Troyes is not unusual among French towns for being home to only one terrific informal restaurant. I understand that similar culinary eco-systems prevail in Mâcon and Orléans and Nevers. Where one might think that bistrots as superlative and as successful as Aux Crieurs de Vin would inspire competition, in reality they seem instead to suck all the air out of the room, as it were. If you want to drink good wine in a sophisticated environment in Troyes, you go to Aux Crieurs de Vin.
Fortunately, there are two locations. The second is wine shop situated across from a fishmonger called Chez Pascal in the town's central covered market, the Marché des Halles. No food is served at the wine shop itself, but there are tables, and excellent wines by the glass, and one is encouraged to purchase immense boat-shaped styrofoam plateaux of shellfish from Chez Pascal and consume them sur place with wines from Aux Crieurs de Vin.
On a Sunday morning it provides a perfect hair-of-the-dog coda to the previous night's drinking, which, if you drank well, necessarily occurred at the Aux Crieurs de Vin's other location. It's a very well-planned system.
The wine selection at the caviste in the marché is necessarily smaller than that of the bistrot across town. Grander bottles occupy the wallspace, while the bulk of the shop's stock - natural wines priced for everyday drinking - sit in a cascade of crates in the center.
Champagne being the regional specialty, it's always on offer by the glass. I tend instead to go for a nice low-alcohol still white, just because it makes for better long-distance drinking.
On our last visit, intending to take it easy, the Native Companion and I polished off just one bottle of Jean Montanet's Melon de Bourgogne, a wine whose low price belies its minor-classic status.
White-fruited, nuanced, angelically light and pin-prick precise, it's a wine that is perennially distinguished by being what vignerons from surrounding tables are drinking at the end of tastings where Jean and /or Catherine Montanet are present.
And, like any of its Muscadet cousins from the Loire, it's an idiot-simple and unimprovable match with Chez Pascal's worthy fleet.
Aux Crieurs de Vin
Marché des Halles
Tel: 03 25 43 20 20
A 2012 piece about Aux Crieurs de Vin at the Marché des Halles at DuMorgonDansLesVeines.