Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants
This year we were extremely excited to visit France’s largest independent winemakers fair! We had 2015 Bordeaux wine futures to pickup!
For 5 days in early December, Paris hosts the largest gathering of independent winemakers, over 1000+ vintners, each showcasing 10-15 wines they have produced. It’s an amazing opportunity to taste lots of wine! We spent the afternoons strolling through the many wine districts of France, speaking with winemakers and tasting their proud creations ! In one day its possible to taste hundreds of wines, from distinctly different parts of France. Compare this to a daily wine tour, which may enable 6 or so winery visits, and the advantages are obvious.
When I discover an interesting wine tasting, one of my favorite aspects is the ability to then speak with the winemaker, and learn about their process. Many independent winemakers are small family operations, which have existed for generations. Its not uncommon to meet a winemaker, his son who’s in charge of the business affairs and his daughter who runs the marketing. They all are excited to share what makes their wine special. While speaking with one winemaker, I discovered that his land in Pomerol borders Pétrus, near the eastern border of Saint-Émilion. Pétrus sells for over $2500 a bottle, and we bought several bottles from this producer at Vigneron Independants for only $30!
Personally, my favorite French wines come from Bordeaux’ Pomerol and St Emilion appellations (Red), Alsace and Champagne (white & dessert) We normally hop between these regions, using each to cleanse our pallet. At this event we found hundreds of great choices.
Each vintner has several types of wine to choose from. Usually they will have reds, whites and sometimes sparking wine all different years. Most of the larger, vintners have different levels of quality (grand cru, premier cru) which have gone through different aging in different types of oak (new and old, french and american.) The exciting part of this, is that it affords an amazing opportunity to taste the sometimes minute differences and narrow down your preferences. Sometimes you may prefer a 2015 Grand Cru, aged 18 months in new oak. At a different vintner you may find that you like their 2012 premier cru aged in old oak for 12 months. Its truly a great way for wine-aux of any level to refine their tasting preferences….and find some great values!!
This year was particularly exciting, because we picked up our first delivery of Bordeaux wine futures! 2015 was an amazing vintage in Bordeaux, similar to 2009, and 2010! Wine futures are the same as any futures purchase, except that the finished product doesn’t fully exist yet. It hasn’t been bottled or aged. A couple years ago we purchased wine futures from one of our favorite winemakers for 2015 vintage wine that had just been bottled, on the expectation that it would be one day be amazing. There are many benefits to buying futures; the primary ones are price and supply. Futures are bought at a lower price than the wine will sell for once it becomes available on the market. The futures we bought were 1/3 the price of what the same bottle sells for today. The second benefit, supply, if you are buying highly demanded wine that could quickly sellout.
Logistics! Wine! Logistics! Wine! Logistics! This event takes some pre-planning to maximize your enjoyment!
- Transport Wine is heavy, and when you find an amazing bottle, you will want to buy some. If you are visiting France consider taking an extra checked bag packed with two styrofoam wine holders. These usually hold 6 each and can be found at most shipping stores for around $4. A large checked bag can hold around two of these. 12 bottles of wine weights ~40 lbs. You can also use your suitcase to carry wine at the show! If you live in Paris, like we did for three years, then everyone has a cart for grocery shopping. Bring this!
- Tasting Logistics Tickets which afford unlimited tastings cost less than $10, which includes a brochure, map, and tasting glass!!! After your first year of attendance, the wineries you buy from will send you complementary invitations. We first map out the regions and vintners we definitely want to visit. The brochure & map are also useful for taking notes, checking off the wineries we have visited and whether we want to return.
- Food Wine tasting all day on an empty tummy = an interesting night. You can purchase regional, reasonably priced food at the fair….or stop by the supermarket beforehand and buy some sandwiches. Bringing a couple water bottles also might be a good idea.