The Ermitage cuvée Tour de Pierre was a delicious wine, gentle and fruity, and it perspired a feeling of truth and respectful vinification. The labelling is very discreet and humble, they don't even brag aboit the domaine's vineyard being farmed in biodynamics, but the wine speaks by itself, you confusely feel something different is going on, there. It's made from Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre and the yields are 35 ho/ha. Depends where you buy it but a bottle of this cuvée costs about 10 euros.
I was happy to find out later when back in Paris that this wine had been rated best value in an article by Eric Asimov featuring a selection of wines from the Languedoc (it's imported by Kermit Lynch).
My intention was not here to have a remake of the 1976 Paris tasting, but, well... We were invited for dinner by friends outside Paris and B. and I both chose a bottle to bring without really consulting ourselves about it, B. chose a bottle in her cellar underneath her atelier and I took one of mine in the wine fridge. Mine happened to be a Burgundy 2003 by Annick Parent while B.'s was an Evesham Wood 1999 from the Willamette valley which she had bought ther in Oregon when we visited the winery in 2006. I had my Annick Parent bottle quite a few years ago and both wines had been through an additional bottle élevage before that fateful day.
__ Evesham Wood Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard 1999. Nose : Fruit, earth. Mouth : gentle tannins, but well wrapped with a sustained acidity. Glowing feel when swallowed. B. lauds a good chew with a gourmand feel.
__ Annick Parent Monthelie 1er Cru Clos Gauthey [Pinot Noir] 2003. Dark color for a pinot, we must remind that 2003 was the heat-wave vintage and this yielded very atypical wines all over the country. Aromas of jammy fruit, rather jammy cherries. Mouth with sugary side. B. feels some meat juice too. Good length, this is noticeable for a 2003, B. says, as they were often said not to stand the test of time. Overall we were split on two camps on these wines, two of us (the men) prefered the Oregon wine while B. and Seon-Ja prefered the Burgundy which they felt as more feminine, although B. said the 2003 vintage was a handicap.
Notice how the pewter capsules looked similar, another coincidence (left : Eveham Wood - right : Annick Parent).
Christopher Santini is a young négociant based in Auxey-Duresses who started his business earlier in the year with his brother. I tasted one of his first wines at Le Mary Celeste (a bistrot with a good wine list and into cocktails too) during the Beaujolais-Nouveau evening after being tipped about it by Josh Adler, a Paris-based
American who runs Paris Wine Company, a wine-export business. The wine is a Beaujolais which Chris made at Christophe Pacalet. An original thing is that he's bottling the wines in one-liter bottles to try revive the legendary table wine format which the French used to buy at the grocery at the corner.
The Santini brothers are both Americans with a French father and they were taught this tradition of table wine, thirst wine. Chris plans to make wine this way in different French regions. The labels (which are styled in the 1920s') will also tell the name of the vigneron where the wine was vinified. This Beaujolais is unfiltered and without added sulfites.
Christopher works for Kermit Lynch in the Burgundy office in Beaune while Patrick Santini lives in Montreal. In order to remain loyal to Kermit Lynch they don't export yet to the United States. That may change in the future.
At the end I even tasted a cocktail version made with Beaujolais natural wine by the Mary Celeste staff, a very enjoyable fancy mixology drink which was named "Gard au Lyon", here is the recipe : Beaujolais, Rum Plantation Jamaique, Gran Classico, lemon & ginger beer. See pic of the wine and of the cocjtail on right.
santini [dot] freres [at] gmail [dot] com
I attended the Grand Tasting recently in Paris, this is a professional tasting taking place in the Carrousel du Louvre under the museum, on the side of the basement shopping mall that was built by then-president Mitterrand to make shopping easy for the mass tourists lacking time to do it in the real Paris. The tasting is sort of upscale with a mix of recognized values and lesser-known wineries (a stand is said to cost several thousands euros to the participating wineries). The event is organized by Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, two mainstream wine writers who may be compared to Robert Parker for their influence in the general public. I tasted a dozen tables there before leaving, the event was also becoming crowded and getting your way to the best stands was sometimes difficult. The entry fee was 25 € per day or 30 € for the two days and you could taste of course all the wines you wanted, plus attend special mini conferences-tastings behind closed doors that were centered on a particular winery for an additional fee. There are indeed a good number of rightfully-celebrated winegrowers there but I tried as much as possible to taste things I was not familiar with. Watch this video shot across the tasting event.
If I had to retain a single name among all the wineries that I tasted there, it would certainly be Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli, first because the wine stood out but also because she looked really cool and easy going compared to many other wineries.
__ Sono Montenidoli 2006, red IGT Toscana. Sangiovese. Elisabetta poured ma a very generous pour, first noticeable difference I noticed, she was in this regard different from what was done elswewhere where cost-consciousness is the norm. The wine is aged two years in old barrels (she jokes that she isn't a cooper) and gets an additional year in bottles in the cellar. The wine has such a nose ! Very nice wine, what a pleasure to swallow. She says she began to sell this vintage only last year (in 2013). As I marvel about the wine she says it has a lot of resveratrol. Costs 25 €, a steal, believe me. Nose after chatting 5 minutes : delicious aromas, complexity intertwined with elegant aromas. She tells me I should visit, like in august or september. If travelling to there is not too tricky I'll think about it...
__ Voerzio Nebbiolo 2012, red DOC Langhe Nebbiolo. Nice nose of soft spices. Mouth : astringency, tannins on the palate. Nice joyous fruit with a light sugary feel.
__ Voerzio Torriglione 2010, red DOCG Barolo. From a selection of parcels (1500 bottles a year). Nice power in the mouth which excuses the astringency. Nice well-made wine with length and glowing feel in the upper palate.
__ Voerzio, Rocche dell'Annunziata 2008, red DOCG Barolo. The color shows more evoluted. Uncarafed bottle, the tannins are still there.
