__ France Gonzalvez Escapade, white vin de France 2011. Chardonnay. 30-are, 20-30-year-old vineyards farmed organic on granite (usually ist's limestone with clay). 5,5 € without tax. Hand picked. Wild yeast, no SO2 added on the incoming grapes, just 1 gram added at bottling. No stirring of the lees. The wuine has a living feel. She had 600 bottles left when the tasting took place.
__ France Gonzalvez Cueillette, red vin de France (Gamay). She asked for the Beaujolais Appellation but it was refused. Nice nose of peony and faded flowers. High acidity. France set up her winery in 2008 with 1/2 hectare, she had her first baby in 2009 and added 1 1/2 hectare then which made a 2-hectare surface, after which she grew by another 2 hectares in fermage in 2011, which makes 4 hectares. And she has now a 2nd baby...
__ France Gonzalvez .G (or G spot), vin de France 2011, the name is misleading as the cuvée is not a table wine but an AOC Beaujolais villages, "vin de France" referring here to her first name, France. Light wine. 70-year-old vines on granite. 2/3 aged in casks, the rest in vats. Bottled in march 2012. Unfiltered and unfined.
this year was a tough one, she made as much volume on 4 hectares than last year on 2 hectares. She had also to spray 13 times compared to 5 times last year.
__ Domaine Cornin Beaujolais villages Blanc 2011. Nice Chardonnay, easy drink. Clay/limestone terroir like in Maconnais.
__ Domaine Cornin Macon Chaintré 2011. Another white with a nose almost like a Sauvignon, acidulous and vivid with hints of cat pee.
__ Domaine Cornin Macon Chânes Les Serreudières 2011. Vinified like the other whites, with malolactic fermentation completed. A bit SO2 added on the incoming grapes and also after the malo and for the bottling, each time at very low doses. The nose is aromatic and refined. These wines are stable because the malo ferm is completed. There's been a light filtering on earth filters.
__ Domaine Cornin Pouilly Fuissé 2010. A blend of small parcels making 8 or 10 rows each, in the Chaintré region. Quite enjoyable wine.
__ Domaine Cornin Pouilly Fuissé Clos Reyssié 2010. Old vines (90 years). Planted by the for-grandfather (no clones there). Terroir : nice thin clays. Nice structure. 18-month élevage in casks and vats. Nice wine, intense in the mouth including when you swallow.
__ Domaine Cornin Pouilly Fuissé Les Chevrières 2010. A parcel located above Chaintré. 10-centimer thick soil here, with underneath limestone rocks. 18 months in demi-muids and vats.
__ Remi Dufaitre Beaujolais Villages Blanc 2011. white. A bit cold to taste. Costs 5 € (without tax I guess).
__ Remi Dufaitre Brouilly 2012. Carafed red. This wine comes from a vat, it wasn't bottled when the tasting took place. No SO2 added. When bottled, either there will be none added or just a bit. The wine tastes like a primeur, very much on the fruit.
__ Remi Dufaitre L'Air de Rien 2011, Beaujolais Villages. Bottled a month before. Grapes with high maturity selected in different parcels. Carbonic maceration. Unfiltered and no SO2 added. Old vines on Saint-Etienne des Oullières. Appealing nose, and very good in the mouth and while swallowed...
__ Domaine de la Grand'Cour La Chapelle des Bois 2011. Cuvée nature without SO2. Very exciting nose, gourmand.
__ Domaine de la Grand'Cour, Fleurie Clos de la Grande Cour 2011. Complexity. Good drinkability.
__ Domaine de la Grand'Cour Fleurie Vieilles Vignes. Old vines (70 years). Also a Clos. On the cadastral register : terroir "Champagne". 16 mg SO2 added during the élevage, after which there was an adjustment so as to get 10mg in free SO2. The professional prices are between 8 and 11 € depending of the cuvée.
__ Domaine de la Grand'Cour Brouilly cuvée vieilles vignes 2011. Generous nose, ripe flowers, a welcome relaxed feel with this wine. 2levage in casks and foudres of different ages.
