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Champagne and pet’ nat’: our favorite wine dealers’ recommendations!

Forget about all those stuffy labels and carelessly awarded gold medals adorning so many wine bottles these days: Le Fooding is here bearing a platter of Champagne and pétillant naturel wines that you can pop open without a moment’s hesitation! This is our selection of the best bubbles on the market, chosen by the owners of ten wine shops across France.

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    Gaëlle Vieillefon et Elisabeth Debourse
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© Nicolas Kuttler

The one for Meryl Streep (and a dash of poetry)
Brindezingue rosé produced by Jean Derrien – €20

“The ghosts of a few raspberries whisper along a river of green apples coursing down your throat,” improvises Nathan Ratapu (Le Fooding’s Best Wine Dealer of 2022), who took over a record store across from the Hôtel Grand Amour and turned it into a small haven of viticulture knowledge and benevolence. “Jeannot is an honest, humble guy, his fingers are stained red and he always has a smile on his face! You could pop open one of his bottles while watching Meryl Streep in The River Wild, or while savoring a New Zealand pavlova piled high with fresh kiwi.”

Rerenga Wines – 3 rue de la Fidélité, Paris, 10th arrondissement

The one for your friends
Les Coutures, an extra-dry sparkling Chardonnay produced by Antoine Bouvet – €56

“The grapevines that produced this Chardonnay were planted in 1957 by Antoine’s grandmother. We met this young winemaker back when we visited Champagne for the first time. He took over his family vineyard ten years ago, with a hopeful vision of organic farming and agroforestry. We share his values – and many of the same friends! Speaking of which, the label was designed by Marine Philomen, who’s a close friend of ours. We can easily picture opening up this bottle to drink with a homemade kebab sandwich filled with lamb shoulder and pickled vegetables.” No sooner said than done, Antoine Kochet, the co-owner of Jaja, was getting ready to grab a kebab, some Champagne and get a tattoo that very same day!

Jaja – 5, quai Fulchiron, Lyon, 5th arrondissement

The one for operation zero
Héritage, a natural dry Pinot Meunier Champagne produced by André Heucq – €32

The world of wine can be impenetrable, but Laurent Bonfiglio knows how to please even the most demanding of customers. The golden palate of the Plus Belle La Vigne wine shop told us, “when we met Fanny Heucq, we were searching for an alternative to Maison Drappier for our low-intervention Champagnes. She stopped by the shop to buy a few bottles, and we got to talking about her family vineyard in Champagne. What we appreciated most was her father André’s approach, who abandoned conventional winemaking techniques in 2010 and started producing wine organically, even taking an interest in biodynamic agriculture. Ever since 2019, their wines have been produced with minimal intervention, and we’re impatiently awaiting their first “zero-intervention” Champagnes! Her Blanc de Meunier Champagne has rich, fruity notes, a round mouthfeel and a delightfully bitter aftertaste.”

Plus Belle La Vigne – 36, cours Julien, Marseille, 6th arrondissement

The one from year to year
A natural dry solera Champagne produced by Marie and Olivier Horiot – €60

“In solera winemaking, le sol (or “the ground”) is king!,” explains Champagne-native Timothé Toïgo, the owner of Canon Canon, a wine shop tucked in between the Rochefort-sur-Loire church and a PMU sports betting bar. The bottle in question? “It’s a blend of seven Champagne varietals, planted in 2008 on a plot of land and then aged “on the ground,” using the solera technique. It has no year to speak of, because the idea behind solera wines is to blend wines from different years, which adds complexity and freshness to the final product. I chose this bottle from original winemakers Marie and Olivier Horiot because it’s quite unique for a Champagne… It’s fresh, gourmet, complex and quite balanced, flirting with light oxidative notes. It would pair beautifully with smoked eel or fish tartare seasoned with citrus and soy sauce. And like all Champagne, it can be popped open any time of day or night!”

Canon Canon – 15, place Sainte-Croix, Rochefort-sur-Loire

The one for brushing shoulders with the divine
Entre Ciel et Terre Champagne, produced by Françoise Bedel – €52.60

Cyrille and Ji-Yun Duparcq, who are partners in both the wine shop and the eyes of the law, want everyone to drink Champagne! “This vintage produced by Françoise Bedel has wine-like qualities, with pure, mineral and saline notes, ideal for serving with a meal based around seafood. This winemaker produces Champagne in the Marne Valley, and has been using biodynamic techniques since 1999. Whatever the vintage in question, it is always intense, with lovely oxidative notes, and ages beautifully,” says the co-founder of Biovino in Lille.

