Tags : Saint-Joseph, photographer, Gainsbourg, Jagger, Dard & Ribo, winemaker, wine shop
This happened at La Cave des Papilles, and this is a story where photography and wine play a role. Pierre Terrasson is a photographer specialized on the music scene, he has terrific shots about people like Serge Gainsbourg, Mick Jagger, Vanessa Paradis, Les Rita Mitsouko and countless other artists from the rock and pop scene. In a way, he is a priviledged witness of the music world along the last 40 years, and this tasting event was also a book-signing op for his last photo book Backstage, where you can see dozens of (French or foreign) musicians pictured impromptu before or after their shows during the 1980s'. Somehow you get the message from these unpolished photos, whether from the 80s' particular mood or from a particular musician you're not used to see away from the pressure of the public.
This is when the question of "why in a wine shop ?" comes out. The thing is, Pierre has a vineyard parcel in Saint-Joseph and beyond the book signing, you get a wine tasting with wine made out of his vineyard, and it happens that the wine is as vibrant than the musicians he covers.
La cave des Papilles (pictured on left) is itself also a vibrant wine shop where you can buy blind everything, and I barely exagerate. The shop is among the ones I featured on my long (and non exhaustive) list of reliable wine shops in Paris dealing with artisan wines made without tricks (this shop happens to be #3 on the random list). The shop sits at a corner of the rue Daguerre, a street with a busy street market near Denfert-Rochereau.
Fabien Bergeron is himself a vigneron in the Saint-Joseph area. At the beginning he had no vineyards of his own and he just worked for other growers, making the various vineyard-management tasks. He also worked for the parents of Pierre, first taking care of the vineyard and later also taking care of the vinification. Today, we could taste both the wine made from Pierre Terrasson's vineyard and the one made from his own surface, both being labelled as Saint-Joseph.
At first, as his family wasn't into the wine trade, Fabien worked for wineries to make a living, places like Chapoutier and Jaboulet and other top wineries of the region, he'd do the pruning and other outdoor work in their steep vineyards and he gradually purchased a few parcels when the opportunity showed up. Little by little, he could thus begin to make wine himself from his own plots but he kept until now this service business for other growers to secure his position as he only owns about 3 hectares of vineyards. See a couple of pictures of Fabien Bergeron in his vineyards.
He gets more and more work as a service company because wineries in the Rhone increasingly get concerned about weedkillers and stop using them, turning then to service companies like Fabien's to take care of their steep vineyards. He aknowledges that it's a tough job but he likes the freedom and the good side is that he doesn't need to go to a gym on weekends to stay fit...
Pierre knew La Cave des Papilles because Franck who was long time ago his assistant-photographer was working there, having switched carreer. He discussed about presenting his and Fabien’s wines here and the wines ended up being sold here. Pierre’s parcel yields about 4000 bottles a year, part of it being given to Pierre’s mother and the rest being sold by Fabien as the fruit of his rent. The interesting detail about Pierre’s wine itinerary is that he knows René-Jean Dard of Dard & Ribo since he was a teenager around 1965, because René-Jean is a neighbor from Pierre’s parents near Tournon. Pierre has thus later been drinking Dard & Ribo wines before they were on the map, bringing bottles to Paris occasionally. This was the type of wines he wanted to make from his own surface, with a patient, non-intervention vinification.
In the mid 60s’ at the age of 13, Pierre used to foot crush the grapes at home with his parents under the supervision of a local farmer. He remembers he was a bit drunk just by breathing the vapors. The wine then was not very well worked, it was a simple wine they would drink along the year, it wasn’t even labeled as Saint-Joseph but with the former name of Saint-Joseph, the vin de Mauves like it’s referred to in Les Misérables of Emile Zola (Mauves is a village of the area). Plus, in the family cellar, the casks were not in good conditions, some were too old, possibly tainted and the wine didn’t age well back then in the 60s' and 70s'.