__ Domaine de la Grand'Cour Fleurie La Part des Grives 2011. 3-week carbonic maceration under cold temperature (the wine didn't move at all during the first week). Nice wine indeed. 1500 bottles, the cuvée is sold only to people who know about this cuvée and ask.
__ Domaine Lapalu Beaujolais Villages Cuvée de Vieilles Vignes 2011. I arrive at the stand for the last bottle available among the ones he brought for this tasting, the others are empty...
The nose is druity and mysteriously aromatic, hard to describe for me at this stage. The mouth is very pleasant, with a nice substance.
Asked about this vintage 2012, Jean-Claude Lapalu says that it was a long list of weather and disease related problems and they didn't get lots of grapes, but on the other hand, the remaining grapes allopwed to make wines that are very refined, not with a big substance but very neat (droits), very pure. the vinification unfolded well without problem. There was a bit of sorting but not that much. He remembers thant in 2009 there wasn't a grape to take out at harvest and on the other hand the vinifications were very difficult, stopping and/or with volatile. In 2012 this was the other way around, the vineyard management was tough and the vinication smooth. The malo went fine too, in general he adds that his malo take place sur marcs, meaning that 70% or 80% of the malo take place in the vat in the beginning of the winemaking. In the beginning he was axious about that (because he says with a grin, the enologists do all they can to make you anxious about this) but now he doesn't pay attention because he never has an ensuing problem because of that. Some enologists or other vintners would turn crazy to have the malo start before the sugar, but it doesn't do harm on the wine.
The woman on the left works occasionally with Morgane at Ma Cave Fleury, a wine shop devoted to the organic Champagne Fleury and where you can buy also many other artisan wines.
The Cave des Papilles in the 14th arrondissement is beginning to market several liter-sized cuvées (which they could also name cuvée du patron) in this spirit of easy-going table wine. Just a difference : the vignerons behind these wines are people whose wines are sought after by knowledgeable amateurs and even if they may be labelled as table wine they are largely more desirable than many AOC-labelled wines that you find on the shelves in supermarkets.
I bought this cuvée of 05/12, a vin de france made by Gilles Azzoni in the Ardèche in southern Rhone, a man whose name on a label dwarfs any side consideration like an unconventional bottle size or a non-existent appellation. The wine was supple, light (12° in alcohol) and deliciously fruity, with again this freshness which is not so easy to find in the southern Rhone. This is a blend of syrah, grenache, plus a bit of viognier and of cabernet (sauvignon I suppose). The price tag at the shop is 11 € and you can't find this one-liter bottling elsewhere anyway.
The Cave des Papilles sells 3 other similar litrons-sized cuv ées : one by Christian Venier, one by Hervé Villemade and one by Pascal Simonutti.
The only thing I regret is that, in an ironic move, they didn't choose the typical spangled bottled for these wines, it would have been a tribute to those humble table wines of the 50s' and 60s'.which drenched the thirst of the working-class people across France.
The wine, a Chardonnay majority with some Sauvignon, is made by the Clos du Pas Saint Maurice, a non-profit group working to keep the winegrowing tradition alive with one-hectare surface on the slope of the Mont Valérien hill. Thanks to these people we can still experience a "Paris wine" in the 21st century and it reminds us that because every French region would make wines locally before the transport revolution (which took place in the late 19th century), the Paris area was the first winegrowing region of France ! This white tastes well with a good balance and blind, you'd not have guessed that it comes from a surviving parcel near Paris. It's worth the 9 € that you pay in the cellar, you'll enjoy the try.
Read (in French) Marise's story about this Paris-suburb wine.
The wine can be purchased at L'Echappée Locale, which is located at 237 rue Saint-Martin 75003 Paris. I tried to call them but the phone number found on many web pages doesn't seem to be active. Non-profit group Clos du Pas Saint-Maurice
Another cuvée I liked was El Morron, a similarly velvety wine with well-integrated tannins and a good length. Made from Garnacha and samely unfined & unfiltered.
The winery is also making a rosé named Download Musikanto 2011 ingles.pdf">Musikanto which is a relatively-easy drinking wine in spite of its alcohol, giving a feel of liveness and truth. This wine went through two fermentations in 450-liter amphorae with natural temperature stabilization outside in the open. Check that wine too if you have the opportunity.
Follow the winemaker on his blog.
Interview of Rafael Bernabé (in Spanish).
This was literally a wonder, and for someone like me who still is a a relative ignoramus in the understanding of sake, this was the realization that at the very instant I was drinking this sake, I could say from the deepest of my conscience : this is an exceptional sake... In short, it was an exquisitely velvety sake with on the other hand a majestic and powerful feel in the mouth and at swallowing. A rare delight. I look forward in the future to investigate if the special nature of the water tables in Kobe explains the strongly-different tasting characters that I found in general in the Kenbishi sake cuvées compared with sake from other regions.
You get better tasting notes on this sake here.
The closure on this sake was particular, and the pictures on the side let you appreciate the care and attention in the details and conception of this closure.
I didn't expect less, the wine was simply splendid, refined, complex and with such a length. No doubt this sort of wine would also have made a hit on the 1976 Paris tasting. Omar's couscous was of course very moderately spicy, which helped, any wine would have had trouble to compete with hot spice anyway. Read well-worded tasting notes for this wine and vintage on Cellartracker.
Another wine that we had with the couscous and Which I enjoyed was La Guinguette 2011 from the Domaine de la Roche Bleue in the Jasnières/Coteaux du Loir, it was very pleasant Pineau d'Aunis with the right, lively fruit feel, the pepper and the thin tanni texture typical of Pineau d'Aunis but not always rendered if not prtoperly vinified (and farmed).
There's a wine that took my attention there, a Sauvignon made by the Cave du Haut Poitou, one of the coops part of the group. The wines presented during that event were not typical of the wines produced by the coops, they were either smaller cuvées or wines made from lesser-known varieties like Pineau d'Aunis.
This sauvignon 2008 is made with ripe grapes and the expression of the wine was very different from the usual crisp with cat-pee nose. The wine was not served cold but no matter it was fine, with a nich ricness and power feel and went down well. The retail price tag at the coop is said to be 6,2 €. Total volume : 15 000 bottles. I didn't find a specific webpage on the wine on their website, but here is their page for the whites.
I also had an interesting Chasselas from the Caves de Pouilly-sur-Loire, another coop, it was Trésor d'Antan, Chasselas 2010, Trésor d'Antan being a product line marketed by Alliance Loire and focusing on lesser-known varieties. This Chasselas was an easy-drinking wine even though the first mouth didn't rock the boat. Cuvée of 5000-6000 bottles. Price tag at the coop : 5,8 €. Only 11,5 ° in alcool.
The Pineau d'Aunis that I had there were not convincing, especially the rosé ones which were hardly drinkable.
There were a couple of other interesting whites in regard to their low price tag (4 € at the coop). First, the Touraine Sauvvignon la Javeline 2011 from the Vignerons des Coteaux Romanais. It was a predictable sauvignon with a good balance. Then there was the Terra Ligeria 2011, a vin de pays made by the Caves du Haut Poitou, also a good deal at 4 €. Got a gold medal at the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon 2012. Total volume for this cuvée : 800 hectoliters or 100 000 bottles.
What impressed probably the author of this page was all the tools (used or new) available here, like the other pictures show : pumps, vats, containers, presses, elevators, gondolas, casks and more. It is still I think a problem for many aspiring winemakers in Russia to have access to a large choice of winery tools.
Speaking of natural wine and the definition (if there can be any) of this word, here is an excellent article by Jamie Goode on the issue. Jamie's piece makes a good balance between facts and pleasure, reminding us that wine is foremost about pleasure.
Jerome Saurigny, Gamma GT, red vin de France 2011. Blend of Gamay (60%)-Grolleau (40%). Perly feel with a good acidity.Last year I bought Jerome a few bottles of Prem's, a terrific primeur wine which cost only 5 € if I remember, but he didn't make any in 2012.
Jerome Saurigny, Au Suivant 2010, red vin de France from Cabernet Franc with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% whole-clustered. Got an 18-month élevage. The mouth is very pleasurable and same when you swallow. Super value at 9 € retail price at the winery. There's a light astringency which should dim with time, still young for a cab. He made 80 hectoliters of this wine.
__ Jerome Saurigny Ange ou Démon, a lightly-perly red made of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc on a 6-month élevage. The pleasurable nose has meat-juice and evolved notes. The tannins are more forward here. The cuvée is bottled but he keeps it in the cellar for a while before selling it. Costs 9 €.
Jerome Saurigny Cuvée "S" Coteaux du Layon 2009, a white. Amber color with oxidative nose. These so2-free liquoreux are so exciting. The mouth offers both the fresh side and a life feel, nice wine. 30 €.
__ Jerome Saurigny "S" 2005. Amber color too but more on the golden side. More sugary feel but also more intensity, very onctuous and fresh as well. The wine hasn't been topped up in its cask for 7 years, he partly bottled the content and the wine still doesn't move in spite of the large contact with the air... There was a veil on the surface in the beginning but this veil vanished after a while.
__ Domaine du Perron Boisson Vivante 2011. A white made from Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay if I read correctly my notes. Vibrant amber color. The nose is generous with faded flower notes. The mouth is very cally and well structured. Non-topped wine, 3 casks or 800 bottles. This is the 3rd year he makes this. The wine guy at L'Agapé loves the wine.
__ Domaine du Perron Blanc Grand Cléré 2010. Turbid. Vinified in vats. Gaz, reduction on the nose. Perly in the mouth.
__ Domaine du Perron Boisson Vivante le Grand Cléré rouge 2011. Red made with cabernet franc and a bit of cabernet sauvignon. Bottled end of november 2012. Destemmed above the vat with a rattan lid, foot-crushed and maceration in cement vat, after which the juice went into a fiberglass vat for a year. Zero SO2 added, zero additives (fermented on its wild yeasts). 8 hectoliters made, costs 18 € a bottle. Nice chew with tannins.
I learn that Françoir grows other crops including corn and he makes beer from German hop. It was very complicated to get the authorization from the French administration because in the bureaucratic system, they couldn't grasp that a winery could also make beer, they never had that case in their files...
__ Robinot Fête en Bulles 2011, white natural sparkling (pet'nat).
__ Robinot Pet' Nat 2010, in magnum (not sure of the name of this label). The color of this wine is deeper, with gold shades, and I learn that it's because there is some Pineau d'Aunis in there outside of Chenin. Nice mouth and bubble texture, easy to swallow.
__ Robinot Les Années Folles, cuvée spéciale 2009. White vin de France, 75cl. Chenin 80%, Pineau d'Aunis 20%. The nose is very appealing, with a very vinous side (blind you could think it's a red) with this nose. Excellent. 800 bottles. 22 €. There will be a cuvée 2011 of this wine but it's not on the market yet. In 2012, all the harvest has been vinified as a rosé and as a pet'nat "cuvée spéciale" because the surviving grapes were of very good quality. Thenatural sparkling 2012 is by the way already sur lattes right now.
The weather was awful in 2012, I learn, they did the right sprayings on the vines using plant decoctions but it was raining all the time and you couldn't pass between the rows because of the mud. They also had mildew, other diseases and flower abortions. Even the "conventional" growers had much smaller yields in 2012. Anjou got it better than Jasnières, Coteaux du Loir, Coteaux du Vendomois and Touraine where the conditions were catastrophic.
__ Robinot L'Iris, white vin de France 2008. Chenin. Bottled a little more than one year ago after 36 months of élevage. Savagnin notes on the nose. Non-topped-up cask. Very nice mouth, elegant and neat, majestic feel. Good on cheese or fish, Noella Robinot says.
