Here is an iconic wine fair you might consider going to one day. It is quite out of the way speaking of access because there's no train going there and you need either a car or take a long taxi drive 50 km north-east of Clermont Ferrand, the regional capital city of the Massif-Central mountains. But this tasting event is unmistakably the best such event that I attended.
Les 10 Vins Cochons is a small wine fair which was created 9 years ago and is managed now by two people : Stéphane Majeune and Jean-Philippe Juge, with the help of Tony Bernard. Stéphane is a well-known figure in the natural-wine world, he was one of the 3 guys behind the iconic Domaine Peyra in Auvergne, Jean-Philippe Juge is the president of the non-profit group organizing the event, and Tony is the bold mayor of the village of Chateldon, a village known for centuries for its mineral water which can be found only on high-end tables and venues.
The name of the event needs to be explained first, especially for a non-French public as its literal meaning, "Ten Wines Pigs" may be unsettling : At the beginning this was really a small wine gathering and only 10 vintners were taking part, all making additives-free natural wine from organic grapes, and basically often without added sulfites either. That makes Dix Vins (ten wines) and as it sounds like divine in French, it was turned out like "the divine pigs" (cochons) because pigs are a gastronomy symbol conveying a sense of unrepentant and omnivorous appetite. Plus like we say in France, everything is good in the pig (tout est bon dans le cochon), and this tasting event was from the start a place where you could eat gorgeous food including charcuterie made by well-sourced artisans following the same standards of truth and quality than the participating wineries. Each year there's a different logo for the fair and the one for 2012 (pictured on right) illustrates perfectly the joyous and Dionysian spirit of the event.
Chateldon is located in a wooded area north-east of Clermont Ferrand, this village (picture on left) is charming with beautiful architectural remains from I guess the Middle Ages. There doesn't seem to be vineyards in the immediate vicinity but the region of Clermont Ferrand itself is home to several outstanding vintners who have put the wines of Auvergne on the map for demanding wine amateurs. This region is technically part of the Loire Appellation but it's quite off-centered and much closer from Lyon than from Chinon for example.
Picture on left : Nicolas Carmarans speeding. Video on right : Vignerons unloading their wines before the opening of the wine fair (here Isabelle Frère at the back of her van).
I was tipped about the event a couple years ago by Marie Tricot who with her husband Vincent makes wine near Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne. I understood then that the small wine fair had something different and the idea of visiting slowly made its way in my mind. The main obstacle for me was that the access was difficult and that december is not a particularly motorcycle-friendly month. So I called Marie who said I should contact the organizer who in turn told me about a few cavistes from Paris who could possibly come by car, we could pool and share the costs. The guys of Le Verre Volé were alas coming by train (quite wise because you end up drinking the stuff) and Franck at La Cave des Papilles didn't plan to come this year but he took my phone number just in case he met someone who would drive there. I had already given up the idea to come when Franck called back : he was driving there to buy a few cases fort the wine shop and would himself visit this wine fair for the first time.
Antoine Arena, Jean-François Nick (didn't come I think), Alain Castex, Karim Vionnet, Georges descombes, Philippe Jambon, Laurence & Antoine Joly, Alain Allier, Gilles Azzoni, Gerald Oustric, Andrea Calek, Vincent & Manu, Jérome Jouret, Agnès & René Mosse, babasse, Jérome Saurigny, Pierre Beauger, Patrick Bouju, Jean Maupertuis, Thierry Renard, François Dhumes, Marie & Vincent Tricot, Axel Prüfer, Bernard Belhasen, Clos Fantine, Julien Albater, Nicolas Vauthier, Schueller, Nathalie Chaussard, Emile Hérédia, Nicolas Carmarans, Patrick Rols, Isabelle & Hervé Villemade, Pierre Rousse, Samuel Boulay and Stéphane & Ludovic for the Pigeonelle beers. Of course I never had enough time to see them all, and I'm very sorry not to, but I can't refrain from spending a bit of time at each stand.
The first stand I went to was the one near the door where René Mosse had opened shop. Domaine Mosse is as you know located in Anjou, quite a distance from Auvergne.
__ Mosse Magic of Juju, white Vin de France, 2011. Vinified in casks. Limpid wine with nice richness and harmony in the mouth. Purchased grapes (farmed organicly). 10 e tax included. From relatively-old vines. 2 or 3 g residual sugar (you never have zero sugar left at Mosse). Got 20 mg of SO2 and went through a sterile filtration to avoid refermentation of the leftover sugar.
