On my first night off the plane, in need of a feed, I headed to the 2nd, to +33 144 82 08 54/26 Passage des Panoramas and to Coinstot Vino.
I was meeting two friends and their small child, it seemed price friendly, open to a little boy. Paul was supposed to call ahead to reserve. Forgot. The first to arrive, I was received with a dour face and then saved: the darling Guillaume Dupré recognized me and ushered me to a table in the rear.
Coinstot is market-driven. In winter, if you don't eat meat, there's not a lot of choice. I've never ordered a plat in my life, but with little in the vegetable department as an entree, (except a fab buffalo mozz that we shared) I ordered the wild bass on a bed of endive. Endive! The ways the French have with the fat bud of celadon tipped vegetable. Quite inexpensive in France, it is a peasant indulgence I cannot pass up. The fish was so perfectly prepared, the sauce on the endive so Sicilian in it's orange, it translated into comfort food. In fact, it remains, other than simple purple mashed and chunky purple potatoes at the new Le Dauphin, the single most memorable food I've had since arrival.
I haven't had anything but the Domaine Prieuré-Roch vin ordinaire in ages. CV offered the Gevrey at 56 euro and the Les Clous Vosne Romanée at 88 euro, which seems rather high for a blend of three lieu-dits, with vines around 30 years of age from Le Pré de la Folie, La Colombière and Aux Champs-Perdrix, but that's the way the domaine rolls.
I'm not sure how we ended up going with the VR (well, I do know, they were out of the Gevrey and I thought we were getting the Vin Ordinaire, but then the bottle came along, decanted, tasted, yummy, done deal. An expensive but happy mistake because it was delicious.
But at first confusing. In fact, still confusing. At first it was absolutely delightful, light, pure, ethereal, angel-like, extremely vibrant and almost texture-less. Where is this sixty-euro more than the Grand Vin, one might ask. For this one needs a magnum.
Anita immediately said, "This is gorgeous."
Paul and I agreed on gorgeous, but it challenged our idea of Burgundy. In fact it made me rethink the whole idea of Burgundy as it seemed like angles wings and clouds. Also, the wine seemed very whole cluster/carbonic, full of cinnamon and spice and rose. Fragrant in the Chauvet way, and extremely approachable and sensual, but structure? Back-bone? Nothing at first. One bottle for three of us was too quickly disposed of.And then.... it started to breathe..and then came some transformation. By the end of the meal the tannin, very slight and very fine started to strut. The velocity of the fruit started to calm down, like a chatty child who started to concentrate. Oh for a magnum.
The wine according to Yannick Champ, the winemaker, it is not a 'pure carbonic, but whole cluster (yes to stems) with twice- a- day pigeage, ( it must be extremely gentle pigeage at that, just enough) as Marcel Lapierre discovered, to guard the wine against an lacto bacillic bacteria attack. There was no new oak on this cuvée in this vintage.
Jaspar Morris just wrote to me this bit from his fabulous book , Inside Burgundy, that is just becoming available in the US, and a must read/buy. Essential in fact.
"The vines are farmed organically with half an eye on biodynamics. The grapes are vinified with all their stems in wooden vats, with old-style human punching down (rip the clothes off and leap in but be careful of the carbon dioxide). No sulphur is used at all at any stage except once, when the wines are racked.
The barrels in the cellar in Prémeaux are kept at a tilt that looks untidy to those used to rows of perfectly aligned barrels, but has the practical purpose of encouraging the sediment of the fine lees to gather in one spot, below the tap-hole through which the wine will eventually be racked. At the moment the wines are kept for a maximum of 24 months in barrel because there is not the space for a third vintage in the cellar, but Henri-Frédéric Roch and his right-hand man, Yannick Champ, are evidently tempted. One batch from 2002 was kept in wood for 44 months as a trial. Barrel tasting is no longer allowed, so my experience of the Roch wines is from bottle.
One person will be fascinated by the practices at this domaine, another may mock. Is this cutting edge, or are they out where the buses don’t run? The proof of the pudding is in the wines themselves, once bottled, and if you can afford them.