Very fresh wine, goes down very easily, with refined tannins. I’ll almost help myself but resisted and asked politely for another pour from Fabien. The freshness is always there on these wines, Fabien says, the vines are not enhanced by fertilizers and don’t make too much sugar, plus the fact that there’s no destemming plays also a role although it’s supposed to result in less acidity. The tax-incuded price in Paris is 23 € and in the winery it’s more like 16. He made 4000 bottles of this cuvee, about the same volume as Badel, which is the cuvee made on Pierre’s family property. 2007 is a more classical vintage in the Rhone, there was neither too much rain or too much sun, contrary to 2009 when the vines were stressed by temperature at more than 40°C and even more on the slopes The wine had an élevage in casks of 16 months plus a couple of months in a vat, and was bottled in 2009. The vinification began with a whole-clustered grapes in open tronconic vats with foot stomping just enough to let the fermentation starts, followed by a carbonic maceration for about a month, covered with a plastic sheet. At the end of this maceration he foot crushed the grapes in the tronconic vat twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Then the wine goes into casks where it stays for a year without racking, after which he decides how long the élevage will last. He may then rack the wine into other casks for another few months or even another year, it depends of the vintage.
__ Puteus Videre, table wine 2010. Marssanne made from a surface of 0,5 hectare. "Puteus videre" means "we'll see" in Latin. Fabien noticed that in the Rhone many wineries have a logo or a sentence in Latin and he thought why not for this cuvée. This wine being potentially a bit instable (he had no SO2 added), the "we'll see' says it all.
The wine began to ferment after the harvest, then stopped during the winter and took off again in spring, then stopped again in summer before starting again in autumn. At one point he decided to still bottle it, and the wine is not on the market. It has anyway to be store properly because if it ferments again it could pop up its cork.
Tasting : I expected to feel residual sugar but that's not the case, it tastes pretty nicely, a vibrant white not even really perly. Fabien says that there are 4 grams of residual sugar. Fabien says that it sports 15° in alcohol but I can testify that it doesn't hamper its drinkability. Several people around me like the wine too.
The soil here like all of his parcels and the one of Pierre is made of granite.
Regarding SO2 this white hasn't got any SO2 at all. For the red, he doesn't add SO2 on the incoming grapes, he just adds a bit of SO2 before bottling, at very low doses : 2 grams/hectoliter. The wine ends up being below 26 mg of free SO2 because as the wine never saw SO2 before, it gets combines very quickly.
Fabier Bergeron wines can be found at about 20 wine shops in Paris, among which La Cave des Papilles, Cave de L'Insolite, La Crêmerie, Cave de Reuilly. He exports to Japan (Vinscoeur), Norway (through Vinergie), the U.K., Holland, Germany.
Here are a few one that I noted quickly without always noting the vintage :
Puzelat-Bonhomme Touraine Thésée, On s'en Bat les Couilles, La Navine, Carbone 14, Les Foulards Rouges la Soif du Mal, le Scarabée Murmûre, Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2010, Sancerre Akméniné 2008, Henri Milan, Une Tranche Fleurie Lilian Bauchet, Les Foulards Rouges Glaneurs, Selves Nicolas Carmarans, Champ Levat Mondeuse Jean-Yves Peron, Syrah Hervé Souhaut, En Revenant du Paradis Jean-Marc Brignot, 3 Petits Ours et S'En Va Vinibrato, Cornas Thierry Allemand, Meursault Sarnin-Berrux, Volnay Sarnin-Berrux, Creuse Noire Domaine Sauveterre, La Mémé (ceps centenaires) Gramenon 2011, L'Esbrecade Domaine Richaud, Le Charme du Loir Jean-Pierre Robinot, Antoine Arena Grotte di Sole, Mondeuse Côte Pelée Jean-Yves Peron, Bouchat Guy Blanchard, Henri Milan le Grand Blanc, Chateau Baudan Listrac Medoc 1999, Cheverny Désiré Hervé Villemade, Chateau Massereau Graves 2004, St Joseph Guillamy 2008, Faia Kenji Hodgson, Olivier Cousin, Les Griottes, Domaine de la Cadette L'Hermitage, Le Petit Têtu Sarnin-Berrux 2011, Côtes du Rhône Gramenon, Dard & Ribo Crozes Hermitage, Le Vendangeur Masqué Alice & Olivier De Moor and many more...