__ Mosse Tenderness, Anjou AOC 2010. Comes from the Bonnes-Blanches vineyards. the nose feels more vivid and exciting. Agnès who poured me the wines says that the terroir is more beautiful here. 17 grams residual sugar. Surprising after the previous wine. The fermentation actually stalled at some point and after a while they decided to bottle it as is. Costs 9 € public price.
__ Mosse Moussamoussettes, sparkling Vin de France 2011. Pet'Nat, natural sparkling. Amber color, almost pink. Made from Grolleau Gris, a parcel they have from the beginning. Interesting peppery nose, and the mouth is enjoyable, at the same time onctuous ans sparkling. 5000 bottles for this cuvée. Costs 11 €.
__ Mosse Anjou Rouge 2011. cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon. I keep the glass tight in my hands to warm up a bit the wine, it works after a while. The mouth tilts toward Cabernet Sauvignon, and Agnès aknowledges that on this bottling there was more cabernet sauvingnon than cab franc, while for the 1st bottling is was 50/50. 13 €.
Pierre Rousse is making wine in the region of Limoux in the Languedoc and his domaine Le Pelut has a vineyard surface of 5 hectares.
__ Le Pelut La Gaillardise 2008. A fermented beverage made out of apples. Closure : crown cap because he tought it could become a sparkling in the bottle but it didn't. Zero SO2 here, everything he makes, from apples or grapes. A small bitterness which lasts a while in the mouth. this is a very light "wine" made from apples, with 8,5 ° in alcohol. Costs 6 €
__ Le Pelut Serenade 2011, Vin de France. White, or rather orange wine, or yellow/turbid. Reduction on the nose. This is Chardonnay. Bottled august 2012, the wine never settled and he bottled it this way. Costs 8 €. 45 hectoliters of this wine. His vineyards lie in the AOC Malepert, a little-known AOC, but he doesn't try to get the agreement for the AOC.
__ Le Pelut Fanfreluche, Vin de France 2010, a red. The nose is expressive with a nice peppery side. This is a blend of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah (just a little bit of the latter), and although in small volume, the Syrah gave this peppery notes, he says. Majority Merlot / Pinot Noir in this cuvée. Costs 8 €. Interesting wine. The Pinot Noir went through a separate carbonic maceration lasting a few days.
__ Le Pelut Cocorico ! a 2009 red with a meat juice nose, the wine is more heady and goes longer in the mouth. 100 % Merlot here. Made through a several-day-long maceration with foot stomping. Costs 9,5 €
__ Andrea Calek Blonde 2011. A white sparkling. The back label reads "Naturellement pétillante sur lies" a Vin de France (table wine). He makes this cuvée from the start and this will be the last vintage (I think he told me the vineyards was rented and it's now discontinued). Costs 12 €. 3000 bottles from this cuvée. Nice wine in the mouth. Chardonnay 70 % and Viognier 30 %. Bottled with 15 grams of residual sugar and natural refermentation in the bottle.
__ Andrea Calek Blanc 2009, a white vin de France. 100 % Viognier. Zero SO2, but he adds that he doesn't wish to communicate on this issue of no-SO2 addings. Unfiltered although the wine looks very clear, everything sedimented in the cask. Very nice gliding feel in the mouth and palate, onctuous and mineral wine. The terroir here is clay/limestone. Costs 21 €. Bottled in august 2011, Andrea Calek always prints this information on the back label, and with the vintage year at the beginning, it reads like : 2009 / 25 / 08 / 11 . This wy people have a better picture of the élevage time, good idea. Minimum 2 years in casks. Cuvée made usually from 2 parcelles making a total of 1 hectare but for this vintage only one block making 0,5 hectare was used. Beginning with 2012 this cuvée will get 25 % Chardonnay in it.
__ Andrea Calek Babiole 2011, red vin de France (vin de table). You know now how to read Andrea's back label, so here we go : 2011 / 30 / 04 /12. Nice chew in the mouth with a bit of astringency and tannins. Grenache 60 % & Syrah 40 %. Carbonic maceration from 12 to 18 days with non-cooled grapes, he just picks early in the morning. Costs 9 €. I can't decipher my notes if this red is made from a 3,5-hectare surface or if its volume is 3,5 hectoliters. The knowledgeable will know I guess... The tannic feel on the tongue is nice, and there's a dust or earth feel in this wine.
