Stuart George

Wine by One

In Tastings on March 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm

On my way back to London from Bordeaux yesterday I spent the afternoon in Paris, visiting a tasting of US wines at the Ambassador’s Residence on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré (more on this later) and then meeting a friend for a drink and chat.

David Cobbold is an Englishman who has lived in Paris for over 30 years. He knows Britt and Per Karlsson, the delightful Swedish couple behind the useful BKWine Brief. David had seen my blog via Britt and Per, so we were in touch and arranged to meet when I was next in Paris.

Although we missed each other at the tasting we met up afterwards and went to a new “bar, caviste, club” on rue des Capucines, near place Vendôme, called – quite wittily I think – Wine by One. It opened only two weeks ago.

We were shown around by Stéphane Girard. There are 100 wines available to taste by the glass in three different pour sizes: Impression, Tentation and Sensation! These wicked French names correspond to 3cl, 6cl and 12cl pours that are priced pro rata. So the cheapest pour is €1 for a 3cl slug of Catena Alamos Chardonnay 2008 or if you prefer there is a 12cl glass of Cheval Blanc 1999 at €140.

The range of wines is surprisingly Catholic: I have always felt that there are relatively few opportunities to try non-French wines in Paris. But Stéphane offers wines from Australia (Charles Melton Nine Popes 2006), Austria (Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Riesling 2007), New Zealand (Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2008), South Africa (Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2005) and the USA (Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 1999), as well as the aforementioned Argentinean.

As at The Bottle Apostle in Hackney, the wines are stored and poured by Enomatic machines. These things cost nearly £9,000 each – Wine by One has 12 of them! They need to sell a lot of glasses of wines to pay for those…

Customers buy a “Smartcard”, or “WINEcard” as Wine by One calls them, which can be personalised (très chic!) and then top it up with however much they like, à la Oyster. The appropriate amount is then deducted when a wine is selected from the Enomatic. All the wines are also available to purchase by the bottle, including a smart selection of Champagnes that includes Salon 1997 at €300. Light snacks are served.

It’s good to see more of these “wine bars” emerging where one can taste prestigious wines at relatively little cost. Perhaps it’s the future of wine retailing…

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