Maxence Masurier: French wine seller

10 Feb

Maxence Masurier moved to London with his girlfriend and their two month old baby in 2013. After years working all hours in his family’s Paris restaurant he’s now thoroughly enjoying selling French wine at his newly opened shop, Made In Little France on St John Street, near Angel. Interview by Nicola Baird

Maxence Masurier in his new French wine shop Made In Little France: “It’s my dream to be here. I love London and I love Islington where I now live.”

Maxence Masurier in his new French wine shop Made In Little France: “It’s my dream to be here. I love London and I love Islington where I now live.” (c) Made in Little France

“I was born in a restaurant,” jokes born and bred Parisian Maxence Masurier, 36, who now lives and works in Islington, “and I started working in one the summer I was 14.”

It’s not just Max’s immediate family who were in the food and wine trade, so were his grandparents who ran a fish shop before running night clubs – during the 1950s it was Le Cabano in the Ile Saint Louis and during the 1980s the restaurant, La Grosse Horloge, in Saint Germain des Pres.

Maxence Masurier’s family at their fish shop, Les Rougets de in the centre of Paris. From left to right it’s his grandfather Roger, great grandfather Henri, great grandmother Natacha, employee Fernand and great uncle Pierre.

Maxence Masurier’s family at their fish shop, Les Rougets de L’isle in the centre of Paris. From left to right it’s his grandfather Roger, great grandfather Henri, great grandmother Natacha, employee Fernand and great uncle Pierre.

After eight busy years it looked as if restaurant work would be Maxence’s business forever, but then in 2013 his family’s bistro close to Palais Royal was sold.

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“For the next two years I went with my father all around France’s wine growing regions. We’d spent eight years working together in the restaurant, and because it’s family you can’t say no, so this was a big change.” Clearly Maxence is very close to his father, Philippe, who like Maxence’s grandfather is a wine collector, but their adventures became more of a research phase than a road trip. Together they explored France’s wine growing regions to find the producers that would supply the wine Maxence now sells as his French wine shop on St John Street next to the butcher between Sadler’s Wells and Angel tube.

The Albion in winter. In summer it's covered in green.

The Albion in winter. In summer the pub is covered in green.

What’s Maxence Masurier like about Islington?

  • London and Paris both have their charms, but I don’t miss Paris, maybe I spent too much time there! I wanted to do something different and not be in a French community in west London. At Made in Little France I can bring my French culture to British people – it’s why I’m here in Islington.”
  • I really like the Albion Pub near Thornhill Square. It’s beautiful. http://www.the-albion.co.uk/
  • I love Upper Street and also Clerkenwell.
Wine sold at Made in Little France. You can also refill bottles of white, red (and rosé in the summer) from the vat for £7.50.

Wine sold at Made in Little France. You can also refill bottles of white, red (and rosé in the summer) from the vat for £7.50.

Touring France
“It was like hunting for treasure. You’d speak to people and they’d say ‘go there and try it” and sometimes the wine we’d find would be gold. We’d go to a small restaurant and share a glass of the wine the local people drink. I remember one in Saint Frichoux, not far from Carcasson, in the south of France that was around Euro2 for a glass, and it was incredible. The manager of the restaurant said ‘go down the road to their vineyard’. We went, and this is their Domaine Pujol Izard, a Coteaux du Peyriac – for the price it’s wow, so easy to drink and spicy.”

After another meal at a local bistro Maxence discovered a Muscadet he sells for £10. “This was found at a place where the farmer had cows but 30 years ago his daughter decided to make wine, and it’s really good – dry and crisp, with an amazing minerality,” he explains.

“Many of the vineyard owners are too small or don’t have enough time to go to a wine fair or don’t want to put on business suits – they prefer to be on their vineyard,” adds Maxence who loves to talk about where he sources the wine you buy from him. “These wines are exclusive – I know all the producers of the bottles. I know the grapes, the regions, his wife and family. I can speak about my wines for a week,” he says before telling me another story about an amazing 70-year-old, who makes red and sweet wine at Lunel, who spent a passionate four hours showing Maxence and his Dad around the vines explaining that he would prune the grapes back so that there’d only be two ripening. “He said he doesn’t want to do quantity, he wants quality grapes because ‘at my age, I don’t need more money, I just need to drink well,’ and then he smiled.”

Maxence Masurier: “It’s a mermaid crossing the |Channel to bring French wines to the UK. My friend Rob Banks did it – he works in a New York tattoo shop.”

Maxence Masurier: “The logo shows a mermaid crossing the Channel to bring French wines to the UK. My friend Rob Banks did it – he works in a New York tattoo shop.”

unnamed

Made in Little France for French wines. It’s in St John Street, in the former cafe just by the butcher. (c) Made In Little France

And it’s that philosophy that born and bred Parisian Maxence has now brought to Islington. Go and visit his shop, with its huge cherry wood shelves, central wood bench and hand written labels, and ask Maxence to pick a wine you’ll enjoy. And then let him know what you thought of it…

“The best part of the job is hearing feedback from the customers about the different wines they’ve tried and enjoyed. British people are so open-minded about wine,” says Maxence pulling up the shutters ready for another day at Made In Little France.

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.

If you liked this interview please SHARE on twitter or Facebook or join the Facebook group. Even better follow islingtonfacesblog.com (see menu top right) or follow me on twitter @nicolabairduk

This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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