Champagnes William Deutz and J. Pierron Leglise

by Paige Donner One bottle of Champagne requires the equivalent of all the fruit from a single vine. Grands Marques & Maisons de Champagnes  A few things these two different champagnes, from very different houses, have in common is that … Continue reading

Episode 8 GOODfood+wine on World Radio

posted by Paige Donner   Episode 8 of GOODfood+wine (Music J by Domestic Pressures) In tribute to last month’s announcement that both Burgundy and Champagne are now included as UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites, I am running interviews on this … Continue reading

Champagne and The Art Nouveau of Perrier-Jouët’s Maison-Belle Epoque

by Paige Donner There are frequent associations between art and champagne, but it’s particularly Art Nouveau that is most linked with this wine. Some art historians reference the culture of the Roaring 20’s (Les Années Folles in French, or literally the … Continue reading

Atelier Dom Pérignon

Set right in the mythical Benedictine Abbey of Hautvillers, where Dom Pérignon is said to have discovered the méthode Champenoise, is now the Atelier Dom Pérignon. l’Atelier Dom Pérignon à l’Abbaye d’Hautvillers Full Slide Show On Chérie Du Vin  All … Continue reading

Lanson Black Label – preview

This is one of the best videos I’ve yet seen released by a champagne house. It’s by Lanson and it previews their Black Label cuvée. It also introduces their new cellar master. It’s brief and to the point. Every bit … Continue reading

Champagne – Beyond The Bubbles… And Over The Rainbow

Rainbows are visions They’re only illusions Rainbows have nothing to hide … From, The Rainbow Connection Beyond Bubbles : The Essence of Champagne by Paige Donner I have never seen so many rainbows as I see when I’m in Champagne. Not … Continue reading

Cité du Champagne

Every year in September France celebrates their Heritage Days, called the Journées du Patrimoine. This year, I dared to take a preview peek at one of the few new fabulous developments in Champagne. The oldest co-operative in Champagne, known now … Continue reading

le Winelab by Bettane + Desseauve

by Paige Donner What?! you say?! A new wine event for Paris?! Yes. And it’s by Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, the same wine experts/journalists who bring us Le Grand Tasting every year. This inaugural event took place on Monday … Continue reading

SPIT – Science Politique International Tasting (Competition)

by Paige Donner In a truly wonderful demonstration of Bollinger’s credo, Life Can Be Perfect (with Bollinger), the day of the SPIT competition unfolded delightfully in Aÿ, France… All photos by Paige Donner copyright 2014  SPIT competing schools this year … Continue reading

Moët’s Pop-Up Restaurant With Yannick Alléno

by Paige Donner On a recent round-up of Paris interviews, I succeeded in doing the near-impossible – catching up with the man-in-motion, the chef who never stops, Mr. Yannick Alléno, 3* Michelin chef and champion of local-sourced ingredients for his … Continue reading

Krug: The Art of Blending Pleasure

by Paige Donner Can’t think of a better Christmas present this year than a cellar tour and tasting at Krug. Isn’t it too true that oftentimes « the best » is shrouded in mystery ? People tell you something is the best but … Continue reading

Dallet’s Tropical Fruit Macarons – Chef Demo

by Paige Donner All photos and media c. Paige Donner, Local Food And Wine ’13.           Vincent Dallet is one of the not-to-miss patisseries and chocolatiers in the Champagne region. With shops in both Épernay and … Continue reading

Champagne Travel At Harvest Time

by Paige Donner All photos copyright Paige Donner 2013 All Rights Reserved Paige is the host of World of Wine radio program on WorldRadioParis. Planning a trip through Champagne during harvest time might at first feel like mission impossible, but if … Continue reading

Paris Food And Wine Radio Interview with Paige Donner

Paris Food And Wine - by Paige Donner

Radio interview on Paris Food And Wine by Paige Donner. Interview for Girl’s Guide To Paris.  Highlights:  Champagne for any time, French rose wines + food pairings, Favorite Parisian Bistros, Cafe’s and Fun Foodie things to do.   @LocalFoodAndWine Follow … Continue reading

