This is the season for the Salon de l'Agriculture, the once-a-year event where the farm country set up camp at the door of Paris. This Paris Farm Fair is a not-to-miss event, not only because of all these farm animals that you can see from so close and even touch (even if it's better not to for their psychic health). It is a place where the mood is lighter than it uses to in Paris, because all these farmers and their families, plus many of the visitors who are farmers themselves bring the authenticity of their way of life with themselves. It's moving to see these families wandering along the exposed cows, bulls and other animals and learning about the work of their fellow farmers.
This year, B. and I went at the Salon for the nocturne, the day with a late-evening opening. This was B.'s idea, as I usually visit the agriculture fair or farm fair whatever you call it in the day time. Whilst the entry ticket costs 13 € for a whole day, it's only 6 € for the nocturne, which starts at 7pm on friday to 11pm. We were surprised to see so many young people in groups in the thick crowd waiting at the ticket booths at 7pm, but we were to discover later why these young folks (who seemed to come from the best neighborhoods of Paris) had this crush for the farm life...
But read first about what the Farm Fair is officially known for...
Again, just for this animal part, don't miss the Salon de L'Agriculture, it's a healthy reconnect with down-to-earth reality.
In this regard, the Salon de L'Agriculture is, like the Foire de Paris, a window on the products of the French provinces, even if only the exhibitors who can afford the cost of the whole thing (including accomodation and the rest) take part.
I usually also check the honey because I bought an excellent one a couple years ago and regretted not having bought more. B. looks at the bread and local confectionaries. While I was checking something at a stand, she found figs stuffed with foie gras and brought me back a tasting sample, it was indeed delicious.
Many of these stands offer bits of their products for you to taste, hoping that you will be convinced by the taste and buy some.
For sure you don't risk to starve to death at the Agri fair, only that you better like meat or pork because there will be a lot of it.
Henri Maire is the Jura heavy weight which can be credited for having brought Jura wines on the map for the French public. Their salesmen are very good from what I witnessed and I am sure that they make a terrific job at this fair, like at the Foire de Paris and other regional fairs.
As wine amateurs we in France should know more about the position of wine during the Salon de l'Agriculture, beginning with the fact that many of these honorific medals found on bottles are awarded during the Concours Général Agricole, a state-sponsored intitution which is 122-year old. According to the related Wikipedia page, 15 000 samples of wine are tasted through, with lots of gold, silver and bronze medals at the end. Practically, the selection begins in the regions and is finalzed in Paris. While I don't give much credence to these medals, it may help decide in a supermarket when you are hesitating between two cheap bottles (but I haven't bought much there lately).
Of course, farm animals get medals too, but somehow I'm more inclined to accept it for them, although some of them certainly get their share of fake food and
This picture was shot at this fair 2 years ago but I guess they had a similar exercise this year.
We weren't thinking to taste a particular wine in spite of the many stands, all offering free tastings of their wines. But as we were walking through the wine stands, I spotted a label which I somehow liked and asked B. if she didn't want to taste some wine (I wanted to, of course). I didn't know the estate, or the estates in the matter, as we had happened to choose the stand of Jean-François Janoueix, a Bordeaux owner who manages 20 estates and makes a million bottles a year from a total surface of around 165 hectares. That's what I learned from the salesman after tasting the wines, and retrospectively, I think that it is amazing that a man with such assets still does the hard work on the wine stand in the Agriculture Fair. I admire that because it proves the man doesn't delegate the arduous tasks and he keeps his feet in the ground. Selling one million bottles is also a challenge I guess, but he sells wine at prestigious places like La Tour D'Argent, Le Crillon and Le Ritz.
I actually wanted to taste just one wine at this stand, the one with this label that I had spotted while walking by, but the salesman is good, and he had us taste 5 of the wines, beginning with an entry wine costin 11 € a bottle. The 4 following wines were great indeed, they were mostly 2009 and the last was a 2011. I was surprised how the color looked so matured already, almost tiled.
Wr liked particularly the Chateau Haut-Sarpe 2008 St Emilion Grand Cru, also a wine with a matured color if I remember, very elegant and long finish, very enjoyable wine. The cellartracker notes for a 2005 find something pretty young and astringent, which adds to the mystery of the color and well-matured character of these wines. I think it cost 25 € if I remember.
The top bottle was indeed the one I had spotted, the Clos des Litanies Pomerol 2011, this wine has a more redish color, but still it wasn't that red for a 2011, and it tasted divine. Here the cellartracker notes for a 2008 come closer from what I experienced, but again, for a 2011 it was a bit strange to drink such a perfectly matured wine. Anyway, I loved it, very refined and savoury wine to swallow... The salesman said it was billed 32 € if I remember, with a free delivery for at least a case.
The two other wines were very good too, the Chateau le Castelot Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2009 and the Chateau La Croix Pomerol 2009, two very enjoyable wines priced at around 17 €, both with this unusally tamed, tiled color.
The Domaine Janoueix is an atypical estate in Bordeaux in the sense that the owners managed to bypass the négociants, selling their wines directly to their customers, which is not easy in the business culture of the Bordeaux region, where négociants hold the reins. Thus, and because the wines were really so enjoyable, I was very happy that by pure chance we stopped at their stand that evening...
The nice thing here was also the communion between the Paris youth and the country people, as some of the latter had also joined the fray.
Enjoy the video before I'm sued over it...