Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paris wine bars, like buses, come in threes

Day one of a week in Paris, largely to suss out its natural wine bar scene. We've been meaning to do this for a while and have already had to cancel two trips for reasons too complicated and tedious to go in into so I still can't quite believe we're here.

Actually Paris is swamped with wine bars, natural or not so it's not particularly hard to track one down. But what we're already discovering is that the natural ones seem to come in clusters. Maybe they feel they need the moral support, that their unnatural neighbours will persecute them if they're all on their own.

Today we discovered two hotspots, one in rue des Lavandières Ste Opportune in the 1st arrondissment which we hit rather too soon to start drinking but which includes Aux Vieux Comptoirs and La Robe et le Palais, which we definitely plan to go back to. (Aux Vieux Comptoirs looks quite pricey)

And then the rue de l'Arbre Sec where you can find Le Garde Robe and Spring's bottle shop and wine bar. (Spring itself, one of the most fashionable restaurants in town, is down the rue Balleul opposite.)

We had a cheeky glass of Parigot crémant de Bourgogne rosé at Spring for 6€ each which I'd happily drink instead of champagne and chatted to Brendan from Oregon who had developed a passion for natural wine and was manning the shop in place of the manager, Josh.

Then we drifted over the road and had a plate of saucisson sec and terrine at the dimly lit Le Garde Robe which is far more what you expect a natural wine bar to be like. We tried a glass of a typically Provencal blend of Cabernet and Syrah called Champs de la Truffière which I really enjoyed, and a Caladoc from the Rhone called (I think) Ze Pepe Red Ouane which I can't find anything about on Google so I probably wrote it down wrong. Not that interesting anyway.

And finally a glass of Puzelat Sauvignon Blanc '10 at another bar and restaurant called Les Fines Gueules up the rue Croix des Petits Champs the other side of the rue Rivoli. No horrid confected gooseberry and asparagus flavours - one of the nicest wines I've had from Puzelat.

What strikes me so far:

* how easy it is to find somewhere to drink natural wine in Paris

* Paris winebars are not cheap. Main courses are around 20-25€ (admittedly including service) so it's better to do what we're doing and have a starter and a glass of wine - around 4-6€ a (140ml) glass on average which is good value by UK standards.

* We've eaten a LOT of charcuterie. Vegetables are still sparse in France

* every wine bar seems to have a Japanese girl behind the bar or in the kitchen. Curious, that.

* a lot of Parisiens have small dogs. Can't get to the bottom of that, either.

Incidentally there's this rather good map of Paris wine bars and bistros compliled by Dr Vino. Not all natural but you see what I mean about clusters.

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