Champagne & French Wine by Paige Donner

Listen to new episodes of  Paris GOODfood+wine on iTUNES and also broadcast on US Public Radio, Pacifica Network, hosted by Paige Donner.  It’s summertime and it’s time for champagne sipping.  Ok, well, it’s always time for champagne sipping… Listen to Paige’s interview … Continue reading

Gold Coin Hidden Treasure Found In Champagne – Interview by Paige Donner

Lanson Found Gold Coin Treasure Champagne – Interview @LocalFoodWine Follow us On Tumblr * Follow Us On Twitter * Like Us On Facebook ♥Chérie Du Vin

I Am Soooo Grapeful

by Paige Donner One of the best wine salons of France, Le Salon du Vin put on by La Revue du Vin de France, takes place annually right around my birthday. To be perfectly honest, there’s really no better way to celebrate the bittersweet passing … Continue reading

Terroirs et Talents Champagne 2013

So many good champagnes…So little time… All photos by Paige Donner c. 2013 – See FULL SLIDESHOW HERE   It’s hard knowing that I’m the envy of all my wine enthusiast friends and colleagues Stateside and in Canada. My only … Continue reading

Champagne And Port Winter Sipping Guide U.S.

Voila’ – the Winter Edition of the Center for Wine Origins U.S. Tasting Guide. Each bar and restaurant is carefully curated and selected for their comprehensive showcasing of both Port and Champagne. “Each location not only showcases fabulous selections of … Continue reading

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut – Aÿ, Champagne, France

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Bollinger  Special Cuvée Brut – Aÿ, Champagne, France by Paige Donner Tasting Notes :  Hints of roasted apples, spiced apple compote, peaches greet your nose after your eyes have been seduced by the fluttering of fine bubbles in that golden … Continue reading

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Oct. 26th is Global Champagne Day!!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥Chérie Du Vin – You will LOVE my wine picks! The French Wine Society earns mention within the pages of a murder-mystery written by award-winning author J. Michael Orenduff. [Re-posted from The French Wine Society– visit their … Continue reading

Vendanges, Champagne 2012

Scenes of Harvest 2012, Champagne, France.

Local wisdom is predicting an exceptional year for Chardonnay, especially.

Enjoy! – MORE Pics on Local Food And Wine/Champagne

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[Pinot Noir, Moët & Chandon]

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@ ♥Chérie Du Vin – You will LOVE my wine picks!

Philipponnat Champagne’s Clos des Goisses

by Paige Donner

First published as Philipponnat Champagne’s Clos des Goisses on Technorati.
Very few families, even in France’s historic Champagne region, can date their ancestral roots in the region as far back as 500 years. The family of Philipponnat, namesake of the champagne, is one of these rarities. Not only are they still in the region where their ancestors settled in 1522, they are still in the small village of Mareuil-sur-Ay. It’s also how they came up with their prestige cuvées name “1522.” A few vinification traditions this house respects that have great bearing on their champagnes:

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  • Philipponnat uses only the first press juice for vinification
  • Moderate dosage
  • Mostly Pinot Noir grapes during blending
  • Barrel-fermented wines (which is not the total amount of the must) do not undergo malolactic fermentation
  • Slightly delayed harvests for their Pinot Noir grapes to achieve optimal maturity Continue reading

Centre Vinicole Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte

by Paige Donner

A few interesting facts set the champagne brand of Nicolas Feuillatte apart from the others.

For one, it’s a champagne house that is cooperatively owned. Just outside of the champagne capital of Épernay in France, in the little village of Chouilly, the modern and sleek facilities whose cellars are both above and beneath the ground, ferment, disgorge and age 300,000 hectoliters of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Meunier destined to become top-selling champagne every year. That translates into 21.9 million bottles of champagne in 2011.

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Champagne And a Bodyguard – Holiday Wish List!

Coming in at a sexy just 30 Euros is Champagne Piper Heidsieck’s new limited edition bottle wrapped in its own crocodile skin bodyguard. Think a lipstick red croc Kelly bag for your champagne. Makes a chic gift and the red latex imprint will pair nicely with your holiday heels or even your (naughty) red Santa Suit! Champagne is a blend of several vintages, with a dominance of Pinot Noir. Available at select Travel Retail outlets such as CDG Paris Airport store Aelia.

