06 October 2010

natural enough: la p'tite cave, 75013

Before I start raving about La P'tite Cave, a refreshingly non-ideological cave on boulevard Port-Royal in the 13eme, I ought to admit a pretty big bias in this here blog: I tend to cover a certain type of cave. Mostly the ones that are not overly concerned with securing cases of current vintage Bordeaux for key corporate clients. The ones that have a wider selection of loser Loire grapes than Champagnes. The ones that sell more Beaujolais than Burgundy.

There are two reasons for this. One is that I'm perpetually broke, and so have extra incentive to seek out the more obscure pleasures of the wine world, since they generally have a better price-quality ratio. The other reason is political, and has to do with my beliefs about the necessity of natural wine-making. Caves that emphasize natural winemaking just tend to have proportionately less emphasis on the Grand Names of French Wine.

But why is this?*

Why, if, as even any natural wine fascist like myself will admit, the greatest grandest estates are usually organic without saying so? The uncomfortable answer is: the concept of 'natural' wine is itself a kind of marketing strategy, and many of the most successful legendary names of wine have notably less need to market themselves, that way or anyway.

It is a genuinely petite cave. The proprietor ingeniously presents his wines with free-floating labels, so as to save on precious stacking space. 

What I love about La P'tite Cave, then, is the presentation of great natural wines, naturally, beside wines that are just plain canonical. It's a cave where you can find Julien Courtois' or Renaud Guettier's bizarre natural Loire wines just a wall away from serious heavy-hitters like Chateau Simone, or Domaine Dujac's 2007 Morey-St. Denis (label pictured above). It bears mentioning, too, that prices at La P'tite Cave strike me as quite reasonable, particularly for the legendary stuff. As proprietor Michel Thiévin explained to me, he just carries the winemakers he personally knows and likes. What's more natural than that?

*Well, actually, I suppose it's because the ideology of natural wine constitutes an attack, per se, against the implicitly uncaring orthodoxy of winemakers who aim merely to make Great Wines. The implication is that wines made without respect for tradition and terroir and the earth's cycles are, at the end of the day, just faceless luxury items like Goyard suitcases or Mont Blanc pens. I'm basically in agreement. 

La P'tite Cave
7, rue Port Royal
75013 PARIS
Metro: Gobelins
Tel: 01 47 01 10 91

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