It's not that common for a genuine and casual wine venue to be found at a walking distance from a very touristic area in Paris. Usually you have to go to the unchartered waters of the 10th, the 11th or the 20th arrondissement, which is OK for the weathered Parisian but a bit adventurous for a first time visitor. Here (at 70 rue de Dunkerque) with Le Vin au Vert, we have an excellent and relaxed caviste/wine bar at only 30 seconds maybe from the Métro Anvers, which is the landing pad for tourists on their way to the Sacré-Coeur hill. Like many other métro stations elsewhere in Paris, the surface structures were designed by Hector Guimard in the Art Nouveau style (pic on right). Hector Guimard also authored the Abbesses métro station which is close by (a must-see spot).
When you step out from the Anvers métro station, the tourist crowd usually walks northward, taking the narrow and sloppy streets leading to the Montmartre hill. These streets with their lined shops selling junk souvenirs and cloths are the common feature of mass tourism with also the scam players and their cardboard boxes, nothing really exciting if there wasn't this wonderful view on the Sacré Coeur up there and the promise of more quiet streets in between. But if you walk just the other way from the métro station, I mean southward, the area is more authentic and untouristic, and that's where you'll find this wine bar, surprisingly close from the tourist magnet. I understand that when you reach the surface at Anvers and have this glimpse on the Sacré Coeur (pic on the left), it's hard to resist and not follow the crowd, so let's consider that this wine-bar visit will be for at least your second visit in the area, when you're beginning to look for real Paris, and eventually for real wines.
As you see, the place is very simply designed but warmful at the same time, it's an open space with a wall of bottles on the left, the kitchen and bar counter in the far end and the dining room filling the rest. To separate the room from the bottle wall, there's just a long and narrow display board where you find these days a wide range of Champagne bottles.
The place was formerly an eatery dealing with brunch, pastries and crêpes, nothing really exciting, and they did a lot of remodelling to get what we see today.
Another successful try was this bottle of Alsace Pinot Noir 2010 on the left by Pierre & Doris Rietsch. When I arrived at the Vin au Vert, there was a last bottle of their other Pinot-Noir cuvée, a slightly-larger bottle which was priced at about 8 € and seemed to sell like crazy, but I waited too much before choosing the bottle and someone snatched the last bottle right in front of me, so I turned to this other cuvée which was priced at something like 10,5 €, and this happened to be also a very good value. This lightly-turbid Pinot Noir (obviously unfiltered), is refreshingly fruity and alive, with this right level of tannins and pepper feel which I like to find in pinots. The Domaine Rietsch is managed by a family with deep roots in the Mittembergheim area and their natural-wine approach which began precisely with their Pinot Noir, is now extended to their other wines using only indigenous yeasts and favoring an élevage on the lees. They divided their wine range into two categories, the classical wines and the natural wines, but as far as I understand, both lines of wines are made naturally (additives free and from organic grapes), only that the classical range is made with a bit of SO2 to stabilize them, which makes the "natural" ones more alive if sometimes a bit perly. Sometimes classical is understood as conventional when speaking of wines, but this isn't the case here.
Here are a few random wines I saw on the shelves :
On the red wines side : Domaine Thierry Navarre (Languedoc), cuvée Ribeyrenc (name of a forgotten variety used for this wine and which is also known under the name of Aspiran), vin de table costing 12 €. Other wine : Les Clampins D'Abord, table wine made by Isabelle Frère (Domaine Scarabée, Sorède, Languedoc-Roussillon), no printed vintage but it could be a 2008 (Didn't note the price for this one). Another : La Vigne Haute Costs, vin de France 2010 (table wine) bottled by Jeff Coutelou in Puimisson (Hérault, Languedoc) 15 €. Then a Chiroubles, Vin de Kav by Karim Vionnet at 14,8 €. L'Homme Cheval, unfiltered atypical Bordeaux, the shop tag says, at 15 €. I spot a bottle which costs only 6,8 €, a cuvée named Frivolle, a 12 ° Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes (Languedoc) made with Grenache & Syrah by Domaine Rouaud. Also a table wine from Domaine de l'Ausseuil, Prise de bec, Côtes de Rousillon Villages by Anne & Jacques de Chancel at 10,5 €. Also there's a Macon-Prissé Pierreclos AOC by Nicolas Rousset at 12 €. I see on the side a crown-capped bottle from Domaine de L'Anglore (southern Rhone) which may be a pet'nat (natural sparkling) and is a vin de France 2010 named Chemin de la Bruine, at 15,8 €. There's also a Chinon rosé, Lune Rousse 2010 by Frédéric Hardouin at 7,9 €.
That's just a few radom picks, but they have many more wines, some from winemakers you know, some from up-and-coming artisan vignerons.
They have also a few wines in magnums, costing about 40 or 50 €.
They also have close to 20 Champagne labels, at prices beginning at 17 € (Gratiot-Pillière) and others more well-known maisons like Billecart-Salmon, Lassaigne, Drappier, Jacquesson, with prices (not in order) like 65, 54, 34, 35, 26 and 23 €, and a few Champagne magnums at 110, 68, 62 and 39,9 €.
There are about 8 wines by the glass if I remember, a couple of them being at 4 € (sometimes it's 3,5 € like it was in october).
A few words about Sébastien and Etienne, who opened this place : they both studied enology, respectively in Montpellier and Bordeaux if I remember, worked in wineries, one of them (Sébastien) also worked at Le Verre Volé where he learned to know real wines like these. They select their portfolio through professional tastings and through personal contacts with winemakers who come to them with their production.
The food goes along the wine philosophy : no freezer, no microwave. They use fresh products and the menu is short and simple. The food is also affordable here, which is not always the case in venues serving this sort of wines. You also don't pay more in the evening. They usually have two hot dishes, an Italian-style salad and cold plates, plus two desserts. When B. and I ate here, we took respectively a big salad and a charcuterie/cheese plateau for 12 and 14 € if I remember. the bread, which is included, was a very good sliced baguette.