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Wine And Climate Change In The International Herald Tribune

Dear Readers and Wine Lovers: Please have a look at my recent article which originally appeared in the International Herald Tribune. It is also online at NYTimes.com with full LINK HERE.

by Paige Donner

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La Revue du Vin de France Paris Salon 2011

By Paige Donner

La Revue du Vin de France held its wine salon this past weekend in Paris at the “ancien Bourse” which is the old stock exchange of Paris. As you can see here, it’s a beautiful building. It’s spacious and airy and the perfect place for wine tasting on a sunny Spring Sunday afternoon in May.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

Honestly, if I have one recommendation to make to visitors to France, it’s that you really must coordinate your travels with these wine salons. For a few Euro, you get to not only see the interior of a national monument, you get to drink and taste your way through the wines of France.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And WineI was so pre-occupied with tasting wines from Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Loire and Provence that I had to remind myself to sip a few drops of champagne every so often – just to clean the palate, you know.

So many wonderful wines. It will take the rest of the month to wade through all my tasting notes.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And WineAnd the crowd was super friendly. Maybe it’s the sunny weather in Paris in Spring or perhaps it’s simply that good French wine brings  out that “conviviality” that the French speak so glowingly of when discussing their wines. Whatever it was, the LRVF crowd was super friendly, very forthcoming with anecdotes about the wines they were pouring and the wines they were tasting and just plain, well, welcoming.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And WineIf there is only one little note I might give it’s that the Spanish wines were much too hard to find. Certainly, once I found my way upstairs, I loved the private room where the Spanish winemakers had stashed themselves, with the old stock exchange board that featured handwritten company signage such as Printemps and Paribas on it… But they were much too isolated up there. Since it’s the first time the salon has welcomed foreign wines amongst its midst in its 5 year history, perhaps affording them more accessibility would be a gesture of convivial diplomacy.

By the time I left, it was with a full glass of Spanish red liqueur wine. So sweet and rich and nothing like “ice wine.” I’ll definitely have some words to share about that and about the Priorat wines I discovered at the Paris Stock Exchange.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

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Some Bubbly And A Sauternes

by Paige Donner

Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Louis Roederer,Gosset,…these are some of the most exclusive names in the coveted appellation of France’s Champagne region. And now it’s their time to shine in the New Year spotlight.

Bubbly and New Year’s Eve. They go together like caviar and blinis, oysters and aphrodisiacs.

And, as we all know, champagne comes only from the well-designated, well-demarcated geographical area East of Paris. It claims the cities of Epernay and Reims as its own. Everything else might be bubbly, but it can never be champagne.

Of course what’s always fun is to learn the backstories of these gastronomic names of legend. When something becomes so lodged in our collective conscience as are certain brands of champagne, we forget that they started out as people who decided to build a business out of the grape. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a flute or a “sacred cup” of the festive drink, and come with us on our succinct tour de force of Champagne and a Sauternes for a sweet finish:

La Maison Perrier-Jouët gets its names from a husband and a wife, respectively. Famous and easily recognizable as the bottle with the beautifully painted flowers – Japanese anemones – on its glass, the house was established first in 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier, estate owner, married Adèle Jouët. Their joined names went on the Champagne Estate’s marquee and now 200 years, and only seven Cellar Masters later, the exquisite champagne is world-reknowned.

If you are in the mood to celebrate with the best of the best, Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is the choice. It’s a vintage that is sourced from a singular terroir, a singular year and a singular varietal. Only two parcels of Grands Crus Chardonnay were harvested  to create this champagne, “one of the most rare and exclusive in the world.”

Perrier-Jouët, 28 Avenue de Champagne, Epernay, France

Piper Heidsieck Champagne and Louboutin Shoe Flute

Piper-Heidsieck

You may be most familiar with Piper-Heidsieck as the champagne you drink from a lady’s shoe – especially designed for the champagne house by Christian Louboutin. Or perhaps you know them best as one of the first and still main supporters of the Cannes Film Festival. But what you might not have known, is that back in 1785, at Versailles, Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented Marie-Antoinette herself his special champagne vintage.  A hundred years later, Fabergé decorated the bottle in gold, diamonds and lapis-lazuli.

