14 March 2011

hold me closer, vincent dancer: spring buvette, 75001

My couturier friend D had just reached the finish line of a manic work jag spanning two continents designing some dresses worn at the Oscars. She was in Paris for the défilée of the brand she works for, and after the glittering chaos of the fashion show itself, and the congratulatory tumult backstage, I thought she might prefer someplace kind of tranquil for a glass and a bite before the afterparty.

So we popped over to Daniel Rose's subterranean 1èr wine bar Spring Buvette, which, while reliably packed these days, still manages to emit a kind of hotel-lobby civility. There are in fact times when I find it too civil. Then there are times like the other night with D, when the crisp service, and pin-point precise pleasures of the luxe wine list* and the inventive menu are exactly what is called for.

For example: the above plate of sweet urchin with mild horseradish cream, and a glass of esteemed Burgundy vigneron Vincent Dancer's perfectly sculpted 2007 Meursault "Les Corbins."

The pairing was unintentional - the urchins were a gift - but acceptably nonconflictual in the end. Shellfish tend to show best with off-dry wines, rather, owing to a certain sweet-tasting amino acid (glycine) in their tissue; furthermore sea urchin is ordinarily so saline and funky it defies even the usual shellfish conventions. (I've read about pairing it with Pinot Noir, never tried it though. Red wine is never on hand when I'm eating raw fish, somehow.) Meanwhile Meursault is known for often yielding a slightly plumper, mealier style of white Burgundy.

Not Dancer's, however. Since his first vintage in 1996 he's built a strong reputation for his consummately crafted, biodynamic Burgundies from Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny Montrachet, Beaune, Pommard, and Meursault. Minimal intervention in the vineyard, hand-harvesting, neither fining nor filtration, wild yeasts use - you know the drill.**

My friend Josh, Spring's wine director, is a great fan of Dancer's wines, but I will admit to having previously found them a little hard-edged and overprofessional. The other night with D was somewhat revelatory in that regard, because the wine struck me as significantly more inviting than I remembered. Nothing mealy about it, of course: all crackling mineral intensity, strong, polished fruit, and a notable seaside quality that jived okay with the urchins. That the wine was a little self-consciously classic made it no less affecting, finally.

We spent the rest of the night drinking free vodka in a toweringly unsophisticated nightclub on rue de Rivoli. It was enjoyable, and I was happy to hang with D, but suffice it to say it made me very grateful for the tiny moment earlier in the evening with the urchins and Meursault - a little fix of quiet beauty amid all the heavily publicized beauty.***

* The glass list was a little oddly weighted that night. Of three printed white selections, only one was under 10€, and two were off-dry, the under 10€ included. I'm all for foisting what I like on customers, rather than giving them what they want, but this seemed extreme even to me. Happily at Spring there are usually a few other unprinted options by the glass - it's very much worth asking. 

** I guess I just get tired of repeating these tenets, which are shared by upwards of 90% of all the vignerons I mention on this blog. They're important tenets, though. 

*** Not that Spring is, ahem, under-publicized. Sorry.

6, rue de Bailleul
75001 PARIS
Metro: Louvre-Rivoli
Tel: 01 45 96 05 72

Related Links: 

A profile of Vincent Dancer @ Burgschnauzer (How I hate the name of this nevertheless very good site.) 
A 2005 tasting with Vincent Dancer @ WineTerroirs
A review of the 2007 Meursault "Les Corbins" @ FGSuperFred
Randal Caporoso on pairing wine with various types of raw seafood @ WineLoversPage


  1. It's very expensive. But hey, look who's eating there. Foodie Spring worshippers. Tourists who have no idea but the press they've read everywhere about the 'hottest chef in Paris' and anyone else. They seriously gouge in the prices with no doubt at all.

  2. Just wondering if you were gay?

  3. @Anonymous#1: the folks at spring know their audience pretty well. their audience doesn't have a lot of patience with the squibby bargain natural farmer wines i tend to semi-sentimentally favor. i can't really blame them. additionally when drinking at spring one can rest assured that, while it isn't cheap, you get what you pay for. the wines are routinely pretty killer.

    @Anonymous#2: you're almost definitely Anonymous#1, aren't you? anyway, no, no i'm not. but the misunderstanding is forgivable, particularly since between references to elton john, oscar dresses, and fashion week, this was one toweringly homosexual blog post. goodness me.