Wine Buying for Dummies. If there were a book with this title – there probably is! – it would be my Bible. Let’s face it, when you’re on the spot, standing in a wine shop or a grocery store at the end of the day when it’s time to buy that nice bottle of wine to bring to a friend’s house for dinner, or share with your loved one on a quiet, cozy night at home… all too often all the fantastic Domaines, Crus, Mas, Vintages and Wineries you’ve so painstakingly committed to memory on dozens of wine tasting trips and hours spent pouring over Robert Parker…suddenly all dribble away like last year’s headlines and all you have left is 5 minutes to buy your bottle and get on your way.
It’s not just a Wine Shop, it’s a Concept Store. Leave it to the French to figure out how to add a good dose of pleasure to buying wine. Even when you’ve left Robert Parker behind at home, you can still feel on safe ground in Paris’s La Note Rouge in the 3eme arrondissement.
Brainstorm of brothers Yann and Romain Remacle, these two young, handsome, Parisian men decided to take the pomp out of both Parisian and, even, out of buying wine. And just in time. It wasn’t too long ago that I wandered into one of the French chain wine shops and asked the salesclerk on duty what adjectives he would use to describe wines from the Sud Ouest. He responded with that look that indicates, albeit very politely, that you’ve just asked a really stupid question.
At La Note Rouge, this won’t happen. It won’t happen for two reasons: 1) Yann and Romain are far too accommodating and charming to ever leave one of their customers lacking for knowledge and 2) If, for example, you are like many of us and feel at times intimidated to ask questions about a wine, these two 30-somethings have outfitted their sleek and chic wine shop with computer touch screens mounted to the exposed stone walls programmed with a picture and detailed descriptions about each of the wines they keep stocked in their shop. Touch, and the information, like a cup, runneth over…
Another unique characteristic about La Note Rouge is that they stock wines only from small producers from all over France. “We buy wines from French wine producers who cultivate anywhere from 5 – 35 hectares of vines,” explained Yann Remacle, whose passion for wine led him to open up this shop in one of Paris’s trendiest districts. “I’m not a Sommelier but I know what I like.”
And he’s betting you’ll like it too. Indeed on a recent evening of wine tasting, the shop was non-stop with regulars, tourists and the curious all stopping by to pick up just that perfectly right bottle of wine. Located just a couple blocks up from Les Halles, the decor of the shop is very un-traditional for France, but at the same time very Parisian, with bottles displayed by region. They even stock a French organic brand of vodka distilled from Quinoa, along with a few select bottles of Whiskey.
Notes: Vain du Rû, Dominique Andiron – white, biodynamic, full-bodied, aperitif; Les Grandes Costes, Musardises, a Rosé from Pic St. Loup, fruity with notes of spice; Le Villain P’tit Rouge, Vincent Ricard, Apellation Touraine Contrôlée – at La Note Rouge, with Frères Remacle, should you drink anything else?
P.S. La Note Rouge was a name inspired by Blue Note. Particularly fitting as what goes better together than Jazz and Wine and Paris? And, when you’re really nice – or naughty – I hear that the brothers might even play you a tune or two on that piano they keep in the back cellar…
Recommend: Dinner around the corner at Ambassade d’Auvergne. Fantastically French and authentically country.