La Bellevilloise, Paris 20th arrondissement
I managed to go to the Salon Rue89 in early may, this is now an established natural wine fair in Paris (this was the 3rd year) where you can also buy these totally-uncorrected wines directly from the vignerons at the domaine's price, a real bargain. For 10 € on sunday (it was free on monday for professionals) you'd get a glass emblazoned with the proud logo and access to 70 natural-wine domaines (see list at bottom) and their wines (often generous pours) on the two floors of the Bellevilloise. I didn't have too much time because I had something scheduled in the afternoon but it was enough to make nice discoveries.
Here is for example a new name on the map of Muscadet, although all their wines are labelled a Vin de France (table wine) if I'm correct : Complémen'Terre, a domaine managed by Marion Pescheux and Emmanuel Landron, who is the son of Jo Landron, a rather good reference in the Muscadet and both worked in different domaines and travelled abroad like in New Zealand and Chile. They are located 25 km south of Nantes, they started their domaine a year ago and already work on 8 hectares of vineyard and making 9 cuvées for their first vintage....
What was a bit difficult was to find a building for the facility because the real estate pressure is high in the vicinity of Nantes. Marion & Emmanuel are passionated by winemaking and travelled a bit around wine so they wanted to experiment with so many cuvées, including 2 sparklings with Melon and one with Gamay.
__ La Croix Moriceau 2014, Muscadet, vines on clay/orthogneiss and amphibolite underneath. It was not difficult to find parcels because they're both from the area. They work differently than Jo Landron, they look for their style, but they still depend on him for the machines and tractors.
The wine is vinified Muscadet style on interred vats. On this wine very low yields because they lost much fruit to the grape worm, otherwise the yields are about 35 to 40 ho/ha. They made here 50 hectoliters on a 2,5-hectare parcel of Melon de Bourgogne. Light wine, a bit watery to me. Costs 10 € at domaine.
__ Nolem, Vin de France (table wine) 2014 (lot number), Melon de Bourgogne on sandstone vinified in barrels. Labelled table wine because they didn't want to go through the administrative hurdles of asking for the AOC, the wine being vinified in barrels and with very little SO2 (2 grams at bottling) there might have been trouble ahead at the agreement commission. They do a light earth filtration. Expressive, open nose, fruity. Costs 14 € retail.
__ 68 Ares, Vin de France 2014, a cuvée made with Folle Blanche grapes (the ones used for Gros Plant). The group of 2 parcels (40 and 50 y old) makes 68 ares of course (but in French phonetically these words can be heard like soixante-huitard, a term for people still living in the 1960s' ideals. Unfiltered and no added SO2. They made 20 hectoliters of that. Really a thirst wine, very easy drinking, with pleasant feel of juice in the mouth. Lovely wine compared to the regular, cheap Gros Plant on the market. Here the malolactic is done and thus it wouldn't pass the AOC agreement (Gros Plant is supposed to be very sharp-edged and acidic). Costs 11 €.
__ Gamay 2014, Vin de France (table wine). They couldn't find any red near where they are and they found this gamay to rent in the Coteaux d'Ancenis. Destemmed, put in a vat for 2 weeks without moving, and élevage in 600-liter barrels. 15 hectoliters. Mouth : nice wine, a bit sugary. Unfiltered and sulfur free, costs 11 €. U
Believe it or not, they already export, to the U.S. (Selection massale) and Japan (Racines)
I stopped at the table of Stekar, a wine farm in Slovenia. This was monday and the event had just opened its doors. Stekar is located on the Western part of Slovenia near the Italian border. Tamara's husband Janko has 10 generations of winegrowers behind him in the same village of Kojsko. While his grandfather was making wine and selling the wine in bulk, the communist regime stopped all that and Janko's father had to give most of the grapes to the kombinat. Tamara and Janko established again a wine farm in 1990/1991, selling the wine in Slovenia at the beginning, then when they switched to natural winemaking they had a limited potential market in Slovenia because the mindset of consumers was very "traditional" and closed, so the looked beyond the small country for export. the switch from conventional to natural was in steps, beginning with the vineyard management and continuing with the cellar, the final touch being in 2000 when they stopped using lab yeast.the vineyard surface is now close to 5 hectares, plus orchards. They also make grappa.
__ Re Pico 2009, white wine made of Riesling plus 15 % of Picolit, a local variety. Macerated with skins, this is traditional in Slovenia but only for 5 days, and for this wine they had a 24 days of maceration in wood. 3 years barrel élevage. Vivid golden color, a white with a tannin touch in the mouth. Full-mouthed and rich.
