Schlagwort-Archive: France

Battle Vin de Savoie Malvoisie 2011 vs Coteaux de l’Auxois Pinot Beurot 2010

Todays battle sees the 2011 Vin de Savoie Malvoisie Cuvée Prestige from Domaine Girard against the 2010 Vin de Pays de Coteaux de l’Auxois Pinot Beurot La Mystérieuse from Vignoble de Flavigny-Alesia pitched against each other. Both wines are made using hand picked grapes, which does not really call for a battle.
Ok. They are both whites, from France… Both winemakers are members of France-Passion,
where camping car owners can stay the night after buying a sticker valid for one year.
Not enough?
Ok, both wines are made using Pinot Gris, though both use different names on the label.
Both the pink skinned mutation of the Pinot Noir as well as its white counterpart are rarely seen in France. The amount of Pinot Gris vines grown are about 10% of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc even just 5%.
Both are mainly grown in Alsace, where Pinot Blanc is mainly used as an ingredient for Cremant d’Alsace whereas the Pinot Gris is part of the 4.5 Grand Cru gang. Why 4.5? The 4 classic Grand Cru varieties are Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris with Sylvaner being the exception for the Grand Cru Zotzenberg only.
Before Hungary’s joining of the EC Pinot Gris was called Tokay in Alsace.
Apart from the Alsace there is also the Reully AOC in the upper Loire region where it is used for rosé wines in conjuncture with Pinot Noir.
It is also allowed in a variety of burgundy reds but it is not widely planted so the chances of finding even traces of Pinot Gris in red Burgundy are pretty slim. Here it is called Pinot Beurot.

The wine growing region of Coteaux de l’Auxois is part of Burgundy but not part of Bourgogne AOC. It’s hills are rather green with grass and dotted with big cattle. The Auxois is an old earldom in the western part of the duchy of Burgundy. The vinery Vignoble de Flavigny-Alesia lies south of the quaint village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain immortalized by the film Chocolat featuring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. It is also near to the historic place of Alesia where Caesar utterly destroyed gallic resistance by defeating their army in 52 BC. Beside the Pinot Gris which is the vinery grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Auxerrois and César. Alluding to the battle of Alesia the wine bottle is roughly in the shape of an amphora.

The Malvoisie from Domaine Grisard was bought in Mens, where I bought the Verdesse as well. At first I was not sure which grape variety hid behind the Malvoisie, as there are many grape varieties using this name, like the Frühroter Veltliner or the rare Malvasia bianca di Piemonte. But the Domaine put the real grape variety on the back label and they must know, because they also grow vines for sale in their pepiniere viticole.

Fresh from the fridge:
Vin de Savoie: Pear, light muscat-note, chalk. Soft, off-dry.
Coteaux de L’Auxois: light peach, apple core, green hazelnut, rape honey. Strong acidity with light bitter note.

Room temperature:
Vin de Savoie: Pear, dried Mango, fresh and ripe Mangop as well, some beeswax. Light peppery finish.
Coteaux de l’Auxois: light button mushrooms with mustard. Savoury, raspberry vinaigrette.

I’d serve them with:
Vin de Savoie: pan seared scallops
Coteaux de l’Auxois: Plate of Charcuterie

Two days later:
Vin de Savoie: pear williams, fresh ripe mango, light pineapple. Sweetness more pronounced.
Coteaux de l’Auxois: Mustard, pear, unripe mango, light onion. Acidic.

The winner is the wine from the Alps though i must admit that the interesting flavors from the burgundy were unique.

Bouzeron A&P. de Villaine Battle 1998 vs 2002 vs 2004

Bouzeron 2004

Burgundy is known for the two main grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but these are not the only ones! The third and fourth place go to Gamay noir a jus blanc and Aligoté. The latter has its own Appellation in Burgundy, the Bourgogne Aligoté AOC. The wines are light, acidic and are mainly used for mixing with Créme de Cassis to make there famous Kir. A special designated area for Aligoté is the Bouzeron AOC, a small area around the Village of Bouzeron in the Côte Chalonnaise. All the wines are 100% Aligoté but don’t have to mention the grape variety since the 1998 vintage.

The first names that piop up when researching Bouzeron are the famous co-owners of Domaine de Romanée-Conti, Aubert and Pamela de Villaine. Here they have their own vinery where they produce good wines for affordable prices, despite their name.

The 1998 vintage, the first for the Bouzeron AOC is seen as difficult for whites because the wines generally lacked acidity which is important for maturing. The Aligoté has more than enough of it, maybe this can even it out.

The 2002 vintage is said to be a good white wine year with enough acidity and concentration.

2004 sees higher yields with lower sugar content in the must and high acidity.

Just to see, how other producers of Aligoté might fare in a competitive tasting I included the 2002 Vieilles Vignes made by Château du Cary Potet, also from the Côte Chalonnaise region whom I first met at my first visit to the wine fair in Lille.

Let the Battle begin:

1998 Bouzeron, de Villaine:

Cloudy bottle

Oxidative nose: Sherry, Soy sauce, mineral acidity with german Christstollen with raisins and marzipan on the finish.

Using the Eisch-Riesling glass the oxidative notes disappear revealing cilantro with roots and mandarine.

2002 Bouzeron, de Villaine:


Fresh from the fridge the wine shows light button mushrooms and honey. Reminds me of a young Chenin Blanc from the Loire. It is followed by chalk and cooked apples. Softer and with more weight than the 98, light peppery finish.

2002 Aligoté de Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes, Cary Potet:


Clotted milk with fresh grapes. Lighter than the Bouzeron. On the palate oxidative Soy sauce and Sherry, light raw apple and raisin.

2004 Bouzeron, de Villaine:


Light chalk and apple nose. On the palate light oxidative note. Sunflower oil, wholemeal bread and dried apple aftertaste. Softer than the 2002.

The 1998 Bouzeron unfortunately was a bit too old. I preferred the 2002 Bouzeron. In comparison, the Vieilles Vignes were less concentrated and more matured. 2004 was more simple, mirroring the simpler vintage. All in all I found the Aligoté difficult for laying down.

2012 Klevener de Heiligenstein Nature, Domaine Rietsch

Alsaces most rare official grape variety is the Savagnin Rosé. It is only allowed in the region around Heiligenstein (42ha) where it has been grown since 1742. Its aromatic mutation, the famous Gewürztraminer can be found in all of Alsace. Both grape varieties are hard to distinguish, so they were at first interplanted but the Savagnin Rosé got banned because it lacked the desired aromas.

A completely atypical example of this grape is the Klevener de Heiligenstein Nature from Domaine Rietsch. Atypical because it has been vilified completely without adding sulphur and it has been left on the lees for ten months.

And it is an example of orange wine, a wine making technique that treats white grapes like red grapes. The crushed grapes are fermented before being pressed which gives more flavors, tannins and colour.

The winery is certified organic since 2008/2009. Part of their production is vilified in the style of <em>Vin Naturel</em>, i.e. without adding anything during vinification, no sulphur, no yeasts, no enzymes, no nothing.

Poured into the glass the expected light orange colour. Cider with cinnamon and pear juice.

The first sip shows juicy pear, fresh celeriac and mountain hay followed by a long bitter note. The slightly unnerving Cider note disappears, leaving cinnamon, pear, celery seed, hay. Light curry aftertaste- Later pear swaps with apricot. The next day hay comes to the foreground. Lightly oxidized, Madeira and raisins. The wine reminds me with its accentuated hay taste of the  „<a title=“Heugäuer“ href=““>Heugäuer</a>“ hay-soda from the german Allgäu region.

Bought this one at<a title=“Vins Vivants“ href=““>Vins Vivants</a> for€14.50.

2013 Mondeuse Blanche, Maison Philippe Grisard, Savoie

After our stay at Domaine Mèjane we continued the journey to Beaufort, famous for its cheese. Here the local cooperative is quite involved in new technology, having installed an automatic cheese vending machine so no one will run out of cheese 24/7. They also convert the whey from the cheese making process to electricity which is more than enough to run the dairy, so the excess is sold. But this is a completely different story.

I definitely wanted to stop at Maison Philippe Grisard in the mountain village of Cruet. The winery sells my favorite Verdesse, a Frühroter Veltliner (called Malvoisie here) and Mondeuse Blanche.

Mondeuse Blanche is one of those ultra rare grape varieties from the Savoy that keep popping up in ampelographic texts. It is not a mutation of the much more common Mondeuse Noire but they are definitely connected. The Blanche’s second of fame came in 2000, when it was shown that Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza (another almost extinct grape variety, this time from the Ardèche Region in France) are parents of the world famous Syrah / Shiraz.

So three wines that would be worth a little detour, I thought, while processing the address into the navigation system. Passing a couple of bikers on the straight road was easy. Once inside the village I had to turn right, straight up the mountain, a steep and narrow road. Any oncoming traffic and I would have been in big trouble. Panicking I turned into the next corner where we met a friendly Savoyard who asked me where I wanted to go. Up to Maison Philippe Grisard was my answer. No Problem, they have a parking space was the answer in perfect German. Back onto the road and going up the steep road under the watchful eyes of some inhabitants I finally found the parking, one space even free to settle the camper van.

Grisard Parking

Just check the relative height compared to the mountains in the distance, and the steep road in the left corner… I had to go back down there without really having ranging space in the back, past the amused onlookers commenting…

Grisard Weinkeller

Well, I didn’t feel like wine tasting at that moment, so I just bought two of each wine and tried the Mondeuse Blanche later back at home.

The bottle has been sealed with white wax, hiding a Noma cork.
Straight from the fridge: Banana, fresh and chewing gum. Quite full for a mountain white, balanced acidity. Cooked banana on the palate and long mineral finish.

Pouring the wine a couple of times from one glass into another (wine glass decanting) introduces fruit: Banana, unripe apricot, jasmine. On the palate cooked banana, apricot and a very interesting bitter sweet salty finish.

The next day surprises with more fruit: Banana peel, apricot, raspberry and cherry jam mixed with oat porridge and honey. One hour later the fruit is gone, leaving dandelion and honey.

The following day: Dandelion and apricot.

A very interesting grape variety on its own but next time I am not taking the camper van up to the winery!

La Vellavia Bière blonde, Polignac, Auvergne

The big summer vacation this year was spent in France, this time with our old camper van. Usually I’m looking for wine but there was one place on my list of places that I really wanted to see. Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne region. This is where the wolrd famous green lentils are grown and the old town has its owns, mystical charm about it. We decided to go for the Camping de Bouthezard in the Aiguilhe quarter. Yes, it was beautifully located just beneath the famous church St Michel d’Aiguilhe (as seen on the beer label). But what really sparked my interest were WiFi, laundrette and tumble dryer. The simple washrooms didn’t spark anything though…
When asking for a well deserved (changing tyres on a motorway rest stop only to find out that the extra tyre did not have enough air inside and the motor station’s inflator was out of order) welcome beer at the campsite shop the owner apologized for having only local beers on offer, no Kronenbourg or Heineken. Well, he was apologizing to the wrong person, i bought both beers on offer. A lentil beer, Perle Verte and the La Vellavia blonde brewed in the neighbouring Polignac, famous for it’s castle ruin.


The Perle Verte or green pearl was easy drinking with the tiniest touch of lentil. Had I not seen the label, I probably would not have noticed.
Perle Verte

The La Vellavia on the other hand was quite impressive. Orange-brown with a fine foamy head.
In the nose dried and frozen mango, dried apple, light cider. On the palate mango and malt caombined with flowery hops and a light bitter finale.
Beside the good water from the Central Massif there is one special ingredient that makes this beer so special. An ancient type of barley called Ponote that has been grown on the high plateau of Le Puy together with the Puy Lentils. The grains are quite big which makes sorting them out easier. This makes sense if you consider the way the barley was used as a ranking help for the lentils, both being grown on the same field at the same time. And both harvested together.

