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Contemporary Paris Natural Wine
Natural wine is alive and well and living in Series II of the NOT DRINKING POISON podcast. Interviews with the daring restaurateurs behind Chambre Noire, Folderol / Le Rigmarole, and Café Montezuma.
Having spent the first NOT DRINKING POISON podcast series raking over natural wine history with veteran Paris bistrot owners of varying English fluency, I thought it would be appropriate to devote the second podcast series to CONTEMPORARY PARIS NATURAL WINE, spotlighting the personalities bringing new vitality to the French capital’s almost forty-year-old natural wine scene.
This also seemed necessary to avoid giving the impression that Paris natural wine is still dominated by old white French men offering andouillettes.
Indeed, the young restaurateurs, cavistes, and sommeliers I’ve interviewed in Series II often diverge from the Paris wine guy archetype. They also, unanimously, offer new contexts for natural wine, reinvigorating the classic templates of wine shop, wine bar, or restaurant.
At his ever-evolving series of wine bars and wines shops entitled CHAMBRE NOIRE, Mexican expat OLIVER LOMELI has radically democratized the service of radical natural wines, and enchanted a new generation of Parisians along the way. Listen to the podcast here. (No paywall.)
With their mind-bending ice cream and wine bar FOLDEROL, American expats JESSICA YANG and ROBERT COMPAGNON have created an unlikely source of international fascination, the first natural wine bar that is a bona fide family destination. Listen to the podcast here.
At his central audiophile nightspot CAFE MONTEZUMA, Paris native and graphic novel author LOUIS MESANA incarnates the oft-remarked kinship between music geeks and wine nerds, offering a delightful haven for both. Listen to the podcast here.
In these interviews - and in three more to follow soon - certain themes emerge.
Many of those interviewed wield the unslakable curiosity of outsiders to French wine culture; many embrace a more radical definition of natural wine than their Parisian forebears, eschewing all filtration and sulfitage in their wine selections. Notably, most of their establishments, on a conceptual basis, reach somewhat beyond food and wine, to the point of dissembling their own manifest expertise therein. The story of contemporary Paris natural wine is a post-wine story, where the importance and value of the subject is often assumed, rather than proselytized. (For better or for worse, depending on whom you ask.)
Keep an ear out for Part II of this series in a week or two. In the meantime, here are few upcoming appearances1 at some splendid natural wine salons, where I’ll be presenting The World of Natural Wine and offering a few tastes of my own funny Languedoc garage wines2:
Nov. 4th-5th: Salon Brut(es) - Mulouse, FR
Nov. 18th: Erupted! - Levice, SK
Lastly, for anyone wondering, my knees are still intact.
FURTHER LISTENING & READING
NOT DRINKING POISON PODCAST Ep. 7: Oliver Lomeli of Chambre Noire
NOT DRINKING POISON PODCAST Ep. 8: Jessica Yang & Robert Compagnon of Folderol & Le Rigmarole
NOT DRINKING POISON PODCAST Ep. 9: Louis Mesana of Café Montezuma
If you’re hitting the wine route, don’t forget to check back in on the Fall 2023 Salon Calendar! It’s been updated like seven times since I sent the initial email.
A 2022 vintage report is coming soon! It’s finally all in bottle.