23 February 2011

galaxie 500 & romorantin: au nouveau nez, 75020

Well, it wasn't precisely a pairing. My friends and I were pre-gaming at Au Nouveau Nez on the way to Saturday's Dean Wareham show, where the songwriter was slated to play only his classic late-eighties / early-nineties Galaxie 500 work. I'd arrived early, a lucky thing, since it's my unavoidably antisocial habit to lose myself in perusal of any wine selection for upwards of fifteen minutes before any drinks get poured.

Au Nouveau Nez 20ème proprietress Agnès and I got to talking about the wines of the Courtois family: a range of biodynamic Loire wines from Sologne, mostly field blends, mostly Vin de Tables, all labeled according to who in particular made the wine: Claude, le pere, or his son Julien, or his other son Etienne. Agnès, her partner Nadine (who runs the Au Nouveau Nez in the 11ème), and I had all recently tasted many of the Courtois' wines at the La Dive Bouteille tasting in Saumur, and we all left with different favorites.

Nadine preferred the reds. Agnès and I preferred the whites - almost to exclusion, in my case. (The reds, while sturdy and honest, strike me as slightly muddy and unfocused.) Nevertheless we were all charmed by the style of the Courtois clan in general, which, like Dean Wareham's old band, rests on an exotic tension between the maximal - everything-but-the-kitchen sink grape blends, numerous cuvées, Galaxie 500's arena-sized reverb - and the minimal, as represented by the simplicity and coherence of the results, the vinous equivalent of Wareham's two-chord homages to Lou Reed.

Before the concert that night we shared a bottle of Claude Courtois' 2006 Vin de Table Romorantin, made from the marginal Loire white grape known mostly as the basis for the also-marginal AOC Cour-Cheverny. Agnès informs me she purchased the last there was available of the vintage. Evidently a superb find on her part: the wine possesses the structure, citrus, and minerality of its cepage, but said minerality here displays a kind of insistent gravitational weight - moonrocks, with a hint of grapefruit. Think Naomi Yang's bass tones, and the otherworldly bite in a song like "Decomposing Trees."

Which song, as we learned from Dean Wareham's onstage patter later that evening, was inspired by an acid trip. The funny thing was he introduced several songs that way. Artistic creation, folks: now you know.

Au Nouveau Nez
52, rue Bagnolet
75020 PARIS
Metro: Alexandre Dumas
Tel: 01 43 56 94 55

Au Nouveau Nez
112, rue Saint Maur
75011 PARIS
Metro: Parmentier
Tel: 01 43 55 02 30

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