The back label says that this is a Coteaux du Languedoc AOC, and that the wine stayed several months in barrels, for a total volume of 1700 bottles (6 casks maybe). The Domaine de L'Ocelle sits near the village of Saint Christol south west of Nimes.
The wine is pale-gold colored, smells dry raisin but in a delicate way, with an exotic touch B.says. The wine is generous in the mouth, 13 ° in alcohol on the label but it could be bordering 14° in my opinion. The whole thing makes a pleasant wine even if not one I would fight for.
I looked around for some explanation about this mysterious Patapon label and I couldn't find it anywhere but on a Japanese document emanating from the Japanese importer Vinscoeur. There, on the middle of a page full of Kanji signs, I found the 5 mysterious groups of words written along the hairs above the funnel...
Apart from a SEO trick to bring Japanese visitors to this site, the quote helps highlight how the Japanese are serious when they report and write on wineries, they don't stay on the outside of things, going deep for the source.
This text explains (according to B.) explains how Christian Chaussard settled in this Jasnières region, made wines so different from the "regular" ones that they got fingerpointed (Christian was also looking like some sort of Indian with his long hair, which didn't help) and got this Pineau d'Aunis refused at the AOC agreement control because it was considered "atypique". Christian was upset and drew this character with the funnel, a French symbol for crazy people, adding five hairs with in fine print what was the object of his anger : C12H22O11 [sugar for chaptalization], AOC, SO2, Levures [lab yeast], Syndicat des Vins [wine Union]...
The wine was an easy-drinking wine with lots of fruit, it was gouleyant, the sort of bottles you will finish on the spot. See below for the unexpected pairing we found for this nice wine full of life.
The other day as I was driving in the Loire by night, I killed a roe deer, and can you believe that ? It just jumped in front of B.'s car without any warning, that was a couple seconds after I had spotted a first one on the open field through the car's lights. The shock was quite big at the level of the front bumper and the radiator grill. I stopped immediately and as it was dark all around I didn't know if the animal has escaped unscathed or was wounded, I just stopped and must admit that I was primarily worried about the condition of B.'s car which I had borrowed from her for the weekend. I checked the front of the car and it didn't appear to have suffered any damage, then I began to look around with my flashlight, and soon found the roe deer which had just fallen into the deep side ditch on its momentum. The poor animal had obviously sustained life-threatening injuries even though nothing was visible from the outside. It still moved the head a bit but was to die quietly in the following minutes.
I couldn't leave the animal like that and I decided to call someone I knew and who could do the job of skinning the animal and cutting the good meat parts. He wasn't at home alas so I thought about someone else whose phone I couldn't find, so we just left the animal in the ditch, it was so deep that passing cars couldn't spot it. I just tied a plastic bag to the nearest telephone pole to be able to find the place when we would be back. The guy was at home and was OK for the special op, so we drove back, took the animal into my trunk and drove to his hunting lab where he could do all his expert butcher job. No picture there because it's a hot topic, we're not supposed to just pick the animals crashed on the road and put them into the freezer. The guy is very friendly and wanted to give me the whole thing but I insisted that a gigot would just be fine.
We had roe deer during a week, begining after a few days so that the meat could mature a bit. Back in Paris, B. prepared it both ways, one as a cooked roti and the other stewed in a pot with a bit of white wine (Auxerrois). The roti yielded a strong-character meat, that was indeed what you could expect for gamey, but very good in moderate quantities. The stewed pot was very nice, the wild animal had been tamed here and was more easily enjoyable
To drink with this meat we actually enjoyed particularly the Patapon, of which I opened a bottle at one point even though I doubted that it would make the job. The peppery touch of the Pineau d'Aunis was a good balance with this meat-with-character and its wilderness notes. Both were lovely.
Here is a tool that may be useful for many of you when you're trying to locate a French appellation area in a given region or in the context of its neighboring appellations. B. and I use this large paper map when on the road, it is convenient like a Michelin road map and with the major roads being superimposed on the wine AOC areas, you can visualize where the regions (which are often tiny) start and end.
When unfolded, the map measures 1 meter by 1 meter, plus additional and more detailed information about the appellations.
This French appellations map costs 7, 01 € and it can be ordered online. I didn't check if IGN ships abroad but I guess so. The additional 0,01 € is not very smart but IGN is a public-sector company, so be understanding...You must first register and create an account before ordering the map.
If this is too much trouble, try to order it on other sites instead (Google : IGN 915 vins de France) like here or here on Amazon (temporarily soldout), or even on Ebay. The odd thing is that it's cheaper than at IGN...
This time they worked for La Milk Factory which from what I understand is a communication agency doing the promotion of milk products on an artistic way. On this Telegraph page you can see Akiko & Pierre but also quite a few of their food-centered miniature installations (click on the side of the picture to see the next or previous picture).
Their present milk-centered installation is a lilliput sory where bottles of milk, cheese, lumps of buttler, cream, yogurt pots become a lanscape through which the imaginary society of minimiam settle down and interact. You could see dozens of scenes in this fantasy landscape, like this accident between a wrapped wedge of Laughing Cow and a Citroen DS...
Make sure to visit this exhibition, it will be running until may 18 2013 at 5 rue Paul Bert in the 11th arrondissement, in a stret where you'll find many quality restaurants and bars with nice wine, beginning with the famous Bistrot Paul Bert.
