If you guessed Burgundy, you’re right! The Bourgogne Montre-Cul (or Montrecul or en Montre-Cul) vineyard/appellation lies at the north end of the Cotes de Nuits, near Marsannay. According to legend, the slopes were so steep that when the women pickers bent over to pick the grapes, they gave everyone below a bit more of a view than just the hills. While this may sound like Hugh Hefner’s vineyard playland, the women were likely of somewhat sturdier stock than those you’d find at the Playboy Mansion. (Montre Cul really does sound like it’s something out of the French equivalent to John Cleese’s Hungarian phrasebook. Diner: “Je voudrais un Montre Cul.” Sommelier: SLAP.)
I learned of this appellation while tasting Sylvain (“The Sylvainator”) Pataille’s tasty 2007 red wine from the region. There are not many acres of vineyard left in the tiny region, which has largely been engulfed by Dijon. As you can see to the right, his label is a little less artistic than other depictions.
SIPPED: spiked juice
The good folks at Gizmodo sacrificed their own palates by turning Welch’s grape juice into, well, fermented grape juice using a product called Spike Your Juice. Just don’t let the WSWA know that underage might be able to get ahold of this for cheaper than wine.
SIPPED: wine book for kids
An illustrated book for children that details the life of the vine and wine’s history back to Roman times will be appearing soon–in France. It’ll keep them away from the fermented Welch’s, no doubt! (But then again, when you have self-serve wine tanks, why would you ever need to ferment Welch’s?)
SPIT: shopping for wine with kids
A Tesco in the UK refused to sell a dad a bottle of wine with his groceries. Why? Because he was with his eight-year-old daughter and she didn’t have valid ID. [Mirror.co.uk]
SIPPED: Bordeaux & Asia 1
After having his wine mentioned in a Drops of the Gods spin-off comic, a small Bordeaux vintner has withdrawn his wine from the market in the hope of preventing speculation and escalating prices. He’s now screening buyers and still offering the wine at €18. How long before there’s a secondary market for Château le Puy? [Guardian]
SIPPED: Bordeaux & Asia 2
A sequel to the popular Chinese TV show, “Cherish Our Love Forever,” is now shooting on location in Bordeaux. Inquiring minds wonder if it will do for Bordeaux in China what Sideways did for pinot noir here? [AFP]
SPIT: Bordeaux & Asia 3
The Economist has a short piece on wine in Hong Kong. They cite prices for Château Lafite Rothschild, the market leader, have roughly doubled in the past six months; “Sniff its bouquet,” they write “and the wine boom has hints of tulip mania.”
Marcel Lapierre, the vigneron of Beaujolais, is a grandpappy of minimal intervention, “natural” wine. And Thierry Puzelat in the Loire is a leading, young naturalista. In fact, Puzelat has credited the beauty of Lapierre’s wines as the inspiration for choosing the path to making such wines.
Each of them made a reasonably priced gamay in the acclaimed 2009 vintage; I bought each for about $12 at Astor Wines and then tasted them head to head. Turning to the master first, Read more…
Bring your own resealable bottles, Poland Spring containers, jerrycans, whatever. Or you can get one at the store. Select your grade (red, white, or rosé). Pump. Print receipt.
Astrid Terzian introduced this concept that hearkens back to a bygone era when wine would arrive in Paris shops in tonneaux and consumers would bring their own flagons to fill. But today, Terzian says, she started this scheme in fall 2008 to fill a niche, tapping into two key themes, environmental awareness and the economy. (She actually wanted to buy a wine property and run a B&B but it was too expensive. So she turned to what she says she knew how to do: sales.) The elimination of packaging mass means that the wine can be shipped much more efficiently from a cost and carbon perspective.
The cost-savings are passed on to the consumer in the form of low prices of 1.45 euros/liter (about $2/liter). She installed her first machine in June 2009 at the Cora supermarket in Dunkirk and now has them installed in eight supermarkets in France. The wines vary; one is a 2009 from the Rhone, technically a vin de pays méditerranée.
As to customer reaction, Terzian says customers are taken aback at first, but then warm up to the idea, especially after a taste. They come back often, she says.
Asked via email which is her favorite container to bring to fill, she says she uses a five-liter jug since it is “neither too big nor too small–and it’s typically French.”
