Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Vivant: Paris's newest natural wine bistro
Of all the natural wine haunts we planned to get to this past week Vivant was the one we thought we were most likely to miss out on having read that you needed to book 1-2 weeks in advance. Happily that proved not to be the case. We just walked in off the street on a Monday lunchtime and got a table.
There are several reasons for its popularity, the most significant of which is that it's owned by Pierre Jancou, founder of the iconic wine bar Racines and author of Vin Vivant, the most influential French natural wine handbook. It's also relatively new (it opened back in April) and tiny as is the way with the most fashionable Parisian joints these days.
It's in an unprepossessing street in the 10th but you can see why Jancou fell for the premises which are covered with the most beautiful art deco tiles (it apparently used to be a oiselerie or bird shop according to this post on the excellent Wine Terroirs)
The wines are chalked up on a board and are as good a list of natural wines as any you'll find in Paris. We had three that were standouts - two 'orange' wines - Les Barrieux 2009 from Jean-Yves Peron in Savoie, a deliciously hazy peachy blend of Roussanne and Jacquère and Montemagro, a Durello from Danielle Piccini which I've already written about here and an extraordinarily exotic, scented light red/rosé (depending which way you look at it) called Fanino Catarrato e Pignatello from Gabrio Bini of Serragghia in Pantelleria*. All the wines they stock are unfined and unfiltered with no added yeasts or sulphites.
Foodwise it is more a restaurant than a bar though you could, I suspect, go in for one of the starters - a plate of wafer-thin sweet fiocco ham or burrata which seems to be the must-have entrée on every Parisian restaurant menu at the moment - later in the day or if the restaurant is quiet. We opted to have a main course of sausage en cocotte with root vegetables and milk fed pork with polenta and aubergines, however, both generous and delicious. And a plate of 3 year old parmesan, managing to run up a bill over over €100.
There are cheaper places to drink natural wine in Paris but this must without a doubt be of the best.
Note: Vivant is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
* about whom you can again read more on Wine Terroirs here (scroll down the post).