__ Voerzio Riserva dei Capalot e delle Brunate 2009, red DOCG Barolo. Magnum, they're just opening it and notice its corked. They open another one, which is not. Suave nose of summer flowers. Delicate mouth.
__ Voerzio, Riserva 10 anni Fossati Case Nere 2001, red DOCG Barolo (pictured above). A wine giving a nice pleasure, it has obviously reached a mature opening. Feisty balance, nice wine, everything at its right place.
I also tasted the wines of Nervi in Piedmont. The estate was purchased by Norwegians 4 years ago but the new owners (Kathrine and Erling Astrup) love wine and keep the same philosophy in both the cellar and the vineyard. Erling Astrup first discovered these wines when he was studying in Milan in 1995, he firmly believes Gattinara is one of the best places for Nebbiolo. When the winery was in danger because of the near-bankruptcy of its former owners during the financial crisis of 2008, he came to its rescue, contacting many banks to keep it afloat.
Kathrine was there in person to pour the wines (picture on right).
__ Podere dei Ginepri 2010 (red), DOC Coste della Sesia. 90 % Nebbiolo, 10 / Vespolina. Volcanic soil. Vinified in stainless steel, then élevage in foudres for 5 years. 100 % Nebbiolo. Nose : very vivid. Mouth : very decent.
__ Gattinara 2007, DOCG Gattinara. Selected yeast (made by a local lab). 100 % Nebbiolo. Nose : delicate and refineness. Nice wine. Costs 20 € at the winery (tax included).
__ Molsino 2008 (red), DOCG Gattinara. Made only on good vintages, 3000 bottles. Vinified in tronconic fermenters (maceration). Very beautiful nose, delicate and joyous. In the mouth, an enjoyable intensity. Costs 80 € (retail).
What I like in this tasting is also that the winemakers and winery owners are often there themselves in person (well, not all actually, particularly for Bordeaux and Champagne) which I could say is the least a wine producer could do when presenting his wines to the public. It's by the way often the case in the artisan-wine tasting event I usually attend, but you may have noticed elsewhere that when a winery reaches a comfortable commercial size the only people you ever see on the stands are sales people or specialized sommeliers, the owner doesn't feel the need anymore to meet wine amateurs, or he just lost his passion.
I appreciate that Henry Marionnet was there with his son Jean-Sébastien who is now at the reins; whatever commercially-successful the winery has become, Henry Marionnet certainly feels that his buyers and the wine public in general deserve the effort of personnal involvement, he could have easily delegated the work but thought it was important to be there, and I decided to stop at the stand and taste several of his wines, especially because he was the first several decades ago to make things differently in the Loire region, like highlighting now-minor varietals, making wine from ungrafted vines or beginning a cuvée without SO2 (I'm sure Joe in spite of his nightmare would have agreed with me on this point).
__ Vin de Pays, Cépages Oubliés [forgotten varietals] 2013, Gamay de Bouze (a rare type of gamay, with a darker color). Forbidden by the INAO authorities for the AOC appellation, you have to label under the minor "vin de pays" term. Soft tannins. Gamay de Bouze appeared after the phylocera, it was considered a vin médecin because it would bring a better color when blended with other gamay. There was a much darker type of gamay also, named Gamay Fréau. His Gamay de Bouze is a massal selection, he has only massal selections in his vineyard anyway. He's been making this cuvée for 40 years, in some way, he inspired many artisan winegrowers who revive other little-known varietals. This wine costs 8,8 € at the winery tax included.
__ Touraine Vinifera Gamay 2013, made from ungrafted [franc de pied] gamay. Henry Marionnet says that overall now he has 6 hectares of ungrafted vineyards (gamay, côt, sauvignon, plus a bit of romorantin and chenin), it's a lot but the total vineyard surface of the estate is 60 hectares. Still, that's courageous because there's a risk, especially that all the soils where the ungrafted vines are planted are not sandy, but until now his ungrafted vines seem to remain immune from the phyloxera. Grapes picked by hand, no SO2 during the maceration and vinification. A bit astringent but very fruity, the grapes from ungrafted vines are said to release more aroma, it's a pity there's no more of these ungrafted vines in France, uprooting everything at the turn of the 20th century may have been heavy-handed.
__ Touraine Vinifera (also ungrafted) Côt 2013. Soil : clay/limestone. He says that the ungrafted Côt always has softer tannins, that's true that this young Côt tastes pretty well already. Hand-picked and Vinified whole-clustered in carbonic maceration. Costs 11,2 €, pretty cheap for the quality and the ungrafted plus. The Marionnets don't have any enologist or such outside service, they keep doing things by themselves.
__ Touraine Première Vendange 2013. Old parcels of gamay (1967), hand-picked and vinified/bottled without any SO2. He's doing this type of added-sulfur-free cuvée for more than 20 years (1990). Some astringency, a burning alcohol feel too, not fully satisfying, possibly filtered too tight, but I got to try it some day again because I know tasters whom I respect that liked the wine. A bottle costs 11,2 €. In spite of having been early to do some sound choices for special cuvées, the Marionnets are not farming organic and they oddly tend to consider the natural wine and other sulfur-free wines as a snobbish trend (source) and they now prefer not to print on the lavel of this cuvée its added-sulfites-free nature.
I stopped at Chateau d'Arlay of Jura too, not that I didn't know already a bit their wines but it happened to be nobody at the stand when I walked by and that tilted my decision. Most visitors favor the high-end wineries first in this prestigious [sort of] tasting, which I understand in part as brand prestige is an important feature of this public, which on the other hand makes sometimes room for the wineries that are less glamorous.
__ Côtes du Jura, Corail 2009. A red made with the 5 grape varietals of the Jura, Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Poulsard, Chardonnay and Savagnin which are macerated together and then go through a 2-year élevage in casks. this type of wine made from the white and red grapes vinified together was common long time ago as vineyards were routinely complanted, that is white- and red-grape vines planted together [en foule] and thus picked & vinified together. The result is a red wine on the edge of rosé with an inspiring mouth where all the varieties brought a bit of themselves. Color : tile. Nose : flowery, and notes of small red fruits too. Very pleasant. Costs 9,5 € tax included.
