12 July 2017

a farewell to meat: super, 75011

UPDATE Aug. 2nd, 2017: David Loyola tells me he has named, or renamed, his primeur "SUPER," whereas until now everyone had referred to it as Aux Deux Amis Primeur. I've updated the text below to account for the name change. 

When I first heard that 11ème wine bar Aux Deux Amis proprietor David Loyola had taken on the lease for a large adjacent space on rue Oberkampf, I shook my head in awe of what I assumed would become an extension of his popular existing wine bar. Aux Deux Amis is by all appearances a massive cash cow, turning tables from lunchtime to past midnight, the only Parisian natural wine bar of its generation to truly embrace a fun, unruly bar atmosphere. Surely on a busy thoroughfare like rue Oberkampf, I thought, bigger would mean better for Aux Deux Amis.

Instead Loyola opened a primeur, or greengrocer. It's a slightly puzzling move, given how many excellent primeurs have opened up within 5 minutes' walk within the past six months. (Le Zingam's second address on rue de la Fontaine au Roi, and Terroirs d'Avenir's new location on rue Jean Pierre Timbaud.) Loyola's greengrocer venture is probably explicable by that fact that his friend Cyril Bordarier of Le Verre Volé has already locked up natural wine retail and gourmet foodstuffs on that particular corner of rue Oberkampf, with Le Verre Volé Cave and L'Epicerie du Verre Volé, respectively. For Loyola, the options were probably primeur or nail salon.

Even so, there is already a solid primeur 100 meters up the street, and a terrible one perhaps 10 meters away. SUPER is distinguished by an impressively locavore focus - the majority of its vegetables derive from the Île de France - along with ambitious prices. It offers a small, almost stealth selection of wine and beer, as well as lunch service. At noon Loyola lords over the roomy kitchen area, improvising a daily sandwich and bento from exclusively vegetarian components. "We wanted to do no meat, and no fish, just to stay truly on theme," he explains.

06 July 2017

the île de porquerolles: domaine de l'île, domaine perzinksy & domaine de la courtade

I sometimes worry I come across as too principled. I so rarely get invited on press junkets. I suspect many PR people imagine me to be a saber-rattling natural wine radical who, if cornered on a cliff's edge by LVMH regional sales managers, would sooner jump than appear in their selfies.

In fact, I quite like playing the shill now and then. I have no trouble appearing gracious and amused when plied with free things. So it was that I recently enjoyed a splendid trip to the Île de Porquerolles the other day, organised by the Côtes de Provence AOC in conjunction with a Lyonnais press agency called Claire de Lune.

The Île de Porquerolles is an island south of the Provençal town of Toulon. Formerly a private island belonging to the industrialist François Joseph Fournier, who purchased it in 1912, Porquerolles was bequeathed to the French state in 1985, and today is home to three wineries: Domaine La Courtade, Domaine Perzinsky, and Domaine de l'Île. "There are three domaines on the Île," explains Domaine Perzinksy oenologist Richard Auther, "And we have three completely different styles."