By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Dominic and Selene Parry, the team behind hugely successful Botafogo wine bar, Winehouse, have been celebrating the launch of their new venture, Cru Natural Wine Bar, a house dedicated to serving natural wines and a uniquely fresh fusion of Brazilian and British cuisine.
Since 2014, Winehouse in Botafogo has been going from strength to strength, attracting a diverse crowd who come to enjoy high-quality Brazilian wines, cheeses and charcuteries in a non-stuffy setting. Yet serendipity struck when the couple behind it found a larger property in Botafogo and thought of relocating.
Dominic Parry explains, “Winehouse started when I came to Rio and noticed a lack of places where I could go with my friends and drink win…It’s been very successful, but in the end we wanted a bigger place.”
This is when the idea for Cru Natural Wine Bar hatched, “We found that place last year. A proper house, an actual ‘Winehouse.’ In our minds, initially, we were planning on moving Winehouse here.”
However, since starting Winehouse, the couple have discovered a new-found passion, “Over the past two years, we’ve been drinking a lot more natural wines, which in our definition, is just simply wines that ferment naturally, that don’t have yeast added. So Selene just thought it made sense to open something different.”
It is both Selene Parry’s driving force and design nous that have shaped Cru Natural Wine Bar, “Selene has always been the one to push us forward and to take a risk, and eventually she managed to convince me to concentrate on natural wines.”
When asked how Cru Natural Wine Bar differs from Winehouse, Parry is keen to point out the new emphasis on kitchen-cooked food. “We have a proper kitchen here with a varied seasonal menu: homemade pasta, fish and chips, because I’m English.”
He explains the choice behind the cuisine. “We do a scotch egg, because we’re both anglophiles. It’s all from scratch. The sausage meat is from the market, we grind and season it ourselves, adding sourdough breadcrumb…so it’s focused on the ingredients and freshly made.”
Similarly to Winehouse, the drinks emphasis is still on South America, “We want to highlight South American producers, because natural wine in South America is not very well-known. There’s a lot of production in Chile and in the south of Brazil, with amazing natural wines being made, and we’re hoping to showcase that.”
Asked about which wines have been early success (they officially opened on Saturday June 16th) Dominic Parry selected a few for different reasons. “There are a couple of wines that really have a ‘wow’ factor. ‘Faccin’ is a father and son operation that produces completely natural Brazilian wine. They have a pinot noir which is nothing like anything I’ve ever tasted, plus an orange reisling, which is incredible.”
The future looks bright for Cru Natural Wine Bar, with plenty of events already planned for the upcoming weeks. Next Wednesday, July 4th there will be a wine-tasting on the mezzanine with importer of organic and natural wines, Jean Pascal Chalard.
They are also going to be starting a Sunday roast, beginning on Sunday, July 8th which will be paired with natural Brazilian wines.
When asked about his hopes for the future, Dominic comments, “We hope to be able to get more and more natural wines, plus a few more affordable wines on the wine list. The cheapest bottle is currently R$85 and then a lot in the hundred and something region, so we’re hoping to diversify our prices and our producers.” For now, however, there is plenty to celebrate.
Cru Natural Wine Bar
Rua Arnaldo Quintela, 94 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22280-070
Tuesday to Saturday 6PM – Midnight