Some things change, others not. Quite a blow was the disappearance of our friend Julien in the Rue Charlot. Julien had worked for a number of years for Oddbins, Camden Town and his shop Caviste Julien was a really excellent neighbourhood place where a tremendous variety of wines were to be found. Could it be that Julien's stock was too eclectic? Certainly his successors "Nysa" while maintaining some of his stock seem to be headed in a more conventional direction. Nysa were holding a tasing party for their opening. We were trundling by, laden with shopping when a friendly inebriate on the pavement outside told us 'ne hesitez pas, entrez!' So we did. There was one of Julien's bottles on tasting, a nice Alsace Pinot Blanc (13.5%). We bought it - from what the shopowner said, perhaps the only one sold that evening. Still everyone seemed to be having fun.
This leaves the shop Le Versant Vins in the nearby Marché des Enfants Rouges even more of a beacon of interest in the area.
ALL the wines there are naturel or biologique. We studied the selection more attentively than on previous visits and were even more impressed than before. We bought a jolly Pineau d'Aunis sparkler with a fizzy drinks type cap for closure. We didn't realise this was white or just off-white until opening it but it was not a disappointment. No doubt someone makes a red sparkling Pineau d'Aunis but we recall that quite a lot of this grape goes to make Rosé. We couldn't resist buying a bottle of Simonutti's Pineau d'Aunis and were glad to have it to follow Julien's Alsace Pinot Blancs that evening when we ate a slightly spicy fish stew created by Mrs. Slotovino. Both were excellent accompaniments to this wonderful dish.
In restaurants and bars we had better luck than usual. Brasserie Balzar's Saumur Rouge was so good we forgot to look at the label and the Beaujolais at l'Auberge Pyrenées Cévennes in the Rue de la Folie Méricourt was so good we called from London to find out what it was. It is by Paul Durdilly, a negociant of Southern Beajolais, so the wine is just Beaujolais - not from any of the Villages. Delicious. At the Bar du Theatre opposite the Theatre Hauts de Seine at Puteaux, you are served an equally delicious Touriga Francesa from the Douro if you ask for a 'vin rouge' at the bar. OK, it's a Portuguese Bar but still, it takes some courage to do such a thing in France, especially with a twinkle in the eye from the server.
Our old friend Rupert marched us up the Rue de la Montagne Ste. Genevieve to 'De Vinis Illustribus', an interesting establishment for those interested in old vintages. We had a very informative tutorial from Lionel Michelin who had taken over a famous institution run by Jean-Baptiste Besse until about 4 years ago. We were shown the ancient cellars and some venerable bottles were trotted out so we could see their labels, shoulder levels etc. They even have a small but enticing selection of modern wines including a Hungarian Cabernet Franc we happen to have at home: 'Ikon'. Rupert managed to find something here from the 21st century.
From there it was only a hop, skip and jump (OK the weather was cold) to Les Caves du Pantheon which impressed us even more than on our first visit - the good impression being directly proportional to the greater amount of time we had there. Rupert found another two bottles at this address. We shared the selection of a Bugey sparkling Rosé
which at 8% prOmises to be something out of the ordinary as well as a Carignan Blanc (!)
a Terret Blanc
and a Greek dessert wine made by that most interesting Santorini producer, Hatzidakis from a grape variety called Voudomato. It is claimed that some of the vines on Santorini are 500 years old. This wine (Voudomato)is only 11% and is available from Green and Blue in London. Don't try their Clapham branch though. It closed down sadly not long ago. Things change in London too.
The Caves du Pantheon is a medium-sized shop but one that repays any amount of time. The laconic and amusing person we recognised from before is a mine of interesting information. Our only other port of call was another place we had cased on a previous visit - La Cave des Pupilles in the Rue Daguerre, This was thronged with Christmas shoppers and sterangely enough there was a Greek wine tasting going on including the rarissimo Vostilidi grape we had bought from Caves du Pantheon a year ago. We left them to it and will return another time as we believe there may be some interesting wines here.
Our real reason for going to Paris though was to pick up a consigment of Domaine Grisard's Persan,
a Savoyard wine so rare that it is not even available in Paris. Persan was one of our greatest finds of 2009
so we hope it will not disappoint this time. That would definitely be a move in the wrong direction.