Clos des Morillons

 

The Clos des Morillons is located in the Parc Georges Brassens in the 15th arrondissement on a site that once hosted the Vaugirard slaughter houses. At the end of the 1970’s the mayor conducted a poll that determined most residents wanted the slaughter houses, which had been abandoned for years, to be replaced by a park.  A group of shop keepers put forth the idea of planting vines as a homage to the vineyards of the Vaugirard plateau that had been generously planted to vines until the previous century. A debate ensued between a Norman senator and a deputy, both of them residents of the 15th. The former wanted to plant apple trees and the latter, vines. A notorious ‘cider over wine’ battle followed, with the deputy finally winning.

 

The slaughter houses were demolished and construction of the long-awaited park began. Only the two pavilions at the entrance to the park and the belfry, which was also the site of the ‘criée’ or auction where the animals were sold, remain of the historic buildings. In 1982, the choice of where to plant the vines was left to the mayor and the director of the Paris Parks and Gardens. A gentle, south facing slope was chosen, the soil changed and drained and 700 vines of Pinot Noir and a few Chasselas were planted on two terraces in March, 1983 over a surface of 1200 square metres.

 

The first harvest took place in 1985 and brought together the local inhabitants, the mayor and the Commanderie of the Côtes du Rhone. About 480 kilos were picked, which were then vinified in an annex of the town hall. The main equipment for this includes two 600 litre vats, a press and a number of 220 litre oak barrels.  Following the classic phases of vinification, the wine is left to age in oak barrels for 3 to 4 months before being bottled (on average around 300 bottles). Half of this is given as gifts to locally elected officials and the rest is sold at auction for local charities.

 

The bottles are green Champagne coloured, ‘Hollandaise’ style, with rather severe grey labels. The vineyard itself is little known outside of its immediate neighbourhood and in the past this has been intentional as the mayor wanted to limit visitors, discouraging it from becoming an object for tourism. Instead, the goal has been to keep it as a witness of the past and an occasion for the inhabitants to gather around ‘their’ vines as a symbol of life, gaiety and the harvest festivities.

 

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