Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independents, Paris 2017

We so enjoyed the 2016 Salon that we decidied to go again in 2017.

This event differs from the other wine fairs we have attended in that it is for the public rather than the trade and you can buy wine from any of the exhibitors. The atmosphere is therefore something between a gigantic supermarket and a great day out for winelovers to taste and meet the producers.

Last year we came on the final (Monday) afternoon so had no idea of the massive influx experienced on the Saturday we attended this year (it opens on the Friday).

First stop, Domaine de L'Oriel - last year's winner in our hunt for Alsace Pinot Noir (you have to limit yourself or you would never get round). We hoped to stock up on their wine which we had so enjoyed at the 2016 Salon.

 Like so many producers these days they have two versions. one a bit more concentrated with a touch of oak, sometimes but not invariably higher in alcohol (called 'Hommage a Gerard' in this case) and the other ('Evolution') simpler and a bit 'straighter'. That was the one we wanted as it showed the particular character of Alsace Pinot Noir more than the other - paradoxically more evolved version which could easily have been from Bourgogne or another area. Sadly they were sold out of the Evolution. You have to get in early at the Salon des Vignerons Independents!

We did find some lovely new examples though. This one from Marie Claire and Pierre Bores was particulraly fresh and enticing (12.5%)

The Ancel team
Equally delicious and even lower in alcohol (11.5%) was Andre Ancel's version. The label proclaims 'Vieilli en futs de chene' but no oak was apparent to this customer.

 The Domaine du Moulin de Duesenbach was another winner.

 While on Alsace Pinot Noir we were once again conscious of the wide range of styles in this category including those up to 14.5% alcohol for those that like that kind of thing.

The Salon is really a great  day out. You can meet the producers, taste the wines and buy them too. You can also learn a great deal. For example, the name Ottrott looked intriguing so we asked about it and discovered that Ottrott is a minuscule 35 hectare commune within Alsace. Since 2011only the wines made in this designated area have the right to be named after their respective commune. This is unique in Alsace it seems.

 Yet another feature of the Salon des Vignerons Independants is that the exhibitors are allocated stands in a random way ensuring that different regions are not ghetto-ised and even if you were only interested in Bordeaux you are obliged to walk past producers from all kinds of other areas on your way from one Chateau to another.

Mme Gigou

That is how we came upon Mme. Gigou of Jasnieres, Coteaux du Loir with whom we had had very cordial dealings including the provision of several cases of Domaine Gigou Pineau d'Aunis for a family wedding. An unexpected pleasure for us at least.

Domaine Noir Freres, Cotes du Jura

Macvin and Vin de Paille
There were several interesting producers from the Jura to be sure and we were finally able to taste some unfamiliar wines including Vin de Paille and Vin Jaune and our first Macvin. Domaine Noir Freres seemed to produce the whole gamut including a Cremant du Jura and a Poulsard.

Domaine Noir Freres was a new name for us but Domaine de la Pinte was one already familiar. Unfamiliar though was something called 'Melon a queue Rouge.'

The lady from Domaine La Pinte assured us that there were only three producers making wine with this grape and obligingly held up three digits to stress the point. The wine was off-dry and delicious so we bought a bottle immediately. A surprise awaited us when we were re-united with our copy of 'Wine Grapes' which is pretty definite in stating that Melon a queue rouge is variously 'a mutation of Chardonnay that has a red stem' and 'just a type of Chardonnay' although it is gradually gaining in popularity' while acknowledging that it is 'scarcely cultivated any more.'

The other two pruducers are Caveau de Bacchus and none other than Jacques Puffeney.

The Salon is not comprehensive (how could it be?) and we missed producers from Marmande and Bellet for example. Jurancon and Cahors were not as well represented as one might think (6 and 15 representatives respectively). Jurancon is particularly interesting for us as we have come to appreciate the Mansengs (Gros, Petit and even Noir) as well as Jurancon Noir. The latter is very rare indeed, so much so that only one of the Jurancon producers - Domaine du Cinquau - had even heard of it. We even tried out the synonyms Folle Noir and Fluella Nera but they didn't help. One producer thought Jurancon might be cultivated in Cahors which sent us on a round of questioning of the poor producers from that apellation.

The exception was this gentleman, Pierre Saubot from Domaine Cinquau who said he had planted a plot with Jurancon Noir and would eventually be making wine experimentally from it.

He gave us a fascinating potted history of this Domaine which had been in the Saubot family for precisely 400 years . You certainly meet the most interesting people at the Salon.

A punter in an Accademia Musicale Chigiana T-shirt even!

While asking Cahors producers about Jurancon Noir we came across a bottle including a variety called SĂ©galin which is actually a Jurancon Noir x Blauer Portugieser cross obtained at Montpellier in 1957. That is as close we came to Jurancon Noir  sadly but there had been plenty of other discoveries along the way.

By the time we left mid-afternoon, hoards were being kept back to prevent overcrowding, such is the popularity of the Salon. We might even go again next year!

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