__ Cotes du Jura 2009 red. Pinot noir. Mouth more structured and meaty. Still a bit of astringency on the side of the mouth. 11,5 €.
__ Côtes du Jura, "A la Reine" 2011 white. Chardonnay. Good richness, alcohol too forward maybe. 10,5 €.
__ Côtes du Jura Vin Blanc Tradition 2008 (white), made from chardonnay & savagnin vinified together and with an élevage of 4 years in foudres (large-volume barrels). Nice creamy mouthfeel in the mouth, nice enjoyable wine.
__ Côtes du Jura, Vin Jaune 2007. Savagnin vinified in casks without topping-up during at least 7 years, like you probably know, the wine develops special yeast at the surface of the wine which interact with the wine. Color with green tones. Nice vivid mouth with a glowing feel and length on the palate. Costs 33 €.
I couldn't resist samely (didn't I say I'd try to taste wines I don't know enough ?) stopping a moment at the Mailly Champagne table and have the sales people there pour me some of their wine. I can't say it enough, Mailly is a Champagne house that is not granted its deserved status and every time I taste their Champagne wines I marvel as the consistency of their quality. 55 % of their production is exported.
__ Champagne Mailly Brut Reserve. Nose : honeyish with white flowers. Mouth : you ask for more. Costs 29 € tax included retail.
__ Champagne Mailly Extra Brut. I love that touch in the mouth, here we go again, that's what I like in Champagne. While still an exta brut it still has an enjoyable richness. Nice Champagne for 34 €.
__ Champagne Mailly Blanc de Noir, made from pinot noir (base wine 2008). They were the first house 25 years ago to launch the blanc de noir. Their pinot noir is planted on north-oriented slopes and yield a very elegant expression because of that, the sommelier says. Very nice nose, exciting, and the mouth is exquisite. Dosage : 8 grams. Costs 59 €.
__ Champagne Mailly Brut Millésimé 2007. 3/4 pinot noir, 1/4 chardonnay. Nose : honey, English candy, very promising nose. Mouth : nice chew, I love that. 37 €.
__ Champagne Mailly L'Intemporelle 2008. 60 % pinot noir - 40 % chardonnay. Colr : more yellowish, the bottle glass is neutral here.
Sold in the U.S. through Total Wine and in the U.K. though Berry Bros.
I also stopped at Chateau Haut-Bergey where François Prouteau (pictured on left) was pouring the samples. When the maître de chai himself is at the stand to pour and explain the wine you know you're dealing with a serious winery, I mean of course even if only a sales person had been at the table I'd have kept good dispositions toward this Chateau. While tasting there I learnt from him that for the Bordeaux classification, the classement, what count actually a lot (75 %) is the facility improvements, the ecological footprint, the energy efficiency, the beautiful tasting room, the wine-tourism involvement and other stuff like that; the quality of the wine comes behind these by far....
I tasted a few wines there but will remeber particularly this one (held on the pic by François Prouteau) :
__Pessac-Léognan, Chateau Branon 2002. Made from 2 hectares of vines older than 45. 1/3 cab sauvignon, cab franc, merlot, 100 % new casks. 5000 bottles. Precise mouth. Nice power feel in the throat, very nice wine. Costs 89 €.
Another stand I stopped at : this was the one of Monoprix, a retail chain with lots of department stores in Paris and a focus on food, and its own sourcing of wines, the chain is supposedly higher end compared to other food stores, I'd say that it's usually overpriced for the food, but they have an interesting wine section (depends of the neighborhood though) for a mainstream retailer. They were presenting at this tasting a selection of wines that they sell
Raphael Herbert who is wine buyer at Monoprix explained to me that through a partnership with Bettane and Dessauve they have a selection of wines already in Monoprix's portfolio tasted by a B & D jury which gives to what it rates as the best of them the label "Monoprix Gourmet. The panel's choice is then double-checked by Bettane or Dessauve and Monoprix can put a plus on the label to sell the bottles. The B & D tasting panel tastes these wines blind, they just know the wine region (not the AOC) and the retail price. Th answer they're asked after that blind tasting is : is the wine a good value for the price and would you tell about it to your friends. retail price. Monoprix keeps only the wines that get two "yes" from all the tasters for this special labelling.
I tasted 5 wines (all reds) with this Gourmet-Monoprix label that were available on the stand; Chateau Cayla Côtes de Bordeaux 2011 (5,5 €), Chateau de Rhodes Gaillac 2011 (6,9 €), Dauvergne-Ranvier-Parcé collioure 2013 (9,95 €), Domaine Bosquet des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape (22,9 €) and lastly Chateau la Reyne Cahors 2010 (7,9 €). While the 4 first wines were not very interesting, either too tannic, burning with alcohol or too extracted, the last wine was for me really a good value, and there was a happy coincidence as the winegrower was the only of these producers to be present at the stand. Johan Vidal (pictured above holding his bottle) of Chateau la Reyne is the 5th generation of winegrowers, he took the reins from his father/grandfather's winery in the Cahors region in 1997, bringing it from 20 to 30 hectares, he keeps natural grass under the vines. He favor hand work in the vineyard (short pruning, foliage management, green harvest) to avoid using chemicals. Part of the harvest is done by hand, he destems all the grapes and there's some sorting. The wine is vinified in cement vats (maximum fermentation temperature of 28 ° C) and gets a 20-month élevage in 3-wines-old barrels.
He says this wine is a majority of Auxerrois (also known as Côt or Malbec). Appealing nose. Mouth : enjoyable chew with ontuosity, the tannin style on the palate is nice. When I use to say that only the real artisan do the effort to present their wine themselves at the tasting table, I couldn't be more right. This guy has to be monitored, his Cahors is a real value (7,9 € at Monoprix).
