04 October 2010

there goes the neighborhood: (yet another) nicolas, 75011

A litany of reasons why another dull chain wine retail shop is unwelcome in my neighborhood:

1. Le Verre Volé's terrific cave is right down the street.
2. La Cave de l'Insolite - probably my favorite cave in Paris - is just a little further down, on rue de la Folie-Mericourt.
3. Au Nouveau Nez is about a 3 minute walk away on rue Saint Maur. You can sit and have a drink there.
4. There is already another dull chain wine retail place - Le Repaire de Bacchus - literally right across the street. They have 30-40 locations in Paris, which I suppose is small-time compared to Nicolas' 522 locations in France alone.
5. There is already another conspicuously quiet location of Nicolas all of 2 minutes' walk away on Blvd Richard Lenoir.
6. If you really want some slick faceless supermarket wine, you have several Franprix locations nearby.
7. See here for a somewhat lengthy explanation of why mass-retail just doesn't work for wine.

I could go on. Honestly, the only place I would be happy to see another Nicolas location is in London, or any number of other English cities, where to my continual shock it is still extraordinarily difficult to find even barely potable wine.

Anyway, join me in unofficially boycotting corporate opportunist johnny-come-lately wine shops like this one.


  1. Pretty cranky stuff! I have to say that in my occasional visits to Nicolas, I have found the managers pleasant and chatty, eager to please, open-minded and flexible in their recommendations and refreshingly free of attitude. I can understand your dislike of retail concentration - it's usually bad news for small producers and the main reason to get bigger (ignore "synergy") is to beat up your suppliers. But when it comes to corporate soullessness, there's much worse.

  2. Dear Christian,

    While I can appreciate the merits of a good retail experience, this blog is primarily about natural wine, almost none of which can be found at the aforementioned wine retail chain. I agree that many worse wine shops exist in the world. But on this particular street, in this neighbhood, in this city, you can't take two paces without tripping over a more honest, more interesting wine shop.

    Whether you patronise one of these establishments or this new Nicolas is more than an aesthetic issue, it is a political one. Should the latter wine shop take root, it will be at the expense of the former ones, a trend that ends with the general effacement of all that is good and characterful about the area. Would you say this is worth getting cranky about? Would you say this is worth getting cranky about if you were someone who owned and ran an independant cave in the neighborhood who had spent a decade building your business? Imagine, for a moment, that you are not a polite commuting consumer picking up a tidy bottle to go with some frozen chicken, just looking for someone cheery to sell it to you.

    Thanks for reading, though! I really appreciate your input, since I can only rant for so long in the body of each post...


  3. Skip ahead a few months to July 2011--I've just read that la Cave de l'Insolite is closing at the end of the month. I'm no more than an occasional visitor to Paris but that was the best caviste in town for my tastes. I am so sorry to learn of this disheartening development. What on earth can be wrong with Parisian wine drinkers if they can't keep a place like this afloat? They'll never know I said this but I want to shout thanks to Michel and Romain for all the new discoveries they introduced me to.