Paris in a bottle: A Parisian Wine Tour

Destination: Audi heads to the Paris in an Audi A1 to discover how the city’s love of wine is evolving into an unexpected local industry.

Paris: The city of love

Paris is renowned for being the city of love. It’s also the city of wine – nearly one billion litres of the stuff is drunk there each year, but very little of it is actually made within the confines of the French capital. In fact, since the 1960s there has been no commercial production of wine in the City of Lights, leaving all winemaking activities firmly in the grasp of a few enthusiastic amateurs. However, change is on the horizon...

Les Vignerons Parisiens

  In March a new winery called Les Vignerons Parisiens opened its doors, not far from the Pompidou Centre. Not only is it producing wine in large volumes, but it’s also offering winemaking courses, teaching the public how to make their own. What better reason could there be to jump in an Audi A1 for a road trip to discover more about this new movement and bring back a crate or two.

  ‘You could say we produce craft wine,’ says Matthieu Bosser, manager and co-founder of Les Vignerons Parisiens, speaking from his shop on the bustling Rue de Turbigo. ‘Everywhere you turn in Paris there’s a craft beer brewery, but no one was making wine. I couldn’t believe such a thing could happen in France, so I made it my mission to bring back the know-how of winemaking to the capital.’

Sacré-Coeur Basilica

  According to the Paris winegrowers’ association, there are more than 22 vineyards dotted across the landscape, and many more single vines in gardens, on balconies and on rooftops. Four vineyards are owned by the city government, which manages the vines in the Clos Montmartre next to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica – one of the city’s most popular attractions. It’s also our next destination, so we enter the details into the optional satellite navigation system fitted in our A1 Sportback Black Edition, and thanks to its punchy 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine it comes to life in the busy city streets, mastering the Paris traffic with ease. The clever sat nav finds the quickest route, and constantly adapts to counter the effects of rush hour, directing us around blackspots on the retractable LED display screen.

Bistrot Mélac

  After seeing Montmartre, we head east to the Bistrot Mélac. It’s a hidden gem of a restaurant, with great food and a plentiful cellar. We’re here to see a vine that was planted in the cellar and has crept outside, wrapping itself around the front of the building. ‘The vine is over 40 years old and produces lots of grapes,’ says owner Didier Madamour. ‘Every year we throw a party and all the locals come over to help pick the grapes, put them all in a large vat and make wine.’ French law used to prohibit this type of activity, but in recent years new legislation is enabling more creativity with winemaking in France. Didier welcomes this freedom. ‘I think more people should be making their own wine,’ he says. ‘It breaks the monopoly of large winemakers, adding interesting varieties to the mix.’

Bois de Boulogne

  To experience more of this variety, we drive to Bois de Boulogne park to meet Xavier Charvin, who grows 500 grape vine plants and produces champagne-style sparkling wine in the grounds of his stepfather’s castle. ‘I can only produce up to 250 bottles a year, so it’s more for fun than anything else, but it doesn’t stop the results from being delicious,’ he says. ‘Wine is an important part of French culture, so it’s vital that the knowledge of producing it is kept alive and in the hands of the people.’

Written by John Silcox; Photographs by Juan Trujillo Andrades.


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