08 February 2016

save this bar: jéroboam, 75011

Pity the lonely aficionado. Imagine being possessed of knowledge and good taste, in a given subject, and yet being condemned, for want of similarly-inclined fellowship, to forever share one's passion with ciphers, suits, and passers-by.

If you have imagined this, it gives you a good foretaste of the potential tragedy of 11ème wine shop and wine bar Jéroboam. Owner Vincent Fiorani made his career in manufacture of children's toys. Until opening Jéroboam last year, he indulged his passion for wine as a partner in 17ème arrondissement wine shop Coureurs de Terroirs. When that association ran its course, he decided to launch himself full-time in wine.

Jéroboam is the result. The establishment counts among its assets an excellent, Marais-adjacent location; a vast, well-priced selection of less-than-obvious wines, including many natural wines and impressive back vintages; and simple, good-value boards of charcuterie, cheese, and cured fish. All of this is, unfortunately, delivered with the earnest marketing blather of a Wall Street English program.

04 February 2016

n.d.p. in beaujolais: nicolas chemarin, marchampt

Expect to hear a lot of bitching and moaning about Beaujolais in 2015. Alcohol levels are abnormally high for the region, in some cases turning what ought to be elegant, light-spirited wines into the Incredible Hulk. I tasted some primeurs this year that could overturn tractor-trailers.

More recently I've tasted tank samples from various cru producers that were more encouraging: the best wines manage to integrate the heat of the vintage into a kinetic, powerful whole. Furthermore, the unusual ripeness of the vintage wasn't bad news for everyone. 

In the backwoods Beaujolais-Villages hamlet of Marchampt, young natural winemaker Nicolas Chemarin stands to benefit. Marchampt lies southwest of Régnié at the foot of the Beaujolais vert, the mountains bordering the region's west, which serve not for viticulture, but rather for hunting and goat cheese production. Marchampt is at high elevation in the shadow of a mountain range, highly exposed to the north wind, meaning it's always about 3°C cooler than Morgon or Fleurie. So a little extra ripeness shows nicely on the wines from Chemarin's Beaujolais-Villages parcels. From the highest, a 600m altitude old-vine parcel called "Le Rocher," Chemarin has since 2012 quietly been producing a minor classic of the region.