6000 Kilometers in France


Me standing in front of Le Prole, Nimes famous communist bar.

i don’t like cabernet sauvignon. i find the wine made from cabernet to be tough and unyielding, whether it’s made to be consumed fresh or aged. At some point while tasting through Bergerac i came to this conclusion. We were standing there, tasting with young talented winemakers who were doing the right things in the vineyard, making more classically styled, less extracted styles and i just couldn’t get around the cab.

This is okay, though. This is the point.

i’ve been tasting wine for five weeks now and the one definitive thing i can say about my current taste is that, for the moment at least, i don’t like cabernet sauvignon.

We started out in the Languedoc-Roussilon where the wines may not be the most interesting to me, but the energy is certainly the most dynamic. There are winemakers making wines in basements and abandoned cooperatives and their grandmother’s houses because there are great terroirs going for dirt cheap. In some places the best land is selling for half as much as the worst, flattest land in the area because the flatter land is easier for the big industrial concerns to farm. It’s sad until you realize that the most exciting people working are getting the best terroir at entry level prices.

After that we went to Gaillac and the sud-ouest where we got lost and found out that cabernet sauvignon is not for us.

In Auvergne there is a whole group of people working tiny plots of land and raising chickens and farming and still working like, well, farmers. How easy it is to forget that winemaking is an agricultural activity and not alchemy.

In Beaujoulais we met up with the great Eric Texier, who will get a post all his own in the coming weeks. Everyone else was gone so off we went back to Paris.

In the Loire there is still so much to see. It’s definitely a region that shouldn’t really be termed as a singularity when it comes to wine. From Muscadet to Sancerre we drove, visiting almost everything in between (not even close to almost everything). i will tell you that VLM is indeed right, and chenin blanc is bar none the greatest variety on the planet. i will also tell you that cabernet franc is still the most underapprciated grape on Earth.

Next we swung by Burgundy quickly, where i got to marvel at the scorched, dead earth of the Chablis grand-crus. i also tried andouilette, and can report that it is the worst thing i’ve ever eaten in my life.

In the Jura we drank the most exciting wines in France (in my opinion, of course). Poulsard, trousseau, savagnin, chardonnay, melon-qeue-rouge, seriously folks the bandwagon could use a few more people on it.

We left the Jura satisfied with the work done, and drove back into Paris where it took us an easy hour and a half to find a parking space.

Memorable bottles:
1997 Overnoy Savagnin Ouille
NV Lassaigne “Cotet” Champagne
1996 Pichoulin Brezeme
2000 and 2007 Eric Texier CDR Blanc
2007 Overnoy Poulsard
3 Cuvees of Selosse, Contraste, 1999, and Substance, provided by the fantastic (despite her andouilette love) Sharon Bowman
Several vintages of Brin de Chevre at lunch with Thierry Puzelat

(Sorry if this post reads like a lazy journal entry. Actually, not sorry because it is a lazy journal entry. See you all stateside.)

~ by Cory Cartwright on April 14, 2010.

5 Responses to “6000 Kilometers in France”

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon from everywhere? Well, I guess we all have phases.

  2. Your quick write up makes me want to hop on a plane. Welcome home.

  3. I dunno, I think a very compelling argument could be made about Riesling in all its forms (dry to sweet) and growing areas (German, Alsatian, and Austrian) as being the equal to Chenin Blanc.

    Curious as to how much old, classically-made Calif. Cab and Bordeaux you’ve had? Don’t care who is making the wine, no Cab from the Languedoc, old or new, should be used as a gauge against what that variety is capable of (and so rarely is nowadays).

    Just trying to give a bit of perspective, that’s all.

  4. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but we found a parking spot in zero seconds last time we drove into Paris. Three feet from the door to the apartment.

  5. […] friend, in order to make a liar out of me when it comes to cabernet, brought an excellent bottle of 1980 Shafer Napa Valley Cabernet as well as a 1980 Chalone pinot. […]

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