Bd Haussmann, Paris
The Caves Augé, the respectable caviste and almost institution for its wine portfolio, has staged an unusual tasting event last saturday, with the theme "Boire Bon n'est pas un Luxe", meaning "drinking good wine is not a luxury". In short, all the wines presented there that day were artisan wines made without correction and that cost less than 10 € retail at the shop. All the wines were sold with a rebate, even those who were anyway under the 10-€ bar ayear around at the shop, and this promotion is to last until the end of june [I should be paid to write that...]. This type of tasting is useful because it reminds the man in the street that good wine can be had without spending a fortune, and if you go to these wineries directly to stock and fill your cellar you'll certainely spend even less. And even in Paris if you go to other cavistes in Paris specialized on artisan and natural wines (like Le Verre Volé, la Cave des Papilles, le Vin en Tête, Paris Terroirs, Crus et Découvertes or Au Nouveau Nez to cite a few, you'll samely find several good picks under 10 € [I feel obliged to add this line so that you don't see that I'm working undercover for Caves Augé...].
The tasting took place like usual at Augé on the sidewalk in front of the shop in a quiet part of the Bd Haussmann, it was free and going from 11 am to 6 pm. the weather was perfect, sunny and not to hot and like always at Caves Augé, the vintners were there in person to pour the wine and answer to the questions, something that for a change I consider like a priceless luxury and which is not that general at mainstream tastingss.
My first stop was randomly at the
table barrel of Fabien Jouves from the Cahors domaine Mas del Périé.
__This rosé is a Vin de France 2014 made from Malbec in cement tanks and vats, a rosé with an attractive color. Made from biodynamic grapes, unfiltered & unfined. Fabien Jouves took over the domaine in 2006 from his parents who sold the grapes to the négoce, he farms 25 hectares but he plans to downsize to 20 hectares in the near future. He makes 9 different cuvées, most of them thirst wines, but he says on certain years he makes 15 cuvées. Lightly perly, the wine got little SO2 (2 grams at bottling) and it probably almost vanished, the CO2 protecting the wine now. Nice rosé. The wine was advertised at 7,10 € in the shop.
__ Cahors Hautes Côtes de Fruit 2014, a red wine (Malbec again) made with a 7-day maceration and élevage in cement vat, the goal being to have a fruity wine. This is indeed a light fruity wine with a sugary side. Costs 6,59 € at the shop.
__ I also tasted his red Cahors les Escures 2014, one of his "Vins de Terroir" range. Malbec on kimmeridgian limestone soil. 30-day maceration, vines aged 25 like the other wines.A wine with obviously more minerality and even a saline touch in the mouth. Enjoyable wine with sapidity and nice roundness.
Costs 8,20 €. Good deal for sure.
Fabien Jouves says that he makes the same cuvées without SO2, meaning there's a batch with a small adding and another without any.
The domaine la Paonnerie is located in the Muscadet regin in western Loire. Jacques Carroget is the 5th-generation winegrower of a deep-rooted family between Nantes and Angers on the right bank of the Loire.
__ Muscadet 2013, cuvée "Rien que Melon", made with Melon de Bourgogne of course (aged 30). Color : gold. Nice Muscadet with a pleasant coating of the palate. A bit oxidative, nice concentration with roundness the wine got no SO2 added. Mr Carroget says that his wine farm is at the eastern end of the appellation and the climate is less oceanic, yielding wines that have a different character as a result, plus the vinification style is closer to Anjou which is virtually next door. Also, contrary to the mainstream Muscadet, Jacques Carroget wines do their malolactic, which brings this pleasant roundness. Asked if because of that it is difficult for him to get the AOC, he says that it is tricky sometimes and some years he bottles without it. Price tag : 9,99 €.
__ Simplement Gamay, Coteaux d'Ancenis 2013. Gamay of course. Historically his region at the limit of Muscadet and Anjou had a majority of reds because the soil is good for that. Actually the Muscadet area and the Coteaux d'Ancenis area overlap, you get the respective appellation depending if you make gamay or melon de Bourgogne.
Bottled in june 2014. Traditional pressing, one month in fermenter. Delicious wine, light tannin grip, delicate aromas that fill the mouth, the whole thing with an aerial feel of lightness. No gaz. Was lightly filtered with cellulose but got no SO2 at all and frankly when you swallow this you'd swear it was unfiltrated. Very nice discovery, costs 9,99 €.
Jean-Christophe Comor of Domaine des Terres Promises was there too, always a pleasure to drink his wines. Jean-Christophe makes wine in a forested part of Provence in the Var département. He also makes Bandol now.
__ A Bouche que Veux tu, a white Vin de Pays de la Sainte Baume made from Vermentino and Clairette, he makes this cuvée since 2010. Neat, focused wine with a nice concentration. Costs 9,52 €.
-- L'Apostrophe, Coteaux Varois rosé 2014, made from Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, direct press. Filtrated. Nice gliding feel on the palate, sapidity, delicious rosé. Costs 10,63 €.
__ Antidote 2013, Vin de Pays de la Sainte Baume. Carignan. Lightly turbid. Sugary side with a chalky touch in the mouth, very enjoyable, a great value, the type of wine you can sip without limit. Costs 9,78 €.
I stopped then at Causse Marines from the Gaillac region (south west), Virginie Maignien had made the trip to Paris, she gave me a few news about the 12-hectare domaine, I learn that they don't have this cute dog that impressed me a couple years ago. Virginie's eyes are as blue as ever, no change on this side...
__ Les Greilles, Gaillac 2014, a white made from Mauzac (50 %), Loin de L'Oeil and Muscadelle. Nice energy and vibes in this wine, with a light sugary side. Good balance and nice touch in the mouth. Lively, gouleyant wine. Costs 9,99 €.
__ Les Peyrouzelles, Gaillac 2014, a red made from Syrah, Duras and Braucol. Short maceration (1 week to 10 days) and then élevage in vats. Usually bottled in august but as they were short of wine they bottled a first batch early april. Unfiltered, should be at 10 or 12 total SO2, only at bottling. Some sweet feel in the mouth. Costs 9,90 €.
The next cask was the one of Guy Jullien (or he shared the same cask with Virginie I don't remember) who makes wine in the southern Rhône near the Dentelles de Montmirail. His domaine de la Ferme Saint-Martin sits in a picturesque setting of hills and Meditteranean bushes and trees. He told me his son has been gradually replacing him along the last years (he works along since 2008).
__ Estaillades 2014, bottled around april 20. Grenache 90 % Counoise 10 %. His parcel of Counoise is still young but the goal is to bring fruit into the blend and also moderate the alcohol of the Grnache. Years ago this cuvée was made with Grenache only. Nice nose with dust notes and garrigue. The mouth is in line with the nose. He made 7000 bottles of that. 14 % alc. but goes down pretty well. Unfiltered. Feels very fresh with spicy notes. Asked about the Suzukii drosophilia in his region he says that they had some but only on cherry trees.
The wine costs 9,36 €.
You certainly remember Gilles Bley whom I visited at Clos Siguier recently, he was there too, with pauline, they had made the long trip from the south-west in train and were to go back home the next day. He told me that this evening all the vignerons and the wine shop staff would go eat at La Pointe du Groin in the 10th arrondissement, certainly a very good reference in terms of artisanal wine (I guess they all would bring their own wines anyway that evening). Gilles says that otherwise he also comes to Paris for the Salons des Vignerons Indépendants, the one at Porte de Versailles (late november) and the one at Porte de champerret (late march), very good deal to buy wine there as you pay the wines at the domaines' rate (see an old story of mine here).
__ Clos Siguier 2011. Still good since last time I visited the domaine. Nice touch and texture in the mouth with dust notes, nice drinkability, what else, a good deal. Costs 8 € at the wine shop.
François Decombe is making wine in Cotes de Bordeaux, in Blaye. Some of his wines are labelled as Vin de France (table wine) because he faces trouuble regularly with the syndicat (the regional appellation authority) and the INAO because his wines are different as a result that he doesn't put sulfites in his wines. After years of repeated hurdles he opted to have wine bottled as table wine instead. Another story about the appellation body (which is managed by fellow, conventional vignerons) resisting truth and a no-correction approach in wines... The 6-hectare domaine was created in 2004, it is farmed organic and biodynamic and makes 4 cuvées, one Blaye, one Bordeaux and two table wines.
__ Sauvignon 2011, vin de France. Nose : very atypical for a Sauvignon, very ripe, with notes of raisins, oxidative notes. No SO2 at all. François says that it's pîcked ripe, pressed very slowly with an old cage press, put into vats without débourbage because there is almost no bourbes as a result of the slow press. Stirring during the first fermentation and the wine is then left alone, malolactic is completed (in the region they pick earlier to stay on vegetal notes and they block the malolactic). One-year élevage. 12,5 % alc. Costs 9,99 €.
__ Bordeaux Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux 2013. Merlot with 10 % Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfiltered, unfined, less than 10 mg SO2 total at bottling. Not typically Bordeaux, more on the fruit and freshness side. Thin tannins wrapped in delicious sweetness, the whole thing coating nicely the palate. This wine is in AOC, but not without difficulty, he says. The full lab analysis of his wines can be found on the Guide Vin et Santé. Costs 8 € at the shop.
Chateau Le Puy is a long-lineage family domaine (since 1610) and it is a reference in Bordeaux for it biodynamic farming and no correction, no-additives vinification. Along these 14 generations of owners they never used a chemical molecule on the vineyards, which is pretty rare especially during the 2nd half of the 20th century for a major winery. Frédérique who works for Le Puy presented here a wine from a domaine also owned by Chateau Le Puy.
__ Chateau Le Puy Duc de Nauves Bordeaux Côte de Francs 2011. This is an entry-level cuvée which goes mostly abroad on the export markets. Made from mostly young vines (20 years) that are in organic conversion, a one-block vineyard making about 5 hectares. Blend majority Merlot (85 %) plus Cabernet Sauvignon on clay/limestone. Vinified in cement vats. There's an alcoholic touch but the tannins are onctuous with also a lactic side and a sugary feel. Costs 7,5 €.
The Domaine Jean-Baptiste Sénat is located in the Minervois, Languesdoc, and the varieties are Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and Syrah. Here again it's hand picked, organic and natural vinification with wild yeast.
__ Arbalète and Coqueliquots 2014, IGP Aude. Blend of Grenache and Syrah, whole-clustered grapes vinified in vats, 7 to 14 days maceration. The color is relatively light (this is Grenache and also they don't look for extraction) Feels a bit high on alcohol for me. Costs 9,61 €.
Matthieu Dumarcher is a young vigneron who makes wine in La Baume de Transit east of the Rhône river. He farms 5 hectares in total (started in 2006) and does all the vineyard work by himself (organic of course, no pesticide no herbicide).
__ Léon & Séraphin, Vin de France (table wine) 2014. Unfined, unfiltered. Grenache Syrah blend, picked relatively early, partly carbonic maceration, no extraction. Well-focused wine, balanced with an acidity edge, quite good. 12,5 %, and it's from the Rhône. Costs 9,7 €.
__ Zinzin, Vin de France 2014, samely organic and unfined & unfiltered. Grenache on garrigue soils with lots of stones and Syrah on colder soils. Destemmed, 10-day vatting. Darker wine. More saline, mineral. You feel the alcohol but still, very nice wine because of this fresh, mineral feel. Not on the list for that day, I don't know the price.
__ Vin Rouge, Côtes du Rhône 2013. The other cuvées could be in Côtes du Rhône appellation as well but he decided to have them labelled as Vin de France when they're atypical. He says the Côtes du Rhône AOC body has made ther choice to produce wine for the supermarket shelves and he feels he doesn't fit with these wines as they favor technical choices, irrigation and so on. Because of this he likes making table wine where he feels free from this normative pressure.
Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Samely unfiltered, unfined. Refined wine with a dust tannin feel and the acidity that wraps the whole thing. Nice wine again, check out this guy.
Alsace was also proudly represented in the person of Christian Binner, one of the leading names in Alsace for natural wine. He brought only one cuvée from his wine rage because the theme of the day was under the 10-€ bar.
__ Alsace Les Saveurs 2012. It's not displayed on ther label but it's an Edelzwicker, this Alsace blend made with the region's white varieties, a type of cuvée considered minor on the market but which can be so delicious when made by uninterventionist winemakers doing a good job in the vineyard. Edelzwicker is generally bottled in one-liter bottles but here it's 75 cl. It is unsurprisingly delicious ! Coats so beautifully the palate and throat, gorgeously fruity. Christian jioked that this cuvée is like his trash bin, he puts in there what he condiders not being good. When you drink that you realize that these people have very high demands in terms of quality, I'd drink this Edelzwicker every day. Hand picked when ripe and one-year élevage. Costs 8,89 €.
