15 November 2010
Actually, it's no shocker that after a year and a half here in Paris, including two months living just a few blocks away in the Marais, I hadn't noticed Caves du Marais. It totally blends in.*
There's also the question of the name. Dry, grey names like this, that reference only the what a place is and it's location, are always a toss-up - they can either be cruddy no-nothing corner establishments, or they can be, like, the Union Square Café. Sometimes, as with Caves du Marais, you can't really tell from outside. I only wandered in because I noticed some of Antoine Arena's good Corsican wines in the window.
It's one of those claustrophobically cluttered, been-here-forever / doing-my-thing / ain't-changing sort of places; this ethos, which from a restaurant service perspective is usually infuriating, can actually be great thing in a good caviste. The proprietor, one Jean-Jacques Bailly, has been there 21 years, and in the Paris wine retail scene that amounts to a good head start on other caves in building the sorts of finnicky, trust-based relationships with vignerons and agents that are necessary to stock the great names of wine. I realized I wasn't in some fly-by-nighter tourist trap when I saw how much Dauvissat there was jammed into the shelves, and how reasonably priced it was.(21eu for the basic Chablis; mid-thirties for the crus.)
Same goes for a rich, ferrous Pierre et Marie Chermette Fleurie "Poncié" from 2007, which seemed kind of a steal at 15eu. Also notable, if not necessarily for their bargain value, were selections from Anselme Selosse and Didier Dageneau, as well as an interesting back-vintage range of Audrey et Christian Binner.
*Also, after about a week in the Marais I'd pretty much given up looking for anything decent and real and nontouristy in the area. In the time since, I've found certain exceptions, like this particular cave, but on the whole the neighborhood still strikes me as lame and overpriced, ideal for people who prefer the idea of Paris to the city itself.
Caves du Marais
62 et 64, rue François Miron
Metro: Saint Paul
Tel: 01 42 78 54 64
A little review of Caves du Marais on Foodtourist