26 October 2011
I'm late in mentioning this, due to a towering backlog of posts about a recent trip to Piemonte (more to come!), but my friend Josh Adler's cave Spring Boutique has begun serving soup for lunch again. The soup itself is delicious, heaping with rough-cut vegetables and silken meat of the most quixotically exacting Michelin-worthy provenance, this latter obsessional quality being characteristic of Spring chef Daniel Rose's menus.
But the service of soup itself - this is also endearing, for being yet another manifestation of a certain gung-ho, whatever-works energy the Spring team bring to their establishments. By now the Boutique and the restaurant's lower level have cycled through a panoply of different iterations and incarnations, all in efforts to channel the restaurant's chief area of uproarious success - it's dinner service - into less formal, more populist attractions, ones for which there's no need to book months in advance. In Paris, home of the cult of the table, and meals that endure until the époisse has run to the floor, they're fighting the good fight.
If you remove the status-symbol of a sought-after table from the equation, it just proves challenging to drum up the same demand, even for the same ingredients and the same wine, whether they're served at the short-lived Buvette wine bar concept, or at lunch across the street at Spring Boutique, where they're now available. I have a feeling Rose and Adler must sometimes feel like they're beating people over the head with value and quality, to inconsistent avail.
In any case, I'm happy to have a barstool free on those days I'm able to stray far enough from the office to enjoy a bowl of soup for lunch. And, inevitably, a glass of wine, as much as I'm aware the habit seems to depreciate whatever remains of the productive workday... The other Tuesday when I dropped by Josh was serving a delectable 2010 Altesse by Famille Peillot.
Ordinarily Altesse a.k.a. Rousette de Savoie is one of those grapes I find interesting without necessarily enjoying very much. Bright, pungent, and lightly honeyed in youth, the best examples age into a kind of nougatty hazelnut brown-butter elixir, fragile and strange. But to be honest I tend to find the wines in either state a little too fleshy and perfumey. It is requiring all my decency to resist a more risqué metaphor here.
Anyway, having acceded to a glass of Peillot's Altesse that day chiefly because it was unseasonably hot out and I needed some refreshment, I was surprised to really enjoy it. There's a lighter touch at work in the winemaking; all the qualities of the grape that routinely strike me as de trop are instead applied in service of something more muscular and mineral. Saline, alpine, and vaguely limey, like drinking a Gordon's Cup on a ski trip.
Franck Peillot is a 5th generation vigneron who tends a 6ha estate based in the village of Montagnieu, south of Cerdon. I read via Bertrand Celce's indispensable Wine Terroirs blog that Peillot is by no means a natural vigneron, as one would define it today. He sprays with pesticides until early August, isn't shy about SO2, and innoculates his red vats to ensure a prompt start to fermentation. Having never tried the reds, I can't stand behind them, but I will say that at 10€ per bottle retail, this particular not-so-natural Altesse merits a Get Out Of Jail Free Pass. It's lovely, and, like much of what's available at Spring Boutique, it tastes about twice the price.
52, rue de l'Arbre Sec
Tel: 01 58 62 44 30
A genial and relentlessly informative 2010 visit to Franck Peillot @ WineTerroirs
A profile of Franck Peillot @ Louis/DressnerSelections
A 2011 tasting with Valerie Guerin of Domaine Les Milles Vignes at Spring Boutique, 75001
A 2010 tasting with Blandine Chauchat of Mas Foulaquier at Spring Boutique, 75001
A 2010 tasting of sardines at Spring Boutique, 75001
Josh's 2010 Fall Wine Preview Tasting at Spring Boutique, 75001
Tasting through a bunch of Domaine Chandon de Brialles burgundy at Spring Boutique, 75001
Digging Vincent Dancer's 2007 Meursault at Spring Buvette, 75001