Prior to my trip to Europe last month I had been doing a ton of research into wineries to visit in particular, but also to wine bars during my short stays in London and Paris. When I searched online for ‘best wine bars in Paris’ Ô Château kept popping up and I really liked the sound of it. So on my final evening in Paris I hopped on the Metro and rode it down to the Louvre-Rivoli station and walked a few short blocks to the wine bar. Even though it was a Tuesday evening, the restaurant and café sidewalk patios along the way were bustling with people (c’mon North America, it’s time to follow the lead from Europe). I decided to sit right at the bar and was greeted by very friendly, and multilingual staff. From the time that I started to look through the wine menu I had a big silly grin on my face. The selection of wines to choose from (over 40 different wines available by the glass, including greats such as Château d’Yquem and Dom Pérignon, and over 500 wines by the bottle) was truly amazing. I decided to order a mixed cheese and charcuterie platter, which would be paired with four different wines. Part way through pouring the wines, the sommelier seemed to reconsider one of his choices and asked me if I would be interested in something a little bit different. I replied that I am a wine geek and therefore the more interesting the wine, the better! So my wine selection was as follows (from left to right in the photo), with the suggested food pairing:Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine A. Cailbourdin, Cuvée de Boisfleury, 2011, Sauvignon Blanc, to be paired with Goat Cheese with Herbes de Provence
Haut-Médoc, Diane de Belgrave, 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, to be paired with a dry smoked duck sausage
Brouilly, Domaine de Briante, Naturellement, 2011, Gamay, to be paired with a dry ham (similar to Iberica ham)
Arbois, Jura, Domaine Jacques Puffeney, 2008 (this was the ‘something different’) Savagnin, to be paired with Brie with Truffle Pâté
The mixed platter also contained bread and butter, fig jam, gherkins and some mixed greens tossed in a vinaigrette with some toasted pine nuts on top.I started off with the Pouilly-Fumé, which was a clear pale lemon in colour, with a citrus nose and a hint of grassiness. The flavours were of medium intensity with crisp citrus fruit, medium-plus acidity and was well-balanced with a long finish. Pairing it with the goat cheese softened the acidity of the wine and softened the tang of the goat cheese, making it seem even creamier. This wine also worked very well with the mixed greens.The second wine I tried was the Savagnin from Jura. It was a clear medium gold in colour, with a pronounced intensity on the nose of nuts, caramel and a yeasty brininess that comes from the flor (a surface yeast that develops with some winemaking styles, most notably Sherry). It was dry with medium-plus acidity, pronounced intensity of flavours: nutty, citrus, butterscotch. It was very complex, balanced and delicious! The truffle brie was absolutely AMAZING!!! It was the perfect savoury pairing with the Savagnin – taste explosions in my mouth. This pairing was my absolute favourite of the evening and I savoured both the wine and the brie for as long as I could make them last. I really must try to find a BC source for a Brie with truffle!Third up was the Brouilly. It was a clear medium ruby with medium intensity on the nose with aromas of strawberry, raspberry and a hint of savoury. It was dry with medium-plus acidity, medium-minus tannins and flavours of raspberry, spice, savoury notes and was of medium-plus intensity. It was well-balanced and had a long finish. The ham was a little bit on the salty side but very tasty. I found the pairing with the Gamay to be a little bit mediocre. The flavours of the ham actually overwhelmed the wine a bit, but the flavours certainly didn’t clash. The wine did work quite nicely with the duck sausage.My final wine was the Bordeaux from Haut-Médoc. It was a deep ruby colour with a pronounced nose of cherry, cassis, liquorice and spice. It was dry, with pronounced tannins, pronounced intensity and medium-plus acidity. The flavours were still a little bit tight to start but did open up the longer it was in my glass, with cherry, cassis, dark fruit, slightly stewed fruits and spice. It had a long finish. The duck sausage had a bit of grease to it and was very rich. The wine cut through it and balanced it beautifully – a nice mix of savoury wine with savoury food.While I was enjoying my leisurely evening of food and wine and chatting with the two sommeliers working that evening I noticed a stack of books at one end of the bar. I enquired after them and was shown a copy. Its title was Into Wine – An Invitation to Pleasure, written by the owner of Ô Château, Olivier Magny, and after flipping through a few pages I decided to buy it. It turned out to be a fabulously entertaining read during my flight the next day to Greece and my time on the beach there. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in wine, no matter your level of knowledge about wine. It explains things very well and with a bit of humour.Overall, this evening was one of the best of my entire holiday – I was in absolute wine geek heaven! For anyone who is visiting Paris and who appreciates great wine and food I most definitely recommend stopping by to see Olivier and his wonderful staff at Ô Château.