I'm fortunate enough to live near no less than three Italian traiteurs here. One I avoid, because I find it a bit too slick and they have no cheeses. Another is Cisternino, on rue Saint Maur, which sells brilliant fresh burrata. The third is A La Ville d'Udine, to which boutique I would resort, until recently, only when the line at Cisternino was too long.*
Now this last traiteur has changed ownership. I guessed this without having to ask, when the other day I saw a few new bottles of killer Etna Rosso by Benanti sharing shelf space with the usual humdrum Chianti nonsense you see in all the other Italian specialty stores here.
The new owner is a sharp Sicilian fellow called Giuseppe. I find it completely awesome that one of the first things he did was bring in an obscure Sicilian wine by a cult producer, a wine made from the largely unknown Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappucio grapes, a wine that doesn't even have cheapness on its side to make it more accessible. (I used to pay $16 / btl for this in LA, when I bought cases for myself from a distributor. Here in Paris it's 18,5eu. Sheer relief at finding one of my favorite Italian wines here allows me to forgive the difference.)
The wine itself is a small wonder of crisp red-fruit and dark spices, Marsennay-like but somehow more angular and unpredictable. I can't help but find something wonderfully sinister about Benanti's wines** - kind of like the narrative voice in a good b-side by The National:
*Cisternino is the size of a pencil case and is run by a really nice guy who has infinite patience for the remedial questions of the neighborhood French population, many of whom behave as though pasta and parmesan were recent innovations.
**This may or may not have anything to do with my impression of the winemaker, one Dr. Benanti, who passed through my old workplace once, and who was, you could say, the picture of bespoke-suited Sicilian elegance.
Benanti's "Rossodiverzella" available at:
A la Ville d'Udine
48, rue Oberkampf
Metro: Parmentier or Oberkampf
Tel: 01 47 00 88 82
A Post On Cisternino at MyLittleParis
More on Benanti At Diwinetaste.com