__ Les Deux Terres Viognier 2011. Vin de France. A white which is so clear and colorless that it looks like water. In other circumstances I would have thought to discoloration through SO2 but I don't think it's the case here. It's just a direct press with a prior cooling of the grapes for 48 hours and after then entonnage into the casks where the wine wouldn't be disturbed at all from september 2011 to october 2012, and the bottling took place november 8 2012. Very aromatic nose. Nice gliding feel in the mouth, very onctuous and neat. Good length of the aromas. There are what I'd call empyreumatic aromas, I don't know if it's the right word, things related to incense and dry leaves. This cuvée has a volume of 18 hectoliters, or 9 casks, which makes about 2400 bottles. Costs 10 € tax included.
__ Les Deux Terres Zig Zag, a red vin de France. Very intzense nose with the right freshness feel. In the mouth, the wine has a nice volume and substance. Doesn't last very long it seems to me but gests down easy. Blend of Syra/Grenache, all destemmed with sorting on a table. In 2011 the two varieties were vinified together, it may be separate like in 2012 depending of the respective maturity rhythm. Fermented at a maximum temperature of 25 ° C with a 3-week cuvaison and then the wine is pumped into casks. They used to extract the wines more a few years ago but that's not the case for a few years. This cuvée costs 7 € tax included.
__ Philippe Jambon, Jambon Blan....Chard 2010 (a name discretly hinting at the Chardonnay nature of the wine, telling the variety being verboten in the French-wine labelling rules). Made from the purchased grapes of Guy Blanchard. I learn that Guy Blanchard is retiring, by the way, with a young vigneron named Jerome Guichard following his steps in the same philosophy. While I begin to taste, Harry, the Brit who is the chef at the vignerons' dinner tonight asks Philippe if he can have a few cases reserved for his own restaurant. This is how this wine fair goes, these vintners' wines are so sought after that cavistes and restaurateurs drive long distances to see if they can get more than their hardly-won allotment. I'll unveil a secret : Harry wanted 6 bottles of Batailles and 18 bottles of Jambon Blanc but for the latter he'll get only 12... Life is tough, but Philippe has a hard time satisfying the demand especially after a virtually-nil 2012 vintage.
Back to the Jambon Blan....Chard : Beautiful nose. Nice mineral mouth with a light oxidation feel. The terroir is limestone from the north Maconnais, an area touching the Viré-Clessé terroirs. This wine has been bottled for 20 days only. Not an opulent vintage, Philippe says, and the picking was very late so as to get a better ripeness. This was a compromise between tension and balance on one side, and still a nice maturity on the other side.
__ Une Tranche. Red wine, vin de France 2011, made from the vineyards of Benoit Camus in Ville sur Jarnioux, a southern-Beaujolais village which is quite distant from Philippe Jambon's village of Chasselas. Putting his label and brand, sort of, on a wine he likes is a way to counterbalance the economic disaster resulting from the vintage hardship (no harvest this year, basically). What a nose. The wine comes from a parcel on limestone and granite. Costs 7,5 €.
__ Une Tranche Fleurie. Fleurie AOC. Also a familiar label and cuvée name for those familiar with Jambon wines (the familiar pig on the label seems designed for Les Dix Vins Cochons, but it's his trademark). Lilian Bauchet has done all the work, he says, he has just said how he'd like the wine to be made. Light and fruity wine. 11 €.
__ Philippe Jambon, Batailles dur la Roche Noire, a red blend made with 60 % 2008 and 40 % 2009. T. parcels of 0,5 hectare each, he made 1500 bottles out of a total surface of 1,5 hectare. Small yields and good maturity with a long élevage. Very clear wine (the 2008 were even more clear), the nose has meat juice aromass with a bit of oxidation notes. The mouth is pleasantly intense. The name is because 20% of the grapes come from Batailles (the terroir) and 80% from Roches Noires, the latter being an hyper-volcanic soil where minerality turns the wine vibrant. Not big extractions in 2008, he says, he worked progressively and slowly on the grapes/juices so as to to stir the stems. Very nice wine. Costs 25 €.
