Rue Amelot, Paris 11th arrondissement
I was supposed to come there for a glass, so said Aaron who was having a small party for his birthday (I'll let him tell how old he is now). I entered the Repaire de Cartouche from the rue-Amelot side, this venue having two exits or two entries if you prefer, one on the boulevard side and one in the back street, in short one for the restaurant and the other for the bistrot/wine bar. During this long evening we never set a foot in the restaurant side, there are two separate cultures here and the one of the Amelot side can be pretty wild like you will see by yourself. It's great to see that a venue that have attained for quite a long time a cult status among the table & wine amateurs has still the vibes and the energy, thanks to Rodolphe Paquin and Laurent too, the wine-wise guy who will bring you a few cherished bottles from the cellar.
The rue-Amelot side of Le Repaire de Cartouche has gone through some remodeling recently. If you remember from a past visit, the bar counter was at the bottom of this room (right-hand when you walked in, perpendicular from the street), it was short and not very convenient, being barely long enough for 2 or 3 people. Now like you see it runs parallel to the street with still enough room for quite a few tables (you can have dinner on this side too).
It all began with an innocent tiny group of three people sitting at the bar on a certain weekday of february having some food along with exciting wine. Aaron and Gladys had sent an ivitation to their friends for 7:30 pm knowing that they'd begin to arrive at least one hour later. Being the only other guy to have been on time (my initial thought was that I'd stay just an hour or so) I had the chance to experience the bar before it was oveflowed by a joyous crowd. I had parked my motorbike near the Cirque d'Hiver and walked up the rue Amelot until I reach the Auberge-like street windows of the Repaire de Cartouche. Inside it was so quiet and casually relaxed.
Speaking of the counter, it has 7 seats which makes it very convenient, you can work on your terrine at ease and while less comfortable than the tables you get your order faster from up there.
Then they all arrived kind of suddenly, there was the workmates of Aaron at Comme des Garçons (the fashion company), a pretty cosmopolite group by itself, plus a handful of American expats including Josh, a buddy of Aaron who runs a wine import business for the United States.
Aaron says that he likes this place because he says it's the only place in Paris where you can experience the history of natural wine. Elsewhere they serve wines that are too young, or if they have the old stuff they keep it for the regulars. Here even if you're not a regular patron you just have to leaf through the wine list, the old vintages are threre [I still think they may keep a few hidden gems in the dark though....]. Aaron is right, you can have a verticale of some of the best natural wines here, this is not very common. This place is the absolute antithesis of another wine venue very close from here the Clown bar, a trendy bar with a Japanese chef where he says the gullible foody visitors are squarely overcharged.
As you can see the bar was now tightly lined with all this crowd. I managed to know a few of these people like Josh Adler (Paris Wine Company) on the left. I was also pleased to meet Bradford Taylor on right. Bradford is managing a Cave with a wine-bar side in Oakland, California, Ordinaire. I learnt that Punchdown has closed recently. Punchdown which I missed when I passed Oakland in 2014 was a successful place but at one point there was an issue with the building owner and they're now looking for another location. Until then it's closed until further notice, but you can try Ordinaire instead. It was already open in 2014 but it was under my radar then. Ordinaire focuses on artisan wine from California as more daring winemakers are setting up shop there from organic grapes and using no additions in the cellar. Bradford also keeps wines from France, Italy and Germany with the same work philosophy.
Here is how he writes about the wine-bar side of Ordinaire :
In addition to our retail shop, we also have a wine bar, where we pour wines by the glass. We will always have six to eight wines on tap, made by local producers. These change frequently, and can often only be found at Ordinaire. I also pull off ten or so bottles from the shelf every morning——mostly new arrivals or stuff that I am really excited to share with people. You can also buy any bottle off the wall and drink it in the shop for a small corkage fee. We offer cheese and charcuterie plates as well, just to cover life’s basic necessities: wine, cheese and meat.
Now there were these wines, lots of great stuff. Here this white Dard & Ribo 2006 was just so good, a magnificent wine with a striking mineral feel. We also had after this one another St Joseph white by Dard & Ribo, a 2002, terrific as well, concentrated and lightly creamy. The wines had this marked color but I didn't find them oxidized, this might come from an élevage in casks. Aaron says that Dard & Ribo began using plastic corks in 2004, meaning that these two vintages were corked differently. Both are so beautiful anyway. We speak about the aging capabilities of wine in plastic corks compared to real cork, for this type of wine that you can keep a long time the issue is important.
Bradford, who runs the wine shop/wine bar Ordinaire in Oackland told me about new names, new winemakers popping up in California, I need to hit the back roads there again...
The wine list is quite huge. Here is a wine bar/restaurant with a 400-strong list (most being ordered by the bottle of course), it's well stocked with Rhöne wines but you'll find everything a wine-wise amateur desires, and if you're lucky you might get an older vintage.
Speaking of the wine-by-the-glass list there were 9 wines that day, 4 whites, 4 reds plus a new pick :
__ Puzelat le Ptit Blanc du Tue-Boeuf 2014 (vin de France - Loire) at 5 € (bottle : 25 €)
__ Chablis Alain Mathias 2014 at 8 € (btle 40 €)
__ La Petite Baigneuse, Juste Ciel, Vin de France atv 8 € (btle 40 €)
__ Patrimonio Carco Antoine Arena 2013 at 10 € (50 €)
__ Le Mas du Chêne, vin de France Marche Arrière at 6 € (btle 30 €)
__ Maranges Muzard 2011 at 8 € (btle 40 €)
__ Gauby, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes 2011 at 8 € (btle 40 €)
__ Domaine Chante Alouette, St Emilion Grand Cru Cormeil 2003 at 8 € (btle 40 €)
__ Fiona Beeston, Chinon "Perfectly Drinkable" 20127 € (btle 35 €)
Another red pick of the month, but in bottle : Christophe Peyrus Pic Saint Loup 2012 (btle 50 €)
This photo story is in part supposed to tell about this wine bar, so this group photo with Aaron is a good pretext to sho the left end of the bar. You can see the cozy auberge-style paned windows on the left with the Amelot street outside, and a few tables in the bottom where people can also sit for a glass from what I understand. On the wall, a long image featuring a vinous scene from a couple of centuries ago.
