I arrived to the boat, aptly named ‘Le Paris’ a little before 7pm on a beautiful sunny early summer evening as the Les Échevins de Bouzy, the small group of 11 producers from this historic village, were finishing setting up the tasting.
With the Eiffel Tower leaning over us, the yellow and red sashed members of the group (red for producers and yellow for longtime supporters of the Champagne of Bouzy) formed an arc and introduced the evenings events.
Seven champagne tasting stations were set-up on the upper deck, an oyster bar and dozens of smiling faces. We wasted no time in presenting ourselves at the first station hosted by the very charming Laurette and Philippe Secondé of Champagne Edmond Barnaut. Their zero dosage (no added sugar) bone dry, ‘Brut Nature, Pureté du Terroir’ champagne couldn’t have bee more perfect placed next to the oyster bar!
The real privilege of the evening was to be able examine up close these champagnes from such acclaimed smaller grower producers, that together represent one small village within the larger jigsaw we call Champagne. The seven wines above deck were to be followed on the lower dining deck with four more, plus the red pinot noir still wine known as Bouzy Rouge.
The vineyards of Bouzy are located on the south eastern chalky slopes of the Montagne de Reims and so capture a great deal of sunshine which produce much riper predominantly pinot noir fruit. The combination of the climate and soils tend to make the champagnes more vinous with an overt lively and fruity freshness.
Power and elegance
The winemaker completes the constitution of terroir, evidently working with nature to produce wines that are elegant but also exude power and refinement. On an evening when we get to taste so much, literally side by side, I must admit to expecting to experience some highs and lows. However, I can honestly say there were no lows. The standard across the board was really high. All the champagnes tasted are presented here in the booklet that we were given on the evening and I urge the reader to seek them out.
Paris by Night
There is a hallucinatory moment in the movie Casablanca when Rick casts his mind back to the heady champagne loaded days of Paris. I can think of other experiences in art, film and literature such as Hemingway, Picasso, Brassai, and so on. This night actually passed through like one of those apparitions that is never quite real but gets lodged into the memory; a jewell that unites the place, the pleasure and the time with the subconscious.
I am sad not to have recorded more film footage with all of the producers but there are four short interview pieces and an introduction that also feature my friend and colleague Susan Adda, who lives in Bouzy. They provide a little insight into the producers as much as the Champagnes.
The Bouzy Rouge still red wine was tasted as well with the meal later on in the evening but you can also see our film clip from the Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims during Champagne week in April.
The boat cruised up the Seine from the Eiffel Tower giving us exceptional views along the Seine. We dined until about 2:30 a.m. and I cannot recall quite how much champagne I consumed. The Champagne of Benoit Lahaye served downstairs left me with a feeling of deep regret as I did not drink enough of this exceptional wine whilst I had the chance. Somewhat criminally, the remainder of the bottle was removed to make way for the next in the procession.
I joked at around 2am that I had planned to visit the Musée de l’Orangerie in the morning before catching the Eurostar back to London. Due to the late hour and level of consumption, the chances of an early start were remote. Incredibly I awoke in my hotel at 8:30am and found myself with a clear head and ample time to take in the exhibition. What a fabulous trip!
Discord in Odesa; pruning at Shabo goes on!
Last week a picture was posted on Twitter of vines in Shabo, a large estate that lies to the west of Odesa on southern Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline. The image seemed benign at face value but the reality, of course, is that the city of Odesa has been bracing itself for attack by Russian forces.
An aperitif by the coliseum
As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.
Artichoke pasta and very fine Pigato
Britain’s lamentable exit
On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.
I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!
Soave: volcanic wines with elegance and longevity
Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.
An American In Paris; Tanisha Townsend (@GirlMeetsGlass) discusses podcasts, Paris wine bars, & what she's drinking at the moment
Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.
Wine tasting in Galicia: The pilgrims search for Albarino
The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.