__ Les Vignes de Babass La Navine II, white vin de France (table wine) 2011. Costs 9 €. His first vintage since he parted from Les Griottes, and before, this wine was called La Navine or it was part of the cuvée Moussaillon. Appealing nose. All vinified in vats, except a liquoreux and a cabernet. Light perly feel in the mouth. Bottled in two times, this is the 2nd one, in june 2012.
__ Les Vignes de Babass Le Grolln' Roll 2011, red vin de France. Costs 7 €. Luminous color, turbid wine. The mouth is lightly tannic with lots of pleasure to drink. This is Grolleau, you might have guessed with the name. 3200 bottles. Carbonic maceration of whole-clustered grolleau, in fiber-glass vats., and fermentation in same type of vats.
__ Les Vignes de Babass Roc' Cab, red vin de France 2011. 100 % cab franc. Nice color, dense wine. What a nose ! Bottled in june 2012. The mouth is nice,, lightly tannic. Babass finds it a bit dissociated at this stage, it doesn't strike me. Copsts 9 €, 5500 bottles. This year he'll make two cuvées of 20 hectoliters each for the reds while in 2011 he made 45 hectoliters (cab) and 22 hectoliters (grolleau), that's where you see how resilient the grolleau is as a variety : it can grow new grapes after a first blow like frost or hailstorm, that's what I learnt while visiting Toby Bainbridge, who is also in Anjou. Very convenient in frost-exposed terroirs...
Zero added SO2 here, like for his other wines. He jokes that the deliveryman is always late for the sulfites cans and that he is obliged to vinify and bottle without it...
__ La Bohême, "The Blanc", white vin de France 2011. Chardonnay. Costs 10 €. Nice gliding feel in the mouth, good balance and easy wallow. No added SO2. Terroir : clay/limestone. One hectare surface for this cuvée of Chardonnay.
__ La Bohême, Festejar !, a white natural sparkling. Crazy color, surreal, looks like ananas juice or sommething like that. On the back label you can read (in French) among other things: "dry pet'nat from chardonnay....this wine is alive and may be very sparkling at opening". He has been making this pet' nat white for 2 years. there's a bit of residual sugar it seems, but it's very pleasant and the end of the mouth is dry. Costs 12 €.
__ La Bohême, Pinot Noir, vin de France 2011. The label is temporary, they're working on it. Nice turbid color, translucent. Made from a 1,5-hectare surface, a total of 25 hectoliters of wine. This is a new vineyard which he and Jean Maupertuis (pictured on right) bought together, so it's his first vintage for this parcel (Jean Maupertuis was there but I missed him, I'm vey sorry). Bottled less than a week ago (by gravity), not that bad I think for such a recent bottling, this wine doesn't seem disturbed at all. The vinification is very particular, he says : It's a long maceration, the grapes being destemmed at 90 % and macerated until april. At the beginning the juice/wine was a bit tough and it became aerial like it is now step by step. Very nice wine... Costs 12 € tax included.
__ La Bohême,Cuvée H, pet'nat rosé, from vines planted in 1892-1906. Gamay d'Auvergne (a local type of Gamay) old vines of course. This parcel suffered from hailstorm in 2010 and there were only 500 bottles made of this wine. The nose is a bit spicy. 12 €. Nice quality of bubbles.
__ La Bohême, Festejar ! red/pink natural sparkling. It's the Primeur bottling of the 2011. Turbid. In the mouth, a candy-like sugary feel and aroma. Terroir : Corrent, avery qualitative soil in Auvergne.
Patrick Bouju didn't bring Lulu because it will be botted in a month, and also La Bohême because it will be only ready/bottled next may/june.
__ François Dhumes Jeu de Vin, red vin de France (table wine) 2011. The nose is appealing and gourmand (makes you want to drink right awway). Gamay d'Auvergne, the local version of Gamay. Whole-clustered carbonic maceration, for a month. You can see pictures from this parcel in my story about François. The wine has dust and pepper notes. Delicate tannins. He has only magnums left of this wine, and a magnum costs 17 €, good value.
__ François Dhumes Minette, red vin de France. Same vineyard, vinified differently. The nose is aromatic but very different, more vivid in its fruit expression. Destemmed and 2-month maceration, plus one year in casks. More extraction, here. When I say extraction, it's to understand with care, there's a nice lightness in the wine, with an aerial side, something palpably alive, we're not in the Rhone valley... Costs 10 € tax included.