Here we are at Hervé Villemade from the Sologne (Loire), and I learn that the domaine's name is not anymore Domaine du Moulin (I always used Hervé Villemade instead anyway), the reason being that he chose the name because there was an old moulin (windmill) nearby but the owners (who don't even make wine) were opposed to his use of this name referring to the windmill. Pretty shabby but anyway we prefer to say Hervé Villemade. Hervé brought 4 wines which doesn't surprise me because his wines are among the most affordable natural winers around. Hervé Villemade has quite a number of cuvées overall, he made 10 in 2014, from a vineyard surface of 22 hectares, plus he buys grapes.
__ Sauvignon Blanc 2014. Hervé says that the vintage is good but that the volume is low, especially on the Sauvignon. The skins were very thick due to the dry months before the harvest and the result was low yields in terwarful, a nicely open wine, very nice. These are purchased grapes. Costs 8,75 €.
__ Cheverny Rosé 2014, half gamay half pinot noir, direct press (no maceration at all). Neutral-glass bottle. Nice, tastes like a white I think when tasted blind, gets swallowed quite easily, these northern rosés are often good. I asked about the Suzukii drosophilia and Hervé says they weren't bothered with this problem in his area. The rosé costs 9,78 €.
__ Cheverny Rouge 2013. 20 % Gamay plus 80 % Pinot Noir, usually on a normal year it's 60 % Pinot Noir and 40 % Gamay. This vintage was very difficult and as a result they bottled a single red cuvée in 2013 using the best surviving grapes for the red and the rest for the rosé. They had frost in spring then rain all summer. Nice color, lightly turbid, aromas like peony, very seductive and gentle. Very good indeed. Costs 10,63.
__ Cheverny Rouge 2014, back to the usual blend proportion in 2014. I prefer te 2013, the 2014 has a sugary edge compared the former.
Here is a domaine from the Fitou appellation in the Languedoc the domaine is Les Fenals. Fitou is the oldest appellation of the Languedoc, and when I really began to buy wine of my own in my 20s' this was one of the appellations I liked along Faugères a&nd Saint-Chinian because the wines there were both affordable and authentic.
The weather in the region is dry and healthy and they farm organinc, even eschewing the Bordeaux mix for the sprayings. No lab yeast, no enzymes, all the work is in the vineyard and in the cellar she does long élevages (often 18 months), no wood. Marion says that they make 10 different cuvées from the 12-hectare domaine, varrying some of the cuvées. She took over the family domaine from her mother and works with her husband Mickael.
__ Fitou 2011. Carignan (50 %), Grenache 40 %) and Syrah (10 %), vinifie separately and blendfed later. Fitou is always a red blend. Elevage 18 months in cement tank. Some tannic touch, good length. Costs 6,65 €. Still available in Paris but sold out at the domaine. SO2 50 mg total, they're quite obliged to put some because the outside temperature is often 40 ° C (104° F). They use small teams of locals because they decide almost a few hours ahead for tyhe picking time of each parcel and they can't but use locals that are available instantly (other domaines often hire groups of foreigners from Spain or Poland but you have to plan ahead and employ them for a continuous duration, which isn't adaped with their stretched small parcels ripening at different time.
My next and last move was at Clos Fantine with Corine Andrieu. The domaine Clos Fantine is from the Faugères appellation, another authentic wine region of Languedoc. The domaine is managed by 2 sisters and their brother, its vineyard surface is 22 hectares, mostly on slopes, with among the parcels some 100-year-old carignan. No herbicide no chemicals, no fertilizers, some plowing but not every year. Speaking of sulfure or copper sprayings, very seldom, maximum 2 and none if the usual dry weather prevails.
__ Faugères 2013, a red made of Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre on shist. Destemmed, maceration for 5 to 6 weeks in traditional cement tanks, on which no pumping over, no punching, nothing. 18-month élevage, was bottled may 13 2015. No filtration, they just racked with the upper tap on the tank to leave the lees in the bottom. This wine costs 9,95 €.
Almost tasted everything this time, the other casks where I didn't taste were for :
__ Domaine du Tertre, Perche (cider), cidre du Perche acidulé at 6,25 € -- Cidre du Perche at 6,25 €.
__ Brasserie la Pigeonelle (beer from the Loire), Bière la Loirette (33cl) at 2,17 €.
__ Chateau Bas (Coteaux d'Aix en Provence)
Rosé 2013 at 6,42 € -- White 2014 at 6,46 € -- red 2011 at 6,42 €.