Les Vignerons Parisiens, Turbigo 2016/17 Vin de France


From £15.20, $19.99, 3,294 yen, €83.40 per case of six bottles 

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Les Vignerons Parisiens is the first and only urban winery in the French capital, and it took the four founders quite some time to get permission to open their doors in rue de Turbigo in the Marais district, not far from the Centre Georges Pompidou. 

Visitors can not only buy the wines at the cellar door but also tour the cellar, see how wine is made from reception of the grapes to bottling, and learn about tasting (see contact details below). 

While their first vintage under the Vignerons Parisiens label was as recent as 2015, general manager Matthieu Bosser, oenologist Emmanuel Gagnepain and biodynamic viticulture consultant Frédéric Duseigneur are not new to the game. Between them their clients include Domaine La Barroche and Domaine des Nalys in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Parent and Château de Chassagne-Montrachet in Burgundy and Domaine Bunan in Bandol.

The wines may be made in the centre of Paris but all their grapes are hand-harvested by their own team of pickers in biodynamic and organic vineyards belonging to four growers in Visan (pictured below) and Sabran in the southern Rhône, farmers with whom they have been working for 15 years. They insist on making only one wine from each vineyard: no blending of vineyards or varieties so that the focus is on that little patch of ground and what it can produce.

The grapes are harvested into small boxes during the morning and are taken on a 15-hour journey by refrigerated truck – ‘a fridge on wheels’ – to the winery. Because vinfication takes place in Paris, the wine has to be labelled as Vin de France, but this hardly seems to be a disadvantage these days.

I tasted all the current releases of their wines in London recently, thanks to Richard Kelley MW of UK importer Dreyfus Ashby, and was struck not only by the consistently high quality across all the range but also by the marked freshness that is not always the characteristic of southern Rhône wines. Kelley explained that they pick earlier than their neighbours and that their vineyards are all at an elevation of about 350 m, which means they are a little cooler and keep higher levels of acidity in the fruit even when it is fully ripe.

Turbigo is made from 100% Cinsault, a grape variety which has not been highly esteemed in the past but which I have always had a soft spot for and whose time has definitely come. For more on the ups and downs of this grape in France and around the world, see the Cinsaut entry in the the Oxford Companion to Wine and our no fewer than seven wines of the week made from Cinsault/Cinsaut (put the word in to our general search).

I have tasted both the 2016 and the 2017 vintages of the Turbigo Cinsault and scored them both highly at 17/20. Both are vibrant with red fruit – small wild berries rather than cultivated strawberries – and that hint of orange that I often find on top-quality Cinsault. The wines are deliciously dry but still juicy and fine-boned, with a framework of fine, chalky tannins and refreshing acidity, seductively clothed in pure fruit. The fruit and the structure are beautifully married even in such young wines.

The 2016 is lovely for current drinking, the 2017 will be better with another 6–12 months in bottle, and, having tasted some terrific old Cinsault (both French and South African), I am confident these will age well for at least a decade and probably much longer if given the chance. Both show the potential of this variety when grown in the right spot, harvested at the right time, and treated with respect.

Although Les Vignerons have no further stock of the 2016 in Paris, that is the vintage that is generally in the UK and the US at the moment, and currently showing on Wine-Searcher.

There’s lots more background information in French on the Vignerons Parisiens website, and in English on that of Dreyfus Ashby. If you speak French, you might enjoy this short video of Matthieu Bosser among the vines and in the winery, shot by one of their Paris clients.

According to Bosser, Turbigo is imported into the US by Integrity Wines and is available currently in NY and NJ (eg Benoit bistro, Print, Orsay, Brigitte, The Simone, Astor Wines, Bottle King, Veritas Studio Wines, Lafayette) and Astor Wines will ship nationwide, apparently. It may well reach the West Coast before the end of the year.

Dreyfus Ashby are the UK importers (and are sending some to South Africa, eg Wine Cellar in Cape Town). They currently list the following stockists:
Chesters, Abergavenny
Harrogate Wines, Harrogate
Noble Grape, Cowbridge
The Sampler, London
Solent Cellar, Hants
Delilah, Nottingham and Leicester
Cheers, Steep Hill, Lincoln
Saint Andrews Wine Company, St Andrews
Valhalla’s Goat, Glasgow
Wine Reserve, Cobham
Woodwinters, Bridge of Allen
Bowland Forest Vintners, Lancs
Wine Library, Dublin. 

Lay & Wheeler have just launched an offer on Turbigo 2017 at £15.20 a bottle, or £10.50 a bottle in bond.

Turbigo is also available in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Spain, Japan and Canada.

I also tasted and can highly recommend the AN 508 Grenache Blanc 2016, a deliciously golden and finely tannic skin-contact wine, made in much smaller volumes, which is why I could not really make it a wine of the week. It is available in the UK, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Japan and from Astor Wines in the US.

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Les Vignerons Parisiens 55 Rue de Turbigo, 75003 Paris; tel +33 (0)1 44 93 72 97