Spring was in full blossom and the pungent smell of lilacs and honeysuckle flowers invaded the city parks on my recent trip to Paris. It had been years since I had experienced such gorgeous weather in the city. I also discovered another Spring in Paris, an elegant restaurant tucked away in the tiny rue Bailleul just a few steps away from the Louvre.
Joshua Adler, the wine director at the restaurant and also director of the Spring boutique located just a few steps away in the rue de l’Arbre Sec is Brown Paper Ticket’s first and only (but I believe he won’t hold that title for too long) producer in France. He welcomed me to an incredible wine tasting in Spring’s cellar, a recurring weekly event for which he sells tickets to an English-speaking audience.
This beautiful restaurant opened last summer after a long period of renovations. The renovations were highly monitored by the French Historical Monuments office due to the fact that the ancient cellar is actually part of the original Louvre foundation. But now, Anglophone tasters get to sip their wine (or should I say wines: we tasted 7 in an hour and a half!) and enjoy amazing snacks such as fresh oysters, bouchées de foie gras and aged Comté, chocolate fondant, while learning about the concept of terroir. Terroir refers to the region in which a french wine is made; wines in France are identified by their specific region (Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône, Sancerre, etc…) and not by their grapes, and French people do not necessarily know what grapes or mixture of grapes are used in the production of their favorite wines.
Joshua Adler is a newcomer to the City of Lights. He has been living in France for about a year and a half, a direct implant from San Francisco where he already was in the wine business. Adler led a wine tasting series for Bi-Rite Market and guess who he used to ticket his events in California?
He said, ¨I started using Brown Paper Tickets in 2006. I always used Brown Paper Tickets when I did tastings in San Francisco for signing up, so then I looked to see if it was available in France. I have even thought of using it for reservations at the restaurant.¨
His advice for other producers of similar events? ¨Have an interesting, clearly defined event and people will come. What is the event about? How long will it last? What will the customers get out of it? What will they have to bring to prepare for it? What will they take out of it?¨
Adler operates from a very specific niche: wine tastings for English speakers in a French-speaking country. His advertising is all word-of-mouth:¨It’s all people who come through our website or through recommendations from other people,¨ first with locals but now, mainly with tourists. Adler has considered launching the same event in French but lacks the time for now.
Joshua Adler is indeed a busy person. In addition to running the boutique and the wine section of the restaurant, he can also be found on the road, perfecting his wine selection and visiting with the vignerons from whom he buys.
He loves to tell his countryside travel anecdotes to increasingly talkative and giggly audiences as the tastings progress! Who said we had to spit out the delicious wine like he does? None of us did and we all passed the test successfully by climbing up the stairs and out of the restaurant in one piece! And believe me, it did require some balance! Santé!
Photos © Caroline Planque