Welcome in Paris' financial district. Well, it doesn't look like being there but it sure does. Paris financial district certainly dwarfs compared to the City, Wall Street or Frankfurt, but still, there must be financiers doing some kind of big-money business here or it wouldn't be called a financial district. Isn't it a better time to write a story about a wine bar stucked in the middle of the quartier financier than when a full-blown financial crisis is under way ? We live in thrilling times full of inspirations for an observer and I still wonder how someone could say that the End of History had come. From the moment he published his theory, historical events have been cascading at an accelerating speed... All these events and unsettling chain reactions ask for a compensatory relaxed-moment with a glass on wine, and it seems that the financiers have not balked at doing that. Lots of people are excited these days in the face of this turmoil, with some coming back from the grave thinking their arch-enemy, the finance capitalism is about to be defeated, an exotic religion seeing a chance for its segregated banking system, and statists seeing an opportunity for more state control and intrusion. For example, We've had a stepping up of attacks on this side of the Atlantic against Switzerland and Luxembourg (which have nothing to do with this crisis), which France and Germany view as the last barrier that prevents them from levying even more taxes from their citizens. On the street level, if this crisis may result on orders for luxury cars being put on hold among the high-flying financiers, this may be business as usual for the neighborhood wine bar "le Petit Vendôme" (map), an Island gem of a bar which departs so much from the stylish venues of la Madeleine. Despite the financial crisis and roller coaster stock market, local professionals find room for real-world earthy pleasures like Auvergne cuisine, saucisson on good bread and a glass of wine.
Sandwiches are served all day, but for lunch, there are also a few serious dishes, 16 of them were listed on the blackboard the last time I went there, among them Pied de Cochon grillé (15 Euro), Confit de Canard Maison (15 Euro), Civet de Porc au St Pourçain (15 Euro), and Andouillette AAAAA (15 Euro).
One of them has a central place here : the Saint Pourçain, and you can have a glass of white Saint-Pourçain or red Saint-Pourçain for 1,8 Euro (10cl) or 3,6 Euro (20cl). You might have guessed it, Saint-Pourçain (see map on the right) is a wine Appellation from Auvergne in the central mountains of France. Technically, it is part of the Loire region, although very far on its eastern wing. The Saint-Pourçain white is a blend of Tressailler, Chardonnay and eventually Sauvignon. The reds are a blend of Gamay/Pinot Noir. The Saint-Pourçain also has its own Saint-Pourçain-Nouveau phenomenon (since 1987), which happens on the very first days of december (fête de la ficelle). That's when vignerons from Auvergne come to Paris and serve their new wine in bars (managed by Auvergnats of course...). With only 500 hectares of surface, I'll trust more the nouveau wines of this tiny Appellation than most of the mass production sold under the B*****-Nouveau (read my lips) thing... I had a red the other day there and liked its mouth, gentle and fruity, it spoke to me as a nice little wine that went well with the saucisson.
The choice of wines by the glass is 7 whites, 2 rosés (including a Saint-Pourçain "gris") and 11 reds. A few wines of this list other than the Saint-Pourçain wines :
Whites : Turaine Domaine Charmoise 2006 (2,2/4,6 Euro for 10cl or 20cl), Quincy Jacques Siret 2007 (2,4/4,8), Menetou Salon Joseph Mellot 2007 (2,4/4,8), Pinot Gris Ruhlmann Alsace 2006 (2,3/4,6).
Reds : Chinon les Chatelières 207 (2,3/4,6), Cotes de Brouilly Lafond 2007 (2,3/4,6), Morgon Domaine Chanet (2,3/4,6), Crozes-Hermitage Cave de Tain 2005 (2,4/4,8) and a few others...