Burgundy in Bordeaux? How kinky can you get? And yet… there’s a restaurant in the center of Bordeaux that has a phenomenal selection of wines from the Côte d’Or (and elsewhere).
I first knew Fabrice Moisan when he managed a restaurant called Verretigo on the rue Georges Bonnac. The décor did not suggest it, but the food was good and wine list phenomenal, with a great selection of Burgundy (!) and oddball wines you’d never expect to see in Bordeaux in a million years, such as fine German wines. What’s more, the prices were downright reasonable.
Two years ago, Fabrice and his associates created Univerre (another play on words…) and moved to a new location, 40 rue Georges Bonnac, also in the Mériadeck district close to the heart of the city. The décor is more in keeping with the restaurant’s standing this time and has gained a devoted clientele.
A visit to l’Univerre’s website will give you a good feel for the place: http://www.univerre-restaurant.com/ And you can enjoy drooling over the wine list: some 1,300 different ones to choose from! The main list is 50 pages long. As incredible as this may seem, Burgundy has pride of place. Confused or overwhelmed by all these “foreign” wines? Fabrice will be glad to guide you!
The first thing you see when you enter the restaurant is the small Pinot Bar which serves fine wines by the glass thanks to a Eurocave dispenser with neutral gas that keeps the wines from going off. The dining room itself is rather small, with just ten tables. The decor is simple and modern, and one wall has a plate glass window with a wonderful view of bottles, some quite rare (Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux anyone?).
The cuisine? Let’s start off by saying that this is a restaurant for wine lovers so the food is necessarily good. But, let’s be honest: the star at l’Univerre is what’s in the glass. The menu is limited, featuring tried-and-true options. My first course was veal kidneys with garlic and parsley, and the main course was a tournedos of aged Aubrac beef. The latter was wonderful and served with chips and shallots cooked in butter.
The wines? We drank a Chablis and a red Burgundy.
2007 Premier Cru La Forêt from Vincent Dauvissat (60 euros) was very enjoyable. The color was medium-deep with chartreuse highlights and showed some age. The understated nose was very typical of its appellation with lemony and delicate orange blossom overtones. The wine had a lovely soft attack, going on to show gooseberry and white currant flavours before evolving into a nippy, dry, mineral aftertaste with good texture and little evidence of oak ageing. The acidity was very precise and there was something deliciously lip-smacking and appetizing about this Chablis. It is quite enjoyable to drink now, but will last for years. The serving temperature was perhaps a tad too cold.
2007 Gevery Chambertin Premier Cru Clos Saint Jacques, vieilles vignes, from Domaine Fourrier (200 euros) went extremely well with the beef. This climat is considered by many Burgundy aficionados to deserve an upgrade to grand cru status along with the likes of Meursault Perrières, Nuits Saint Georges Les Saint Georges, Pommard Les Rugiens Bas, and a few others. Furthermore, Jean-Marie Fourrier is a highly-reputed winemaker.
The color was looking a little older than its years. The nose was sleek and sophisticated with very pure, soft, candied fruit nuances along with some musky and new leather overtones. In fact, the bouquet was altogether sensual, perfumed, and very classy, with cranberry and powdered talc aromas – a real treat just to smell, and impossible to describe with mere words…. Fresh, silky, and spherical on the palate, the wine seemed more ripe than many others from that vintage, and the oak influence was just right. In fact, this 2007 Clos Saint Jacques was so enjoyable that the mind boggles to think what it must taste like in a great year! I found it to be squarely in its drinking window.
Interestingly, Fabrice decanted the wine. I approve, although I know that some Burgundy lovers scoff at this.
I should also point out that Univerre uses impeccable Zalto glasses.
There’s a small branch of the Univerre (shop and wine bar) in the 6th arrondissement of Paris http://www.lasuite-atelier.com/projet/univerre-paris-up/ with a function room for tastings.
The associates have also set up a business in Hong Kong, where they are agents for several Burgundy producers (Roulot, Cathiard, etc.).