Costs 18 € retail.
__ Rebula Prilo 2007, Prilo is the parcel name, Rebula is Ribolla in Slovenian, a local variety. Single-parcel wine. More or less same vinification, with 3 years in barrels. Impressive nose.
Speaking of the AOC system there, Tamara says that for some time they asked for the Appellation but they got the same problems and hurdles that winegrowers making uncorrected wine face in Italy or France, with the agreement commission in their region looking for "classic" expression obtained with selected yeast, they'd find their wine too strange. She says that when they pour their Rebula to old people or growers from the region they marvel and say that this is the Rebula they remember having had in their youth, but for the AOC people consider these aromas unfit. So that's been 5 years that they do without the AOC. Light bitterness feel in the mouth (tannin), structure of a red wine, with minerality. Soils here is sedeimented marls.
__ Pinot Draga 2009, Draga is the parcel and the variety is Pinot Gris. 16-day maceration, 3 years in barrels. Color : onion peel, between a rosé and a red (pic on right). Very classy mouth, majestic feel with minerality and length. Very nice. This is a namizno (table wine). Costs 18 €, they make 500 to 1000 bottles of this.
__ Kuislo 2008, a white made of Chardonnay, Kuisko being the name of the parcel. A bit turbid, she says usually she decants. Very enjoyable to swallow, neat and long in the mouth.
__ Merlot 2008, a red with an evoluted color, and not dark. Nose with peony notes, very feminine. Mouth : Quite powerful, very round, a bit burning with alcohol. Late harvest, with botrytis and skin already damaged. Special wine that should go well with cheese I think.
They also do B & B at Stekar.
The Domaine de Brin is located in the Gaillac appellation, which is itself part of the Sud-Ouest wine region, east of Bordeaux. I discovered their wines a while ago and felt they stood out. Both Damien and Cathy were there in Paris at the salon Rue89 to present and sell their wines. They began with 6 hectares and now work on 9 hectares, plus 3 hectares that are being replanted.
__Pierres Blanches 2014, Gaillac AOC a white blend of 2/3 Mauzac and 1/3 of Len de l’El, both being local varieties of Gaillac. The mouth is not very expressive. 2nd mouth : nice richness, but light wine overall. 13 % in alc. Has been filtered. Yields : 40 ho/ha. Almost no SO2 : 17 mg total. Damien says that this year he plans some Mauzac Rose to make a bubbly, he will plant it exposed east, that should yield good results.
__ Vendemia 2013, Gaillac AOC, a red made with Duras (local variety) and a bit of Merlot, vinified in vats (no wood). Fruity, the wine is vivid and fresh, with some tannin grip. Unfiltered. SO2 : less than 10 mg total. The sulfites are undected in the lab analysis, so he doesn't print "contains sulfites" on the label.
__ Anthocianes 2013, Gaillac AOC, a red made with 70 % Braucol (another local variety also going under the name of Fer Servadou) and 30 % Syrah. Vinified in 500-liter casks, 5 to 6 years old. Bottled in september 2014. Enjoyable nose.
__ Brin de Temps 2013, Gaillac AOC. Unlike the webpage info, Damien says this red is Duras with Cabernet Sauvignon, usually it's Duras with Braucol but in 2013 the Braucol had a big coulure (flowering) problem. Color is darker here. Nose : deeper, more intense, quite appealing, with flower notes and complexity. Elevage in casks (7 or 8 years old). Very nice, I like that, no spit. Bottled march/april 2015. Costs 14 € tax included, he made 3000 bottles of this (22,5 hectoliters).
Romain Zordan started to work on his father's wine farm (Chateau de Grand Pré) in 2012 in the Beaujolais, From what I understand he gradually works some of the vineyards of his father Claude (16 hectares originally, vines aged 60 +). Today, out of 8 hectares, he makes some Fleurie and Morgon. The domaine is organic since 2008 (Ecocert).
__ Chateau de Grand-Pré, Beaujolais 2014. Nice nose. Looks like filtered but nothing is filtered. Not particularly exciting.
__ Fleurie 2014. Vinified in cement vats. Not bad, but not exceptional.
__ Morgon 2014. Now that begins to be serious. Light sugary feel, my system likes this wine for sure. Poor soils. Vinified in 70-hectoliter cement vats. Carbonic maceration like all the cuvées here. 6000 bottles in all. Costs 12 € retail, good deal.