The caviste section of the Galeries Lafayette moved across the Bd Haussmann to the 2nd story of Lafayette Gourmet on a 450 square-meter surface designed by Jean-Michel Rousseau. The main access door on the street level is on Place Diaghilev next to UniQlo. It is now part of the multi-story Lafayette Gourmet department store (map) where you can find all sort of foods and table or kitchen ustensils. In its former location, the wine shop was tricky to find, you had to take an escalator and visitors not familiar with these subtilities could miss it. With the move you have also more surface and more wines to choose from. The area is a magnet for many foreign visitors, with the Galeries Lafayette's flagship department store across the street and what I find interesting is that you can find this diversity of wines. I we caricature a bit, the wealthy Chinese tourists who are still on brand names will find their expensive Bordeaux but the artisan-minded wine amateurs will find many attactive bottles too, and it is rare to accommodate the two wine cultures. Bruno quenioux is the man who brought this interest for the artisan wines when he joined the wine shop of Lafayette Gourmet in 1990 and this remained a recognized feature of the venue after he left in 2008.
This wine shop known under the name of La Cave is often foremost known for its Bordeauxthèque, a circular, air-conditioned room (pictured above) where you can find the most prestigious Bordeaux wines with older vintages, but the other regions are also well represented as well with also what we'll call the artisan wines. The price range goes from 4,5 € to a price I prefer not to tell. The average wine buyer like us will find here many wines between 10 € and 40 €.
Patrice Remaud, the director of the Cave, who has worked 10 years at Hédiard, was at the head of the Bordeauxthèque before the wine shop moved across the street, the Bordeaux part of the shop being then managed by the négoce company Duclot while the rest of the wine shop was managed directly by Lafayette Goumet. Now the whole wine shop is managed by the Duclot group but the general philosophy for the non-Bordeaux wines remains the same. They have 2500 wines in the portfolio, including 1200 Bordeaux wines, but while remaining very Bordeaux-centered, the large number of other wines makes the shop nonetheless attractive to amateurs who prefer the other French regions. Beyond the Bordeaux they have 600 wines from other French regions, plus 300 Champagne wines (including grower Champagnes) and 400 French spirits (not counting the foreign wines and the foreign spirits, the best sales among the latter being the Japanese whiskies).
They have about 40 different magnums and also a few other extra-sized bottles.
They source all their wines directly from the wineries, not from intermediaries so that the origin of the wines is secure. A few prices among the top-end wines : Chateau d'Yquem les Saluces 1899 : 20 000 €, Ch d'Yquem 2000 : 600 €, Ch d'Yquem 2008 : 350 €, Chateau Mouton Rotschild 1945 : 45 000 €, Impériale [6-liter bottle] of Chateau Petrus, Pomerol 1989 : 60 000 €. These last two bottles are stored in the shade but the lighting in the old-Bordeaux section is designed not to be a danger for the wines.
Patrice Remaud says that in the last few years the wine region that progressed the most in the eyes of the wine amateurs is the northern Rhone, Côte Rotie, Cornas and Condrieu for example, he says that 10 years ago he'd not have believed that it'd be possible to display more than 10 Condrieu and 10 Côte Rôtie.
Here are a few prices picked randomly : Domaine Saladin, Paul, CdR 15 € - Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe CdP La Crau 2004 105 € - Domaine Alain Voge, Les Chailles Cornas 2012 36 € - Domaine Joblot Givry white Pied de chaume 2011 29 € - Macon La Roche Vineuse Vieilles Vignes 2009 Domaine Merlin 20 - Triple Zero La Taille aux Loup (Jacky Blot) 18 € - Domaine de Bellivière (Eric Nicolas) Calligramme Jasnières 39 € - Pur Sang Benjamin Dagueneau 2009 75 € - Domaine de la Butte (Jacky Blot) Bourgueil Mi-Pente 2011 22 € - Domaine des Roches Neuves (Thierry Germain) La Marginale Saumur-Champigny 2011 34,5 € - Chateau Simone Palette Rouge 2009 42 € - Domaine de Trevallon Provence Bouches-du-Rhône Rouge 2004 65 € - Jean-François Ganevat les Vignes de mon Père 2002 68 € - Ganevat Vin Jaune 2005 70 € - Jean Foillard 3.14 Morgon 2010 39 € - Les Fontanilles Minervois 2011 19 € - Ermitage du Pic-Saint-Loup Tour de Pierres 2012 12 € - Les Vignes Oubliées Terrasses du Larzac 2012 25 € - Leon Barral Faugères Jadis 2010 35 € - Le Clos des Fées 2008 Hervé Bizeul 65 € - Irouleguy Arretxea 2012 Cuvée Tradition 19 € - Clos des Boutes les Fagnes 2012 Costières de Nîmes 12,9 € - Castelmaure le Jardin du Paradis 2013 6,9 € - Domaine de l'Hortus Grande Cuvée IGP Val de Montferrand 2012 22 € - Domaine de la Romanée Conti Echezeaux Grand Cru 2000 1200 € - Domaine Faiveley Corton Grand Cru Clos des Cortons 130 € - Chateau de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2007 350 € - Maranges 1er Cru Le clos des Rois Domaine Nicolas Perrault 2011 25 € - Domaine Hubert Lamy Saint Aubin 1er Cru Derrière Chez Edouard Vieilles Vignes 2011 35 € - Yves Cuilleron La Petite Côte 2012 Condrieu 39 € - Domaine Christophe Semaska Lys d'Or 2011 42 € - Domaine Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches 2011 71 € - Mailly Champagne Blanc de Noirs 33 €. A few other artisan Champagne wines among others (but I didn't note the prices) : Suenen, Laherte Frères, Frerejean, Leclerc Briant, Lassaigne, Larmandier-Bernier, Palmer, Françoise Bedel, Jacquesson, Serge Rafflin, Pierre Gerbais, Bérèche & Fils, Vilmart, Pierre Peters, Langlet, Chartogne Taillet, Gimonet, Vergnon, Nominé Renard, Gonet.