Guide des vins en biodynamie 3e édition & Le Guide de l’Altervin

Every year the same wine guides for french wines try to help the french consumers to choose their wines. Structurally and contentwise quite similar are the „Le Guide des meuilleurs vins de France“, published by Frances influential wine magazine La Revue du vin de France and its direct competitor, Le Guide Bettane & Dessauve des vins de France, ironically published by the late publishers of the Le Guide des meuilleurs vins de France. Both publications concentrate on the wineries that they deem the best of France. Their new wines are noted and rated and the wineries introduced. That makes both books quite similar. New editions of the same books don’t have much new information to offer. Seldom new wineries. A more wine orientated view is shared by Le Guide Hachette des Vins, where smaller, unknown wineries have a chance of publication with maybe one or two good wines. Other publications have had difficulties entering this tight and conservative market, even big names like „Gault & Millau“ had to fly the white flag after a couplew of years. Thats why I like to see new wine guides with new concepts.

The Book : „Guide des vins en biodynamie“ edited by Évelyne Malnic, has seen its third edition. The concenpt is simple: The best wines from certified biodynamic wineries in France and the French-speaking part of Swiss. A new feature I have not seen before is an extensive oenological description of the wine, including grape variy, terroir, yields, age of vines, vine treatments and all other work that has been done in vineyard and cellar. Residual suagrs and free sulphur is given as well. 21 Somelliers from the Normandie have tasted 487 wines from 136 wineries and rated them as well. Some of the widely known wineries were Château Climens, Marcel Deiss, Domaine Leroy. The majoritiy of wineries were unknown to me.

Le Guide de l'Alter-Vin
The book „Le Guide de L’Alter-Vin, 133 vignerons hors du commun“ by Laurent Baraou & Monsieur Septime has been published in August 2012 but has not come to my attention till I saw it last november in a big book store in Lille. The book is seen as a collection of portraits of avantgarde winemakers. The Authors compare the winemakers to the young artists like Picasso, Manet, and Cézanne, who could not exhibit there work at the famous Paris Salon. Later the Salon lost its prestige and importance while the artists came to be famous and influential. A lot of members of the vin naturel movement are included. Others completely ignore the AOC regulations and bottle thier wines as Vin de France. But also Winemakers from unknown regions like Domaine Lelièvre from the Lorraine are included. To qualify as a wine guide both authors give a small description of their favourite wine from each winery.

Both books enliven the french wine book scene, i hope to see new editions in years to come.

2010 Melonix, J. Landron, Loire

A wine fairy tale:

Once upon a time there was a grape variety called Melon. She was forced to flee from her home in the Kingdom of Burgundy by the evil Chardonnay who from there would eventually conquer the world, a tale which will not be told today.

Homeless the poor Melon walked the lands until she finally found a place to settle down. This place was beside a broad and long river, just about to flow into the great sea. Finally she had found a new home where she fought battles against the Great Frost, where she prevailed and found appreciation. Almost three centuries passed and tales of her courage and strength reached far continents. But when these news reached the ears of Chardonnay, he sent out his spy masters to spread foul lies about Melon, defaming her as a coward.

Ashamed and broken Melon took into hiding where she was eventually discovered by the great magician Landron who consoled her and gave her a magic cape so that she would not be recognised as Melon any more, giving her a new Name, Melonix.

Well, the true story is simpler:

20 year old Melon de Bourgogne vines, organic vine growing, no added yeasts, no fining, no filtration, no added sulphur. A classic example of a Vin Naturel. Thats the reason this wine can only be sold as a Vin de France.

I bought this wine directly from Landron at the Fair of independent wine growers in Lille almost two years ago. Since then the bottle has been lying low in my cellar with temperatures going up in summer upto 20°C. The back label asks for storage under 14°C though…

Melonix Rücketikett
I was a bit nervous because of this when I finally decided to open the bottle. The cork turnded out to be a Nomacork-plastic cork. Pourde into the glass the fears were unfounded:
Typical vin naturel apple juice, cinnamon, oak cookies, light honey. No volatile acidity, no Brett. Strong acidity combined with full mouthfeel. Apple, raspberry, sage, liquorice on the palate. Unrefined dark sugar and pepper aftertaste. After warming in the glass the aromas evolve further:
Tarte Tatin, some caramel, buttered apples, followed by mangom sage, butter, honey. Later the herbs influence gets stronger. Sage gets company from oregano and mitsuba.