__ François Dhumes Tête de Bulle, red vin de France. A pet' nat (natural sparkling) with crown-cap closure. Costs 9 €. What a mouth ! a real candy, a bit like a Bugey-Cerdon sparkling rosé. Really surprising wine, especially when you know that it's made with wild yeasts, no magic added yeasts gere....
__ Marie et Vincent Tricot, Chardonnay 2011, vin de France. I got to re-adapt after the previous pet'nat with this sugary candy mouth feel. The wine is neat in the mouth, nice gliding. 8 €. I hear Marie say that they sell 50 % of the wine directly at the winery.
__ Marie et Vincent Tricot, Cuvée Petites Fleurs, red vin de France (table wine). Gamay. Vineyards older than 40 (planted in 1971/1972) The label was designed by one of their daughters. Elevage in foudre and fiberglass vat. Yields 40 hectoliters/hectare. Very enjoyable wine. Costs only 6 €, really excellent value ! 12-15-day carbonic maceration on whole-clustered grapes.
__ Marie et Vincent Tricot, Les Marcottes, red vin de France made from Gamay-D'Auvergne vineyards older than 60. Yields about 20 ho/ha. Lightly-turbid wine.Very nice. The mouth is a bit peppery, enjoyable fruit. The touch on the palate is nice, there's this freshness, I like this harmony between the silk of the tannins, the freshness and the aromas. As I'm finishing my tasting at the Tricots, another caviste shows up : Nicolas Luquet (caviste in Vezelay, Burgundy) whom I met when he was still working for Philippe Pacalet).
__ Jerôme Jouret, L'Ivraie, white vin de France 2011. Nice richness and powerful. Ugni blanc, a bit of viognier, and a bit of clairette too. 13,2 ° in alcohol, but still easy. I don't spit.
__ Jerôme Jouret, L'Abri, red vin de France 2011. Cabernet sauvignon. The nose is fresh and exciting. Color : not so dark, even quite clear for a C.S. In the mouth, nice freshness and drinkability. The grapes were destemmed and went through a sorting table. Stainless-steel vats. Racked and put into casks in spring. Costs 6,5 € a bottle, excellent deal here too. And this was bottled a month ago ! He says that it took him some years before he learnt the right way to vionify this cabernet sauvignon.
Jerôme Jouret makes 15 to 20 different cuvées per year, that's a lot. Like the other vintners in the fair, he brought only a few of them.
At this stage I went to the annex on the side of the yurt where there was some sort of tent restaurant. You coud get nice simple dishes, mostly charcuterie-based, made from Stéphane Majeune products, as he's now dealing and delivering artisan food to professionals for a living. You could get a generously-loaded plate for 3 € or 5 € and great bread to eat along. I ate with Franck of the Cave des Papilles and his friend who is chef in Paris, and Franck brought a bottle of Roc' Cab from Babass so that we don't die of thirst.
Then I went to the stand of Domaine du Mazel where Gérald Oustric was pouring.
__ Le Mazel Cuvée Mias 2007. Viognier. Thick bottle, Champagne type. There's a bit of residual sugar but it's not a sparkling. Lightly perly in the mouth. The vines are 31 years old.
__ Le Mazel Cuvée C'est Im-Portant, red vin de France 2010. Variety : Portan, an hybrid made from Grenache and Portugais Bleu (a cépage teinturier which was created for its dark color) Costs 7,5 €.
__ Le Mazel Briand, red vin de France 2010. Grenache, quite dark too. Appealing nose, meat juice notes, loving feel. The mouth is quite bright and magnificent, goes down well. Costs 8,5 €. Carbonic maceration for a month and a half, without stomping or pumping over. Stainless-steel vats and cement vats, depending of the ones available. He puts CO2 in the vat before bringing the grapes in, and after then he ads some more CO2 on the top.
__ Pierre Beauger, Jauny Rotten, a sauvignon 2011. What a nose !! The color is like wheat, with turbidity. The mouth is brightly expressive and powerful That's what I call an unexpected Sauvignon. The nose has I would say aromas of white flowers but with an underlined vividness, very nice wine. Aromas of citrus and pomelos too. Yiu need to try this one day, don't miss the bottle, although the retail price at the winery is 37,5 €. Yields : 18ho/ha on half an hectare.
