Monday, November 28, 2011

So Much Wine, So Little Time

Remember when we went to the wine fair in Colmar and it was a total bust?  We went because Mr. Oil attended a wine fair in Paris 10 years ago and remembered it being the most amazing thing.  Well, the wine fair in Colmar stunk. But I now know what Mr. Oil was talking about, because this weekend we went to the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants, which is a huge wine fair for independent vintners in France.  I'm talking more wine in one place than I have EVER seen, or will likely ever see again (at least until next year's event). We are talking about over ONE THOUSAND wineries.

Like Bordeaux?  Over 200 Bordelais wineries were present.  Champagne girl like me?  29 Champagne makers - and then remember that at each station, you could sample multiple wines.  Fancy yourself some Chateauneuf-du-Pape?  25 wineries from that appellation. 

It was a seriously crazy experience.  Held at the Parc des Expositions at the Porte de Versailles, we took our longest metro ride to date and then made our way through this huge exposition center to the wine fair.  The website had said tickets were a reasonable 6 euros each.  Somehow, we got in for free - we wrote our names down on a piece of paper, were handed two tasting glasses, and ushered into the center of the wine universe. Each of the circular white signs you see in the photos was a different winery.  The signs were color-coded by region, so you could, for instance, hunt out all the yellows if you just want to drink champagne.  Or you could make sure that you tasted something from every region - Mr. Oil insisted we simply could not leave until he had tasted a Corsican wine.  And then...does that sign say Savoie?  We need to try that!  Did we try a Jura?  What about Languedoc?  Wait, is that another Champagne? (Am I getting predictable with the champagne bit?)

We spent over 2 hours here, tasting many delicious wines, until they all started to taste...the same.   But of course that didn't really stop us.  Because not only were these really fantastic wines, you could buy them at each stand, directly from the vineyard at ridiculously reasonable prices.  Champagne for 14 euros (about $18).  Grand cru bordeaux for 18 euros, or even less.  Somehow by the time we left, we had acquired six bottles of wine - 3 Bordeaux, 1 Cote du Rhone, and 2 bottles of Champagne (one was for Banana and Papa Pie - Mr. Oil's parents, and really, I didn't even come up with the names - who watched Baby Oil while we drank wine after wine after wine). And while it was fun to seek out Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines - the kind we would never pay for in a store - they weren't necessarily any better than other wines.  You know, because we have such sophisticated palates and all.
Mr. Oil with our purchases

Extraordinarily pleased with ourselves and giddy at calculating our savings as a result of not paying a babysitter, we then treated ourselves to an excellent dinner at Kifune, a truly authentic Japanese restaurant where the hostess and the one and only waitress wear kimonos, where Japanese customers are handed Japanese menus, where the food was fresh and delicious. 
Our boat of sashimi (sorry the photo's blurry, but remember we had just been at a wine fair)

Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants - your name is a mouthful, but you were unforgettable. Endless thanks to Baby Oil's grandparents for making the night possible!