Sunday, 25 January 2009

Vin naturel

We hadn't come across this before. Vin naturel is a movement for not only Biodynamic vineyard practices but vinification with only local wild yeasts, non-filtration and many other refinements ("pas de tracteur sur le domaine"!). There is a centre for such wines in Paris described as a wine-bar. The name is Racine. The owner is Pierre Jancou and he runs a wine shop and cafe combining organic produce from the best producers. The address is

8 Passage des Panoramas, Paris 75002 (00 33 14 031 0641)

How did we find Racine's? We didn't. We came to it from an oblique angle (a good way to get there). On a recent visit to Paris, we printed out the 'Paris Artisan-Wines Cavistes' page from in order to find some alternative cavistes to our beloved Lavinia. Looking for wines from lesser known grape varieties as ever, we gravitated towards Le verre vole, 67 Rue Lancry, 10e. where we could have lunch and buy wine at the same time and La Cremerie, 9 Rue des Quatre Vents, 6e. where this so-called 'natural wine' was available.

After a delicious Betterave hors d'oeuvre and Saucisse et pomme puree dish of the day, not to mention a dodgy glass of Cabernet Franc d'Anjou and a much better Gamay de l'Ardeche we bought a bottle of Pierre Overnoy 2007 Arbois Pulillon Poulsard. Now what set bells ringing was the mec who was dishing the food and selling the wine told us to keep the wine 'au frais' which we did. It is original, delicious and excellent.

La Cremerie was even more interesting. Having declared our interest for 'cepages inconnues' we were introduced to a Chasselas from Eric Pfifferling in the Cotes du Rhone - L'Anglore Cuvee des Caprices 12.5%, we went on to buy a Clos du Rouge Gorge Pays des Cotes Catalanes (Macabeo, white) by Cyril Fhal, another mainstay of vin naturel ad a Domaine Navarre Vin d'Oeillades 11.5% From Roquebrun. Oeillade turns out to be a hybrid between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsault). That sounds very much like Pinotage, surely? We can't wait to try it.

At Lavinia (how could we forsake it?), we found a Cot (Malbec) from the Loire, a Menu Pineau (white) called Le Brin de Chevre. The producer seems to be called Sari and the wine also bears the inscription 'Le Clos de Tue-Boeuf, 41120 Les Montels which we think is in the Languedoc.

There were two other bottles from Lavinia, our first Slovenian wine, a Tocaj Gredic from Brda 'since 1820' (sic) 12% and not for the exorbitant prices we have previously seen on wines from Slovenia and an Arbois Traminer from Stephan Tissot in the Jura.

Now hereby hangs a tale. In our next blog you will read about our little contretemps at the wonderful wine bar at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. It turns out Traminer is not our old friend Gewurztraminer but Savignin which in the Jura is seriously salty and dry as hell. We will see why Stephane Tissot, one of the Jura's leading producers decided to label this wine Traminer instead of Savignin which is in commen usage in the Jura (it is responsible for 'Vin Jaune' after all). This bottle was not cheap (17 Euros) so let's hope it is something enjoyable rather than just wierd.

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