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Marc Papineau Is Seattle's Wine Trendsetter

The Bar Ferd'nand co-owner and Matt Dillon collaborator says, "Matt is the hotter one." His words.

Bar Ferd'nand inside Melrose Market
Bar Ferd'nand inside Melrose Market
Mathieu Thouvenin/Flickr

As you savor that glass of wine at Matt Dillon's Bar Sajor or London Plane, you have Marc Papineau to thank. Many refer to Papineau as Seattle's key trendsetter for wine. As someone in the food and wine industry matter-of-factly responded to orange wine's growing popularity, "Everyone is into orange wine right now because Marc Papineau likes it."

Papineau co-owns Melrose Market's Bar Ferd'nand with Matt Dillon and is front man at two of Dillon's other restaurants: Bar Sajor and The London Plane.

Bar Ferd'nand is not your typical bar. Not only does it feel like your friend's secret wine hangout in a renovated warehouse, but you know with certainty the wine is going to hit the mark. You'll find old world small production wines originating from the Loire Valley in France, the republic of Georgia, Slovenia, and more.

When Papineau is not curating wine or enhancing your experience at one of Dillon's restaurants as the front man at London Plane and Bar Sajor, he writes a witty wine column for The Stranger where he uses phrases like "bad ass" instead of stuffy sounding words such as "refined" to describe wine. Here's an excerpt from a recent piece Papineau wrote in The Stranger: "I know this bottle says 'Hermitage' on it and you're thinking big-ass Syrah... but this is from Dard & Ribo. Have you ever tried their wines? They're FUCKED UP, in the best way!"

Here are some more words from Papineau and a preview on what's next for Bar Ferd'nand (spoiler alert: it includes a new second location.)

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Inside Melrose Market; photo via Sea Turtle Flickr / Marc Papineau

You co-own Bar Ferd'nand with Matt Dillon and he's one of your closest friends. When did the two of you first meet?

We both met at Supreme in Capitol Hill back in the day and instantly hit it off. We've always shared the same vision for food and wine which starts with good ingredients and allowing those high quality ingredients to be expressed without adulterating it. Have you read The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth? That explains our mentality. The book, published in 1973, is about two sisters who ran an inn and cranked phenomenal food out of a modest space. One sister ran the food and one ran the wine.

So you and Matt are like the two sisters? Which sister are you? The hotter one?

[laughing] No, I think most would agree Matt is the hotter one. But seriously, my biggest pet peeve is when people don't live what they do and hire out everything. I want to purchase wine from the winemaker who is still in the fields and is teaching the craft to his/her kids.

My biggest pet peeve is when people don't live what they do and hire out everything.

How did you and Matt get the idea to open Bar Ferd'nand four years ago?

Matt and I were traveling together in the Burgundy region of France and driving through the Chartreuse Mountains. Matt was driving, and as we drove through a small town called Beaune, we saw a cool narrow looking hole-in-the-wall that piqued my interest so we pulled over to check it out. It was called A Thousand and One Vines. We walked in and it felt like we had stumbled onto a party. The place felt dark, intimate yet friendly and cozy at the same time. We liked the non-conventional aspect of it. It felt like a secret. There was a really sweet lady at the bar. She treated us like we were her family.

They had a great wine list, ranging from 12 euro burgundies to Madeiras from the 1700s. There was nothing trendy or corporate about it. Our vision for Ferd has always been like that bar in France where you walk in and it feels like either a secret or like you're walking into a party with family and friends. Not in a Cheers kind of way but more organic and chill. Like stepping into a kaballah séance. That's what we wanted for Bar Ferd'nand.

What's next at Bar Ferd'nand?

We'll be opening a second Bar Ferd'nand, in Chophouse Row [Capitol Hill] in late autumn/early winter. This second location will have a bigger food menu with a wood-fired oven. In addition to wine, we'll also serve simple cocktails and cider. We're also reconfiguring our current space in the Melrose Market. We're adding a banquette in the retail portion so it will be cozier.

What's something people don't know about Ferd?

We've got a great bottle society. It's our version of a wine club where you get six bottles each month along with fun descriptions of the wine. For people who sign up for a year subscription, I offer a wine tasting consultation that can help you stock your cellar. I cover off topics ranging from Nebbiolos to Loire Valley wines. It's an opportunity to help you figure out your palate. I buy wine that suits my palate but the trick is to hone in on the wines that fit yours.