I count it among my blessings that I don't live closer to Le Baron Rouge. It's a ten minute bike ride, not exactly leagues away, but that's enough to prevent a complete descent into grinning autoconversational drunkenness, which is what would surely occur if I were at liberty to pop in for a quick splash of Muscat Sec, say, before work in the morning.
Why is the place so appealing to me? Why would Le Baron Rouge be my downfall, and not any of the countless other wine bars in Paris? I don't want to go to great length about this (mostly due to blogger self-consciousness about covering the already-breathlessly-covered), but I'll say that no other wine bar so perfectly realizes the romantic ideal of the Rustic French Wine Bar.
By this I mean That-Which-Was-In-Your-Mind-On-Your-First-Trip-To-Paris. Among your fantasies of kissing strangers beneath the Eiffel Tower and writing some kind of Spanish war memoir at a low-key left bank café that did not vend keychains, there was another, similarly unrealistic one, wherein you discovered a heavenly wine bar where the mood was relentlessly festive and the wines were honest and free-flowing (and inexpensive). Unless some kind soul pointed you to Le Baron Rouge, you probably were at least partially disappointed. No other bar I've been to here has the same air of constant blustery good humor, the same block party atmosphere, the same crowd of devotees spilling into the street eating cheese plates off the hoods of parked cars.*
Wine-wise, it's all cheap and cheerful at the BR, but repeated visits have proven that the emphasis very perceptibly falls on the latter quality. The most expensive glass, to my recollection, is a 2006 Grand Cru Muenchberg Riesling by Domaine Sohler, for which I have a predictable unfortunate fondness, which costs a mere 3,6eu. (Not so unfortunate, finally.)
It's got a vivid orange-blossom thing going on, along with fun notes of chewable vitamin. And, as I feel obligated to point out every time I mention a Riesling I like, the Muenchberg is just slightly off-dry and totally unsaccharine.
After the other day's riff on Muscat Sec, you might be forgiven for wondering whether I'm obsessed with off-dry wines, or whether that's all they serve at Le Baron Rouge. Neither is the case. It's just that Le Baron Rouge closes uncharacteristically early (10pm), which means that usually I pass by around aperitif hour, and these perfumey little off-dry butterfly wines are the perfect thing for the time of day, the quality of light, my usual state of appetite, etc.
They also sell vin à emporter, including a range of very cheap, very adequate wines from the barrel by the litre. Oh, and in a few weeks, I believe they'll begin serving zillions of oysters again. I was sort of kidding with the heaven thing in the title, but sort of not.
Le Baron Rouge
7, rue Théophile Russell
Tel: 01 43 43 14 32
*Tolerant neighbors seem to be the real key to the place's success. It's been around 30 years and counting.