The other night the Native Companion & I stopped into a wine bar in her neighborhood called Les Pages du Vin, planning to have a quiet glass of white wine while we decided what to do for dinner. I'd popped into this cave à manger a little over a year ago, shortly after they opened and shortly after I arrived in Paris. I remembered how nice the proprietors were. I also remembered being nevertheless kind of unimpressed with their selection of wine, which struck me, at the time, as being a little cold. This is a difficult concept to express. The other night while NC checked her watch I spent fifteen minutes glumly perusing bottles expressly designed to look like classic wine bottles -
- and trying to think of the French term for "slickness."
When the owner arrived to help me with my selection, I wanted to ask him, "Do you have anything a little less obvious?" When I enter a cave I want to see more than just the bold-names of the French wine world - Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Champagne, etc. I want some weird little oddities made of loser Loire grapes like Cot and Pineau d'Aunis, I want Vin de Tables with puns for names and étiquettes hand drawn by the vigneron's niece, I want to see horizontal bottles with whole sandbars of sediment lining the body and neck. A little unprofessionalism, please! Saving the schpiel for this blog, I lumped for a kind of uninspired-looking 2008 Petit Chablis from Domaine du Chardonnay:
|Image swiped from www.domaine-du-chardonnay.fr.|
(I know. Honestly if I were stocking a cave this wine would be out of the running on the grounds of the name alone. I don't care if the grape Chardonnay derived its name from a village called Chardonnay that in turn derived its name from Chard, the vegetable. To sell a Chablis, a Chardonnay, made by the Domaine of Chardonnay, is foreheadslappingly facile. I would feel like a chapter in Wine For Dummies. Further research revealed that Domaine du Chardonnay is not located in Chardonnay, it's two hours away and was founded in 1987. So they have no excuse for such a pandering, export-market-driven domaine name.)
We sat down in their little salle in the back of the cave. I should say that I like the collection of wine trivia games (they have board games for this kind of thing here, it's fantastic) and that under normal circumstances I could envision the rear salle as a nice place to hang out. However last night there was a rowdy table of charcuterie-scarfers right next to us and the acoustics were a little bit Glastonbury. We had a glass each of Petit Chablis for Dummies and left.
And the wine, what about the wine? I have to confess it didn't even begin to show any character until several hours later when I drank it warm with some Vietnamese take-out watching Twin Peaks. By then it was fine. Overpriced at 13,5eu, however: just a plain Petit Chablis, sturdy but unambitious. At a stretch I could detect some fennel notes, but a faint ammoniacal* finish was much more prominent.
*Yes, I know the term is more associated with Sauvignons. But Chablis, even Petit Chablis, springs from roughly the same soil types (Kimmeridgian limestone and Portlandian limestone). But then, I'd suspect you could also get that flavor from sloppy winemaking.
44, rue Boulangers
Tel: 01 55 42 96 63
Metro: Cardinal Lemoine
Really not a bad place. The meats looked great. We just have very different ideas about wine.