Sunday, 16 May 2010

Parigi, O cara

A chance to dig deeper in Paris took us to some new Cavistes where we discovered new treasures.

The first was the winemerchant Versant Vins, formerly known as Aromes et Cepages in the Marche des Enfants Rouges in the Rue de Bretagne/Rue Charlot, 3ieme. This had a small but really interesting selection of mainly Biodynamic, Organic and Natural wines with some pretty funky varieties including a new one on us, Gascon which is yet another variety from the Loire.

On this trip we were to come face to face with a second bottle of Gascon, so having never heard of it, suddenly here were two examples, of which more later.

We also bagged a Mauzac Vert. The difference between this and plain Mauzac is still unclear but there appear to be 7 different kinds of Mauzac in Gaillac and the producers Robert & Bernard Plageoles have dedicated themselves to producing 'des vins oublies ou perdu depuis plusieurs siecles.' What nobler calling could there be in the world of wine?

We were plainly on a roll. The Gascon here was from an interesting producer called Pascal Simonutti who seems to have invented the concept of idiosyncracy single-handed. One of his labels screams "Drinking Kills". He produces organic Vin Naturel from 6 hectares in the Loire from Pineau d'Aunis, and Gamay as well as the said Gascon. His wines are Vin de Table because they do not conform to local rules.

The third bottle from this market stall was another Vin de Table this time from the Rousillon producer Matin Calme: a vin naturel Grenache Blanc called Chamboultou. It was cloudiest white wine we have ever seen - looking more like apple juice but tasted delcious. Finally we just had to have Simonutti's version of Pineau d'Aunis.

We then paid a visit to Galleries Lafayette where we had a rare but truly Parisian experience. Having asked aour usual question whether they had any little-known grape varieties we were brushed off with the information that no, they didn't have anything of the sort and that we had to go to the wine-producing areas to find such things. Funny, because with just a quick check of their shelves we found an example of Gringet from Savoie which had been near the top of our list when in the area last February and not to be found anywhere there. This turned out to be excellent and joins the Slotovino Hall of Fame by unanimous decision. Carefully selecting another 'helper' we had a more positive tutorial concerning two Champagnes which were blends of some of the more uncommon varieties permitted in that area such as Pinot Blanc, Arbanne, Petit Meslier and others, but the bottles were too expensive for us so we passed on.

At the Vin en Tete, 30 Rue Batignolles, 17ieme, we found an intriguing bottle from the Jura purporting to be 'Savignin Rouge'. Mercifully we learned that that is how Pinot Noir is known locally before buying.

Due to a bank holiday a number of Cavistes were closed. We look forward on other visits to calling on Les Ultra Vins, 16 Rue Lacuee, 12ieme, Crus et Decouvertes, 7 Rue Paul Bert, 11ieme, Auge - a temple of wine at 116 Boulevard Haussmann in the 8ieme and others.

Meanwhile, our second lucky strike was the discovery of Les Caves de Papilles, (35 Rue Dauguerre, 14ieme) where the very knowledgeable gentleman sold us our second bottle of Gascon, 'Rouge Gascon' also from the Loire produced by Les Cailloux du Paradis of a place called Soings en Sologne between Orleans and Tours. He also came up with something called Fie Gris from the Touraine produced by another maverick, Jacky Preys from a vineyard calles 'Pierre a Fusil' or Gun Stone from the fact that gun flints came from the land there. Fie Gris (aka Sauvignon Gris) turns out to be a parent of Sauvignon Blanc and Preys seems to be with Eric Chevalier one of the last exponents of this grape when all around have replaced it. Some of his centenarian vines are said to predate the Phylloxera epidemic.

Also picked up on this trip was a Domaine Navarre OEillade (une variété de cinsault aux grains plus allongés) at 11.5% (Languedoc/Roussillon) and Pierre Overnoy's remarkable Jura Chardonnay (yes, dear reader - the C word) both of which we has enjoyed previously.

A pilgrimage to Lavinia failed to turn up anything novelties but it seems we have only scratched the surface in Paris and the Vin Naturel movement appears to be thriving. And no, you don't have to go to the regions to find little known grape varieties.

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