And Marilyn Monroe? She said she went to sleep with a dab of Chanel No. 5 at her ear and awoke with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne in her hand.

The house of Piper-Heidsieck just released their “Rare” 2002 Vintage only three months ago.  “Le Rare” is aged seven years in the cellar and made primarily from Chardonnay grapes with some Pinot Noir. Its subtle minerality plays as an hommage to Mount Reims. The bottle is beautifully designed with a filligreed gold dress. Girls like to wear it as a Tiara. Champagne fit for a Princess, or a Queen. “Le Rare,” has only been made in the years 1988, 1998 and 2002 (just released.)

Piper-Heidsick, Reims, France  www.piper-heidsieck.com

Bruno Paillard Champagne

Bruno Paillard is a champagne that you have likely not yet had the chance to drink. Too bad for you. It is the youngest of the champagne houses, established in 1981 by then 27-year-old Bruno Paillard. In a region where champagne houses had existed for centuries already, Mssr. Paillard decided to sell his Jaguar MK2 and buy a vineyard with the capital he raised.

Today the Domain produces about 500,000 bottles (for comparison, Moët produces about 5 million) and he exports about 70% of his champagne to Asia, North America and the rest of Europe.

Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée, 100 % Chardonnay, is a “fresh, bright sparkler,” says Parker who gives it 90 points.  Its bouquet is grapefruit and white flowers, its mouth is white pepper, lemon, lime. Wonderful as an aperitif and also can be paired with food.

Bruno Paillard, Avenue de Champagne, 51100 Reims, France   http://www.champagnebrunopaillard.com

Louis Roederer Cristal ChampagneLouis Roederer’s future was set when Tsar Alexander II, already a devotee of the champagne, ordered his personal sommelier one day in 1876 to see to it that the bottles served in his court should be markedly distinguished from all others. Hence the birth of “Cristal.” After the Russian Revolution of 1917, only then was Cristal allowed to be sold the world over.

The Louis Roederer house was first established in 1776 and has been in the same family since 1819. Today it can boast of being still one of the largest Champagne domains independently owned. They produce approximately 3 million bottles per year and sell in approximately 80 countries.

Champagne Louis Roederer, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagne-roederer.com

Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Cuvee'

Pol Roger has, for a long time, had friends in high places. During a dinner in Paris, the English Ambassador, Duff Cooper, introduced Sir Winston Churchill to Odette Pol-Roger. At that time, 1945, Sir Winston Churchill was already a man who had marked history. He was fond of saying that Pol Roger (Odette? the champagne?) incarnated all that was well and beautiful of France.

Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; Its composition is a jealously guarded secret. It is a robust and mature champagne, one with characteristic power and refinement.

Pol Roger   1, rue Henri Le Large 51200 Epernay   http://www.polroger.com

Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne, VertusSince taking it over not too many years ago,brothers Henry and Emmanuel Fourny have transformed their family domain nestled in the traditional geographic are of Vertus in Champagne. They do something unusual with their Chardonnay, they cultivate it as if it were a Pinot Noir. Why? It has to do with their vineyards’ South-South East exposure.

Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne Rose Premier Cru Vertus Brut has notes of rose and delicate, soft notes of hyacinth.  This vintage comes exclusively from the Domain’s terroir, “Les Gilottes 1er Cru.” Refined, velvety bubbles.

Champagne Veuve Fourny  5, rue du Mesnil, Vertus, France http://www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com

Gosset Champagne Gift Boxes

Gosset Champagne makes not just delicious champagne but also packages it in wonderful ready-to-gift packs. The Gosset Grand Reserve, 750 ml., is sold with a portable isothermic bottle keeper and a replaceable cork.  The house also sells cognac, which they make in the cognac region of France.  Another choice for their champagne is the “Excellence Brut” sold in 1500ml. bottles.

Champagne Gosset, 12 Rue Godart Roger, Epernay, 51200 http://www.champagne-gosset.com

Perrier Joseph Champagne

Joseph Perrier makes a beautiful gift bottle called the Glamour Josephine. It comes packaged in a red velvet-lined box. The ornate bottle is sure to please any discerning Diva-Luxe in your life who also knows good champagne.