La Cave as well as Lafayette Gourmet are Opened daily 8:30am-9:30pm, plus certain sundays
The event was an opportunity to drink several cocktails prepared by experienced bartenders who you can see at work on this video. You could sample all their products but to stay on my feet (you don't spit rum) I kind of limited my tries. One of the interesting cuvées (sort of) was their Cuvée de l'Océan which they say is made from sugar-cane fields surrounded by the sea, which yields this iode, mineral taste. I don't know if the sea can explain it but it's really gustatively interesting for a rum. They offered you oysters to eat while sipping this rum and yes, that pairs quite well. I realized also that rum is good also by itself, outside a cocktail.
Regarding the cocktails, you could get them at the bar where the bartenders concocted briskly the 6 cocktails on demand. I began with the one named "Old Fashioned", this was very bitter indeed, I'm not sure i started in the right order.
My second cocktail was Caribbean Mule, I didn't write any tasting comment, just that I loved it. Then Windmill, nice bitter cocktail. Then : Daiquiri, my top choice among these cocktails, fresh, easy drinking, with just the small bitter side to underline the drink. Last : Ti Punch, so good too, just silghtly-bitter enough to make this punch delightful. This is my second top cocktail of the evening, thanks to Emy, the bald guy on the video who did the magic.
They had a tasting counter upstairs to try the regular cuvées of Trois Rivières (not mixed), I tried only two rums among the many offered (I had to get back on my motorbike afterwards).
__ Trois rivières 12 ans, Rhum Vieux Agricole. 42 % alc. Not bad. I ask for a bit of water, just a few drops to get the right dilution : I might let down whisky for that...
__ Trois Rivières Rhum Vieux Agricole 1995. The nose is super exciting, love it, herbaceous, fresh nose, with orange peel and wood notes. It's made with a blend of three barrels, I'm told. Mouth : a bit too strong if drak pure, I ask for a few drops of water and it's just perfect, forget the whisky, I sign up...
Peeking into the world of additives manufacturers
this video promoting individual tablets of SO2 for barrels is interesting because you can see the bomb effect of the additive inside the barrel thanks to its glass wall. I'd be a winemaker having worked hard to raise this juice to the wine stage I'd feel bad looking at this tornado sweeping the until-then-quiet wine sleeping in its cask where it was probably bathing in its ethereal lees for a promising exchange. Looking at the self-
exploding dissolving pill fall into the bed of lees makes me uncomfortable although I know SO2 is used in many good wines including natually-made ones. Notice the easy side of these tablets, you don't have a permit (?!), to wear a gas mask or put hazmat protective gloves (meaning the wine will get all the stuff, not you). I love also the last image where you see the "modern" winemaker looking at shelves loaded with neatly-aligned additives packs...
Location map of the wine shop (73 Frishman street, Tel Aviv)
Same time of the year comes La Ficelle, the official day to release the Saint-Pourçain, a little-known appellation in the eastern Loire. The Vignerons de Saint-Pourçain
organized like every year a small event in Paris,
which took place in the
restaurant Mesturet, a traditionnal Paris bistrot and where people of the trade were invited for a no-fuss dinner. I usually prefer the white Saint-Pourçain and this proved true this time again (the 75-25% gamay-pinot noir could see some improvement). The white La Ficelle is made with Chardonnay (70 %) and the local variety Tressailler (30 %). It has this small 2-month élevage (it's not vinified on its wild yeast I'm afraid) after which it's released in the Paris cavistes & bistrots (see this Pdf page for the addresse where you can drink it). Saint-Pourçain is not far from the Auvergne and I guess that there's a tradition of the auvergnats who owned most of Paris cafés and bars to source their table wine in their own region which includes Saint-Pourçain.
Both the white and the red Saint Pourçain cost less than 5 € tax included (retail at the winery) which makes it still today a cheap table wine for bistrots.
The bottle has every year a direct printing on the bottle glass featuring a different humoristic drawing, and this year it was made by Lasserpe who along his job as winemaker in the Cotes de Castillon near Bordeaux also draws comics.
Two years ago I attended the 2012 Saint-Pourçain release with Willem who did the drawing.
I was invited in Paris recently at a professional tasting of Israeli wines organized by the Israeli trade office (you can see the participating wineries on the linked page). I could alas spend only little time as I went there after work, but part chance, part pertinent advice from other tasters I knew, I tasted several worthy wines, so I'm sorry for the ones I missed but here are a couple of wineries doing very good work.
Here was Assaz Paz from the Vitkin winery, whuich I happened to visit on my first trip to Israel in 2009. The facility was founded in 2001 in the village ov Vitkin in the Sharon region (page about Israel wine regions). Assaf Paz studied in Bordeaux, the winery makes wines from varietals that are still uncommon in Israel, like Carignan and Cabernet Franc.
__ Vitkin Carignan 2010 (there's some Grenache in there too), Carmel mountain. Vines aged about 40, not irrigated. A 15-hectoliter cuvée. No notes, sorry. 105 NIS-22 €.
__ Vitkin Cabernet Franc 2010 (with a bit of Petit Verdot). Vineyard in upper Gallilée, a cooler region (altitude) in the north very suited for grape growing. Not bad at all, nice substance in the mouth, nice chew. A real pleasure to swallow. 115 NIS - 24 €.
__ Vitkin Petite Sirah 2010. 100 % Petit Sirah, grown in the Samson region. Yields of 15 hectoliters/hectare. Good feel too, nice prence in the mouth, delicate and well balanced (not easy under Israel sun). 125 NIS - 26 €
Another nice discovery was Lueria, a winery that was established in 2000 in the Moshav Safsufa in lower Galilée and which works with a vineyard planted nearby by a farmer with several generations in grape growing there in upper Galilée at an altitude of around 900 meters. Yosef Sayada, the grandfather of the present generation (impersonated by Gidi who is now the winemaker) used to just grow the grapes along with fruit orchards and he was selling the grapes to good wineries of the region without really reaping the reward for his good vineyard work. The yearly production is about 50 000 bottles. Read this well-informed profile of Lueria. The young winery still sells part of its grapes to other wineries while stepping up its own bottle production.
