Thursday, August 07, 2008

Degas with bubbles

Joe had a camera in his hand as we were starting into our second bottle of bubbly at Le Verre Volé two days ago. I said, "Just don't take one of me looking like Degas's Absinthe drinker..." and started to mime that downtrodden visage. Snap. Oh well.

Joe was in town for one day, so we arranged to dine, and fellow wine person (or is that "personality"?) David and I met up with him on a hot night at Le Verre Volé, a great wine bar whose only downfall is having a revolving fan pointed the other direction, behind the bar.

David and I plotted our attack as we strolled around the empty, cozy space looking at the different bottles on their shelves and waiting for Joe to turn up. Drawn, then, both like moths to a particularly sparkling flame, we gravitated toward the Champagne shelf. Tempting stuff, indeed. Larmander-Bernier, Ulysse Collin, Vouette & Sorbée... and oh, hey, Selosse V.O.

Now, I did have the pleasure of drinking a bottle of Substance in the Palais-Royal garden last week, so it was a particularly spoiled and hedonistic move to pounce on the V.O. But, well, you only live once, and I really only said yes because David seemed to want that one so badly...

The patron had gone back into the cellar to see if there were any left, and had (phew!) brought one out and set it on the bar when Joe walked in. David and I turned around, looking like children caught opening the snack cupboard.

But Joe, despite a grave aversion to Chardonnay in its still expressions (why?!), is a Champagne enthusiast, so we were set to go.

The evening rolled on from that first, joyous note, as we reconnoitered, slipped, slurped, and ate terrine, andouillettes and a stunning slice (yes, slice) of black pudding (boudin noir) prepared by the potentially alcoholic but assuredly talented charcutier Joël Meurdesoif.

And I was even strongarmed into what turned out to be a delicious surprise, a 2006 Pacalet Gevrey-Chambertin that was light on its feet yet an intense tangle of young fruit and bitter tannin - I loved it.

As the evening wore on, we had finished our food and the Gevrey; there was only one road to head down, and it would not yet be the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir on a bicycle, which would be my route an hour or so later. No, it was back to Champagne.

The NV Vouette & Sorbée Blanc d'Argile Extra-Brut is a thing of beauty. I'd tasted it in horrible conditions last December - under an awning in the freezing cold, caught by rivulets from a driving rain, shoes and feet soaked as I sipped and talked to the affable Bertrand Gautherot.

These conditions were better: friends, laughter, a comfortable wine bar, giving the patron a glass, strolling outside to talk (until the moths started to bother me and I ducked back in). And the wine was delicious.

So the snapshot would have been more appropriate if glass and bottle had been empty!


Joe said...

A great evening, but a photographer without talent.

Great wines, but how about that boudin noir?

Thanks again for the kind hospitality to a visitor,


Joe said...

A bottle of the exact 2006 Pacalet Gevrey tasted in San Francisco last night at a wonderful wedding dinner did not perform nearly as well as that fresh bottle in Paris--the boat trip is much, much longer out here. I hope the wines out here recover from their trip as they have a little rest.

Sharon said...

Hey, I compared you to Degas!

And yes, that boudin noir was incredible. I had it again two days later when I went back...

Sorry to hear about the Pacalet. I wonder if this is also why no one seemed to understand my enthusiasm for Philippe Jambon? (i.e. no/low SO2 + transatlantic travels).

Anonymous said...

It was indeed a great evening. Thanks both!

The Pacalet Gevrey is an old fashioned Burgundy, which I really appreciated. I had a few 2006 samples early this year and the line-up was quite impressive.
Joe, Sharon allowed me (actually us) to taste that boudin noir. Sad you did not get an impression, but that gives you an excuse to come back to Paris and go to now Sharon's cantine.

Transport to the US is a major issue, particularly for 'fragile' bottles, like Pacalet.


pisto said...


found a restaurant with Vouette et Sorbée Blanc d'Argile (degorgement 12/06 FWIW) and ordered a bottle after reading you about it.

I could not be more underwhelmed. Looks, smells and tastes like cheap Champagne to me.

Short in the nose, with green herbaceous notes and a touch of citrus that, after five minutes in the glass shows oxidation notes. I do enjoy a Champagne made in an oxidative style, but this was just faulty to me.

The worst was the mouth, not only short, but with a hole in the middle and sort of an artificial acidity in the end. Looked more like an unbalanced Le Mesnil (for the citrus) that like a Cramant as the (cheap) cork said.

It was not very expensive on the wine list (about 46 euros), but my expectations were very high after reading you (not that I am protesting!!!, keep up the good work).

Sharon said...

Wow, day and night, compared to my experience with it. I'm sorry you had such a crappy taste. I can assure you that if the two times I've tried it it was like that, I would not be enthusing about it!

J Munro said...

Couldn't think of a better way to spend a day. Friends and champagne!