17 August 2017

n.d.p. in marseille: les buvards, 13002

For a number of reasons, only one of which was my lack of money, the Native Companion and I wound up in Marseille for a micro-vacation earlier this month.

My ulterior motive for visiting Marseille was to visit a few winemakers in Bandol, a 40 minute drive east. Her ulterior motive for visiting Marseille was it would permit her to bring her small dog. We spent one day in Bandol visiting winemakers in the company of a small dog. The rest of the time was spent failing to turn up good restaurants in sweltering late-summer Marseille.*

The one outstanding exception was Les Buvards, a ramshackle natural cave-à-manger two blocks north of Le Vieux Port. When I asked how long they've been open, raven-haired co-proprietor Laetitia Pantalacci replied, "It'll be a decade come Beaujolais Nouveau," which is about the best answer I could hope to receive. As we sat down on one of the street-facing tables, the NC remarked that she'd never heard anyone mark time in terms of Beaujolais Nouveau before. I assured her it wasn't that unusual, for a pioneering natural wine establishment.

09 August 2017

n.d.p. in beaujolais: sebastien congretel, régnié-durette

The Beaujolais is barren for good restaurants, and the village of Régnié-Durette is no exception. Any business in Régnié-Durette has the added disadvantage of being secluded: the village proper, unlike nearby towns of Cercié and Villié-Morgon, is set back from the departmental roads. To explore Régnié-Durette usually means going out of one's way.

On drive from his newly restored home in the village to the cuvage he borrows from his father-in-law in Lantignié, I ask newly-installed vigneron Sebastien Congretel how the local Régnié restaurant is. He laughs. "They serve food," he says, in the manner of one awarding the highest possible praise.

Clean-cut, bespectacled, lightly jock-ish, Congretel wouldn't be picked out of a line-up as a vigneron. He formerly lived in the 11ème arrondissement of Paris, and had begun a career working on oil rigs before deciding, in 2015, to become a vigneron in the Beaujolais, where his wife Charlotte's family maintain a handsome estate in Lantignié. Her father lent him the use of a cuvage and equipment, and he was able to acquired parcels in Morgon and Régnié. In another stroke of luck, he fell in with two more senior Beaujolais immigrants, the brothers Julien and Antoine Sunier, who make formidable natural wine in Avenas and Régnié, respectively. This year sees the release of what Congretel considers his proper debut vintage - and the Morgon, in particular, implies he's a very quick study.