The thing is, you usually serve wine at the opening of an exhibition, and the organizers wondered I guess how they could find something evoking milk without having to serve milk : they chose to offer Champagne in white glasses, and this Champagne had a distinctive character, it was a special Pommery cuvée named Pop Earth, a very enjoyable bubbly which is marketed as being eco-friendly, having needed 0,5 liter of water per bottle instead of 1,67 and bottled in slightly-lighter bottles (but not as far as being organic). Notwithstanding the boring greenhouse-gas narrative, the Champagne is enjoyable as said, fruity and light with a not-so-dry feel which I like, plus with aromas of apple and citrus.
I've since a long time myself been fascinated by ermits who in our modern times still look for the solitude of forests. At the time of the Unabomber story I had been intrigued by this educated man who had at one point settled in a remote cabin in Montana, the guy had turned crazy somehow with his bomb-parcel terror but his manifesto looked quite interesting and well thought, from the few chapters I read.
When I'm staying in the Loire I'm also enjoying a technology-less place where the fire in the wood cookstove becomes the center of the world. I'm not yet into assembling wires and powder but it's already one step toward the cabin in Wyoming or in the Ural where I'd like to try myself into that kind of life one day.
Sylvain Tesson's book is enriching and for those who want to know more about the Russian soul, it is also very informative because he comes into contact with fellow cabin dwellers living at several days walking distance. The guy is a free-minded non-conformist and his writing reflects a deep refexions on many issues, beginning with what is really important in life, something about which the Russians, with their deeply-affective approach in life, can bring a lot to us, rational Westerners. My own experience of the Russian forests is one of wonder and dream-like discovery, and even though few Russians make the leap to settle for months or years in a cabin, most share this quasi-mystical love for the pûrity and grandness of mother Nature, going there every year in the endless forests to collect berries, plants and mushrooms.
Here is another video about Sylvain Tesson like on the Baïkal.
Short interview in French, back in Paris
The fury of the media and of the government officials against Depardieu may be rooted elsewhere than in the tax-flight side of the story, as he took side for Sarkozy during the election campaign last year, a serious crime against political correctness. A world-class French tennis champion who obviously settled in Switzerland for tax reason wasn't bothered about it, but he happened to be a fervent supporter of the other side...
This said, and speaking about wine, Depardieu's friendship with the russian president could become very profitable for Russia, as Gerard Depardieu could convince authorities there of the benefit for Russia to allow Russian artisan vintners to prosper and sell their wines freely.
Beyond the understandable tax-flight reasons behind this move to Russia, I think that Depardieu is very Russian deep inside : like the Russians, he is a person where empathy and friendship come first, someone who doesn't count when he loves and when he wants to help people (according to the testimony of his business partners in France), and most of us have discovered that he knows Russia much more than we could imagine.
Pictures & news credit : ITAR TASS, RIAN, AP.
[Edit] Video interview of Gérard Depardieu march 16 2013 (very interesting and heartening)
Russia to lift ban on Georgian wine par aljazeeraenglish
Russia's policy shift is big-enough news for jihad-loving, British-accented Al Jazeera to publish a report and even a video about it. Qatar-based Al Jazeera, which masquerades as a real news network, offers a very different content in its English version compared to the Arab one, and wine stories like this one are probably among of the most comical examples of this trait. Incidently, we should have more well-groomed news about wine from this company, as Al Jazeera just bought Current Tv from Al Gore in its bid to appear more like a legitimate news organization...
Browsing bizarre news channels for wine topics is fun, next time I'll scour the North-Korean papers for news about the last garage-wine craze in emerging countries...
More seriously, This Russian shift comes at a time when Georgia has been yielding better wines, which should benefit the Russian consumers as well. But other hurdles wait in the way of the comeback of Georgian wines in Russia, particularly the one related to the administrative processing of the wine samples which are checked by the Russian body Rospotrebnadzor (the food safety agency). In this Novosti article (in English), we learn that the administration has cleared 36 Georgian wineries, but the difficulty to get a visa from Russian authorities is also a problem for the Georgian winemakers who want to bring their samples. Rospotrebnadzor is doing everything it can to ease the problem and according to this article from their site, they are lobbying with the Russian government to speed visa procedures for the Georgian winemakers.
Things are going better but should still improve on this regard.
The yuzu looks like a clementine, it is a small citrus where everything counts, beginning with the skin which you peel to give taste to a dish with just a few chips. The fresh taste of yuzu survives a cooking. Of course the cook has to be talented (B. belongs to that category), but the ingredient itself was given by mother Nature such an aura that I tend to think that anyone will improve his/her food with a bit of this miracle fruit.
Sansho is another miracle ingredient, and the first time B. prepared a dish with it, I didn't know first but noticed this incredibly fresh and intriguing feel. I asked her what caused this and she told me it was sansho.
We all have a list of favorite cooking ingredients sourced in various countries, and I have made a special place in my own virtual list for these two exotic ones, although I still rely on B.'s talent for the innovative cooking...
If you pass close to one of these ingredients, grab them, because even if you improvise, you should be nicely surprised by their use.
Check on this page through the appellations filter which estates are taking part.