Definitely not a standard Muscadet, not really something I’d like to eat a seafood platter with. Rather have it with Poulet a la normande or on its own.

Verdesse, Persan, Étraire de la Dhuy – Cave de Bernin – Côteaux du Grésivaudan

Looking for unknown grape varieties one often has to look to unknown wine growing regions. One of those is set in France between Grenoble and often overlooked Vin de Savioe AOC region. Overlooked at least in Germany. The Côteaux du Grésivaudan is part of IGP Isère (together with the equally unknown Balmes Dauphinoises) and have to battle with low prices for their wines, high labour cost, also due to difficult mechanization and high realty prices.

Only through passion and the wish to preserve its culture by some winemakers some wines still find their way to the world of wine. Especially through the use of autochtonuos grape varieties.

Among those are the white Verdesse and the dark Persan and Étraire de la Dhuy grape varieties. The Verdesse I have tried the one from Domaine des Rutissons before and found it to be quite interesting. With only 2ha grown in 2008 a real rarity. Persan and Etraire were still unknown to me. According to  Wine Grapes Etraire is a natural seedling of Persan. 2008 only 6ha were planted. Slightly more grown is the Persan,  9ha in France and some winemakers in the Piedmont where it is called Becuet. All three grape varieties are grown by the  Wine Cooperative in Bernin , vinified and bottled. This makes them to my knowledge the only winemakers that offer all three grapes as mono varietals. One reason to have a look around!


Cave de Bernin

The cooperative was easy to find using the navigation sytem and also easy to reach with our camper van, something that is not a given in the little mountain villages with their steep and narrow roads. A big parking space, a small shop with their wines and local specialities like walnuts and fruit jams and a free, fabulous view. What more can one ask for? And all very reasonably priced. Bottles range from 2.90€ to 5€. Bag in Boxes are even cheaper. All wines are made without vintage. Unfortunately I did not have time to do some tastings at the cooperative because we were pressed to reach our next destination, the Domaine de Méjane with its camper van space.

Verdesse Cave de Bernin

The first wine, Verdesse was light in colour. Granny Smith, lemon and lemonade, light soap followed by cooked apple with lavender honey and overripe pineapple but also unfortunately a touch of volatile acidity. Light on the palate as well with a long mineral finish and dried apple peel aftertaste. Slightly watery, lacking concentration.

The second day the volatile acidity has dispersed, Granny-Smith, iced pineapple, banana chewing gum, lavender honey, raspberry soda and chalk. Overripe pineapple and oyster mushroom aftertaste.

Etraire de la Dhuy Cave de Bernin

The second wine, the Etraire de la Dhuy, was lightly coloured as well. On the nose cloves, vanilla, cherries (combination of cherry jam and ripe, juicy fruit). On the palate light as well, light tannins and refreshing acidity. This wine too makes me wonder what could be made from these grapes if the yield was kept low.

The second day the wine changed only slightly: Cassis, cherry, lightly smoked ham mit cloves. Cherry and cloves aftertaste with light bitter note.

Persan Cave de Bernin

The third and with 5€ the most expensive of the cooperative is the Persan.

The colour shows more intensity than the Etraire, which is no big feat.

The nose is attacked my a blast of Brett (Brettanomyces) which reminded me of cow manure. Luckily the stink is quickly gone only to be replaced by raspberry jam, hibiscus flowers and orange marmalede with saffron. Fuller than the Etraire with a balanced Acidity and plum finish.

The second day the Brett influence has diminished. Now it gives the wine a foxy note, reminding me of concorde jam. On the palate I head the impression of a nice country bread spread with concorde jam without the sweetness, obviously. Acidity seems to have gained in strength. Despite all, this is one is my favourite of the three.

All in all a couple of interesting wines. Complex aromas, unfortunately lacking concentration. So there is still some space to improve. And dirt cheap.