Aux Crieurs de Vin – Natural Wine & Grower Champagne in the Heart of Troyes

When you fall in love with a place, there is no way back. A good dozen visits in Champagne within the last 2 1/2 years, half of the times my road has taken me to the Aube, that fabulous and rural southern tip of the Champagne region. Besides Manu Lassaigne whose wines I adore, a big reason to return is Aux Crieurs de Vin, one of the coziest bistros in this world.

Although many restaurant people seem to have a stunning memory when it comes to remembering the customers and their preferences and little caprices, Aux Crieurs de Vin’s Jean-Michel Wilmes and Franck Windel are a league of their own. I still remember how warmly this power duo greeted me when I arrived at Crieurs for the second time. No wonder I have felt like home – and been getting back – ever since.

Aux Crieurs de Vin is a perfect place for a long evening with friends, but also a solo traveller is delighted with the selection. Champagne by the glass is normally available in five different glasses. Or just ask Jean-Michel to bring you “something” and try to track what it is. His choices have never let me down. A true master in his work!

Founded in 1998, Aux Crieurs de Vin is one of the oldest natural wine bars in France. For me, it is a place where I first got to taste Dard & Ribo. It is also where I tasted Ruppert-Leroy‘s champagnes for the very fist time. Now these two are among my favourite vignerons.

At Crieurs, I have also got to shine several times as the only one in our group to recognise Ruppert-Leroy when served blind. And I don’t mind if sometimes I have named a wrong one from Bénedicte & Emmanuel’s champagne range. To me wine is not that serious: you have days when you do pretty well with guessing… and then there are days when you suck big time.

I love it when spring hits the French table! After this year’s Le Printemps des Champagnes our lunch was all about colours, greens and edible flowers. This vitello tonnato spirited carpaccio made me smile all the way from Troyes to Paris.

Jean-Michel’s knowledge on wine is immense, but what’s even more impressive, is his down-to-earth approach. He is a guy who truly seems to enjoy what he does, and for this reason he manages to create a unique atmosphere around him. Every time he has surprised me with something new or unexpected, and thanks to him, I have found wonderful natural wines from various French wine regions.

This is also a place where I have enjoyed unforgettable lunches and dinners with Monsieur Lassaigne, and I hope there are more to come. Another essential element of the Crieurs experience is staying overnight at Comtes de Champagne hotel, an old wooden building with sloping, wobbly floors and whispering walls. The hotel is located just around the corner, so if you end up having a late night, home is always near.

If you can’t find a nice bottle from Crieurs, there must be something fundamentally wrong with you.

Since the pricing of champagnes is delightful, I drag bottles home every time. From Aux Crieurs de Vin, I have still found Vincent Laval‘s Brut Nature (one of my favourite NV champagnes) with 50 euro, cheaper than anywhere else. Also great Aubois producers such as Olivier Horiot, Charles Dufour, Remi Leroy and Val Frison are well available at Crieurs. This bistro has its own in-house bubbles as well: Champagne Aux Crieurs de Vin made by Pierre Gerbais, which is pretty nice for the price.

This herb-laden mushroom and meat plate is still one of the best dishes I have eaten. It warmed us on my ice-cold birthday in October 2015.

With champagnes it’s not just about the Aube. Here you can find Anselme Selosse’s Rosé, Les Carelles, Initial, V.O. and Substance, Jérôme Prévost’s magnificent Fac-Simile rosé champagne, as well as David Léclapart’s L’Astre, L’Apôtre and L’Artiste from the shelves.

As a huge fan of Northern Rhône, I have also noted with joy that producers like Thierry Allemand (read here about our recent visit in Cornas) and Jean-Michel Stephan are represented. But despite your preferences, my advice is to let Jean-Michel and Franck decide for you: if you fall in love with a wine in your glass, it is nice to buy a bottle home.

The picturesque city of Troyes offers a lot to see for anyone interested in history and architecture. In October 2015 it was minus degrees during our visit, as you can see from Laura, one of the loveliest wine ladies in Finland.

Aux Crieurs de Vin is definitely worth visiting if you enjoy genuine, unpretentious French atmosphere and classic bistro food, plenty of details in the interior and the company of local people. This place is like a living room or a safe corner in this ever-crazier world that welcomes you after a long day at work (read: visiting champagne estates).

Charles Dufour, a talented young winemaker and funny-edgy guy, makes wonderful natural champagnes in the village of Landreville. Besides the taste of his Bulles de Comptoir labelled champagnes, I love the graphic look of their labels. Great value for money! This bottle I enjoyed at home after my Troyes visit in June 2016.
Another superstar of the Aube, Vouette & Sorbée is among my favourite champagnes. Inspired by my love for their Blanc d’Argile blanc de blancs, when I tried this 100 % Pinot Blanc, it put me to my knees. Besides Aux Crieurs de Vin, I have also found Textures from my other favourite place, Epicerie au Bon Manger.

To conclude, if I have to find one flaw in the whole, Aux Crieurs de Vin is definitely not a place for vegetarians or vegans. On your request they may discover something un-meaty to your plate, but this is first and foremost a place where they really master preparing classic meat dishes of tender first-class meat.

Although I have not yet understood the beauty of andouillette, I have eaten with great delight all other meat dishes coming from the Crieurs kitchen. This is not surprising as specified small producers deliver pork, beef, duck, cheeses, veggies and fruit to them.

Last October, Franck took me to see their underground cellars. Having seen some of their treasures, I am already waiting for a nice long wine dinner with friends (or new friends, who knows?).
This April we arrived way too early, but Jean-Michel and Franck (on the right) let us enter. Thankful to that, we wanted them to eat in peace before the service, while we were eagerly browsing the bottles.
Game over. Time to go home. See you again, messieurs!

4 Place Jean Jaurès (Troyes). Tue-Sat 12–14 and 19:30–23. Tel: +33 (0)3 25 40 01 01.

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