UPDATE (Nov 2014)
It’s a local, neighbourhood spot. It’s quirky, it has its charm, it’s fun. But if you know anything about wine, or you want to learn more, there is nothing special about this place. The staff are young and they’re still learning what they have on the shelf. Several times, when I’ve gone in with wine friends and we ask their advice, we are left bitterly disappointed.
Don’t be fooled by what’s on the shelves. They’ve brought in new producers for the bulk wine (or “en vrac“, in French) and the majority is from a more industrial production. It may be organic but they share no other particularity with what “natural wine” should be : i.e. low intervention, no added yeasts, no fining, no filtration… The bloggers who promote this place, if they try and get all natural-wine on your ass, don’t know jack shit.
If you’re in the area and especially if it’s a dead day, like a Sunday or Monday, this is a good place to go but don’t expect to be blown away.
UPDATE (July 2014)
En Vrac has added two new addresses: in the hip La Recyclerie (83 boulevard Ornano, 75018) and a wine shop (no sit-down food service) on 69 rue Maubeuge, 75010.
N.B. There is a terrasse to catch a few rays of sunshine and a brunch menu offered at weekends.
For a country that's so snobbish about wine, it may come as a surprise to you that this new wine bar has just opened up in my quartier.
You see, for a year or so, there has been a stall at my local indoor market selling wine. It's worked so well that they've just opened up a wine shop and bar.
The (slightly unusual for Parisians) concept is that you bring a bottle (or you buy a clean one from them for a meagre 2 euros) and you have it filled up with a wine of your choice, straight from the barrel. No label, no fancy "oh but dahling you must get Chateau de Blah-Blah", and refreshingly, no snobbery for one particular vintage over another.
No, this is a place that sells vin de table. House wine. The stuff you have at home for those every-day occasions. Nothing complicated, nothing to write home about, but something that won't render you bankrupt within a week. A bottle of perfectly drinkable plonk will set you back typically only about 5 euros and is far better than anything you'll find in that price range in a supermarket.
I digress. Let's get back to the subject at hand - Le Vin en Vrac. They have five or six mini stainless steel barrels to choose from, a helpful server who'll help you make your choice and fill up the bottle. For the traditionalists, there are also a couple of shelves at the back where you can buy a standard "pre-bottled" wine. They have about thirty to choose from - all French, largely natural wines. As if that's not enough, they also have a couple of tables where you can sit down, relax, have a glass of wine and a plate of charcuterie or fromage. At 3 euros a glass, I think I know where my new favourite local spot is.