As the old joke goes, “a man walks into a bar……..”
Well, it was sort of like that.
I was eating at the most exciting discovery of the year, a resto-bistro-winebar place called Les Fines Gueules and having lunch and wine with my friend, the real food critic, as well as sharing some glasses in the company of several folk who dealt in wine, sold wine and consumed wine.
Disclosure: I know nothing about wine. Sure, there is a Chateau Talbot in
As I was saying, I walked into this bar, sat down and my buddy ordered up some wine. But to do that, he and the patron went through the usual BS that wine-nuts go through, discussing cepage, varietals, bio-unfiltered, regions, etc. I listened with half an ear. (I was headed for the food, not the wine.) And, I never order white wine, but my pal always does and so I nodded.
Our 1st wine was a bottle of Chardonnay which had some interesting features. He and I began a discussion of why we (he had spent time in the States) couldn’t stand “buttery, heavy”
Meanwhile, we are eating the most wonderful food served in a glorified wine-bar.
Diversion. This place, the ex-Tourelle, has as its theme, the serving of prime products – the “best of” - from prime producers – for example, the best oysters from David Herve in Oleron, best butter from Bordier, best bread from Poujauran, best andouillette from Thierry Daniel, best meat from Hugo Desnoyers, best charcuteries from Gilles Verot, best veggies from Joel Thiebault, etc. Plus the “best of” superb wines, Bourgueil from the Bretons (my favorite couple in the Loire), Sologne from Claude Courtois, Cotes du Roussillon from Jean Louis Tribouley, etc.
And we had ordered cold lisettes in a jelly of coriander and a carpaccio of veal (rarely seen in
Our 2nd white appeared in a carafe, over-cool, but quite a bit more interesting. Interesting, John, what do you mean by that? Oh, oh, now we get into those dreaded wine class/wine snob set of descriptors – complex, layered, woody; oh you know.
And to wash it down (I know) we had a platter of six charcuteries (chorizo, sausage, ham, and dried beef among them) and a dish of giant marinated leeks with Spanish ham. And just to seal the deal we had a platter of seven cheeses, St Nectaire, Forme d’Ambert, camembert, gruyere and parmesan among them.
At this point my copain needed a cigarette and we migrated into the bar/terrace area where (I thought) we would finish with a coffee and a spot of digestif. But no, somehow our crafty innkeeper introduced a glass of madirized-looking wine onto our table. Again, I wasn’t paying attention until my pal said – OK, what is it? I tasted it, our 3rd wine, and while it was surely a dessert wine, and just as surely not crisp, light or innocent, I hadn’t the foggiest. Luckily, neither did he. By this time, the other wine experts in the area, including a guy who sold wine to the stars and starred-restos, were rubbing shoulder to shoulder, and I ventured that it was a
The first wine cost 24 €, the second 36 € and the third was priceless; and did you figure out the riddle? The first was from a bottle, the second a carafe and the third a box. So wine snobs, go figure!
My clear favorite this week, month and year:
Les Fines Gueules
43, rue Croix des Petits Champs in the 1st, (Metro Palais Royal/Musee du Louvre or Sentier)
A la carte 30-40 €
*Originally published in May 2007.