__ Fleurie cuvée Spaciale 2013. 24 day cold maceration in refrigerated room (12 ° C to 14 ° C). No SO2 at all, anytime. 7-month élevage in 1/2 muids (made in 2004). Mouth : what a fruit ! Minerality feel too. Very nice wine, must try. Costs 15 € tax included (Pro price 8,5 €). More or less 2000 bottles a year.
Webpage with the domaine's cuvées
I stopped at the domaine Antoine Sunier from Beaujolais, this is Antoine's first vintage, the domaine has been created from scratch (no inheritance or post-retirement purchase). He was helped by his brother who is a vigneron since 2008 (6 hectares, organic farmed) and he 4 hectares, also organicly. His parents were not in the wine trade, his father was hairdresser in Dijon, Burgundy. His brother was the first to come to Beaujolais in 2003, working in the wine trade before setting up his winery. Antoine was originally an executive in the phone business but came regularly to the Beaujolais to help his brother, and at the end he was hooked on this different life, quit his job, enrolled at a wine school in Beaune and set up his domaine last year (2014). His surface is made of rented vineyards (fermages). His first released wine was a Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Fleurie) last october 2014, and much of it was exported to Japan.
__ Beaujolais Villages 2014, made with parcels from Régnié, bottled in april. Elevage in Vat, unfiltered. 10 mg SO2 at bottling. carbonic maceration, like for his other cuvées. No additives of course, wild yeast only. Good nose, good omen for the following. Made with a parcel of young vines (30 years) on flatland near Régnié, the parcel being in organic conversion (no insectiocide, no herbicide, he plows).
__ Morgon 2014, not bottled yet (cask sample). He uses old Burgundy barrels. He made a miniature blend (80 % cask & 20 % vat) to reflect the final blend. Should be bottled when this story is published. The nose is suave and discreetly complex. Man, that's good ! 60-year old vines, from a good terroir he rents and which has been organic for 10 years. What we taste here had zero added SO2 and at the end he'll add 10 mg. Volume : 8000 bottles (his total volume for his young domaine is 20 000 bottles).
__ Régnié 2014, cask sample, 90 % of (old) casks for this cuvée. Was to be racked the following day when he'd be back at the domaine and the bottling will be one moon later. Sugary feel, appealing mouth. Mineral feel, he says the soil is very stony with the rock plate at a shallow depth. Parcel making 1,8 hectare, 45 years old. I prefer his Morgon actually.
When I stopped at Pierre Guigui's table, he was chatting with Guillaume Dupré, Guillaume being the owner of Coinstot Vino, one of the best spots for natural wine in Paris where you can eat good stuff and also buy wine to go (very convenient in the late hours).
Pierre Guigui whe was formerly the wine director at Gault & Millau (he may still be, I have to check) has set up an artisanal brewery (la Mousse à Zigui) with the focus of making beers that can pair with food, and this, using biodynamic ingredients, which is a first in France. Pierre sources his biodynamic malt in Germany, that's the only place you can find it. He uses 3 different hops, no American or NZ hops. He use Opal hops from Germany, also Strisselspalt from Alsace and the 3rd is Saze (the one you use for Pilzen).
Pierre's beers are bottled in 33 cl.
__ Etienne, this is the first beer using malt farmed on biodynamics. In French we use to toast saying "Etienne, à la tienne !, that's why the name. He uses 250 kg of malt to make 1000 liters of beer. Making 1000-liter batches allows him to work manually. This is an apéritif beer, he says. Nice blond beer, onctuous feel.
__ Océane, named such because he designed it to pair with sea food. Super good beer. He makes his beer in the Berry in central France (south of the Loire region), near a village named Sancoins. Pierre says that they use lots of barley malt and because of that you have a length in the mouth not based on bitter notes but on the substance. This is a full-mouthed beer in other words. Quite onctuous for a beer. He says the beer is on the register of tenderness, not bitterness, this is because they don't put the hops at cold temperature to get vegetal aromas (tomato stem), they put the hops at hot temperature. They added some lemon and ginger to make the beer more exciting.
Speaking of the containers he says he just received 2nd-hand barrels (3-year old) from Chateau d'Yquem and he's working on a recipe for the beer to go in these barrels. The wood will bring a structure and a sugary note in the beer which he thinks will be interesting.