Joseph Perrier Champagne  69 Av. de Paris, 51016 Châlons-en-Champagne France   http://www.josephperrier.com

Moet et Chandon, Vintage Champagne

Moët et Chandon. Who in the civilized world has not heard of Moët et Chandon? As noted earlier, producer of 5 million bottles per year, they can truthfully say they have a hold on a large portion of the world’s market of champagne. That’s a lot of New Year’s Toasts!

Still, if you ever get the chance to go to the Domain it is well worth it. Why? Not only will you get the chance to tour the cellars, but you might just get the opportunity to taste their Grand Cru 1975.  Hint: it’s  a champagne to drink on more occasions than just New Year’s Eve!

Sauternes, Sweet Bordeaux

Now…as promised…A Sauternes. Chateau Bastor-LaMontagne. This Sauternes is a classic, class act. It is in fact a Grand Cru Classe’. Its pale, light acidity is a dessert in a drink, an aperitif that leads delightfully into the pop of a champagne cork. Delicate, refined, white blossom, pear and ginger.

I might even be tempted to create a champagne cocktail out of the two. Hello 2011!

www.sauternes-barsac.com *  www.sweetbordeaux.com

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Bettane & Desseauve’s Festival of Wine

By Paige Donner

Le Grand Tasting, Paris

On a recent weekend in Paris, I found myself underneath the glass pyramid of the Louvre, in the grand marble Agora Exhibit Hall, spitting out champagne. And not just any champagne, the best champagne in the world:  Louis Roederer, Bollinger, Veuve Fourny et Fils, Piper Heidsieck, Perrier- Jouët, G. H. Mumm, Nicolas Feuillatte, Veuve Clicquot PonsardinMoët et Chandon…When Moët poured me their 1975 Reserve Vintage, that’s when I started drinking. It would have been a sacrilege to spit that out.

If there is a metaphor for the Festival of Wines that Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve have organized for 5 years now, it is this: Your cup runneth over.

le Grand Tasting, Paris, 2010 - Local Food And Wine

At the festival, named Le Grand Tasting, I found myself in an earthly paradise filled with many of the world’s best wines, from mythical vintages to ones barely known outside of their own appellations, and most all of them from France. This year, 2010, as an exception, there was a side exhibit of Italian wines also featured.

As a local explained to me, Bettane & Desseauve are more than just a couple of France’s most celebrated and respected wine journalists, they are even more than simply the authors of Le Grand Guide des Vins de France, they are the “Robert Parkers of France and French wines.”

Bettane & Desseauve on Local Food And WineAnd they are exceptionally approachable people. You will not find Wine Snob here.

This year’s event was held over the Friday and Saturday of December 10th and 11th at Paris’s Le Carrousel du Louvre, which is the underground shopping center/ exhibit hall that is right underneath the Louvre. For a mere 25 Euros you could taste your way through more than 2000 wines and 350 individual producers from France and a small representation from Italy.

“We have Festivals of Film, we have Festivals of Litterature, but until Le Grand Tasting we haven’t had a Festival of Wine…Every wine, like a book or a film, tells its own story. It is the story of the winemaker, of the creator, and sometimes, of genius…” said Thierry Desseauve who, with Michel Bettane, is the co-founder of Le Grand Tasting.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

Desseauve and Bettane, according to Desseauve, have plans to take their show on the road to English-speaking countries. Their highly successful Hong Kong Festival of Wine earlier this year has injected them with enthusiasm and they are starting to eye the U.S. and Canada. Their Grand Guide des Vins de France will be published in English in 2011 by Abrams Books.

When asked how was it to take the Festival of Wines to Hong Kong, Desseauve replied that he enjoyed the Chinese habit of embracing fast-paced development and he also noted that as Europeans, they are accustomed to dealing with significantly different cultures and languages. He pointed out that Germany, Italy, Spain are just as different from French culture as is the Chinese culture, in many respects.  Both Bettane and Desseauve invested many years as journalist and wine critic at La Revue du Vin de France until it was bought by the Marie Claire publishing group five years ago, which is the same time they founded Le Grand Tasting.

