Friday, February 17, 2012

Le meilleur caviste du monde - The best wine merchant in the world

Buying wine.

When you live outside France, buying wine can prove to be a challenge. In Ontario you have to deal with the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario), referred to by wine-lovers as the KGBO. They choose the wines you can buy and impose ridiculous prices. In Toronto, land of my birth, there are only two outlets where the staff even know that wine is made from grapes: Queen’s Quay and Summerhill. The Sommeliers on staff in other outlets can surely give their opinion on the last Leafs game but if you are looking for that special nuits st. georges, forget it. One of them actually asked me, “What mark is that?”

The fabulous wines of British Columbia, Oregon and Washington State are rare, but you can buy as much Australian Yellow Tale Shiraz as you can stand being hit in the face by a bunch of grapes. The French wine selection is acceptable but the good wines (fondly remembering Domaine Capmartin from madiran…) are quickly snatched up and the prices are obscene.

On the other end of the spectrum are wine shops in Paris (“Caviste” in French) where the owner will go on and on and on about the terroir – translated into Canadian as Somewhereness (search Somewhereness on this blog…) – along with subtle hints of cinnamon, old leather or black current; aftertastes of fresh tobacco or gravel and that cannot fail to just piss everyone off because you take the damn thing home and spend the evening looking for that shadow of vanilla the guy was going on about and feeling like a complete idiot because you just can’t find it.

But here in Vientiane, we can go to The Loft. Yohann is simply a wine-buying genius and brings in a large selection of French wines at very reasonable prices.

And no wine-snob bullshit. The other week I went in yearning for a nice saumur champigny and Yohann thrust this bottle into my arms. “Take this!” he said, “it is pure heroin!!” And it was.

Stocking wines here is also a major headache. If I thought turning a corner of my basement in Toronto into a wine cellar was a nightmare, here in the tropics it’s almost impossible. Wine fridges are prohibitively expensive as is the electricity needed to keep a cellar cool. But The Loft will stock wines for you.

Telephone: 21242991

Open daily from 10 AM till midnight.

Closed Sunday. I hate Sundays.

Visa and Mastercard accepted.