Saturday, August 11, 2012

Some reflections about natural wine (part 1): it began in … Paris

I still remember my first sip of natural wine. Real natural wine. Some events possess the power to change lives and I honestly believe that during that tasting, something changed in me. It was in Paris during the autumn of the year 2000. I was walking the streets of this wonderful city on my own when I stopped by a small wine shop as I was interested in some of their wines. The shop owner, an older man called Monsieur Audry (I recently came across his business card again) presented me with a glass of wine. It was a Chenin Blanc from 1996, from a totally unknown winemaker in Anjou. I vividly remember what struck me the most about that wine: the nose had a very wild character and a broad spectrum spanning in all directions – it seemed that nothing was properly defined! The mouth was very refreshing, with a higher acidity than that which I was used to, but the kind that you can find in fresh fruit. The juicy taste stayed in my mouth for a long period of time. The winemaker was Eric Callcut, and his wines were sold under the name The Picrate. I decided to buy many boxes of different cuvée’s, all made in 1996 and in 1998, as the prices in French francs were ridiculously low. Coming home, I tried to smuggle all those bottles into my cellar, but my wife caught me and couldn't understand my need to purchase such a large quantity of wine. That being said, she is now my ex-wife, and I still have some of those bottles left as well as the regret of not buying that shop's entire stock of Les Picrates. A few years later Monsieur Audry sold his shop and moved to Sancerre where he started renovating an old castle. Sadly, Eric Callcut decided in the same year that I discovered him to stop making wine. Drinking, and also sharing his wines, still fills me with enormous pleasur...

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