__ Lueria Grand Vital 2008. 70 % Cabernet Sauvignon 20 % Merlot. Nice nose. The substance seemed a bit lacking to me, tto much filtration maybe. Still quite good especially that it costs about 15-16 € and there's a good balance and drinkability.
Here is indeed a winery doing a good job. Golan Flam and his brother Gilad are the second generation of Israeli winemakers, their father Israel who got his training at UC Davis in 1969 (one of the earliest Israeli to do so) has been participating to the nascent wine industry in Israel several decades ago, being the winemakers for several important wineries of Israel. The winery vineyards are located in both the Galilee and the Judean hills and the family takes care the vineyard management or at least oversees it totally as they pay the owner by the vineyard surface and not by volume of grapes, which allows them to keep the yields in check. Read this Flam winery profile. Here is another well-informed Flam profile.
__ Flam Classico 2012, Cab Sauvignon / Merlot / Petit Verdot. Vineyards in Judean hills (Jerusalem region). Not bad. There's a feel with a big concentration but with something saline which refreshes the whole mouth. There is alcohol in there but the wine glides well on the palate. Nice wine.
__ Flam Syrah Reserve 2011 (100 % Syrah), vineyards in upper Galilee. Mouth : nice delicate, alcohol not ovewhelming. Nice wine too.
__ Flam Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011 (upper Galilee). Very nice wine, even better than the two other, powerful, complex and enjoyable. I read that the winery is not shy of doing almost a year of additional élevage in bottles before relasing its wines (for its upper cuvées I guess).
The Burgundy maison Albert Bichot held a private tasting at the PLaza Athenée the other day. This event was intimate enough to motivate you and Bichot is a good négoce house, so I went there after work and parked my motorbike in a side street. The good thing is they have attentive staff to take care of your coat and helmet in these upscale hotels and you soon walk light and forget the cold drizzle outside on the Paris streets.
The wines wee spilt among 4 tables (2 for reds, 2 for whites), I walked to the first one where 7 bottles of reds were waiting for you.
__ Bourgogne Pinot Noir Secret de Famille 2012. Parcel blend from different villages. Fruity nose with inspiring cellar aromas (like old barrel). Mouth : sugary feel, a bit of astringency, the wine looks still young
__ Mercurey Domaine Adélie 2012. The nose is more discreet, less open. Mouth : nice substancen i like it. Sugary side too.
__ Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Cru "les Peuillets" (2012 I guess, didn't note the year). Nice vivid color with also tile nuances. The nose while also discreet expresses a nice depth, summer flowers notes. Mouth : you feel a serious wine just beginning its life, come back after a few years and this will be a nice experience.
__ Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Chateau Gris 2012. Monopole (I love this concept of monopole...). Nose : light oxidation feel which I like. Good length in the mouth, there's obviously more depth here, and the wine developped some maturity at the tasting, like if it was more free. I begin to let myself go, I drink the whole pour. Already vey good for a 2012. I've tasted the wine again later at the end and I think it's a very valuable wine, even if after the Echezeaux it pales a bit.
__ Pommard Clos des Ursulines 2012, Monopole, Clos des Pavillons. Nose quite generous and warmful, red of fruits including acidic cherries. Mouth : a bit stiff, needs to open, needs more time maybe. Astringency.
__ Corton Grand Cru clos des Maréchaudes 2022, Domaine du Pavillon. the nose isn't telling a lot. 3 minutes later : the nose yields an onctuous feel. Mouth : very pleasurable, nice one, even if not love at first sight.
__ Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens 2012, Domaine du Pavillon. 1st nose closed. Mouth : very nice one, with solid structure, you feel an elegant wine in the making. Again, come back in a few years for a great wine, in my opinion.
On the second, smaller table on the left they had 4 wines :
__ Vosne-romanée 1er Cru les Malconsorts 2012, Domaine du Clos Frantin. Warmful nose, on the register of generous ripe flowers. Color : tender leaning toward evoluted robe. Mouth : just delicious. I'll not spit here too, Vosne Romanée is really a happy wine whatever Domaine makes it...
__ Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux Saint Jacques 2012. The wine has a beautiful resonance in the palate, with length, the sucrosity is well blended to the rest. there's a good harmony and refineness in this wine. I notice that this particulat bottle is almost empty, it's a sign.
__ Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2012 Domaine du Clos Frantin. The bottlze has just been opened. Vinous nose with underwood notes. Mouth : a bit less seducing than the former, good chew but the wine is still too young to be appreciated.
__ Echezeaux Grand Cru 2012 Domaine du Clos Frantin. I sip directly : that's beautiful ! refined, delicate wine, the wine feels almost mineral, not fully saline but something in this direction. 2nd mouth : nice powerwith delicateness, I down the wine that I poured myself, I love this job ! B. who was working later just arrived and joins the fray, I kind of tell her which wines she can go to right away. They have some nice cheeses (Comté pairing well with all these wines for me) with different excellent breads which I learn are home-made in the hotel's kitchens (or they have an indoor bakery I don't know). I walked then to the table of Chablis, with two bottles:
__ Chablis 1er Cru les Vaillons 2012, Domaine Long-Depaquit. Nice richness and roundness in the mouth, very nice one, same satisfaction after second feel.
__ Chablis Grand Cru La Moutonne 2012, Monopole, Domaine Long-Depaquit. Bottle # 03683. Nose : honeyish with a bit of vanilla. Nice intensity and presence in the mouth, there's probably new oak there but well integrated/balanced with the other gustative parameters.
There's a last table in the bottom of the room with more whites.