Biovino – 3, place Sébastopol, Lille

The one for your wine collection
A Chardonnay pet’ nat’ produced by Jérôme Guichard – €35

“This is exactly the kind of bottle that all of us here really love,” Élie Berranger, the new sommelier at the wine & ice cream shop Folderol (Le Guide Fooding’s Best Ice Cream of 2022) and the restaurant Le Rigmarole confides in us. “Jérôme Guichard is a winemaker in Mâcon who took over the legendary Guy Blanchard’s vineyard. He produces complex wines, using grapevines that are sixty years old! And he never compromises: all of his wines are 100% natural, and masterfully produced. This pet’ nat’ is a single-varietal wine, with a hint of oxidation, and has great aging potential. I would probably drink it with veal sweetbreads, to wake up my taste buds!”

Folderol – 10, rue du Grand-Prieuré, Paris, 11th arrondissement

The forgotten one
A natural Mauzac pet’ net’ from the Domaine Plageoles – €17.50

In their supernatural wine shop in Grenoble, the Aubéry-Laurent family (Michèle, who runs the Domaine Gramenon, and her children Maxime-François, Agnès and Alix) only sell wines produced by friends! “With this bottle of natural Mauzac, the Plageoles family is highlighting an indigenous Gaillac grape variety. Their work and commitment to responsible agriculture has led to a renaissance of wines from the region and is quite commendable: they were able to revive forgotten grape varieties like Prunelart, Dura, Ondenc, Verdanel, and, of course, Mauzac… This pet’ nat’, which strikes a remarkable balance between fruity notes and freshness, works equally well as a pre-dinner drink or paired with a fruity dessert,” suggests Alix.

Gramenon et Compagnie – 15 bis, rue Lakanal, Grenoble

The one for the day after
Mehr Frauen? Ja Bitte! produced by Lagamba – €18

“My recommendation? Definitely Mehr Frauen? Ja bitte!, a sparkling rosé from Lagamba,” says Victor Dos Santos, the owner of Quillosque, the little brother to the lovely bistro Le Saint Eutrope in Clermont-Ferrand. “It’s a sparkling blend of Dornfelder, Pinot noir and Pinot blanc that goes down easy. I would even suggest drinking it at breakfast on Christmas morning, with a warm croissant or maybe even some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs! It was produced by a young Canadian expat living in Germany. It’s a lively and energetic wine, much like the winemaker herself!”

Le Quillosque – 4, rue Saint-Eutrope, Clermont-Ferrand

The one for special occasions
A Muscat pet’ nat’ from the Domaine Plaisance Penavayre – €14.90

Oenophile Hubert Lauriot Dit Prevost, who runs the Retour Verre le Futur wine shop in Biarritz, declared their true love for this bottle of Black Muscat sparkling wine: “I love its onion-skin-pink color, its aromatic nose with hints of litchi and white peach, along with its lively and acidic side, its small bubbles and overall lightness… and best of all, its price! The vineyard is located in the commune of Vacquiers, north of Toulouse, and run by Marc Penavayre and his son Thibault. They switched to organic agriculture in 2011 and have been applying biodynamic principles for five years now. It’s a party wine, that’s for sure! But it pairs marvelously with red curry shrimp as well.”

Retour Verre le Futur – 91, avenue de la Marne, Biarritz

The one for clockwork orange nights
Pet’ O Cask produced by André Kleinknecht – €14.80

Running the wine shop Au Fil du Vin Libre, which keeps the people of Strasbourg’s thirst quenched, Jean Roch discreetly hands us “the Pet’ O Cask produced by André Kleinknecht, whose vineyard is located in Mittelbergheim in the Bas-Rhin department of eastern France. It’s an orange-wine-style sparkling wine, with low tannins, notes of citrus and a good dose of acidity. It’s perfect for an apéro or to take your cheese course to the next level!” A hidden gem for the over-the-top holiday season and the frenzied Christmas market…

Au Fil du Vin Libre – 26, quai des Bateliers, Strasbourg

 

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