UPDATE: I neglected to mention in the post that I think this, regulations permitting, will come to the US within a year. I told that to someone in the wine trade today. And he replied that he is already working on it!
UPDATE 2: My only question about the pump wine (aka Chateau La Pompe) is if it comes to New Jersey and Oregon, will they require full serve as they do for gas?!
Forget screwcaps versus corks: An English entrepreneur has sold this invention of single-serve plastic wine glasses–stem and all!–to Marks & Spencer, which now “struggles to keep up with demand.” He is laughing all the way to the bank since a business reality show in the UK called “Dragons’ Den” panned the idea when he presented it on the show. Sold under the brand “Le Froglet,” the individual 187ml glasses cost £2.25 ($3.33) for a Shiraz, Rose and Chardonnay, which, apparently, come from the Languedoc.
What say you: abomination or genius? Would this solve all your needs for wine in the back of a taxi? On a train home from work? At picnics? Your wine-through-a-straw needs?
“Wine-in-a-glass entrepreneur ridiculed in Dragons’ Den toasts M&S success” [Daily Mail; also image] Thanks, Jessica!
Last week’s New York Times reviewed some wines from Savennières, the Loire appellation that makes often-stunning, always dry versions of chenin blanc. The article noted the alcohol levels from the label of each wine alongside the newspaper’s ratings, comments and prices.
Would you like to see more reviewers noting alcohol levels? Although what’s written on the label is what we have to go on as consumers, it’s not always accurate given that federal regulations allow one to one-and-a-half percent wiggle room from what’s stated on the label. Have your say in the latest poll!
Also, just how did the NYT panel’s favorite wine, Nicolas Joly’s Les Clos Sacrés from the damp 2007 vintage, reach 15 percent alcohol? This is the Loire, not Lodi, after all. For perspective, I asked Nicolas Joly for a comment, which follows after the poll.
Stephane Tissot from the Jura outside Les Caves Augé in Paris.
Les Caves Augé, the excellent Paris wine shop, has fun, free wine tastings that spill on to the sidewalk. The shop is crammed with so many fine and fun wines that they mainly have to do these free tastings outside of the winter months, so the broad pavements of Boulevard Hausmann are at their most hospitable. For anyone traveling to Paris, there are three remaining Saturday tastings this season at Augé, “Wonder women” on June 5, “Loire” on June 19, and “bubbles” on July 10.
Although we’ve never met, Tim Eustis is a friend of a friend. He worked in wine retail in New York City and did wine consulting for seven years. About a year ago, he and his family moved to Paris. Back in March, he dropped by the first of the spring tastings. Over to Tim for photos and comments from his tasting some wines from the Jura and Alsace. I have liked some wines from Tissot (old vine Poulsard) and Binner (notably, the gewurztraminer) in the past so was pleased Tim had the chance to taste them.
By Timothy Eustis Read more…
Paradoxically, however, producers who dare to do something different are all-too-often ending up in this undifferentiated tier. (I detail more of the shortcomings of the appellation process in my book, Wine Politics.) Although quality producers in Italy make wine outside of the DOC system, the French have clung with surprisingly fervor to the AOC system as relatively few have left, in large part fearing the stigma of vin de table.
Chateau Palmer, the “super second” classified growth from Margaux, does not appear to fit the profile of one to buck the system. But that’s what they’ve done with their “XIXth Century historical wine.” Apparently, blending syrah from the Northern Rhone with Bordeaux was fairly common in the pre-appellation controllée era, particularly in weaker vintages, to result in a wine that had been “Hermitagé,” so-called after the celebrated region that produces fine syrah.
To make the Historical wine, winemaker Thomas Duroux blends barrels that were otherwise destined for Chateau Palmer with no more than twenty percent syrah from “friendly” (but unspecified) sources in Hermitage, Cote Rotie, and Cornas. Although it has been produced only in 2004, 2006, and 2007, the label legally can’t state a vintage as a vin de table, so instead they rely on the microscopic font of the lot number, 20.06 in the one I tasted last week. The wine is nothing like shiraz, cabernet, merlot blends of Australia, but it’s not really very Margaux either since it is fuller and richer and showing more of the syrah character now. Of the 250 – 300 cases made, the chateau is holding back 50 cases for a minimum ten years to see if the wine changes back to show more of the Margaux character. Priced the same as Chateau Palmer ex-cellars, this isn’t your typical vin de table.