Saturday, March 28, 2015

Well now...

The proverbial shit is hitting the fan.

I was sick with the dreaded flu for three weeks.  Then Jude came down with the very same flu and it's laid her low for the same amount of time.  We've been house-bound for five weeks.  Further, due to various un-related reasons (end-stage cancers in former colleagues and family members) our energies and moods have been pretty low.

Feeling like I've turned the vastly improved corner on my health I wanted to get out and about. A small packet of coupons arrived just the other day.  The coupons were for free entry and a free glass to the Vigneron Independent.  Free is such a good price, right?

The Fall event is held in the vast spaces of the Paris Expo center down at the Porte de Versailles.  The Spring event is held in the smaller yet sufficiently vast spaces at l'espace Champarret.  L'espace was where my Fiction #19 published images (works in collaboration with Etienne Barillier, Arthur Morgon, and Julien Betain) were shown.  So we knew how to get there by metro.

The question before me was this; have my taste buds recovered sufficiently from the Horrid Crud to accurately sample a few wines?  There was only one way to find out.

Regrettably I would leave Jude at home to continue to recover from her own version of the Horrid Crud.  She and I seem to go everywhere together and my going alone felt like I was missing 1/2 the Fun Team.  This meant my taste buds would have to try and remember Jude's preferences.  Red.  Not too much "jam" flavor.  Robust.  Preferably not from regions that grow the Gamay or Pinot Noir grapes.

Thinking about this a moment, I knew it would be best to buy a bottle or two, bring them home, have Jude taste them, then find the vintners at the Fall event to Buy By The Case should we uncover something really tasty.  For this reason I would leave le diable (the handcart) at home.  A small cloth bag was all I would need.  Something sufficient to hold three or four bottles of the Red Stuff.

Loins Girded, small cloth bag pocketed, and coupons in hand, off I went.

I stubbed my toe at the door entering la foire.  The guard reminded me to "mind my step."  I said something (apparently) funny in reply and we both laughed.  I hadn't yet had a drink.  The guard welcomed me to the show.

Once somewhat safely inside I could see that l'espace Champerret was indeed much smaller than the porte de Versailles independent vinters show.  Still, it looked like there might be enough wine here to slake my thirst.  Hundreds of wineries had tables.

My search criteria included the following parameters.  Red.  Cab/Merlot/Malbec/CabFranc.  Blended (the norm around here, none of that silly single varietal stuff for us!). Biologique (very important to avoid bug killing chemicals).  Sans sulfites ajouter (extremely important, as Jude is allergic to sulfites).

The bio and sans sulfites ajouter requirements really narrowed the field.  The Cab/Merlot/Malbec/CabFranc blends narrowed the field even further.  These grapes are found predominantly around la ville de Bordeaux.  Though, as I would quickly learn, these cépages are also to be found in the south-west of France near the Spanish boarder and further east around le pays d'Oc.

As the show was rather smaller than la porte de Versailles I was able to walk the aisles and get a sense of who was there and what they had on offer.  There was plenty on offer.  Champagnes (the real ones).  Cremant (like champagnes, only without the name nor the region of origin).  Cognac (strong stuff, that). White wine.  Rose wine (yuck!).  Red wine.  A little biologique.  Very little bio-dynamique.  But mostly wines with stuffed with sulfites and other wine altering chemistries.  As one show attendant suggested to me, the chemicals are just like what they add to California wines.  Thank you UC Davis.  You're bastards! for the way you've "enhanced" wines with chemicals that the Gods Themselves abhor.

I found two vendors simply by wandering around and looking carefully at their regions and sign-age, asked a question or two, hauled out my Free Wine Glass, and asked if I could sample a beverage or two.  One vendor was from le pays d'Oc.  The other was from the area south of Bordeaux.  Both, surprisingly enough, offered red wines sans sulfite ajouter.  Both offered blended wines of the right cépages.  Both offered rather healthy pours (my glass was rather filled on each occasion).  Both offered wines that seemed tasty enough to bring home a few bottles for Jude to try.

I had a good laugh with the vintner from le pays d'Oc.  First I apologized for being a foreigner and for my horrid French language skills.  Then I apologized that I was here on a Mission for my wife.  I said I knew this was a wine show, but I myself preferred beer.  At that the two men working the table broke into a deep and hearty laughter.

It turned out that they too, for most things, preferred beer over wine.  I told them this can't, therefore, be France.  Even heartier laughter ensued.  I see now that the French really do love to laugh and have a good time.

When I confessed that I also looking for something to go with sanglier (wild boar) their eyes lit up, they poured me a nice tall glass of something deep red that would likely go with sanglier.  While I sipped that beautiful wine I was regaled with wonderful stories of the two of them trying to hunt sanglier around the fields on their property.  Imagine man avec gun contre les sanglier, all who hid in tall corn.  One trying to find the other in a game of French cache-cache.  There is no way to translate into English what a good time we all seemed to be having.

With a smile on my lips and four bottles in the cloth bag slung over my shoulder, off I went to descend into the metro to make my way back to home and hearth.  

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