Tuesday, June 26, 2012

De Vinis Illustribus


by Paige Donner

Tucked practically underneath Paris's Pantheon is the 17th c. cellar and mythical wine shop, De Vinis Illustribus.  When current owners, husband and wife Lionel and Dominique Michelin, took over the cellars in 1994 from the legendary Jean-Baptiste Besse, a wine lover and connoisseur who welcomed the likes of Papa Hemingway to his shop back in the day, it looked nothing like it does now.

Read my Review on BlackBook City Guides HERE

From the street entrance you are greeted with a light and airy, water-blasted original stone interior that dates to the 17th c. This is the shop and the welcoming area where the Michelins have forged an impeccable reputation for advising clients on birthday and special occasion wine purchases. For example, if your son or daughter was born in 1972 they will tell  you that a "Bourgogne is more appropriate than a Bordeaux." And if you were  married in 2009, they can advise you on the best Côte du Rhônes to buy and cellar now so you can enjoy for your 10  or even 15 and 20 year anniversaries. 

De Viris Illustribus Urbis Romae was a book written in 1779 by abbot Lhomond to teach about famous men from Rome. De Vinis Illustribus is a play on words and means Famous or Great Wines.

The real treasures are downstairs in the truly ancient cellar. Pictures of what it looked like when Besse was still the owner can only be described as a  cobwebbed and dusty Ali Baba's cave. Today it is still a treasure trove of legendary wines - though much more organized and well-lit - that we rarely get to see physically: 1955 Chateau d'Yquem,  1929 Corton "Clos du Roy", an 1811 Fine Champagne Imperiale Cognac. The list is quite extensive.

Mr. Michelin has an impressive collection of Sauternes, an AOC he particularly enjoys. Their cellar is dominated by French wines and mostly of the regions Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Rhône, Loire and Alsace. Though Champagne is also represented and you can find a few bottles from Porto, too. Prices range from 13€ to into the thousands.

Another specialty of De Vinis Illustribus is their wine tastings [More Pics on Local Food And Wine].  You can join in on a wine tasting or book your own group. You can read more about these by Keiko, a fellow blogger who also attended a recent wine tasting there who writes in both Japanese and French. These are some of the popular choices:

Discovering French Regions: 3 wines, 1 White Burgundy, 1 Red Bordeaux, and 1 Red Côtes du Rhône. Accompanied by aged Comté cheese. 50€ pp

Tour de France of the Vineyards: Tasting Lunch. 4 Wines, 1 Burgundy, 1 Bordeaux, 1  Côtes du Rhône, and 1 Loire. Served with fine cooked meats, cheese and pastries. 105€pp.

Great French Wines Over Time: Tasting Dinner. 5 great wines including 1 old vintage with hot meal courses. From 255€ pp.

Reservations required.

De Vinis Illustribus, 48 rue de la Montagne-Saint-Geneviève Paris 75005  devinis.fr


Posted via email from Local Food And Wine

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ciel de Paris

by Paige Donner

From about the end of the 1910s to the 1940s Montparnasse was the neighborhood that claimed the title, Place To Be. It's where Hemingway had been hanging out the most when he wrote his friend that letter saying, "...Paris is a moveable feast." *[Full quote here]. 

With the recent re-opening of the 56th Floor Ciel de Paris in the Tour Montparnasse, it is once again the place in Paris To Be.  [PICS HERE]

Read My Review on BlackBook City Guides HERE
Christophe Marchais is still the chef here, having done his Ducasse time in Las Vegas years ago as well as time in Monaco, so the cuisine is consistently as fabulous as it always has been. His methods are to use fresh French produce and choose among "noble ingredients" for the creative flair: truffles, lobster, caviar, foie gras, turbot. Though for the re-opening as of June 2012, he and his Chef Patissier, Baptiste Methivier, added innovative upgrades of a tea-time Bar Millefeuille which features 3 sweet and 3 savory choices each day. A perfect light meal to enjoy with your glass of Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines at the bar with the city's best view over Paris and the highest point in Europe.

I've written about the best champagne bars of Paris for BlackBook and if this one had been open yet after its complete interior overhaul, it would have made it to the top of the list. Not least because it's one of the only champagne bars in town where you can order a tasting flight of different champagnes, blanc de blancs no less. Look for this on the menu: Dégustation des Blanc de Blancs 22 € (Ruinart, Nicolas Feuillatte, Canard Duchêne).


Another overhaul that Elior, the parent group of the restaurant, has done with the menu is offered a quick lunch for people arriving at the next door Montparnasse Train Station (departure for Bordeaux) where for 38€ you have appetizer, main course and dessert. That's gastronomic quality fare at dizzying heights over one of the prettiest cities in the world in modern chic art deco reminiscent décor - all for less than $50 per person. It's the deal of the decade. Signature dish is Lobster soup flavoured with sea urchin stock.
Notes on the décor: all half-tones of ambers and caramel done in sleek lines that feel like 21st century take on Art Deco. Credit goes to Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance who used the thematic of "sparkling" to season his choices. Fall in love with the ceiling lighting, big flat, LED back-lit circles that have you thinking of champagne bubbles and indeed make you feel like you're floating in a flute of champagne, suspended from the sky, 56 storeys above Paris.
Guess who else used to haunt Montparnasse in her day? Anäis Nin... but we'll leave that for the bedside recommended reading after you've dined at Ciel de Paris.

Tour Montparnasse, 56th Floor, 33 Avenue Maine 75015 Paris
+33-01-40-64-77-64   CieldeParis.com

c. 2012 all photos by Paige Donner is Editor of BlackBook City Guides Paris