__ Pierre Beauger, Champignon Magique 2007, white vin de paille. This wine is still in casks.. Typical nose for an oxidative wine, but moderate in its expression, makes you want to discover the wine. 3 casks of this, one will be soon bottled. 37,5 € a bottle also. The wine is refined and elegant, very nice wine, although not in my price range. Nice golden color, turbid.
__ Pierre Beauger, same wine (Champignon Magique) in 2009. Riper in the mouth, this one will be bottled soon. More sugary feel also. I leave Pierre Beauger's stand with an enormous (and young) crowd jostling to have a taste of his wines.
__ Le Scarabée, le Petit Scarabée, red vin de France 2011 . 100 % Syrah, 9-year-old vines. Carbonic maceration, bottled in february/march. A bit of extraction with a bit of astringency. Spends time in casks too. Pure carbonic maceration. Costs 8 €. Balanced and fresh.
__ Le Scarabée, Murmure 2011, old vines of Carignan (with 20% of Grenache). The lower vat was destemmed (50%) and the rest was whole-clustered (maceration). Then, vinified in casks. On the nose, the freshness stands out among fruit aromas. In the mouth, feel of a nice meat juice, nice chew. Costs 11 €, good deal.
__ Le Scarabée, Isidore 2011, vin de France. Isidore is the first name of their grand-grandfather. More powerful wine. This is a blend of 1 destemmed-grapes vat and one whole-clustered-grapes vat, the latter being vinified as carbonic maceration. 14 ° in alcohol but that's fine. Nice tannin structure, but the ideal is to eat with this wine I think.
__ Domaine Léonine, Malophet, red vin de France (table wine). Léonine is Isabelle's boyfriend's estate, and I have a gorgeous remembrance of Stéphane Morin's wines when I tasted them at Kevin's Autour D'Un Verre a couple years ago.
Malophet is not a irrespectuous word about a certain middle-eastern historical character, it sounds in French like "malo faite" or "malolactic-fermentation completed". The nose is about cooked fruits but with a fresh side too, you feel this freshness just by smelling, makes it appealing. The tannins are quite forward, a bit astringent in the mouth, but I like the wine, in a year or two it'll be great because as there's no SO2, the wine is alive and can really mature in the bottle. Costs 12 €. You need to try that.
__ Domaine Léonine, Fond de Tiroir 2011, red vin de France. Young vines. Tannic mouth with good length. When you swallow, the wine reverberated beautifully. Costs 9 €.
__ Nicolas Carmarans, Maximus. A new red cuvée, the color is luminous and turbid, like Courtois' Nacarat, very exciting for me. The nose is appealing and joyous. There's a Primeur side in this wine with just the right little bitterness in the mouth. This is a selection of Fer Servadou, the local variety in the Aveyron, grown on granitic debris. Not bottled yet (will be next march 2012). Tronconic vat with a volume of 1500 liters. There's a dust feel in the mouth that I like, like some silk paper. Will be available at Autour d'Un Verre and the Café de la Nouvelle Mairie in may/june 2013. 12 € tax included.
__ Nicolas Carmarans Lolto 2011. Fer Servadou 100%. Red wine of course. Semi-carbonic maceration : He puts first some whole-clustered grapes (10%-20%) which he stomps to make juice, then covers the thing with intach whole clusters. I love this wine since I discovered it almost a year ago. Fresh wine, a pleasure to gulp.
__ Nicolas Carmarans Loujo 2010. Red IGP Aveyron (not table wine). 50% gamay, 50% Pinot Noir. The 2011 has just been bottled. Nice mouth with barely a bit of astringency on the sides of the mouth. Nice turbid color.
I didn't taste the Selves (the white).
__ Domaine du Moulin, Cour-Cheverny 2011, Romorantin (the local white variety). Nice nose with petrol notes, minerality. The parcel sits near Les Acacias, she says, and the vines are young (actually it's a blend of old vines & young vines). Bottled 3 weeks before. Costs 12,5 € including tax.
