The Atmosphere: Located inside Melrose Market , Bar Ferd'nand feels a lot like>"/>
The Watering Hole: Bar Ferd'nand, 1531 Melrose Ave., 623-5882, CAPITOL HILL.
The Atmosphere: Located inside Melrose Market, Bar Ferd'nand feels a lot like having drinks in a warehouse assembled from vendors who were too high-end to be at Pike Place Market. Shops like Rain Shadow Meats, The Calf & Kid, and Homegrown surround the open-air, drinking man's hitching post. The chunk of modern prairie aesthetic looks longingly inside Sitka & Spruce like the rest of Seattle on a Friday night, trying to get a table. The bar is the brainchild of Sitka chef-owner, Matt Dillon, who owns Ferd'nand with Corson Building sommelier Marc Papineau. Wood-top tables, barstools, and flower-filled vases punctuate the wine bar, which also claims an adjoining bottle shop as a dependent. Together, the two create a calming oasis in the bustling market; a respite where you can set your full wine glass on an empty wine barrel-turned-table, snack on some cured meats, and get drunk on how life all of the sudden seems so much better now that you're fully fermented from the inside out.
The Barkeep: Heather Mercier, manager of Bar Ferd'nand. Seems like everyone who's ever wined or dined at a Jim Droughman bistro knows this woman. She's adorable, charming, and makes you want to drink whatever she recommends. She's magical. She's worked at Bar Ferd'nand since they opened July, 2010. The owners plucked her from a wine bar downtown called 106 Pine.
"I was friends with one of the owners (of Bar Ferd'nand) and he wanted someone to back him up and help him when they first opened and I was like, 'Heck, yeah! That sounds great!'" says Mercier, who, at the time, had just returned from a nearly three month wine tour of France. Before she left for Europe, she worked at Le Pichet for about eight years, honing her passion for grapes.
"I learned from Joanne (Herron), who co-owns Pichet. She's been a great mentor. After Pichet, I went to Cafe Presse and was the assistant manager there for a while and did the wine list there and educated the staff. And then I left there to do the France trip."
Mercier is now learning from her new boss. "Marc Papineau is one of the owners and he chooses all of the wine. He has a great palate and he's one of those guys who can look at a wine and smell it and taste it and tell you what it is. He chooses all the wines, but if there's something I'm particularly passionate about, then he'll let me buy it. If I love something, I can sell it."
The Drink: It's one of those rare warm Sundays in Seattle where the temperature was pushing 60-degrees! Something cold was definitely in order. Mercier picks out a rosé from the Rhone region (Ardèche): Domaine de Couron. "It's all grenache and it's just a nice easy drinking, goes down easily, rosé. Today I was sampling it and everybody loved it. In fact, everybody who sampled it bought a bottle and left with it," says our barkeep.
The Verdict: A very lovely wine, perfect for the warm(ish) conditions outside. As Mercier said, it was very drinkable--went down easy. I had two glasses and went home with a bottle--but not of the Domaine de Couron. I took home an affordable bottle of red that came recommended by Mercier after I told her I loved Gamay and other friendly red wines. It didn't disappoint. Just goes to show you can always trust a person whose last name rhymes with rosé.