bar this evening, my system was beginning to show its limits and I was also fortunate not to be in the countryside where breath checks on side roads ambush the peaceful and otherwise-law-abiding citizen coming back home after some good time with friends. Here in Paris, I knew I could ride my motorcycle safely back home in that regard...
The wine being decorked on the picture above is a Buzet (Languedoc), cuvée Le Pech Abusé, from the Domaine du Pech, an estate managed in biodynamy. The bottle costs 18 € to go, add a 7 € cork fee to drink it here.