__ Domaine du Moulin, Cheverny Rouge 2011. New labels (for those of you who are familiar with the Villemade labels). Super nice wine, whatever you like or not the new label. Vinified and élevage in tronconic vats (the Grenier ones which you can see on my story). Very good deal, the wine breathes truth and harmony. Costs 7 € only, very good deal. Got 3 grams/hectoliter at bottling which took place in september. The élevage was longer because they had other wines to sell before putting this one on the market. They saw that the longer élevage in the wooden vats noticeably bettered the quality of the wine. On the other vintages this wine was routinely bottled around january 3rd.
In 2012, the weather was awful, some parcels lost 90% of their grapes through frost, and the average loss was 70 % on their surface, through frost, mildew, and roe deers & wild boars, who seem to have been very voracious this year...
__ Domaine du Moulin, Pivoine 2011, vin de pays du Loir et Cher (a minor appellation considered slightly better than vin de France/vin de table). This is Cot. What freshness for a cot ! Quite a good drinkability. The nose is stimulating, appealing, with fruit and sensuousness. New label too. Costs 11 €. Elevage in enamelled vats & wooded tronconic vats (the two being blended at the end). These two wines are excellent values.
Each time I'd stop at a stand, I'd choose the moment the vintner would be at his/her place because sometimes they would go taste the wines of their buddies, as this wine fair is also a good opportunity to discover how fellow vignerons worked and how their wines are doing. If they were gone for a few minutes, I'd come back later.
__ Domaine le Briseau, Coté Coeur 2011. Cot & Gamay. This is the first vintage of this cuvée, it was bottled one week before Christian Chaussard passed away in the aftermath of a tractor accident. The two varieties were vinified separately here. Whole-clustered grapes, foot-stomped and maceration for 15 days, then in the cellar. Fruity and fresh wine. The terroir is silica with clays. 12 €.
__ Domaine le Briseau, Les Mortiers 2010. Red pineau d'aunis. This comes from the very parcel which Nathalie's friends picked last october after Christian was gone. this time it was vinified as a red (in 2012, it was as a rosé because of the condition of the grapes). Yields of 15 hectoliters/hecare, I didn't note why, if it was the norm or if the weather was bad somehow then. The vinification is similar to the one of the previous wine, but with a 5-week maceration and an 18-month élevage in casks. This wine is on the market now. Tannic feel on the side of the mouth. This is a long-keep wine (and this is alive, it will really evolve and mature in the bottle unlike many wines frozen in the bottle by SO2), I think it will be even better in a couple of years. Very nice wine Costs 18 € tax included.
At the beginning there were only 10 small wineries taking part (thus the "Dix" or "Ten" in the name), most coming from Auvergne and all working in a non-additives and organic philosophy. As the popularity of this event grew, more wineries applied year after year and this year there were 34 vintners plus three other artisans like an artisanal-charcuterie dealer and a cutler (not Manu anymore). The room being limited under the yurt, they're limiting the number of stands and choose to highlight a different region in addition to Auvergne, and this year it was Ardèche.
Jean-Philippe told me that if initially all these vintners want to participate because this wine fair is a lot of fun and very friendly, they actually sell lots of wine, sometimes coming back to their respective wineries with empty vans. The highlight of the event is the dîner de vignerons or vintners' dinner in the evening, which is open to everybody considering you register early (there's not so much room). For a mere 25 € you get a nice dinner sitting alongside the people who made the wines you love.
Jean-Philippe told me that they're thinking to make something special for next year's Dix-Vins-Cochons, which will be the 10th such event. It could be music or some additional entertainment, and possibly a larger indoor surface to accommodate a little more vintners, maybe along two days instead of one only until now, but it should definitely take place again in the beautiful village of Chateldon, nestled in the Auvergne forests. And they want to make sure that the wine event doesn't grow too much, and it should remain in the long term this friendly gathering where you can rub with all the vintners and fellow wine lovers without fuss.
Apart from this event's organization, Jean-Philippe works in the event/music/theater business, in the organization side, or making decor or doing the lighting job.
List of the participating wineries at Les-Dix-Vins-Cochons 2012.
P.S. : there's a bus service between Clermont-Ferrand and Chateldon although I didn't get the details and schedule. If true, you might arrive the previous day and leave after two nights by bus, back to Clermont-Ferrand and wherever you come from, this is worth it believe me, if you don't have any other way of transportation.
Pic on left : Peyra Mauvaises Herbes 2003, a cult cuvée from this defunct Auvergne winery, pictured in 2004 at a tasting at Caves Augé. Mauvaises Herbes means weeds in French.