__ Robinot Regard, red vin de France 2011, Pineau d'Aunis. A cuvée they've made from the beginning of the estate. Young vines (10 years). Bottled 3 months earlier. The nose has the vividness and the pepper of well-vinified Pineau d'Aunis. In the mouth, the peppery fruit is delicious. There's an aerial and happy side to this wine that I love. Costs 16 €. Robinot's wines are quite expensive but this one is a good deal and the wine is in its early youth. Noella says that the Pineau d'Aunis doesn't stand high yields [that's I guess one of the reasons the coops' pineau d'aunis is uniteresting and bland] and this one has yields of about 25 hectoliters/hectare.
__ Robinot Nocturne Pineau d'Aunis 2009. 3 year-élevage in casks. Old vines (80). More evolution in the color. The nose is more complex and mysterious. Bottled 3 months earlier. Quite exceptional mouth, blind you'd put that as a Buurgundy pinot noir. 32 €.
__ Robinot, cuvée Camille Robinot, vin de France 2009. They made this cuvée in 2005 and 2009, only on great vintages. 3-year élevage, bottled 2 months ago maybe. Very old vines (110) and franc de pied (non grafted). Outside 2005 & 2009, these grapes are blended with the cuvée Nocturne. The grapes on this very old vineyard are very small and black. Vinification : maceration, then entonnage. The mouth is very classy with a beautiful structure. Light oxidative side. 55 €. Pineau d'Aunis for very special occasions indeed.
__ Robinot Regard cuvée "P" 2009, old vines. I also this rarity, a red sparkling Cuvée. This is a wine with a feel close to a Bugey-Cerdon, this is a pineau d'aunis from old vines, with a bit of residual sugar in it, something Jean-Pierre usually never makes (a red sparkling). He named the cuvée "Hommage à Marcel Lapierre" because being gone to Lapierre's funeral, he left the wine unchecked at a crucial fermentation time and the wine took this direction. This wine never saw wood, this happened in a vat. Costs 16 €.
__ La Coulée d'Ambrosia, Le Boit sans Soif, red vin de France (table wine). Grolleau, 70 ares, vines aged from 35 to 40, a parcel he got from his father a year ago. He wanted to make a light, "thirst" wine here. Costs 7,5 € tax included. Pleasant wine. Carbonic maceration with devatting before the tannins peak, so as to keep the lightness. He likes to try things and he may make a rosé from this parcel too. The vine training is cordon with the pruning keeping two eyes, and he plows (chaussage, décavaillonnage), the parcel being converted from conventional to organic.
__ La Coulée d'Ambrosia, Panier de Fruits, white vin de France. Chenin. Generous mouth. He says that he uses the first grapes foe the sparkling then depending of the zones, for other types of wines. The frame is : lower maturity goes for sparkling, maturity OK goes for Panier de Fruits and the advanced maturity goes to L'O2 Vignes.
__ La Coulée d'Ambrosia, Doucueur Angevine, white vin de France 2005. A liquoreux. 5 years of élevage in casks without topping up. Amber color typical of this winemaking mode. Jean-François says that he follows his feel to make wine and he liokes to let the vintage and the vine express themselves. Intense and exciting nose here. In the mouth, the wine radiates beautifully. Zero SO2 here, like all of his wines. Of course, wild yeasts only, like everyone around here. You must try this wine if yopu have the opportunity. Sold in 50cl bottles, 19 € tax included. Speaking of making wines without any SO2, he says that the thing is to wait and make long élevages so that the wine finds by itself its balance. There's no filtration either on his wines, they become limpid after the long élevage in the casks.
__ La Coulée d'Ambrosia, Eureka 2010, white sparkling. Chenin. 10 €. When the wine reached a density of 1001 he bottles it and puts the bottles sur lattes (lying) for the prise de mousse (bottle fermentation), then sur pointes (neck down) after which he makes the disgorgement of the lees. He is very open to new things and looks at what fellow vintners do in the Jura and in the south of France for example.
