The place, which has been run by Pierre Jancou since 2002, is now managed by Serge Mathieu and his wife Helene. The spirit is very similar : Serge serves and sells mostly artisan wines made from organicly-farmed vineyards (90% of the wines here are natural, non-interventionist wines) with samely artisanal charcuterie and cheese imported from Spain, Italy and some french provinces.
Born in New York, he lived all his life in France and is an architect by training. He discovered the natural wines, loved them and decided to make a profession of that love. He stayed a while (several months) with Olivier Camus (at le Chapeau Melon, a wine bar in Paris), whom he says is one of the best wine tasters in Paris. Then he discovered by chance La Cremerie, an already-converted former dairy shop located on a side street near Odeon in Paris. Pierre Jancou, who was running the place, was not selling at the time but Serge felt that this was the place. He proposed his help and worked several more months with Pierre to get more experience and expertise. He finally acquired the store in 2006. His wife Helene, also an architect, joined and she helps with the wine as well as with the food.
The concept of the place is to be both a wine bar and a wine store. You can walk in, choose a bottle, pay and walk away. You can also drink a glass from the wine-by-the-glass selection, or buy a bottle from the shelves, pay an extra 6 Euro (cork fee) and drink it there. Because of the License, you must order something to eat with the wine, wether cheese or a saucisson plate for example.
Several Saucissons and Jambons hang over the counter. Saucissons from the Aveyron (from a small place in northern Aveyron named Mur de Barrez), then saucissons from Ardèche, the Lot, all three being french departements well-known for their artisan charcuterie. Also chorizo, and ham from Spain : "Jamon Iberico de Bellota" first, from Salamanca, a high quality ham made from free-range, acorn-fed Iberian pigs. And "Jamon Iberico de Recebo", a lightly lesser ham, from acorn-, pasture- and compound-fed Iberian pigs. Serge says that he is the only one in Paris to have this quality of Bellota.
Speaking about the wines he has in the store, he tells me the names that flash through his mind : Pat Desplats ( Domaine des Griottes), Claude Courtois (les Cailloux du Paradis), Antoine Joly (Domaine Roche Bussière and his Gaia), Mas de Gourgonnier (Baux de Provence), Sebastien Riffault and his Sancerre, Mas Foulaquier (pic saint loup), La Treille Muscate (Corbières), Puzelat, Villemade, Marc Pesnot, Tessier, Rivaton, Christian Ducroux (Régnié), Hervé Souhaut (Ardèche/Rhone), Marcel Lapierre, Gramenon, Cornas from Thierry Lallemand, Clos Siguier (Cahors), Jean Michel Schmitt (Domaine Maria Fita). His first price is a Louis Julian at 4 Euro a bottle : a nothing-added (not even SO2) Chardonnay from an organic estate in Languedoc (Table Wine label). He has a few other bottles at about 6 Euro.
He says that one of his most sought-after wines are the "Pet'Nat wines (petillants naturels), or natural sparkling wines, like "foudre d'Escampette" by Jean Marc Brignot, and Moussaillon from the Domaine des Griottes.
He also has some Champagnes, including a few bottles from a very small cuvée of Champagne : from Jérome Prevost, a Sélosse follower, he got 6 bottles from a 1000-bottle cuvée .
Meanwhile, Helene pours me a glass of Michel Augé's "L'Erèbe", a Cabernet-Franc-Cot Table Wine from the Loire, with a few words of Aristophane on the back label :
"La nuit aux ailes noires déposa un oeuf né du vent, dans le sein du sombre et profond Erèbe". I actually visited his estate. Michel Augé told me then Erèbe means "chaos and renaissance". Very aromatic wine, with new notes emanating from the glass after 10-15 minutes while we chat.
Serge and Helene have four children.