One of the perks of living in Paris is to have the opportunity to go to “dégustations”. These are events sponsored by small producers of wine and specialty food products to sample their wares.
The term that is used is “terroir” which means soil or land. It now has a gourmet connotation and is used in referring to the local production of honey, oil, poultry, beef, wine, champagne, etc. The popularity of local products continues to increase due to their quality and the vigorous adhesion to high standards.
In terms of labeling, the concept of “terroir” is now guaranteed by the sign AOC (appellation d’origin côntrolée). To obtain this seal, there are specific criteria that include traditional fabrication and ingredients as well as limited geographical areas for some items. The first product to obtain protection in labeling was Roquefort in the 15th century. The first modern laws on the Protection of the Place of Origin was in 1919. The organization AOC was established in 1935 to oversee the production of wine. It has continued to expand and now includes vast agricultural products. The label is an assurance to the consumer for proof of superior quality and a certification of origin.
Today’s dégustation consisted of four artisans. The first was Jean-Michel Roussile, the proprietor of Francs Côtes de Bordeaux. The vines for Bordeaux were brought to France by the Romans and the limestone soil that ranges from being sandy to gravelly proved perfect for this beautiful and popular wine. Monsieur Roussile offers a very fine product at a fair price.
The second artisan was Alain Grèzes, specializing in items from the south west of France. They were serving foie gras along with a variety of tasty artisanal conserves. One was more delicious than the next.
The third was actually my favorite. This was La Ferme de Billy, which produces Calvados, apple juice and cidre (cider). This is what I would call the gourmet version of apple juice and cider. The farm was established in 1651 and after so many generations they have it down to perfection. They have a lovely website that includes an interesting history of the family as well as information on their products.
No degustation would be complete without champagne and a very fine champagne it was. The tasting was of Pinot Chevauchet, located in coteaux sud d’Epernay à Moussy.
After sipping and sampling, I left very satisfied and a bit tipsy. Ah, the sacrifices that are required to be made in order to report back on what is happening in the terroir!
Loui Franke is the author of Parisian Postcards.