Of all the places I’ve had the chance to visit, there is nowhere quite like Paris– and within Paris, there is nowhere quite like the market. Fortunately, for desperate market goers, there’s pretty much a marché open every day of the week, though it might not be the one closest to you. For succulent fruits and veggies, ‘Parisian’ (Made in China) trinkets, and fresh, creamy cheeses, learning the Parisian market schedule is crucial; Marché Bastille Thursdays and Sundays, Belleville Tuesdays and Fridays, Marché Monge Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays… you get it. This past Sunday, I did like the Parisians do and headed over to Bastille, coins clinking in my pockets and empty sac in hand, ready to scour out the good deals from the great ones. To my surprise, I got more than I bargained for.
Quite literally, in fact. Three avocados, a box of juicy strawberries, a brick of chevre studded with tangy cranberries, and a bottle of wine, all for less than ten euros. However, it’s the latter that is really the vein of this petite histoire. I didn’t go to the market with intentions of buying wine; in fact, I was actually looking forward to checking out my local neighborhood wine shop the following morning, completely set on drinking Aperol spritzes in the parc Buttes Chaumonts for Sunday night apéro; though when I read Val de Loire printed across the top of the small white tent, my curiosity couldn’t contain itself.
An older gentleman stood behind the small array of bottles; judging by his demeanor and engagement with the man beside me, I assumed he had something to do with the juice placed carefully between us. He greeted me with a hearty bonjour, proceeding to explain basic details about the wines in front of me; cépages, different cuvées, the usual. Upon revealing my career in writing about wine, his face lit up, immediately disclosing that he indeed makes said wine, and that the winery is his family business. Grabbing a bottle, he showed me the more ‘traditional’ label, depicting a small house made of stones: ‘This was where my father began making wine,’ he said, proceeding to ask more questions about just what I do. The conversation ended with an invitation to his winery in the Loire, an e-mail address scribbled in my notebook, and of course, a bottle of wine placed between my hands.
From the cuvées set in front of me, I chose the Romorantin Vieilles Vignes; at a mere 4,50, the wine seemed like a steal. In reality, I’d payed more at Monoprix a basic bottle of Chenin just the night before. Romorantin is sadly somewhat of a lost grape. Once extremely popular in France, the variety currently only finds itself in the Cour-Cheverny AOC of the Loire. It’s genetically related to Chardonnay and Aligoté, producing full, mineral-driven wines. As much as I intended to save the wine for a few days, I knew it probably wouldn’t happen. Spoiler alert, it didn’t.
I cracked the wine that same night, just before my best friend arrived at my apartment. I couldn’t believe the liquid gold that was inside. The wine was mouth-coating and full, with a creamy viscosity that overtook my entire palate. Baked yellow apples and honeyed golden fruit dominated the palate, with a tingling acidity to balance it all out. How could this gem possibly cost less than five euros? I sipped and savored, staring out my window, knowing that in that moment, life couldn’t possibly get any better than this.
Just a few short minutes later, a light knock came from my front door. My best friend showed up, baguette in hand, and we shared a glass of that same wine together at my kitchen table. To my surprise, the impossible did indeed occur: life, along with said wine, did continue to get better.