jamie goode's wine blog

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In Paris, with French wines

I’m currently in Paris, doing some tasting with Sopexa looking at the Cabernet Franc project wines. It’s an exciting initiative that has been going for a couple of years, with a view to helping growers make red Loire wines that appeal to the UK market while still possessing a sense of place.

The tasters? Sam Harrop MW, who is providing technical/winemaking help with this project, Sam Caporn, Jim Budd and myself. Today we looked at around 160 wines between us, trying to identify those that could be used as ‘ambassadors’ of Cabernet Franc. There were some really attractive wines, typically showing focused bright dark fruit and just a bit of grippy tannin.

We finished tasting just after 4 pm, and there was time for some wandering. I walked down to Caves Auge on Boulevard Haussmann, which is a remarkable wine shop specializing in natural wines. It’s cluttered and old fashioned, but has a mouthwatering array of things that are hard to find in the UK. I controlled myself and just bought three bottles: Thierry Puzelat’s In Côt We Trust 2005 Touraine, Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2006 and Alain & Julien Guillot’s Mâcon Cruzille Clos des Vignes du Maynes 2006.

This evening we dined at a lovely restaurant, Maison de Campagne (rue Pierre Demours). Decor was a bit chintzy, but the food was fantastic, and best of all they had a lovely, well priced wine list, that reinforced the fact that France makes the world’s most interesting wines, in a diverse array of styles. Here are my notes (all these wines were well under 30 Euros):

Domaine Vincent Carênne Vouvray ‘Le Peu Morier’ 2005 Loire, France
A fantastic Vouvray that is just off-dry. Lovely mineralic nose with some fruit richness. The palate is richly textured with lovely herb and citrus fruit notes, and just a bit of Chenin funk. Finishes really mineralic. 92/100

Stéphane Tissot ‘Les Bruyères’ Chardonnay 2004 Arbois, Jura, France
The proprietor asked whether we knew this wine when we selected it – it was a warning that it isn’t the sort of thing to everyone’s taste. But I think it’s fantastic. Remarkable nose with smoky, minerally, flinty notes as well as the toastiness and richness you might expect from ripe Chardonnay. The palate is rich but bone dry, with more of those reductive notes and lovely minerality. Fantastic stuff. 93/100

Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2006 Côtes de Rhône Villages, France
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Deep coloured, with a dark, spicy, meaty nose that is intense and quite savoury. The palate is dense with bold sweet fruit countered by spicy, earthy savouriness. A powerful, intense win of real appeal. 92/100

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bertrand Celce's blog

Just a plug for Bertrand Celce's blog 'wine terroirs', and an article on Paris wine shops that he's recently posted. I enjoy browsing through his entries - in fact, they make me a little jealous of Parisians who are so well supplied with fantastic artisanal French wines at remarkably affordable prices. It makes the world of Californian cult Cabs and mailing lists look all the more absurd in juxtaposition. What do you prefer? Wine as conspicuous consumption, or wine with a soul?

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What I did in Paris

On Monday I was speaking at Wine Evolution, but on Tuesday I had a choice: attend the conference sessions, or do some exploring. Tough one. Not. Much as I love the wine business, wine itself, and one of Europe's great capitals has a bigger pull on me. I was late getting up (we'd been out till 0215 the previous night), but this still gave me time to visit a few wine destinations. In particular, I was interested in Cavistes specializing in vins natural, which is a bit of a fad in France.

First stope was Caves Augé (116, Boulevard Hausmann), which is a fantastic old wine shop, crammed full of wines - the majority of which are 'natural' in one form or another. Customer service isn't perhaps their strong point, and the way the wines are arranged makes it hard to browse efficiently. But this can be forgiven for the wonderful stuff they sell. I purchased three bottles only (I could have purchased two cases) - Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2005 Jean-Paul Thevenet, Morgon 2004 Cuvee 3,14 Jean Foillard and Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2004 Guy Breton.

Next I visited La Cremerie/Caves Miard (9, rue des Quatre-Vents - pictured), a charming wine bar and shop located in a tiny old dairy. Here I bought Anjou 2004 Agnes et Remi Mosse, Cheville de Fer 2005 VdP du Loir et Cher O Lemasson and Les Marrons Villages Vin de Table Lot 04 05 Gilles et Catherine Verge.

Then it was off to lunch with philosopher Ophelia Deroy, who specializes in the philosophy of science and has contributed to the forthcoming wine and philosophy volume 'Questions of Taste', which is being edited by her partner Dr Barry Smith (I'm also contributing a paper to this book). We met at Caves Legrand, which is a wonderful caviste and small wine bar. I came away with a solitary bottle, Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2005, but this was only because I was already carrying six, and I was cutting it fine for catching the Eurostar.

There's a lot of fun to be had for wine nuts in Paris; I only scratched the surface. I will be back, I hope, fairly soon.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I’ve been in Paris for a couple of days at the Wine Evolution conference, where yesterday I spoke at both afternoon sessions, one of logistics, the other on closures. The real value of these events, however, is not information, but the people you meet. I guess that’s why business people still rack up the airmiles in this information age, when there are other much cheaper and simpler ways of corresponding: nothing beats a face to face meeting. Today I’m a free agent and it’s a great opportunity to hunt down interesting wines in Paris, as well as just walking the streets and seeing some famous sights. Pictured is the view from my hotel window (33rd floor), the tones warmed by the early morning sunshine.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Paris, France

I'm off to Paris, France (as the Americans like to call it) on Sunday, for the [expensive] Wine Evolution conference. I was originally going to be moderating the closures session, but lo and behold they put me down for the logistics session as well, presumably on the back of a piece I did for the 2005 Harpers Logistics Supplement. Since I found this out I've been swotting up on logistics, which I will soon be a world expert on! I'm more confident about the closures presentation, because I had a run-through of essentially the same one at last week's Wine+ event.

Talking of logistics, I've been following with interest reports in the press about stricken container ship Napoli, which is currently lying a mile off the Devon coast. It has been amusing to see the press talk about wine being looted as people walk off carrying barrels...do they know how much a barrel of wine weighs? And that it has been a long time since wine is shipped in barrel. The barrels in question are actually new ones from Tonnellerie Boutes, destined for South Africa. Bit of a shame to turn £425 barrels into flower tubs. Maybe they could be used to spoof up some English wines.
While in Paris, I've got the best part of a day to explore. I plan to spend it visiting wine shops and wine bars, particularly those with an interest in 'natural wines', of which there are a few.

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