Chez Nous Wine Bar is an ode to local Ontario wines. Owner Laura Carr spent much of her life trekking around the world in great wine countries like New Zealand, Belgium and France, serving, working, and learning about wines.
She’s local too, though, from Niagara Falls, and has personally visited many of the wineries whose wares she peddles. Once she got all the travel out of her system, she felt it was time to open up her own place.
The space used to be County Cocktail. Hints of it are still here in the giant rusty star that hangs above the entryway and the huge map of Toronto that decorates the wall above the bar.
Carr offers us a glass of Laura’s Red from Creekside ($10/glass, $50/bottle), not her namesake but a great blended red incidentally easy to sell because of the play on her name.
It’s easy to drink but doesn’t lack complexity, bringing core red berry and fruit flavours.
Aging Steely Chardonnay by Calamus ($7.50/glass) in steel instead of oak highlights the natural taste of the grapes without bringing out too much sourness.
Another no-no here is beer taps: you won’t find any draft, just a short menu of curated local cans and bottles, and three of those options are from Oast House.
I go for something I’ve never seen before, a tart and crafty Lagershed from Shed Brewing ($6) that holds its own after work at 5.5%.
Snacks come in the form of small meat or cheese plates for $7, and olives for $5. Selections are based purely on what Carr feels like picking up that day.
Our meat plate comes with genoa and sopressata salami as well as turkey kielbasa and a thick dollop of spicy mustard.
Our cheese plate has camembert, gouda and cheddar, with a few pickle spears, mustard and red pepper jelly.
Either of these plates comes with a random assortment of crackers.
The bar feels cozy without being too condensed, outfitted with high ceilings, dangling lightbulbs, and lots of black. Huddle at low tables or chat with Carr at the bar. Either way, the deceptively simple name says it all: this is our house.