Sigh, last of the Paris buys worth a mention. From a caviste tucked away on a one way street close to Place de la Republique, overdue a visit and full of good choices like Richaud and Gramenon next to each other on the Rhône shelf. Despite some reservations about the former’s alcohol levels and ripeness in recent years, Marcel Richaud has often won this heart with the sheer depth of some great fruit turned into a rich, deeply flavoured mouthful. This one’s from a tricky hot year and neatly avoids overdoing it. Dry leathery skin flavours that seem almost Barossa like lead into still crunchy raspberry and cherry bright fruit. Maybe it’s the Carignan helping out the Grenache and Syrah with some good acidity? Real fruit weight, clean and naturally satisfying tannin and cut, honestly tasty. My visit on a atmospherically gloomy late afternoon in November interrupted the carving of a grand wheel of good Comte. Happy to stop and share warm thoughts about good bottles. Bonne adresse, as they Parisiens say. Delicatessen Cave, 136 rue Amelot 3er. Another visit please.
14.50% alcohol. Cork. 12 euros.
Jancis Robinson’s vintage reports for the Rhône in 2015 said Syrah was particularly good in the south and they were dead right on the evidence of this 50/50 blend with Grenache. Rounded delicious smells of violets, smoke and ripe raspberries and blackberries, all very reminiscent of a ripe Syrah from a bit further north. Clean mouthful of smoky dark berries, spice and well settled acidity, backed up by firm ripe skin tannins. A little bit washy through the finish but for a bargain from the shelves of Franprix, it’s astonishingly good. Beautifully made and consistent over two or was it three bottles? One seemed to end up in the basket at checkout whenever milk was the main purpose of a Franprix adventure.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. Absolute bargain territory, 8 euros!
Looks like this is a bottling for the ubiquitous French chain of Nicolas by the large and great quality cooperative, La Cave des Vignerons de Chablis. Certified organic too which is becoming a common thing in not just the more fashionable cavistes. This is just mouth-wateringly delicious text book Chablis. From first sniff to last wistful sip, a perfect demonstration of Chardonnay like no other. Rich in ripe green and yellow fruit and that chalky, yoghurt sour cut. Good volume for a basic, just not quite the intensity for the great, but so amazingly delicious. Impossible to put the glass down for anything but a moment to wonder how Chardonnay can taste like this and perhaps a nibble of another gougere.
12.50% alcohol. Cork. 17.50 euros.
93 points but more if terroir counts.
Pinot Noir from limestone and clay soils and a generous gift from the Paris apartment host’s cellar. Still a good cherry red colour and plenty of gentle red fruit hanging on. Probably preserved by the flinty acidity and graphite fine tannin. The perfume lingers, carried by that filigreed structure which is only light of body and veers towards the austere. The flavours are as much about chalky soil as they are cherry and raspberry fruit. Clean and enough weight to keep you interested though. It’s something outside the usual range of self imposed options when scouring the local wine shops. Vive la difference and thanks so much for temporarily renting us your home, cher F. Not one of those Airbnb’s depriving locals of their homes, I hope. Oh, the politics of modern travel.
13% alcohol. Cork. Wish every apartment host was this kind and as interested in sharing a drink.
92 points but much more than a number.
One of the most whimsically lovely labels and a wry humoured producer determined to rise up against bureaucracy that blindly follows the letter rather than the spirit of the law. A blend of Braucol, Syrah and Duras with, as they put it, a murmur of Alicante, Prunelart and Jurançon. Braucol has a lot of aliases, Fer Servadou maybe the most used alternative. It’s pure, clean and lip smacking and tastes of perfectly ripe plums caught in preserving web of skin tannin and gentle mouthwatering cut. After the serous business of Bordeaux, this is warm hearted, cheerful and honest, they even list the ingredients, grapes and a bit of sulphur. There’s also a small, cryptic drawing of a badger overlaid with a red circle and diagonal line on the back label. So, no badgers were involved in the making, phew.
12% alcohol. Cork. 12.50 euros.
92 points, bonus for fun.
Fifth growth, 70% Cabernet, 25% Merlot, the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc and reputed value if that’s possible with an address in Pauillac. Opens cleanly with a svelte cultured perfume of bright red berries, a waft of cassis, crushed gravelly rock and candid, straight ahead vanilla oak. Gained some toned muscle and flesh over two days. The acidity and tannin as beautifully sculpted as the limestone that clads so much of Bordeaux. Bourgeois poise without flamboyance and probably the last upwardly mobile dalliance in the light of cru Beaujolais at half the price.
13% alcohol. Cork. 40 euros.
Most commentaries suggest this fifth growth is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Well, it certainly presents with Cabernet’s serious austerity. Dark savoury berries, menthol, pencil boxes and an ironstone firmness. As it opens there’s some real power in the middle and a touch of not quite clean old oak. The chomp of Cabernet skin tannin and bright acidity make for an unequivocal statement of Bordeaux made for age and no frippery. Just a hint of sweet cassis softens the rigour of a Bodelais frown at the notion of hedonism. Serious business and a serious price for an entrée in the world of proper Bordeaux.
13% alcohol. Cork. 45 euros from Badie, one of those implacable Bordeaux cavistes.
94 points just coping with a scintilla of mucky oak.
Dry Semillon from a Sauternes producer. Opens with sweet citrus, mainly lemon, sort of lemon curd in fact and well mannered oak suggesting vanilla, spice and toast. Tingling acidity really crashes through the ending. Over two or three days, the texture fattens to a creamy luscious cushion for that acidity and the flavours mellow towards honey and more yellow fruit, even something tropical. At this point the thought occurs there may be a touch of noble rot or dried fruit or perhaps that’s just rot on my part. Anyway it’s lush and full. This makes a great stop on the road in the search for good dry semi trailer.
13.70% alcohol. Cork. 17 euros.