I was after a scoop, were Chauvetists really Néauportists? All of those wines that seem to taste charming, light, quaffable with a touch of cinnamon and spice? All of those wines where you see natural instead of terroir? Did they all come from Chauvet's right hand man, Néauport?
And the best way to find out was to find the man himself.
I asked Pascaline to for a favor. “Would you call him? I can go the last week in September.”
At precisely 10am on the next morning she called me back. I could hear her grinning as she delivered the news. “It would be his pleasure,” she reported. “He invites you to lunch.”
This was too easy. Where was the resistance? I expected to have to bring out the artillery to get him to agree to speak with me. I expected him to hang up on Pascaline. I expected to urge Andrea to plead my case. Yes, there was the ‘charming fellow,’ but I had heard so many other descriptors for him: reclusive, paranoid, difficult, unsung saint.
The lunch invitation made me feel uncomfortable. I conduct interviews more efficiently when I’m hungry, and then there was the meat. “His mother,” I said to Pascaline, “will be cooking for days. I can’t show up and tell her then I don’t eat animal.” When company comes, the vegetables go out the window and the duck confit flies in.
Trying to stave off an older woman’s horror as I sat at her table pushing the food around on my plate, I sat down to an archaic task, writing a letter. I had no idea my fingers could still channel my thoughts through a pen. I jotted down that I was coming, and delighted. Would the 29th of September be okay, I’d be bringing local friend Amy. I hate to be a bother but I felt it was best to have his mother know, that one of her American guests was a pain in the ass. I had Amy call to make sure letter was received, “He was lovely!” she reported. And so I bought a plane ticket to head to France, the most expensive lunch I ever went for, in in Saint-Fortunat sur Eyrieux
The chapter will be cover what was really behind Néauport’s wine vision as he spread the Chauvet gospel around France, but meanwhile the short?
I walked into lunch and behind the door were seven more people. So much for a private interview.
Jacques had some bottles for us, in the end there were 10 for 9 people and three weren't drinking.
The '90 Overnoy threw that clay slip flavor underneath the characteristic cherry fruit and the vein of tar. The Breton had become a little one note, simple. In fact it was the natural version of Parker Jam. The Montpertuis was earthy and still structured.
One of the big surprises? Amy Lillard brought out her one 2008 vintage. Brave woman! After all every wine we had, had some direct no-sulfur link to Jacques. The wine, grenache and no mistaking that one, showed well, and Jacques said, "It is well made.Of course you have to add sulfur if you're exporting."