Amongst the boulangeries and boutique shops of St Germain, and just away from the hustle and bustle of Odéon’s cinema queues, lies La Crèmerie, a tiny temple to natural wine. It’s a blink-and-you-might-miss-it kind of place. A tad ramshackle, with about enough tables to squeeze in 10 people, most of the space is taken up by wine bottles – any of which you can take off the shelf and enjoy on the spot with a 10 Euro corkage fee. The serendipitous day I stopped by I had the place to myself. I was literally the only customer. The hospitable owner, Parisian food writer and journalist Emmanuel Giraud, even popped out at one stage and left me tout seul whilst he ran an errand! I was flattered how he trusted me, a foreign English person, to be left alone to hold the fort for a few minutes.
Natural wine has really come of age in recent years. Starting off as a counter-culture, underground movement like early jazz or beat poetry, it has particularly captured the imaginations of the millennial generation, shaking off the stuffiness associated with classic claret wine snobs. I have to be honest though: natural wine can be hit and miss. I’ve tried some absolutely rotten natural wines in my time, making me question if the sulphites should be put back in (there is still no compelling evidence that sulphite-free wine prevents hangovers). But I went in with an open mind. Emmanuel let me sample the “Provoke”, a young gamay. The bottle’s label is itself provocative, featuring a scantily-clad lady with a bull’s skull for a head, like a nightmarish image from a David Lynch film. Rather typical of a gamay really, it was light, slightly floral, with virtually no tannin but with that herbaceous rawness you get with low intervention or unfiltered viticulture. A really very good lunch wine.
And speaking of lunch, as wine is the focus here, there are really only bits of food for soakage only. All I had to eat were soldiers of Comté, neatly arranged in a hashtag shape, and bread. Not the healthiest lunch but for a couple of hours I felt joyously alive. In the evenings the food is more substantial but as the place is so small I wouldn’t expect anything fancy or elaborate. If you find yourself in this part of Paris and need to escape the tourists, stop by La Crèmerie.
9 Rue des Quatre Vents
by J A Smith