Stuart George

Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

California Dreamin’… In Paris

In Tastings on March 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm

On Wednesday 24 March I was in Paris for a tasting of “Vins et Spiriteux des Etats-Unis” at the US Ambassador’s residence on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

Such a tasting would be unlikely in the UK: The best wines are shown via their agents rather than at a generic gathering like this. I have been to California only once so do not know the wines at all well. Producers from such unlikely places as Colorado and Georgia were also showcasing their wares to what I suppose was an audience of top Parisian sommeliers, cavistes and journalists.

With the taste of the outstanding Léoville-Barton 2009 still resonating on my palate, the wines here were predictably a mixed bunch and too often striving for power rather than finesse. Randall Grahm’s 2004 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant was a ringer for Châteauneuf du Pape. It even had some Brett for added authenticity! I also liked the fleshy and luscious 2005 Joseph Phelps Insignia and Ridge’s rich and almost elegant 2006 Lytton Springs Zinfandel and Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon. The two Au Bon Climat Pinot Noirs were soft, juicy and elegant – good wines.

There were some curiosities from Colorado that I had not encountered before. Boulder Creek Winery produces a Merlot/Cabernet blend called VIP Reserve 2006 that really wasn’t bad at all. There was a bit of excess oak but the mid-palate was pleasantly juicy and fruity.

Varaison Vineyards and Winery, however, is totally misguided. The earnest young man pouring these shockers told me, “We’re trying to produce wines that taste 20 years old without waiting that long…” He has succeeded admirably: The Chardonnay and two Merlots that I tasted were indistinguishable from each other – and from a lame Fino Sherry, for that matter. I am still staggered that somebody actually thinks these are good wines and that people will buy them.

Probably this “Judgement of Paris” was organised along standard French practices. But the tiny spittoons on each table were woefully inadequate for so many people and had to be emptied at frequent intervals, meaning that sometimes there was no spittoon at all. It all looked very nice but the logistics could have been better – says a London-based journalist!

Ma Cave Fleury

In Restaurants/wine and food on January 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

On Friday 15 January I had a painfully early departure from St Pancras to be in Paris for a 9.30am meeting. Happily there weren’t any snow-related problems with my Eurostar train and I arrived promptly.

After the meeting I was left with 11 hours to kill in Paris before returning home. I went for a walkabout, starting on Avenue George V, then to the Eiffel Tower. From there I walked right across the city to Père Lachaise Cemetery where I visited Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison and then headed back west for a more social meeting than the morning appointment.

I had arranged to rendezvous with Per and Britt Karlsson, an immensely likeable Swedish couple who have lived in Paris for 16 years. They run wine tours for Scandinavian clients and send out the useful BKWine Brief e-mail each month.

Britt suggested we meet at a wine bar that she had not yet visited. Ma Cave Fleury is a “cave éco-logique” run by Morgane Fleury of the eponymous Côte des Bar Champagne house. It opened in February 2009 and lists a full range of Fleury Champagnes as well as a nice selection of other Biodynamic wines.

We tried the soft and fruity Rosé de Saignée NV (actually 2006), which had generous Aubois fruit and a flattering dosage of about 9g/ltr according to Morgane. A bit too sweet for me, even after walking across Paris.

The Blanc de Blancs 2000 was yeasty and bready though utterly clean with it. I thought it was quite mineral. This had a lower dosage of about 5g/ltr and was better for it – more refined and grown-up!

Ma Cave Fleury is on the seedy Rue Saint-Denis. Morgane told us that she never had any trouble with the sex shops and prostituées but drug dealing was a significant problem and she closes relatively early as a safeguard against unwelcome visitors in the evening.

Not having been to Paris for some time I had forgotten how ubiquitous the greengrocers’ apostrophe is with shops trying to be chic and using English: mocha’s, latte’s and  coffee’s. On Rue Saint Denis the shops sell interesting video’s and film’s…