I stopped to the table next to Pierre Guigui as he told me this young guy had several nice wine (I tend to trust Pierre regarding wines and he whispered me these intriguing wwords : this is like the beginning of Frick...). Florian Beck-Hartweg works on his parents' domaine in the village of Dambach, this is really a family domaine as you can feel when you look at this harvest picture and this other one shot at lunch in the wine-farm courtyard, so far away from the hype of many recognized estates. The vineyard surface of the wine farm is 6,5 hectares all in ownership and they have much of the surface on Grand Cru Kranstein. I only tasted 3 cuvées here because of lack of time.
__ Granit 2013, Vin d'Alsace, a blend of their best parcels on granit soils outside of the Grand Cru. Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot noir, unfiltered and no SO2 added. Beautiful juice, the wine is alive and fresh, nice chew with a great saline feel. 90 liters or 1200 bottles. Florian says that this pure saline energy of the wine comes typically from the granite soils. 1o months élevage in foudres, the fermentation having lasted about 6 months. He makes just one racking and he bottles the following day. The wine is a bit turbid, but Florian says the goal is not to have a perfectly-translucent wine but to respect the substance in the wine and the complexity, and they don't filter. That's the first vintage of this cuvée, they wanted to make a try and as it's interesting they're going to repeat it next year. Costs 12,5 € tax included.
__ Pinot Noir 2011, Vin d'Alsace, with a neutral-glass bottle. Delicate flowery notes, the color looks a bit evoluted, lightly turbid too. Man, that's good ! I really love these Alsace pinots noirs, that's delicious. there's a nice delicate texture in the mouth, you drink that so naturally... And costs 10,2 €, really a good deal. SO2 : 2gr/hectoliter at bottling. 15 hectoliter volume.
__ Pinot Noir "F", from the Grand Cru parcels with a stony, granite soil, but the wine can't be labelled as Grand Cru, that's why the cuvée name "F" like Frankstein. Unfiltered and no added SO2. Vinification : 10 day maceration and one-year élevage in old foudre (one century old !). Very classy wine in the mouth. costs 13,4 €.
My next stop was for the wines of Jeff (Jean-François) Coutelou, of Mas Coutelou in the Languedoc. He was supposed to be there but he was probably tasting a fellow vigneron at another table, so instead of him holding these nice cuvées you'll have the picture of the nice woman who handled his stand (she's a caviste if I remember). The domaine makes 13 hectares, and the vineyards are farmed organic since 1987. All the cuvées are either without SO2 or very little, and only at bottling. The domainer makes 8 to 10 cuvées total, all labelled as table wine.
__ Cuvée PM, Vin de France 2014, a rosé made with Cinsault, Oeillade, Muscate and Grenache Noir.Nice rosé, interesting structure, no sugary side. Makes 11 % in alcohol.
__ 5 SO Simple, a wine made from Cinsault (phonetically in French, 5 SO sounds like Cinsaumt). No SO2 at all. Nice exciting color, rather translucent, turbid too. Swallowed : very enjoyable, that's what I'd call a lovely wine, you get yopur glass empty so quickly. I can't believe the price here at the Salon Rue89 : 7,4 € tax included. She says at the domaine it's 8 €, still a good deal. Makes only 11,5 % alcohol and this is a Languedoc wine...
__ Le Vin des Amis, Vin de France. Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. Darker wine, the mouth is higher in alcohol and more sweet.
__ Syrah de Printemps 2014, Vin de France. Just bottled. Not yet settled she says. Nice wine though, we can guess the potential after a couple of months, time for it to recover.
__ Classe. Nice nose with ripe flowers. Lots of freshness, some tannin grip on the side of tyhe mouth. Quite good. 13,5 % alcohol.
Here are a few prices for Mas Coutelou's wines.
This is the crowded table of Vincent Bourse, the man behind the domaine Le Sot de L'Ange. The domaine which started in 2013 is farmed on biodynamics and it is located in Touraine (Loire) near Azay le Rideau.
__ Rouge G 2014, Vin de France. Grolleau and Gamay, vinified together. The Grolleau de Cinq Mars is a parcel on the other side of the Loire, it is an ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vineyard. Unfiltered, unfined and no SO2.3 Quentin says that the wine is easy to drink but difficult to make, you have to pick very healthy fruit, avoid overmaturity, and he works totally nature, without additive. Some tannic feel on the side of the mouth. Not bad. Costs 10 € tax included.
__ La Couture, Rosé 2014, Val de Loire Azay-le-Rideau. This is Grolleau de Cinq Mars, on a very nice terroir. I don't know if it has to do with this terroir but that wine tastes good, nice rosé, quite powerful but fresh. There's a bit of Chenin in here too. Soil : flintstone (silex) and hard clay (you can break the blades when it's dry). Costs 12 € tax included.
