Paris en bouteille

melacParis, the city of fashion, the city of history, the city of . . . grapes? In the 70s, restaurateur Jacques Mélac planted a few baco grape vines from the Auvergne that clambered over his Parisian bistro (42 rue Léon Frot, 75011). In mid-September each year, he harvested enough to make 30-50 bottles of wine. Neighbors and habitués of the restaurant gathered for the annual mini-harvest and grape stomp. I can’t help thinking of Lucille Ball’s famous episode.

melac3The harvest is a huge street party where regular attendees sing, dance, and feast. A tirage-au-sort, or draw, determines who gets the chance to buy one of the coveted bottles from last year’s harvest. Mélac called the home brew Château Charonne after the street nearby and described it as Paris en bouteille (pairee ahn bootay), or Paris in a bottle.

melac2Earlier this year, the bistrot was taken over by Didier and Denise Madamour from the Auvergne. Although they will no doubt be making many changes to put their own mark on Bistrot Mélac, this is one tradition they will not be messing with. It was as distinctive a marketing coup as Mélac’s handlebar moustache (a moustache so fabulous, he was once photographed by Robert Doisneau). Jacques Mélac, on the other hand, has decided to devote himself to wine making on a much larger scale than a few bottles. Santé!

51HZhUsPn5L__SL75_The Road to Burgundy: The Unlikely Story of an American Making Wine and a New Life in France, by Ray Walker

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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4 Responses to Paris en bouteille

  1. Ellen says:

    See for some 2010 video of Monsieur Melac. Quite a character!

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