Follow the labyrinth of cobblestone roads along the bohemian back-streets of Paris’ St Germain des Pres and you will discover the hidden delights of Dilettantes. Don’t let its unassuming shop front fool you; venture inside, take the stairs and descend into its deep, cool cellars. There, within its 17th Century walls, you will find an extensive collection of grower champagne from some of the region’s leading vignerons, many impossible to source within Australia.
Owner, Fanny Heucq, kick-started the business in 2012 based on a desire to bring high-quality grower champagne to a wider audience and procure opportunities for distribution abroad. The daughter of third-generation winegrower and meunier specialist, André Heucq, Fanny brings serious wine lovers together with inspirational and terroir focused champagnes within the setting of her intimate cellar.
Browse across portfolios from 25 producers who, according to Fanny, have been selected for their “notion of agriculture, season and place”. Among them, take your pick from Didier-Ducos, Franck Bonville, Gaston Chiquet, La Borderie, A.Margaine or perhaps Claude Cazals or J.Lassalle.
“My parents’ champagne is one of the best sellers because people want to discover what my family has to offer. But Eric Rodez is perhaps the best known from my selection,” says Fanny.
You needn’t brush-up on your French before visiting either. Staff are bi-lingual and there are handy technical reference cards for each champagne provided in English.
Tastings are offered daily and by appointment. During regular opening hours, visitors can experience three champagnes by the glass as part of a ‘terroir’ tasting flight. If you’re in a group of 10 or more, special tastings may be arranged by appointment at night.
Time your visit right and you’ll have the chance to attend one of Dilettantes’ regular ‘meet the grower’ tastings. Capped at 15 participants, these intimate gatherings provide an opportunity to meet with partner winegrowers, taste through their portfolio and contribute to discussion in a relaxed environment.
For those wanting complete immersion in the grower champagne experience, Dilettantes has partnered with oenotourism providers, Oenospheres, to offer one / two-day or tailored trips to Champagne for a reasonable price.
Dilettantes’ customers are fairly evenly split between tourists and the French – around 30% are Parisian. It’s a good sign that genuine lovers of champagne will always find something of rarity and value here.
22, Rue de Savoie, 75006 Paris, France
Open from Tuesday to Saturday 11am – 7.30pm and Thursday 11am – 9pm