Action Bronson's Guide to Drinking Natural Wine in Paris
7 natural wines you should be drinking, according to Mr. Wonderful
" Oui, oui, motherfuckers." That's how Action Bronson takes to the streets of Paris, this time in pursuit of the best in natural wines.
In the first of three episodes in the Action Bronson Eats and Drinks Paris series, Action heads to the 11th arrondissement of Paris with Clovis Ochin, his "natural wine shaman," where the two revel in the joys of wines made with as little intervention as possible—in other words, vin naturel.
Ochin, a Parisian wine merchant, introduced Action to natural wine when they met backstage after Action's concert at Le Trianon in 2015—and Action has been a natural wine devotee ever since. Action explained to us that before he met Clovis, "I'd never heard of natural wine." In fact, Action said, prior to that meeting he "didn't give a shit about wine at all. It never turned me on." But there was something different about natural wine: "I don't know how to categorize it, but it's something special. Ancient and special." Now he can't get enough of it.
Before heading down to Auvergne to see natural wine being made, Action and Clovis drop by a few of their favorite restaurants in Paris's hottest food neighborhood to indulge. "I feel like I need to go back to France every fucking chance I get," Action explained to us. "It's not just about filming something about wine, this is a lifestyle. This is what people dedicate their life to."
First stop is Yard Restaurant where Jane Drotter, the owner, and Nye Smith, the chef, serve Action and Clovis a meal that has Action crowing, "This is what I fucking want to eat!" First, the gentlemen taste some Occidureste from Aurelien Lefort, a combination of Chardonnay and gamay grapes from Auvergne. Then it's onto a Canta Manana by Alain Castex, made way down in the south of France. This wine has Action shouting "whoa" and engaging in an epic beard shake. A fried rabbit with tarragon mayonnaise is accompanied by Picolnax from Yann Durieux in Burgundy—and it has Action waxing poetic. But why stop there? The meal is complete with Cotillon des Dames, from Jean-Yves Peron. This is an orange wine—fermented with the grape skins. Action heartily approves.
It's on to meet Camille Fourmont, the owner of La Buvette, who serves Action and Clovis a natural basalte from Patrick Bouju and an Austrian natural wine from Christian Tschida. Everyone agrees that the andouille from a small charcuterie near Auvergne goes perfectly with the Austrian wine, but Action says, "The stuff that Patrick Bouju makes is my favorite." As the threesome enjoy a gorgeous Parisian afternoon on the outdoor terasse of La Buvette—eating baguettes and saucisson and drinking the natural wine—Action is in nirvana. "That could be the best sausage salami I've had in my life," he says. Life is good.
The day is far from over. Action and Clovis wend their way to Le Servan, a French bistro with an Asian twist, where Action joins co-owners and sisters Tatiana Levha and Katya Levha in the kitchen. He helps them prepare a dish of breaded brains, made with green and red chilies, ginger, marinated turnips, trout egg caviar, peanuts, herbs, and capers. Bertrand Grebaut, the chef of the famed Parisian restaurant Septime, takes a bite and gives his approval. Action then decides that he and Clovis must return for dinner that night. On the way to dinner, though, the two share some natural wine—a pinot noir from Catherine Riss—with a fan of Action's, whom they meet on the street. Clovis says "it's the best pinot" and Action's fan, Richard, agrees. Dinner at Le Servan quickly turns into an ooh la la-fest over croquettes, clams, oysters with peppermint jelly, beef salad, fried lacquered quail, asparagus and mushrooms—and those delicious breaded brains. Action claims he is having a religious experience at Le Servan—all of which goes to show that natural wines pair beautifully with the best food, and are themselves a journey into the lives and personalities of the winemakers who create them.
This episode, Action told us, "is not just a show about natural wine." Instead, he said, "It's a crash course on modern French cuisine and how to fucking be informed with what you're drinking and who's making it."