__ Olivier Cousin, Le Cousin Rouge, Le Grolle (didn't note the vintage but it must be 2011). 100 % Grolleau, of which 30 % Grolleau Gris, 60-year-old vines. He has 75 ares in (black) Grolleau and 1,1 hectare in Grolleau Gris. Carbonic maceration in vats. He puts some grolleau gris in this wine on small-volume vintages to get a more fruity character but if he used only grolleau gris this would make a rosé wine. He made 3000 bottles of this cuvée. Costs 9,5 € tax included. It may be the last year he makes this cuvée himself as his son Baptiste will take some of the vineyards (if he likes this labelling you might still find it next year). Olivier Cousin plans to keep 4 hectares for himself (mostly the Cabernet Franc for which he still pays the mortgage), Baptiste taking over the Gamay, Grolleau and Chenin, the whole making also about 4 hectares. Olivier plans to concentrate on horse draft and he'd also like to sail to Japan and bring wine there on his boat... I didn't take notes about this wine but I undoubtly liked it.
__ Olivier Cousin Pur Breton 2011, "Vin d'Ici", a cabernet franc in magnum. The regular size costs 11,5 €. A nice cabernet, at the early stage of its life.
__ Olivier Cousin Le Franc 2010. Nice , refined tannic feel. 3200 bottles (28 hectoliters). 11 €.
Speaking of sail boats, Olivier tells me about an incredible story and project : Some time ago he had a couple of guys who were sailing to New York take some of his wine, a few casks, to deliver it to importers Jenny & François, but the guys who were Dutch were probably looking suspicious to the Port Authority or the Customs, the sailboat was registered under Sri Lanka flag and they looked more like hippies than businessmen, so they never delivered the wine and brought it back in France, where Olivier is selling it as a special cuvée having traveled across the seas. The wine happened to taste much better, he bottled it and sold the whole to Denmark. He loves this idea of selling a wine that has gone across the world by sailboat and he plans to do that again, but this time just for the magic of an élevage in a ship's hold. He will work with Fairtransport, I think these are the same guys who made the first shipment try to New York. Olivier says that in the past, in the sailboat era a couple of centuries ago, wine casks were used to balast the vessels, and reading the writer/adventurer Henry de Monfreid you get to learn that (Henry de Monfreid is a non-conformist author who travelled for decades in Africa and the Middle East beginning in 1910). You'll pay more for these sailboat wines, like 24 € a bottle instead of 12 €, and the difference will be for the boat crew. No doubt, this is well Olivier Cousin here...
Alice Wright of the Telegraph first rolled her eyes when she heard about this new French thing, as it comes after the likes of "French women don't get fat" or "French kids don't throw away their food" (she meant the book referred by this article which happened to be the #1 most read piece in the WSJ in 2012). It could have been yet another overdone pretext for gallic pride but she explains in her article how right many of these tips and remarks are, evoking her own experiences since she herself settled in the deep backcountry of Limousin (France).
By the way, Alice's husband Michael wrote a book named Je t'aime à la folie, where he recounts the adventure of starting a new life in the French provinces.
Pic above : Juliette Binoche (unknown photographer)
Cement is said to offer advantages for the fermentation and the élevage, and the makers of these wine trunks even offers the option to multiply the contact surface with the wine by adding moveable concrete wall inside the tank. Here is the web page describing these stackable concrete vats. They are designed and made by Sonoma Cast Stone, a company otherwise specialized in concrete countertops and sinks. Their winemaking vats section seems already impressive, which proves that there is an awareness regarding the high thermal inertia of cement vats.
This lecture excerpt is in French but what Nicolas Joly says here is so true : he says that wine is too much analyzed in terms of technical qualities, regarding aromatic description and so on, adding that we should better open ourselves on emotion and truth, without intellectualizing what we can feel from the wine. Nicolas Joly is heading a group of vignerons who farm along the biodynamic principles, Renaissance des Appellations ( known as Return to Terroir abroad).