20 September 2010

follow your nose: au nouveau nez, 75011

In a perfect world - one with no shortage of material, and natural wine available everywhere - I would decline to post anything about Au Nouveau Nez, the blip-sized little cave à grignoter in my neighborhood, because doing so only increases the chances that, when I next stop by seeking a divine St. Véran and a plate of charcuterie, both tables will be occupied. There are only two tables. (If you read this and subsequently crowd the joint, you have to let me pull up a stool.)

I went there for what turned out to be a long apero with my British friend B the other day, and we lamented the impossibility of anything like Au Nouveau Nez ever turning up in London* in the near future. In London everything would require too much explanation, we reasoned. The fresh charcuterie and well-judged cheeses on offer, the slim selection of natural wines, the rotating what-ever-we-have glass pours - all these things would get fussed-over, exoticized, over-presented. There would be a coherent graphics package. Whereas in her tiny outpost in Paris' 11eme, the friendly and punctilious proprietress Nadine serves everything rather comme il faut.

We had a 2009 Vin de Pays du Loire Chardonnay by Lisa et Bertrand Jousset. I like the Joussets' wines in general, particularly their sparkling Chenin, which is why this one sort of disappointed me. I know I can't judge Loire Chardonnay (which is sort of a peculiarity - the reason I bought the bottle) by the standards of Burgundy, but this one struck me as a bit shrill and one-note. Kind of a mineral / melon nose followed by a wintry little flash of high-toned fruit on the palate. It was sort of like one of those old girl-group songs that are pleasant and well-crafted but quickly become annoying over repeated listens.

I should stress though that disappointment in anything I purchase from Au Nouveau Nez is a total rarity, and probably results more from my own fussiness than from any real flaws in the wines themselves. Case in point was the second wine we had, Renaud Guettier's terrific Pineau d'Aunis-based blend "Le Gravot," which in its delicate structure and long spiced fruit bore a favorable comparison to basic red Burgundy.(Why do I keep phrasing Loire wines in terms of Burdundy? Totally unfair of me. I'll stop henceforth.)

Lighting leaves something to be desired. I look sort of like a moth in this photo.

Anyway, the price of experimentation with an organic Loire Chardonnay at Au Nouveau Nez? 10,5eu. The Pineau d'Aunis? 12,5eu. And should you feel like consuming the bottle on premise, as we did, there's zero corkage fee as long as you have a bite to eat as well. (Hint: This is basically the best value in the entire city.)

*We both occasionally threaten to move to London. I have the feeling B is more serious than I am. 

Au Nouveau Nez
114, rue Saint Maur
75011 PARIS
Metro: Parmentier or St. Maur
Tel: 01 43 55 02 30

Related links:

More on Lisa et Bertrand Jousset @ Jim's Loire

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