__ Bourgogne Chardonnay Secret de Famille 2013. A bit too woody, not really interesting although there's a pleasant side on the first approach.
__ Mercuray Blanc 2012. Precise, focused nose, nice angularity. Very nice mouth feel and touch on the palate, with noticeable length. Quite a classy wine to swallow.
__ Beaune Premier Cru Blanc Clos des Mouches 2012, Domaine du Pavillon. The toasty side is may be too forward here.
__ Meursault 1er Cru les Charmes 2012, Domaine du Pavillon. Richness, a bit rtoo powerful maybe. Ripeness aromas.
__ Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vide-Bourse 2012. Not bad at all ! Nice minerality, and nice enjoyable palate touch again. Wood is noticeable here too, but well, still very nice. B. likes it good length too.
This was coincidental but thinking about it, I love this concept of tasting two groups of wines having nothing in common : it gives pepper to your 7-to-10-wine experience, when you stay on a given region, your palate gets more or less accustomed to a certain profile, and by disturbing this conventional order of things.
__ Shindo Funi, Tsu Bo Shiga [prefecture, I guess] Bailey A 100% 2011, the back label says "Classical Style" in English. Bailey A is an hybrid grape variety commonly found in Japan, it suits better the particular climate than standard European varietals. The robe has in incredibly vivid color which seems decupled by the turbidity, already a very exciting wine by its appearance. Nose : gentle light fruit with an affriolant (alluring) style that makes it lovely. Mouth : quite acidic with evoluted notes, not bad at all if atypical for our European wine culture...
This other wine was enlightening, it was a peek into the nascing community of natural wines "made in Japan", a pleasure. The Domaine Sogga is run by Sogga father & son. They're a small structure and don't usually receive visitors as they have to tend the vineyard and do some cellar work.
Here are the cavistes in Japan where you can find their wines.
__ Domaine Sogga 2012 Obuse winery. OMG, I can now read Japanese ! No, actually much of the label is written in French : Propriétaire-viticulteur à Nagano Obuse, Mis en bouteilles par Domaine Sogga - Vin sans Chimie [means I guess "no additives in this wine] -- Voluptueux -- Non Filtré [unfiltered]. The back label (pic on left) is all in Japanese, except for two words in French : Vin Naturel...
Color : darker compared with the previous wine. Nice power feel and balance, with a light sugary feel. The caviste at Nodaya said to B. that it's not enough that they don't use added chemicals [additives] in the wine, the wine must be good, and he pointed to this particular bottle. This is a blend of cabernet sauvignon & franc, barbera, pinot noir, tannat etc (seems that there is quite a number of varieties in there...
After that we sailed back into chartered waters with the Nouveau wines, the other people had chosen a bottle in
their local caviste :
__ Beaujolais Nouveau vignoble Bulliat 2014, in Villié Morgon. Organic vineyards. Nose : some sugary feel. Some banana notes. Disappointing. The odd thing considering how it tastes is that on the back label it is said to be hand picked, vinified naturally [means usually on indigenous yeast], without SO2 adding and no filtration. It is strange to drink a natural wine that tastes conventional.
__ Pierre-Marie Chermette (Domaine du Vissoux) Primeur Beaujolais cuvée vieilles vignes 2014.The back label says the vineyard is farmed in agriculture raisonnée [means, with some chemicals but in light doses], grapes are hand picked, the fermentation is natural, there's a light filtration and a minimum of SO2 is added. In the mouth and swallowed, the wine is so-so.
__ Chateau Basty, Beaujolais Lantigné Nouveau 2014. Red stripe across the label like on Champagne Mumm. No back label. At the top of the label, above a small coat of arms with a lamb you can read : Depuis 1482, sans tromperie (since 1482, without deception).
Now that's a nice Beaujolais Nouveau ! I didn't take other notes but this was obviously the best nouveau on the table.
__ Marcel Richaud Côtes du Rhône Nouveau 2014, grenache-syrah-cinsault. The back label says that the vinification is natural, the wine hasn't been polished with additives. They give the first names of the staff : Ali, Abdel, Marcel, Marie, Malik, Miwako, Marcos, Thomas, Claire, plus the pickers (not named). I understand that Claire Richaud who recently spent a year and a half at Lapierre is back in the family winery.
I didn't take notes on this wine (enjoying a tasting makes you skirt your homework) but I remember it was like often a bit too extracted and powerful compared to what I'm used in Nouveau wines.
It'd been a couple of years I hadn't been tasting wine on a barge and I managed to go there for a couple of hours last sunday (dec 14). The event is named "Vignerons en Seine", it lasted to days (dec 13 & 14) and you could find in there 25 winegrowers working organic, biodynamics and as far as I know natural regarding the vinification. The entry fee was 6 € and you were given a nice-quality tasting glass which you could keep afterwards. Beyond the romantic side of going taste wine in a barge along the Seine in Paris, the good point is that you could park your vehicule nearby and this was very convenient as you could buy wine to the vignerons at the domaine's rate. Many Parisians love this aspect and stock their cellar this way.
Here are the participatinf vignerons, some of whom you will regognize in this video :
Agnès Henry (Tour du Bon), Théophile Milan (Dom. Milan), Guillaume Lefèvre ( Dom. de Sulauze), Jean-Christophe Comor (Terres Promises), Domaine Cosse-Maisonneuve, Virginie Maignien (Causse Marines), D & P Cauvin (Ch. la Colombière), Jean-Claude Lapalu, Gautier Thevenet (Thevenet-Quintaine), Philippe Gourdon ((Ch Tour Grise), Patrick Baudouin, C & D Delécheneau (Grange Tiphaine), C&P Breton, paul Barre (Ch la Grave), Olivier Techer (Ch Gombaude Guillot, L. Alias & P. Choime (Closeries des Moussis, Vincent Quirac (Clos 19 Bis), Jean-Philippe Padié, Magali & Dominique Terrier (D. des Deux Anes), C. Farre & N. Gaignon (Vignoble du Loup Blanc), Pierre Frick, Jean David, Serge & Frederic Ferigoule, Marie-Laurence " Elisabeth Saladin, plus Brasserie de Sulauze (craft beer).
Let me find my short tasting notes of the few wines at tasted, soon to be added here.
With the end of the year approaching, more tastings and Champagne pops up. Caves Augé had again one of its sidewalk tastings with Champagne artisan vignerons pouring their bubbles for free to the well-informed visitors who made their way to the wine shop. The following Champagne artisan wineries were taking part : Agrapart, Chartogne-Taillet, Michel Drappier, Pierre Gimonet, Olivier Horiot, Jacquesson, Laherte Frères, Larmandier Bernier, Jacques Lassaigne, Georges Laval, Jérôme Prevost, Jacques Sélosse and Vouette et Sorbée.
I just tasted at a few stands because I had an evening with friends where I knew there'd be sake flowing, so I wanted to remain in shape and not mix excessively these two lovely beverages.
stop (actually my second, I first tasted a couple of wines by Vouette et Sorbée) was at Chartogne Taillet (profile by Skurnkik), which is run by 30-year-old winegrower Alexandre
Chartogne with deep roots in the Champagne viticulture. While is father was farming conventionally, he felt, as awine lover that he had to work differently and contacted Anselme Sélosse for advice and he trained there. He started making Champagne in 2006 at the age of 22 from vineyards mostly located around Merfy, an area which was considered the best terroir back in 1780. Alexandre says that he works every year with Claude & Lydia Bourguignon who come analyze his soils through deep-soil carrots. For me it is a sure sign that he cares with the soil life of his vineyard, which is a decisive parameter for the quality of the wine.
__ Champagne les Barres 2009. Unfiltered, 1300 bottles. Ungrafted Pinot Meunier planted on sandy terroir. Alexandre Chartogne says that ungrafted vines yield more sugar in the grapes, the wine before the 2nd-fermentation dosage makes about 9,9 % alcohol, so no chaptalization for the still-wine fermentation. Dosage : 3 grams. The wine is very enjoyable, with a nice chew. Price at Caves Augé that day : 44 €.
__ Champagne les Orizeaux 2009. Parcel of pinot noir planted in 1961. Very refined, with thin, discreet bubbles. Costs 39 € at Augé.
__ Champagne Heurtebise 2008., blanc de blancs (chardonnay). sandstone soil, more wet when it rains and a hot terroir on dry summers. Vines planted from 1972 to 1985. Extra-brut (2 grams). The mouth releases lots of aromas ! Nice length too, very nice Champagne ! Costs 32 € at Augé that day.
Pic on left : Marc Augé with Georges Laval.
The Agraparts have very deep roots in the Champagne viticulture. Pascal Agrapart manages a 10-hectare surface organically, using a draft horse for his plowings as for him the work on the soil is central, he doesn't use of course any herbicides or chemicals. Pascal Agrapart vinifies his cuvées parcellaires separately to let express the different terroirs. The 62 parcels of chardonnay are spread over 4 villages, Avize, Oger, Cramant, et Oiry.
__ Agrapart 7 Crus [7 villages], wines from 2011 & 2012. The mouth is very wine style, god pleasure to drink. Very discreet bubbles. Costs 33 € at Augé.
__ Agrapart Grand Cru Extra Brut 2008. Now, that is beautiful ! In the mouth you feel some mineral vibes, very nice Champagne. Costs 54 € at Augé.
__ Agrapârt Brut Nature Grand Cru Vénus 2008. No sugar added for the 2nd fermentation, that's why "nature". That's indeed a real "extra brut", tastes good, not that bone dry actually.
The Domaine Jacques Selosse was set up by Anselmz Selosse's father Jacques and it is well known for Anselme's non-interventionist approach and care about his tending the vineyard, which makes a total of 7,5 hectares and is split over 40 parcels near the villages of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Aÿ, Ambonnay and Mareuil. Anselme took over the domaine in 1974 but really changed the work style in 1988, with a focus on plowing and yields, and from 1993 with the help of Claude & Lydia Bourguignon he really put the undersoil forward, from what I read. He soon after used some biodynamics too and the result of all this led to quite exceptional wines, if unconventional on the tasting level, wines with more life, more minerality. Anselme's son Guillaume is now well in charge, and again I appreciate to see the winegrower in person in these street tastings.
__ Initial Champagne Grand ru, Blanc de Blancs. Base wine from 2007 with also wine from 2005 & 2006. Disgorged the 4th of june 2014. Mouth with noticeable life feel, nice sugary side. Dosage 4 grams (this could get into the category of extra-brut but they still put brut on the label). Costs 99 € at Augé.
Base wine from 2003 (50 %) plus all the reserve wines starting with the 1986. made along the solera technique in two foudres (large-capacity barrels) that are never empty, they keep topping them up when they take some wine out, there are lots of lees inside that "transmit" the heritage of the successive vintages. This is the iconic cuvée of Anselme's domaine. I asked at some point the policy regarding SO2 in the domaine, Guillaume said they just put some on the must and that's all.
The nose is quite exciting and pleasurable. Mouth : an energy you're not used to in a Champagne, this wine is really outstanding. No spit, even if the motorbike waits for me and I have to be sober for tonight. Costs 188 € at Augé, no need to say I wait these tastings to indulge in a few sips..
__ Les Carelles, Lieux dits on Mesnil sur Oger, Blanc de Blancs (100 % chard). Base wine 2007, with also wines blended in a 400-liter barrel with the solera method. This is a parcellaire cuvée from a climat. I didn't write tasting impressions and notes but this was certainly very enjoyable.
Riding my motorbike home, I was on a cloud and suddenly saw, like Zaz, Paris through rose-colored glasses...
[For those who don't know her, Zaz (alias Isabelle Geffroy) is a new phenomenon, some say a new Edith Piaf, she was revealed in 2008 through a tour in Russia where she is now a star]