According to Bernadette Vizioz, press liaison for the event, 10,000 people attended Le Grand Tasting over the course of two days. It’s not hard for them to keep count, the price of admission includes a glass for the wine tastings, supplied by Riedel. The attendees on average were surprisingly young and very much the trendsetting crowd. I’ve heard mention a few times that the regional wine syndicates are actively promoting their wines particularly among the French whose consumption of their native juice is down significant percentage points in recent decades.

Le Grand Tasting does its part to elevate wine drinking to its proper podium among Gen Y in France. And the event is doing so in ways that present the people who make the wine as people who are just like you and me, except they spend their days in grape vineyards and in fermenting cellars. What sold out in advance were the special courses, such as the Master Class, that took place simultaneously in the rooms adjacent to the Hall Agora. The standout of these courses was, according  to French site iDealwine « Le Génie du Vin ».

The ‘Genius of Wine’ class, included Cuvée René Lalou by Mumm (1998 Vintage), Chateau Angélus 2000, Chateau Gruaud Larose 2000, Clos de La Roche GC (2004) from Domaine Dujac,  Châteauneuf du Pape (1998 Domaine duVieux Télégraphe,  château Climens 1989, Ridge Monte Bello represents California and finally riesling Clos Ste Hune 2000 by Trimbach.

Another sold out course offering, of which there were 20 separate classes, was l’Ecole des Terroirs. I managed to bump into a few Americans while I roamed the airy, well-lit, elegant and wonderfully climatised hall – underneath the Louvre! – who were thrilled to have just accidentally happened upon the festival last year.

This husband and wife marvelled at the feast of wines they were getting to taste, all for a mere 25 Euro entrance fee. They loved last year’s event so much that they actually planned their trip around the Festival this year. We North Americans couldn’t help but compare Napa’s $25 average cost per wine tasting flight/ per winery to the 25 Euro entrance fee which put 2000 wines, including the best champagnes in the world, at your fingertips and lips. The only limitation to your wine tasting is the hours in a day and your stamina for how many tastings you can fit in.

Le Grand Tasting marked a few firsts this year,  notably in the category of positioning themselves more internationally. To that effect their Italian space welcomed 2000 visitors in a relatively small area of 90sq. meters located towards the back of one of the main halls.

In addition, this was the first year that they invited notable European wine critics:  José Penin (Espagne, Penin), Neil Beckett (Grande-Bretagne, World Of Fine Wine), Armin Diel (Allemagne), Marco Sabellico (Italie, Gambero Rosso), Enzo Vizzari (Italie,L’Espresso)!

An elegant, hip, affordable, culturally illuminating wine tasting event,  Le Grand Tasting’s Festival of Wine is not to be missed.

Read More Here: Guy Savoy and Thierry Desseauve discuss holiday food + wine pairings.

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Independent Winemakers’ Salon – France

by Paige Donner

Rarely do you get such a glimpse of how basic an element wine is to French culture than at something like the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants.  At an event like this one, you really get the feel of how wine is actually a basic food group for the French. It’s not a luxury or something that needs to be “mastered” but rather as elementary to daily life and basic needs as is water.

Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants Photos copyright Thomas Millet

As a tourist or even as a resident foreigner, this Wine Salon is something I plan trips around and mark on the calendar months in advance.  Held this past weekend at the ginormous Expo center that is Porte de Versailles in Paris, I had the chance to sip and taste new and just released vintages from over 250 independent wineries and winemakers from all the regions of France. The question was not a matter of access (entry cost 6 Euro) or accessibility (all the wineries were pouring). The question was whether I had the stamina to last a whole day.  If I were a real pro, I would have gone over the course of each of the consecutive five days and prolonged the learning and the enjoyment, the listening and the tasting, stretching it out for every last drop.

Vigneron-Vigneron

The Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants is something that everyone even remotely interested in wine must attend at some time. As a window onto wine and French culture, it’s unsurpassed. It’s also no-frills. And it’s held twice a year – in the Fall and in the Spring. The only people I envied as I roamed the alphabetized aisles, were those who were savvy enough to have come with their rolling suitcases which they packed full of bottles and cases of France’s most excellent and affordable wines.

Here’s a sampling:

Wine Tastings, France. Photo Copyright Laurent Hardhuin.

Champagne Philippe Martin

They are located right in the heart of Champagne just between Reims and Epernay in Cumieres. They grow their chardonnay and pinot noir grapes on 10 hectares and produce 6 crus.

