Monday, April 20, 2009
While I'm still kicking myself for not making a point to dine at Racines, I can at least take solace in the fact that I did eat dinner at Le Verre Volé, near the popular canal St. Martin area in Paris' 10th. The concept at Le Verre Volé (translation: 'the stolen glass') is similar to Racines: sell a focused selection of mainly natural wines (though Racines takes it a step further, sans soufre only), offer access to the same wines during lunch and dinner service (for a very reasonable surcharge of 7.50 euros) and, for people in the know, provide a terrific menu selection of simple cuisine, made from an array of ingredients sourced from top notch purveyors of farm grown food.
Upon walking in to Le Verre Volé, the first thing you might notice is the small size of the place. There are no more than 25 seats throughout, at tables fairly tightly packed together. Then your eyes will likely drift to either wine wall on opposing sides of the room. With prices marked in white chalk on the bottles, there is an excellent spread of mainly natural wines, from the likes of Rimbert's 'Mas au Schiste' St Chinian bottling up to more coveted bottlings such as Philippe Pacalet's '06 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, and bottles of every conceivable stripe in between, the common thread often being that these are wines produced naturally, in smaller quantities, from grapes grown without herbicides, pesticides or other sprays, and fermented with their natural yeasts and a minimal amount of sulphur (if any) added during the winemaking process. That having been said, there were a few Bordeaux wines, Haut-Medoc bottlings (and definitely not 'natural') as well as a decent single malt selection (Springbank, Signatory) to break up the landscape somewhat, should you be craving something a bit more commercial (bdx) or strong (scotch).
Natalie and I started with an amazing bottle of 2007 Dard & Ribo Crozes Hermitage Blanc. Just the basic bottling, but so delicious. Fresh, a bit floral, with yellow fruits and a hint of a mineral/anise notes adding some structure. The wine improved steadily, especially when accompanied by my first course of pig ear salad with toasted coriander seeds which really brought out the freshness and balance of the wine, the coriander in particular bringing out the floral notes beautifully. I suspect that, like a versatile rhythm guitar player, this wine could have worked great with a number of different styled offerings, adding its own flair all the while.
Then it was on to something a little more readily available in the US, but no less delicious: 2007 Pierre Overnoy Poulsard. Emmanuel Houillon, who worked with Monsieur Overnoy, now runs the estate and is known for delicious, age-worthy sans soufre wines. The '07 Poulsard was bright, energetic and focused, a delicious foil to Natalie's fatty, Touraine saucisson, and to my herbal, savory, slightly sauvage tasting caillerets ardechoise (a very large meatball which, when cut open, unfurled a cloudy pillow of aromatic herbal grey smoke).
We also tasted a tasty St Joseph courtesy of Robert Camuto (who just happened to be in town, dining at Le Verre Volee when we were) - the producer's name escapes me. After our dinner we chatted with another American couple, and were cheerfully urged to share another bottle of wine by one of our kind hosts. We went ahead and followed his rec for a tasty, simple, carbonically macerated cotes du rhones (probably a good pick, as the couple seemed to prefer fruitier, more warm climate type wines). And before leaving, I sprung for that bottle of Pacalet Chambolle, which I drank in Epernay and, while tasty, it's clearly very young and I could not see what all the hubub (and top dollar pricing) is about with dude's wines.
So it was a very satisfying dinner at Le Verre Volé. I'll leave some info here in case you decide to go yourself. Definitely make a reservation for lunch or dinner, even if it's done midday for dinner that evening (which is what Natalie and I did). You won't get a table otherwise.
Le Verre Volé
67, rue de Lancry
tel: 01 48 03 17 34
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent