France Au Natural: Part Une. ‘Vrais Vins’…in the wine bar capital of the world
Paris: Whitney and our German friend and viticulture student Soren (who joined us for half of the trip) rest their feet after walking in circles to find the next wine bar.
Call it tree-hugging granola eating hippy talk, but I love natural wines. Don’t get me wrong, just like with ‘industrial’ wines, there are some pretty god awful natural wines; cloudy, manure saturated specimens that are positively undrinkable. But thanks in many parts to my friends at Les Caves de Pyrene, I have been lucky enough to try some pretty fabulous natural wines over the past year or so.
So when my dearest friend Whitney and I sat down to plan our next wine adventure together, France was naturally (no pun intended) the obvious choice. A leader in natural winemaking (and in pretty much everything else vinous), we could’ve stayed months traveling France’s best regions for vin natural. However, we do have to work occasionally in this industry, so we only had 8 days to play with.
Paris was our first stop of the trip. We had exactly one day to hit as many natural wine bars as possible. Before setting out on our noble quest however, we needed fuel. A posh lunch at the historic Hotel du Nord was the only real way to start our adventure.
Home to one of the best coffees I’ve ever had…
So we set out, a few pounds heavier, in search of our first wine bar. Unfortunately for us, it was a bank holiday in France (yes, another one) and many were closed (or ‘weren’t seving’ or had simply gone missing). After much traipsing about, we finally came to our first (open) bar à vins naturels, the adorable La Cremerie.
Like many wine bars in Paris, La Cremerie is also a shop. So you can buy your bottle, pay an 8 euro corking fee, and sit down with a charcuterie or cheese board to enjoy it. Bliss.
You can also order by the glass. We were trying to pace ourselves, and so went for this option. We ordered three different wines and played ‘pass the wine glass’ so we could taste as much as possible.
We crossed over the mighty River Seine for a third time that day, to head to Le Garde Robe.
It was so nice to see natural wines as commonplace in Paris, and I hope London will head the same direction as more people start to realise the environmental and health benefits of drinking natural wines.
What to choose....?
We only managed to find the two open so our ‘wine bar crawl’ was more like a hop, skip, and a drink, but oh well, there’s always next time.
Defeated on the wine bar front, we found ourselves a dive bar and a pizza place (serving their own rosé..only in France!) to round off our whirlwind of a day in Paris.
No good night in Paris would be complete without some good old fashioned piggy-back rides.
So after sleeping three to a tiny sofabed (really…it was ridiculous) for a few hours, we arose early the next morning to pick up our little Renault Clio and head southwest for the Loire Valley where we would meet the makers of the wines we’d been admiring both in Paris and in our respective cities around the world.
But that will have to wait for part deux…