Otherwise the bottle list is so long I can't reproduce all of it (and Rodolphe would certainly object), so here are a few random picks : Ganevat Côtes du Jura En Billat 2011 75 € -- Clairet Jura Savagnin de Voile 50 € -- Jean-Yves Peron Vin de Pays d'Allobrogie Mondeuse 35 € -- Christian Chaussard les Mortiers 2009 40 € -- Mosse Anjou 2012 35 € -- Puzelat la Guerrerie 2009 35 € -- Noella Morantin MonCher 2009 35 € (sold out) -- Rhone whites : Dard & Ribo white St Joseph 2002 30 € -- JM Stephan Condrieu La Roncharde 2008 120 € -- Chateau Rayas CDP 2000 250 € -- Rhone reds : Gramenon la Mémé 2010 80 € (they have several other vintages of this cuvée) -- Le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras cuvée Popy 2011 80 € -- Elodie Balme Rasteau 2012 40 € -- Gramenon Laurentides 2012 35 € (lots of cuvées & vintages from Gramenon) -- Gilles Barge Côte Rôtie le Combard 2010 90 € -- la Roche Buissière, Flonflon 2012 25 € -- Gramenon Vinsobres la Papesse 2013 50 € -- Dard & Ribo Hermitage 2001 85 € --
The Maître des lieux Rodolphe Paquin in person could be seen now and then coming and going between the restaurant (another world light years away) and the bar side, and this easy-going man didn't shy away from toasting with this joyous crowd. I don't remember what we had here, that might be a bottle he brought for us to discover.
A few more random picks from the wine list :
Chateau Sainte Anne Bandol 2011 60 € (lots of Sainte Anne)-- La Sorga C'est Pas Très Catholique vin de Table 45 € -- Trevallon, vin de pays des Bouches-du-Rhone 2009 120 € (lots of Trevallon in the list) -- Clos Marie les Glorieuses 2007 90 € -- Corsica Porto-VecchioTorracia Oriu 2000 70 € -- Arena, Patrimonio Carco 2013 50 € -- Léonine/Morin Carbone 14 vin de France 36 € --
White Burgundy : Valette Macon-Villages 2011 40 € -- Philippe Pacalet Chablis 1er Cru Vauligneau 2007 140 € -- Philippe Pacalet Corton Charlemagne 2009 330 € -- Muzart Chassagne Montrachet 2012 90 € -- Philippe Jambon, Le Jambon Blanc 99 mois Vin de France 120 € -- Jambon la Grande Bruyère vin de table 15 ° 50 € -- Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet 2000 375 € -- Muzard Santenay Champs Claude 2012 60 € -- Guy Breton Morgon Ptit Max 2013 38 € -- Karim Vionnet Beaujolais-Villages 2009 25 € -- Derain Saint Aubin le Bon 2012 60 € -- Alain Mathias Bourgogne Epineuil 2012 30 € -- Viti Vini Vinci Irancy les Croix Buteix 2012 45 € -- Roblot Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru les Charmes 2012 120 € -- Anne Gros Echezeaux 2007 280 € --
There are also bubblies, Champagne, Bordeauw wines and a few foreign.
One other interesting thing at Le Repaire de Cartouche is that they have more than 40 magnum-size wines in the wine list, here are a few picks :
Foulaquier Pic Saint Loup L'Oiseau Blanc 2011 80 € -- Philippe Jambon la Grande Bruyère vin de table (no year) 100 € -- Yvon Métras Fleurie Ultime 2010 150 € -- Domaine Leccia Patrimonio 2006 120 € -- Domaine Rousset Peyraguey Sauternes 1990 180 € -- Philippe Pacalet Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2007 230 € -- Isabelle Frère, Murmure, vin de France (no year) 70 e -- Gramenon la Papesse de Gramenon 2011 120 € -- Viti Vini Vinci Bourgogne Coulanges Vineuse Côtes de Groué 2012 60 € -- La Petite Baigneuse, Maury Loustic (no year) 100 € -- Villemade Cheverny Ardilles 2007 80 € -- Clos Marie, Simon 2010 90 € -- Chateau du Puy Côte de Francs 1989 210 € -- Chateau Meylet Saint Emilion Grand Cru 1994 160 € -- Domaine Houvette Baux de Provence 2001 140 € --
This was not planned at all but Aaron got a particularly rare birthday gift for a wine lover : being lifted with a glass by Rodolphe Paquin. I'll not show all the pictures but on some of them Aaron is upside down with Rodolphe just hanging him by his legs. You can't imagine what you can go through when you drink these healthy wines... This was about midnight or later (I left at 2 am and there were still a lot of people in there)..
Come holds another excellent wine from Burgundy : a Viti Vini Vinci Bourgogne Epineuil, a savory unfiltered pinot noir with a vivid acidity, it is made by this outstanding négoce that works across several wine regions in France.
Picture on left : Thomas Deck of Deck & Donohue, a new craft brewery in Montreuil near Paris. More about it soon on this site.