Because I keep on going to the newer wine bars that focus on my kind of wine, I often neglect what are the classics, or the new classics, like Juveniles, in the 1st Arrondissment (47 rue de Richelieu, 1er, M° Pyramides, tel: 01 42 97 46 49). A number of people have claimed it to be a local favorite. Melissa and I were both sick. We wanted to stay close to home. The place looked cute. We said, sure. Give it a go.
Here's the lesson. Listen to clues. First clue that we should have gone elsewhere: a bottle of wine with dinner is double the takeaway price. In other places I adore, such as Le Cave Trousseau, it's a mere four euro more to drink the wine with their food. Second clue: The owner has Torbreck, the Australian producer, bottle a special wine for him.
Like affairs of the heart, this wasn't the first time I ignored my instinct. It won't be the last. In the end, not listening to that instinct for a restaurant is much less disasterous than ignoring it in love. There are worse mishaps in the world. But somehow a bust bottle on the last night of Paris seems so sad.
Having been enthralled with the Dard & Ribo St. Jo (see previous entry) the night before, Melissa and I were on a syrah roll. I asked the head guy that evening about the Clusel-Roche Cote Rotie. "It's a 2003, and I'm wary of 2003's because it was such a wacko year, and they've been using quite a bit of new oak."
To that Mr. Nameless said, "The owner hates new wood and woody wines and
the Clusel is beautiful."
Melissa said, let's trust him. So we ordered the Cote Rotie. Full of oak. Reeking of oak. Over-extracted and...yup...telltale aromas of cherry vanilla. There were three of us drinking, and we had a very, very hard time putting a dent in the bottle.
The gentleman came over and acknowledged our sorrow. (Oh, why didn't we order the Tempier, it was young but safe!) He defended the wine. No new wood on it--says he-- and so he couldn't really take it back just because we thought it did. (If I only knew then what I know now, that Jean Luc Columbo, modernist Rhone winemaker had a hand in it.)
In a wine restaurant with true passion, the bottle would have been whisked away and another, more appealing bottle, would have materialized.
This 'classic' you can definitely avoid.
Adorable place, (129, Avenue Parmentier. 01 43 57 45 95) great food, typical bistro fare with twists. Great wine list. (Eight- year old Chenin, six euros by the glass). All natural, of course. The only problem is Susan has sold the restaurant and at the end of March she will move to Brittany. A loss to the cause.