29 December 2010

not encountering selosse at: caves augé, 75008

You may remember that I had notably failed to meet legendary Champagne vigneron Anselme Selosse at Spring's "Promesse du Vin" tasting a few weeks back, because he was late and I felt awkward waiting around. Well, the other day while I was Christmas shopping at Spring Boutique, my friend Josh (the wine director there) happened to mention there would be another Champagne tasting at the landmark 8ème wine shop Caves Augé the next day, and Selosse was slated to attend.

Pictured above is the barrel where he and his wines ought to have been. 

As my patient, unflappable friend S and I tasted through a lot of other great grower Champagnes in the miserable torrential frozen slush that afternoon, I overheard a Caves Augé employee explaining to someone that Selosse was, in fact, bloqué dans la neige, which is French for "couldn't be bothered to show up in this sickening weather." 

I can't really blame him. It was really hateful cold that day. There was simply no guessing the aromas on the wines we tasted; our noses were ice cubes and everyone was occupied shifting weight from one foot to the other and dodging the splash-back from the street-level spit buckets. I wasn't bitter about it. It had given me an excuse to finally visit Caves Augé, which conventional wisdom holds is The Greatest Cave In Paris. 

When I say it like that it sounds like I'm winding up to disagree - but I'm not, not really. It's a pretty fantastic place. Real estate in that part of town is dear, to say the least, and Caves Augé deserve some kind of Guinness Book recognition for filling every last square millimeter of their space with well-chosen, largely natural wines. They are literally stacked floor to ceiling, and piled precariously on tables, and jammed beneath said tables, and pooled in bins at the foot of said tables. If I have one complaint about Caves Augé, it's that one can in no way feel at ease whilst shopping there; one is always frightfully aware of the possibility of one's satchel accidentally knocking over a case full of Cornas or God-knows-what. 

In the far corner is an elevator presumably leading to yet more reserves of excellent wine. We were warned against going near but S likes to live on the edge. 

An entire wall is devoted to an impressive selection of Armagnac (Darroze out the wazoo), Calvados, and other artisanal spirits, many of which are helpfully open to taste on a big alluring booze table. 

(Which retail technique is pretty much mandatory, if you ask me, when the spirits in question are 100+€ per bottle. Though I have no idea how they successfully discourage opportunist boozers who just pop in routinely to sip and consider. Am I the only one who fantasizes about doing that?) 

I took the opportunity to do a bit of shopping that day, and wound up toting for the rest of the day a big sack of bottles that included wines from Nicolas Joly, Alice et Olivier De Moor, some random Côte Roannaise producer whose name fails me (an impulse buy), and, of course, M. Selosse himself. You could say he was there in spirit. 

116 Boulevard Haussmann
75008 PARIS
Metro: Saint Augustin
Tel: 01 45 22 16 97

Related Links: 

Caves Augé get mentioned in this list of artisan caves @ WineTerroirs
An older (2006) but still relevant post on Caves Augé @ Dr.Vino

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