Cuvée de Réserve Brut – dry, frothy bubbly. At 14.40 Euro per bottle at the Salon it stands up to any of the internationally known brands.

Millésime 2002 – aged and made with pinot noir grapes as well as chardonnay, the richer, fruitier grape is detectable as soon as the elixir hits your tongue. At 22 Euro per bottle, you can see why I wish I’d had my rolling suitcase with me.

Alsace

Domaine Gerard Metz “The power of harmony”

The Salon tipplers tended toward the Alsatian wines, I noticed. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Paris had just seen its first snowfall of the season this weekend.  It’s easy to think of a spicy Gewurztraminer and heavy spaetzle and sausages when it gets cold outside – all things that come from Alsace.

Gewurztraminer Vielles Vignes  2009 at 9 Euro per bottle this tending toward almost sweet gewurz tasted of the grape. In the sense that I almost felt like I had popped a whole grape into my mouth and was drinking of it, and a splash of alcohol.

Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Mégane” 2009 This guy was just shy of a late harvest wine. Its gold color spoke of its autumn, rich flavors even before it made itself known in the mouth. It sells for 13.50Euro per bottle.

Bourgogne – Chablis

It’s just too novel when you come to the realization that these wines you’ve long loved come from an actual place. In this case, Chablis.

Moreau Naudet at 5, rue des Fosses, Chablis offered Petit Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru and Chablis Grand Cru on offer. He ages his white wine for 24 mos. in barrel.

Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007 was smooth and classy; its light golden color reminded me of summer in California. 26 Euro

Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2008 had lively acid playing throughout the mouth. Well-balanced and a white you can keep for a few years and still enjoy. 26 Euro

Domaine Millet “Intensement Chablis”

The winery is in Tonnerre, still within Bourgogne. The Petit Chablis L’Angelus and Petit Chablis were noteworthy, all 2009. They also had their Chablis Vieilles Vignes and Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin for sale and to taste. The maturity of the old vines tend to be the wines I gravitate towards. www.chablis-millet.com

Côte du Rhône, St. Joseph

Domaine du Mortier, Saint Joseph by Didier Crouzet. What’s a wine tasting if you don’t indulge in a bit of the sacred St. Joseph? Part of the geography of Côte Rôtie, a St. Joseph can take good care of you through the Winter. On 10.5 acres Mssr. Crouzet cultivates his vines of character.

Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2008 A little light. Not often found in this wine or appellation, it can offer a more drinkable alternative to what is usually paired with a good steak or winter roast.

Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2009 is a considerably more powerful wine. 2009 vintages, like the 2010 harvest, will have legs for years to come. Dark fruit, some wood, wine with a backbone.

Bourgogne, Pouilly-Fuisse

In this cluster were three domains that are run by the same winemakers and which are all independent. The majority they’ve brought to market this year have won a medal or an award or even a “coup de coeur” from the Guide Hachette des Vins 2011.

Domaine de Fussiacus   Pouilly-Vinzelles 2008. These grapes are from 30-40 year old vines. This lovely tinted yellow gold nectar won the Medaille d’Or Paris et Macon 2010. It was selling for a mere 10.30 Euro.

Domaine Chateau de Chaintre Bourgogne Blanc 2008 is the one which you’ll find in the Guide Hachettes des Vins 2011 listed as the Coup de Coeur. It is burgundy chardonnay and its well-balanced, proper notes and aromas make it a perfect choice for a dinner with family and friends.

Domaine de Fussiacus Vielles Vignes Pouilly-Fuisse 2008 had a nose of citrus and a delicious mouth of calcaire and mineral hints.  Another one of those wines I wish I’d bought a case of. 15.10 Euro per bottle.

Corbières

From this region down near Perpignan which is still part of Languedoc-Roussillon you will find wines that have the garrigue in their molecules.

