Finding the Finest Natural French Wine in Paris
Thu 4 Oct 2012
If you’re a fan of French wine and haven’t enjoyed a bottle of vin naturel yet, now is the time to discover the exhilarating by-product of biodynamic vines and an organic approach to wine making. A good place to start your search for natural French wine is at any one of a number of Paris restaurants, caves or bars à vin that sell low-sulfite, high-flavor varieties.
A great spot to start stocking your natural wine cellar is La Cave des Papilles, in the 14th Arrondissement. This specialized store carries only French wine that adheres to the regulations of natural wines—meaning that it is organic, biodynamic, or has either a low or nearly nonexistent level of sulfites. La Cave des Papilles is run by a shy but knowledgeable caviste, whose close relationship with the producers ensures that any bottle you pick up will be a great point of entry into the world of natural wines.
La Cave des Papilles.
For those who like to wine and dine, stop by Le Chapeau Melon, where you can either buy your bottle to go, or grab a seat for dinner or à la carte eating on Sundays. The bottles at Chapeau Melon are pricier than most that you’ll find at La Cave des Papilles, but the high standards of selection remain the same and justify the price tag. The small dining room fills up fast, so be sure to reserve one of the seven tables if you’re planning on pairing organic wine with oysters sur place.
If there’s no room at Le Chapeau Melon, head down the street to Le Baratin, where you can sidle up to the bar and start sipping natural wines from the organically minded menu. If you’d like to eat at this traditional bistro-style French restaurant, it is best to reserve in advance. Otherwise, it’s a great spot to stay a spell and watch Paris go by.
Le Chapeau Melon.
For a fun night of natural wines, head to the 12th Arrondissement, where you can start with the small selection of vins naturels on offer at Le Baron Rouge. Once the place gets overcrowded with tripists and after-work drinkers, head to the much more discreet Siffleur de Ballons. This seriously fun Paris wine bar has done its homework and created a space dedicated to carefully curated bottles of natural wines.
Because of alcohol licensing regulations, Le Siffleur is prohibited from selling a glass of wine alone, so if you’re planning on hanging at the bar, you’ll have to order your glass of wine with a cheese or charcuterie plate chaser (both the charcuterie and fromage are artisinal, as well as ideal reminders of why la vie est belle in France). You can also tuck into a small table in the wine bottle–lined dining room that also serves as a point of purchase for a wide variety of reasonably priced biodynamic wines.
Assuming you still have some wine bar crawl left in you, head across the street to L’Ebauchoir, a friendly neighborhood restaurant where the ambience is très agréable and your server won’t flinch when you ask for your wine to be sulfite free.
Le Siffleur de Ballons.
In a neighboring section of the 11th Arrondissement, you’ll find Crus et Découvertes, another store specializing in natural wines and partnering with independent producers to bring them to Parisians. The influence of Crus et Découvertes extends across the street to Le Bistrot Paul Bert, where a selection of vins naturels can be paired with the bistro’s claims to fame: meat-centric meals and decadent desserts.
If you’re looking for some more northern exposure to the city, head up to the 10th Arrondissement, where both Albion and Le Verre Volé have made one-stop dining and wine shopping the most exciting part of eating out. Both restaurants have a constantly rotating carte de vin to go along with dinners made of high quality, seasonal ingredients. On any given night you’ll find a couple of natural wine options to order off the menu, and if you find something you really like, you can stock up on bottles from the cave à vin.
These addresses are all you need to have the finest French wine at your fingertips! Enjoy expanding your collection of vins naturels, and bonne dégustation!
La Cave des Papilles
Le Chapeau Melon
Le Baron Rouge
Le Siffleur de Ballons
Crus et Découvertes
7, rue Paul Bert, in the 11th Arrondissement.
01 43 71 56 79.
Le Bistrot Paul Bert
Le Verre Volé
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