__ Azium, a red. Majority of Côt plus Cabernet Franc. Picked grape per grape, 10 hour work for 25 pickers and a surface of 80 ares, 4 sortings before going into the fermenter, and after that élevage in 150-liter terracotta vessels.
Quentin says that on the appellation area of Azay-le-Rideau, near the domaine in the village of Cheillé, archeologists found the remains of a press dating from the 2nd century, it's a large stone base which was part of the press. 1500 bottles in all. When you sip the wine I swear you feel all the work behind it, very rare and classy wine, my stomach makes the typical noise when it gets something great, like if it was hungry suddenly... Costs 25 € tax included. Wax sealed. Very nice wine.
The organizer and founder of the Rue89 Wine Fair (who is the blogger behind No Wine is Innocent) was there with his new pamphlet titled Manifeste pour le Vin Naturel. This is an easy reading book where you go through the basic truths explaining the differences between mainstream commercial wines and these real, un-interventionist wines that have so much more in store. It has also rare informations from little-known actors that played a role in the nascent natural-wine movement, people like Eric Callcut and Jacques Néauport.
Another issue that Antonin addressed in his book was the question of setting up a chart or some sort of certification for natural wines. There are certification organisms to check the organic vineyard management of growers but not yet one that includes the cellar side, and given the number of additives used by commercial wineries, som say that it would be a good idea to have a certification covering the whole process, from the vineyard to the bottle. Antonin interviewed many actors of the natural-wine trade and all the answers and arguments are interesting. I felt for my part that Olivier Cousin had the right answer : no certification, let's not add another control system, This profession is beautiful and a frame of regulation would harm it, what is needed is truth and transparency, wineries should print the list of additives and corrections they put into their wines.
Here is the full list of the participating domaines :
Alsace : Florian Beck-Hartweg, Domaine Geschickt
Beaujolais : Raphaël Champier, Côtes de la Molière, Rémi Dufaitre, France Gonzalvez, David Large, Antoine Sunier, Karim Vionnet, Romain Zordan Bordelais : Château Gombaude-Guillot, Château La Haie, Domaine Rousset Peyraguey, Les Trois Petiotes
Bourgogne : Domaine Ballorin et F, Gilles et Catherine Vergé, Sarnin-Berrux
Champagne : Bourgeois-Diaz, Fleury, Georges Laval, Tarlant
Languedoc : Autour de l’Anne, Catherine Bernard, Alexandre Coulange, Jeff Coutelou, Ludovic Engelvin, L’Escarpolette, Edouard Fortin, Les Herbes Folles, Domaine Ledogar, Domaine Le Conte des Floris, Domaine Inebriati, Monts et Merveilles, Domaine de Pélissols, Le Pelut, Le Petit Domaine, Clos Romain, Les Vignes Rouges, Mas de mon Père, Benjamin Taillandier
Loire : Alexandre Bain, Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Complémen’Terre, Clos Cristal, Noëlla Morantin, La Paonnerie, Domaine de l’R, Le Sot de l’Ange, Isabelle et Hervé Villemade
Provence : Château Sainte-Anne, Domaine Milan
Rhône/Ardèche : Gilles Azzoni, Sylvain Bock, Clos des Cimes, La Deuxième tour, Lous Grèzes, Domaine Saladin
Roussillon : Clos Massotte, Domaine de la Boria, Jolly Ferriol, Domaine des Mathouans, Domaine Rousselin
Sud-Ouest : Domaine Le Bouscas, Domaine de Brin
Italie : Al di là del Fiume, Stefano Bellotti, Massimo Coletti, Tenute Dettori, Piana dei Castelli
Serbie : Estelle et Cyrille Bongiraud
Slovénie : Domaine Stekar
Afrique du sud : Craig Hawkins (Testalonga « El Bandito »)
Argentine : Vincent Wallard
Australie : Bobar Wines
Bière : Cantillon, Brasserie de la Senne, La Mousse à Zigui
Whisky : Domaine des Hautes Glaces
Cidre : Domaine Bordatto, Johanna Cecillon, Damien Lemasson, Cyril Zangs
Café : Terres de Café
Agriculture et jardins en milieu urbain : Veni Verdi
Et nos amis cavistes : Les Caves de Reuilly, Coinstot Vino, Le Lieu du Vin, Un Midi dans les Vignes, L’Amitié Rit et La Belle Hortense Débat, livres et animations