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Paris visit, February 1998

by Tom Cannavan

Paris is always a lovely city to visit and can be a wonderful source of good quality, inexpensive country wines both in restaurants and shops. It can also be a great disappointment for the food and wine lover, with as many touristy, mediocre restaurants as any other great city and hiked-up prices for the great wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone. In shops and restaurants these tend to be very expensive and choice fairly limited. Champagne is one of the real bargains, approaching half the price of the UK. We had a bottle of Veuve Clicquot non-vintage in the very smart Bofinger for less than the retail price back home. The merchant Nectar was selling 1989 vintage Bollinger for 230ff - again approaching half the UK price. One pleasant surprise is the famous and grand gourmet shop, Fauchon, which has an amazing cave and prices around the average. I found that most places were cheaper than the "duty free" shop at CdG airport.

Costières de Nîmes Vieilles Vignes 1996, Château de La Tuilere
Brilliant, sun-drenched, juicy, smoky, syrah-based wine at 130ff. Deep, inky, purple colour. Gorgeous nose redolent of sweet cassis fruit. On the palate loads of deeply scented, berry fruit and a lovely thyme and wood-smoke quality. Medium bodied and beautifully balanced with a rich, round character and oaky, vanilla softness. Well structured too and with a long, balanced finish. Very impressive. Terroir evidence? (02/98).

Veuve Clicquot Champagne N.V. yellow label.
Lovely. Drank this with seafood at Bofinger - 190ff a bottle. Delicious. One of my favourite non-vintage champagnes and ultra-reliable. Soft, luxurious and round character with a fine balance of fruity and bready, buttery appeal on the nose and the palate. Fine, long-lived mousse, excellent structure and acidity make it a fine accompaniment to this food. Long finish, very elegant. (02/98)

Riesling Grand Cru Kanzleberg 1993, Lorenz (Alsace)
Quite a deep, golden colour. Nose is finely perfumed with mineral, flowery notes. On the palate very reserved and steely, and though positive and quite full on the palate, lacks a little richness and character. Very good food wine (with turbot in a truffle crust) with plenty of acidity, good balance and a long, pure and elegant finish. 178ff. (02/98).

Menetou-Salon Domaine de Loye (red) 1996, J. Bernard Moindrot
Cracking pinot noir for 78ff in a restaurant. Medium, ruby red colour. Lovely earthy nose with deep, berry scents. Quite firm on the palate. Plenty of chewy, densely packed, raspberry and strawberry fruit over fine, supportive tannin and good acidity. Same earthy quality into a long, pure finish. Great balance and sense of style in a fairly "serious" format. Excellent. I am going to investigate this appellation some more. (02/98)