Abbaye de Fontfroide

A husband and wife winemaking team, Nicolas de Chevron Villette married his wife, Laure d’Andoque de Seriege, whose family has owned the Abbaye de Fontfroide and the vines that surround it for centuries. They have a tasting room, a restaurant and they offer vacation stays. It is also just 15 km. away from the region’s only 3 Michelin star restaurant run by France’s Best Chef 2010.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2007 A finessed red wine that speaks of the region and the terroir. The nose is aromatic, the mouth hints of the garrigue.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Oculus 2009 Though this is a white, it boasts a nutty mouth and an aromatic nose. At 7.10Euro a bottle, it is an elegant wine to serve at table with roasted poultry and new potatoes for example.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2009 The grapes are Roussanne, Marsanne predominantly and the juice is new barrel aged. 12.90 per bottle. www.fontfroide.com

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Salon Papilles et Les Crus du Rhône

A.O.C. Chateauneuf du Pape, Chateau du Mourre du Tendre

By Paige Donner

At Paris’s port de la Villette on a recent weekend I had the good fortune to meet over 250 producers of French gastronomic delights. They were all direct from the countryside, having brought their specialties to the big city for a wonderful public celebration of French Food and Wine.

Safran de St. Hilaire

One of the more unique “farmers” I met was a woman who runs a Saffron farm with her family about 2 hours outside of Paris. It’s a little known sector of agriculture in France and one that once thrived but has since been mostly outsourced.

Still, this woman labors over her fields of purple saffron flowers, Safran de St. Hilaire, with her husband, Thierry Parde’ and their children, to produce some of the finest saffron available on the market. Each flower produces only three, at most, pistils of saffron that must be hand plucked ever so gently and guarded for safe-keeping until it can be put in small glass vials and spice jars. It is stunning to think that such an industry still exists anywhere in the entire world, let alone in France. Mind you, when you taste a crème bruleé á la safran, you’ll understand the rhyme and reason behind all the fuss.                                    Mr. Parde’ Thierry/ Les Migeons/ 45320 Chantecoq/ 33 02 38 94 21 36

Celebration of Tastebuds

Papilles,” means tastebuds in French. So it was the “Celebration of Tastebuds,” and just in time to start stocking up on holiday gift shopping. Most all the wine regions of France were represented, including small and mid-sized producers of Champagne.

Salon de Papilles en Fete, Paris

The Inter Rhône, the Rhone Valley’s wine syndicate,  was a sponsor of the event so the wonderful wines from Côtes du Rhône were on hand for daily on-the-hour wine tastings.  www.vins-rhone.com

Les Crus des Côtes du Rhône

The signature of the Côtes du Rhône are its Grand Crus. They are known throughout the world: the rolling hills of the l’Hermitage and the hillside vineyards of Gigondas.  Each of the distinct terroirs has been studied intensely by the experts before being awarded such supreme distinction. Have you ever experienced the power of a Côte Rôtie or a Cornas? Have you had the good fortune to drink of the finesse of a St.-Joseph or the smoothness of a Condrieu? These are all definite entries on the Top Ten list of things to do when in France.

Did You Know?

Tavel is the only wholly rosé Cru and the first rosé in France that is classified in the category of “gastronomy.”

AOC Château Grillet: This is one of the “biggest” white wines from France that you’ll ever get to drink. Its terroir, a whole 3,5 hectares, is the smallest apellation designation in the entire Côtes du Rhône.

Château du Mourre du Tendre

Further south is the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Displaying country humility, the Château du Mourre du Tendre attended the Salon Papilles en famille, meaning father, mother, son. They made the journey up to Paris from Courthézon, where the domaine is located.

Speaking with Mme. Paumel and her winemaker husband, is what buying wine in France is all about. Families like this represent the living history of the vine and the tradition. Nevermind that Parker gives them a 92 – consistently – on his yearly trips to the region. One sip and you know you are drinking wine in a class all its own.

When Mssr. and Mme. Paumel explained to me they do no barrel aging, I was surprised. “The wine is just right as it is. There’s no need to smooth it out with any oak,” is how they explained it to me.  Their wine wisdom is a cumulative 4 generations, so it’s probably safe to say that they know how to make good wine.

It’s also an incredible buy:  Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2002 Cuvée Tradition, 22 Euro.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 Cuvée Prestige, 33 Euro. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006 Cuvée Prestige 31 Euro.   You won’t find them selling any newer vintages. They know that good wine is worth waiting for.  www.chateaudumourredutendre.com Courthézon, France