Vendanges de Montmartre

If you happen to be in Paris this weekend, spend an afternoon in Montmartre, by the Sacre Coeur. Through Oct. 12, the annual wine harvest festival “Vendanges de Montmartre” takes place to celebrate the first grapes grown in Paris. But first, begin on the corner of Saint Vincent and rue des Saules to appreciate the only and remaining working vineyard of Paris – called Clos Montmartre, which dates back to 1932 and grows gamay and pinot noir grapes, as well as some sauvignon blanc and riesling. Don’t expect to taste wines made in Montmartre, however, as they are auctioned off at steep prices for collections only. You do not want to drink these. Not only are they inferior tastes, they are also known to be diuretic.

Now that you’ve appreciated the small vineyard, head back up the hill and take the funicular to the butte of Montemarte – unless you want a good step workout. Once at the top, you’ll be able to browse through endless tables of artisan food and wines. Many of these tables offer samples, but do not expect to sample tastes of wines complimentary; you’ll pay between 2-6 euros a glass. But you will get samples of many incredibly tasty cheeses, some Armagnac, almond/honey nougat, and more. My suggestion is to begin with a glass of Champagne, served in a flute you can keep as a souvenir. And then, browse through the tables until the end, check out a street performance, some artists in action, and head up into the Sacre Coeur to check out the interior beauty. Before you leave the area, hop on the carousel for a short ride and giggle, and then head back to taste and make your purchases if you please. End with a stop for some mulled hot wine, as the beautiful sunny days turn to chilly nights.

As you make your way back to the Metro stop: Anvers, you’ll walk through the souvenir street shops where you can participate or watch some live gambling in action. Yes, there are men with large cardboard boxes they use as a table where they place three hockey puck sized discs for you to choose which one has the two stickers underneath. Winner takes all.

Whatever you decide to do, here are a few of my suggestions of wines tastes I would highly recommend:

– A glass of Champagne Brut A Villers Marmery Premier Cru U.V. made in Champagne, France, made with chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot blanc grapes. A perfect blended wine, this one pairs well with rich fish, shellfish poultry, vegetarian dishes and venison.

– Taste the Comte De Lauze Chateauneuf-Du-Pape U.V. from Southern Rhone, France ($78), made with roussanne, marsanne and grenache blanc grapes. Pair this with pork, shellfish, rich fish or poultry.

– Finally, Jean Lecellier Santenay Passetemps 1er Cru Grand Vin de Bourgogne U.V. from Cote de Beaune, France.

Bonne degustation!

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