We were fourteen-strong celebrating the birthday of my friend L the other night, who was passing through Paris on tour with his afro-indie band. I'd booked us into Quedubon in the 19ème partly because it was the only natural wine destination that I knew would have the physical space to seat such a large party. Also because Gilles, the owner, is a really heroically fun guy, all booming voice and room-commanding presence.
But it turned out to be an inspired choice mostly for their excellent magnum selection. They have something like 20-30 bottles available in magnum, as I remember it, many of them excellent values. We got through five in total, the highlight being an irresistibly priced (48eu!) bottle of 2007 Montlouis-Sur-Loire by Lise et Bertrand Jousset called "Singulier."
It was a surprise hit.
Actually, I'd suspected I'd love it. Lise et Bertrand Jousset are young Montlouis vignerons who I'd encountered very briefly, before really knowing their wines, at a Quedubon tasting earlier this year. They make a tasty Touraine Gamay / Cab Franc blend called "Y A Rien Qui Presse" that I buy from time to time at Au Nouveau Nez, where I'd also tasted their slightly shrill Vin de Pays de Loire Chardonnay. I've been consistently more impressed with their work with Chenin however - their Moutlouis Sec "Premier Rendez-vous" bottling is reliably excellent, silvery and precise.
The Joussets, who've been producing wine since just 2003, are practicing organic, and converting to biodynamic, but for whatever reason - Bertrand's experience working for both natural and more industrial winemakers, perhaps - these are not fearsomely "natural" wines. You won't find sandbars of sediment or buzzsaw acidity, those occasional hallmarks of extreme natural winemaking that tend to scare away novice drinkers. The Jousset's wines are very professional-tasting, and I'm curious to see whether that will change when they convert fully to biodynamic viticulture. For now it's kind of like when a tight, hypermelodic band like The Shins covers a song by a rangey bunch of plaintive howlers like Tenement Halls: the same great song, just slightly tamer and more accessible.
Nevertheless, I'm always slightly cagey about ordering white wines for Americans. Or Brits for that matter. Maybe it's an Anglophone thing. We just seem less aware, as societies, than many other wine-consuming nations, that whites go better with almost everything.* Frequently when I order one for a group of people I have the idea that I'm half-apologetically inflicting white wine on a bunch of tight-lipped smilers who are internally berating me, even as I pour, for what they probably suppose is nothing more than arch adherence to fusty dining tradition. People nod and wait for the red.
But the shining greatness of that 2007 Moutlouis-Sur-Loire "Singulier" was actually enough to win over the entire table, all thirteen other drinkers. Even the ones who'd covered their glass with their hand the first time round relented on the second pass. What was it about this wine? Probably just crowd dynamics, come to think of it. But it could also have been that it was a sumptuous, almost off-dry mana-from-heaven type Chenin, with perfect equilibrium, all white peach, mineral, honey and kerosene.
It's their marquee sec bottling, derived at least partly from vines over 100yrs old in their estate's Clos Renard vineyard. And it went rather brilliantly with an appetizer of cold veal brains in light aspic with spinach and chives, which dish, I'll admit, I'd originally ordered in the same spirit of perversity that had proved so rewarding with the Montlouis.
*I'm just going to let that statement ring for now, too much of an argument to try and justify.
Metro: Buttes Chaumont
Tel: 01 42 38 18 65
A surprise Bordeaux tasting at the end of same meal with Dominique Léandre-Chevalier of Châteaux Le Queyroux
Sipping the Joussets' Chardonnay at Au Nouveau Nez, 75011
My first or second impression of Quedubon, 75019
Pairing brains & Beaune at Le Baratin, 75020
A tasting of the Joussets' wines @ TheSommelierDiary (scroll down)
A good informative technical profile of Lise et Bertrand Jousset @ WineTerroirs
Some photos of a Lise et Bertrand Jousset open-door tasting @ Jim'sLoire