WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

13 June 2013

"Chablis on foot" part 2: Droin, Chablisienne, Long-Depaquit, Fèvre

Stop press: Chablis: special focus report now available
"You can now get a handy PDF supplement featuring all three parts of my recent Chablis wine touring mini-series (see below), plus bonus pieces on a Chablis Grand Cru tasting and spotlight on M&S Chablis penned last year (and any of my other recent in-depth features). The full-works twenty-page Chabbers report in lovely PDF format emailed to you when you subscribe for just £10 (about $16 or €12) a yearOR BUY IT FOR £2.50 (about €3 or $4) - snap it up quick with PayPal!" Click on title above to find the PP buttons...

The first instalment of this mouthwatering Chablis mini-series can be found here: "Chablis on foot" part 1: Chablis Wine Awards; and there's a link at the end of this to Part 3. This time, join me on a little walking and tasting tour around Chablis town itself taking in four nearby wineries (there are several more of course), which can easily be squeezed into a leisurely day-out with a spot of lunch sandwiched inbetween (when in Rome...): no car required, and a good way to burn off those calories from eating too much cheese, as you do in France (tour could also be done by bike, as long as you 'spit out', man...).

Jean-Paul and Benoit Droin
Across the not-entirely square (place Lafayette) from the elegant and ever-so-French town hall (Mairie or Hotel de Ville) near the War Memorial, there's a discreet buzzer on a dark green metal gate for Domaine Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin (8 boulevard de Ferrières, phone 03 86 42 16 78, www.jeanpaul-droin.fr: there's a comprehensive list of their importers worldwide on this site by the way), which grants access to their hidden old ageing cellar (they have a modern winery too built near their Grand Cru vineyards). Old being the operative word, as this family estate goes back to 1620 no less, which is something French winemakers get very proud about, especially when you're the fourteenth generation "non-stop handed down from father to son," as Benoit Droin put it. Not many could say that I'd imagine. In any case, the main thing is that Benoit is now running the show, who explained they own 26 hectares (64 acres) in 15 appellations - Chablis, Petit Chablis, eight Premier Crus and five Grand Crus - "on both sides of the valley, so they're quite spread out making it difficult to manage ripening, picking dates etc"...

GET THE FULL PDF REPORT NOW TO READ THE REST OF IT!

Chateau Long-Depaquit
from their flickr.com photo gallery
And a good place for lunch: La Feuillette Restaurant 132, 8 Rue des Moulins, 03 86 18 91 67, chablis.net/lafeuillette132. They offer three set menu options...
A good place for dinner: Le Bistrot des Grands Crus, 8 Rue Jules-Rathier, 03 86 42 19 41, www.bistrotdesgrandscrus.com. Run by the same people behind the more famous Hostellerie des Clos (more on that in Part 3...)...
Ditto the link above - get the full-works report by subscribing to find out much more!

Click here then for Part 3Alain Geoffroy, Louis Moreau, Séguinot-Bordet and an elevated view of Chablis' vineyards with Eric Szablowski, to get a better picture and some insight on all these different complicated Premier and Grand Cru sites, where/what is Petit Chablis etc...
Lots more Chablis HERE by the way.

04 June 2013

Languedoc: Terre des Chardons, Costières de Nîmes

This vaguely inquisitive scribe first came across owner, grower and winemaker Jérôme Chardon - who's been doing organics in the field (they have olive and fruit trees and grow veg too) for no less than 25 years and using the biodynamic way since 2002 - and his sumptuous sunny wines back in the summer of 2010. We were at a tasting and presentation of medal-winning organic wines (and yogurts, jams etc. actually), as Jérôme's 2009 Bien Luné red was one of the Trophy winners. More about that with my note on this wine here: Signature Bio: organic wine competition winners.

From terredeschardons.fr
I caught up with him and tasted the 2011 vintage of this lovely wine and others earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier; I guess its name, Bien Luné, is a bit of a biodynamic pun as it means "in a good mood" although literally could also be "well moon-ed"! You'll find Jérôme's vines in Bellegarde lying between Nîmes and Arles (near the 'border' between the Languedoc and Provence, i.e the bottom of the River Rhone as it heads out merrily into the Med), which are part of Domaine Sainte-Marie des Costières. More info (including stockists and how to get there) @ www.terredeschardons.fr. Reasonable prices too: the € ones quoted below are cellar door.

2010 Clairette de Bellegarde - yeast-lees and toasted notes layered with very floral vs honeyed and exotic fruit, crisp 'mineral' bite with a nice bitter twist; interesting dry white style, even if a little 'out of kilter' in the end maybe. €9
2011 Bien Luné (Syrah, Grenache 50-50) - delicious dark ripe black cherry and liquorice with peppery edges, concentrated and full-on countered by attractive 'fresh' tannins, dark lush fruit and nice bite on the finish. Yum. €8.50
2011 Marginal (Syrah 80%, Grenache) - similar profile but more intense with violets, dark berries and chocolate; again has silky tannins and tasty long finish. Double yum. €10
2011 Le Chardon Marie (mostly Syrah from selected plots) - lively violet cassis and black cherry/berry, peppery too and concentrated with fine tasty finish, lovely textured tannins again with tighter palate vs a bit of oomph. €19

03 June 2013

Cider: Duché de Longueville 'Gros Oeillet', Normandy

Another post in my occasional series on quality ciders that have crossed my apple-strewn path (see link at the bottom for more), which brings us to the curious Gros Oeillet variety mentioned in the title that I'm told makes up at least 90% of this "naturally sparkling craft cider." Funny enough, this means either 'big eyelet' in French, as in curtain rings, or 'large carnation', as in oversized buttonhole filler. Must be the shape of it I guess. Still, not quite as amusing a name as a Devon cider apple variety called 'Slack my Girdle' apparently! Bet you're glad you know that now. Back to this rather tasty cider actually, for those who like a lovely really pure appley taste, nice fresh bite (but avoiding that sometimes rather harsh acidity you can get in apples) and delicate fizz (rather than injected burpy CO2), which comes from natural second fermentation (similar to real ale or Champagne I'd imagine). It's fairly dry and light too, although certainly not tart with its sweet apple character and not overly strong at 4.5% abv. This bottle was sampled with a lentil and prawn dopiaza curry actually and went pretty well with the spice and sweet/sour flavours in the sauce; I hadn't really thought about drinking cider with curry before but might do from now on. I'd think it would work well with a nice tangy mature cheddar or similar cheese with a bit of real flavour.
Costs £2.19 for 50cl at Sainsbury's, and £1.75 on promotion from 12 June to 2 July and 24 July to 2 August during their 'Vintage Cider Festival'.

Previous posts on cider: Aspall, Suffolk and McCann's, Co. Armagh