In Burgundy, a Wine Taste to Remember

By the time we tasted our 15th and last wine, Pierre Jaboulet-IMG_4354Vercherre had reached full crescendo in his presentation.

The ruby-rich cassis, he said, was so loaded with vitamin C it could stop the common cold. It helped fight Alzheimer’s, even cancer.  The 10 of us had become a bit rowdy by then, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether the cassis would have all those hints of almond, coffee and tobacco — maybe even forest floor — of the six whites, six reds and two sparkling wines that had preceded it.

Beaune is the capital of the Burgundy region, and what good is a visit to wine country without sampling the product?

It had been fun, sitting for more than three hours in La Cave de l’Ange Gardien  with eight members of the Sonoran Desert Chorale, including two of our oldest  friends, Margie and Bob Rice. Pierre is a raconteur, a charmer on the order of Maurice Chevalier, and a man who knows good wines (he says his own wine cellar has more than 1,000 bottles).

IMG_4357There was method, too, to his madness in serving us some of the best wines I’ve ever tasted at no charge (more on that later). The wines ranged in price from $15 to $95, and in body from the light and dry to the rich and complex (sorry, I’m a work in progress on my wine vocabulary).  Most had  “legs”(streaks that form on the side of the glass) and hints of, lord knows, just about every fruit, flower and mineral known to mankind.

“A tasting is to know if you like it,” Pierre announced as we began. “You can dislike all the wines. I will not be offended.”

I doubt that’s ever happened.  He moved slowly between “courses,” teaching us about smell, taste and the flavors of the vineyard.  Winemaking is a a bit of a gambler’s art.  The best wines often are made from grapes that stay on the vine the longest — raising the risk that a hail storm or some other natural disaster will wipe out the crop.

As we sipped, our cheeks began to resemble the rich colors of Pierre’s second six offerings — the reds.

“We each have our own taste,” Pierre cautioned, in asking us to rank first the six whites and then the six reds. “Each man does not chase the same woman. We are talking about your taste, not your neighbor’s taste.”IMG_4352

But of course.  And later:

“Gastronomy everywhere in the world means you have to balance the food and wine.”  With dry wines, for example, fat food is in order. The dryness cuts the fat in foods like ham and sausage.

This is France. So a jab at the wines of California seemed in order.  Americans he said,  hide flaws in chardonnay by burying the taste in burned oak barrels. “It gives a strong taste of oak but not the taste of wine.”

As for French wines, “The older they are, the better they are, like men,”  said Pierre. That drew shouts of approval from our over-50 crowd.

After offering one wine, he noted: “This one is beloved by the English and beloved by drunkards,” he said. “I know that doesn’t make two different categories.”

And more.

As I said, Pierre knows how to close a deal.  Before we left, the group had bought nearly $1,000 of wine — most of it on its way to Arizona. Kathy and I settled for a mere three bottles (total $70), which we’ll consume in France before we leave July 1.

We’ll save our sparkling wine — only sparkling wines made in the region of champagne can use the common term for bubbly  — for our last day before flying home.


4 Replies to “In Burgundy, a Wine Taste to Remember

  1. Such memories your travels bring back. We had ONE day in Beaune and loved every minute of it. Forunately our friend, Sandy, doesn’t drink more than a thimbleful, so she was at the wheel at midnight as we four wended our way back home to Thoiry over some pretty impressive highway structures.

    The local white wine that we grew to love was chasalla, only grown in our little section of Switzerland and the pay de Gex of France. They don’t export it, but I was impressed that the expert at Busa, Melinda, I think is her name, knew of it and suggested the closest she had to it. Of course this one was 4-5 X the price we used to pay.

    Eager to see you when you return to Lexington. We’ll be here until July 21-30 when we go south to enjoy the grandbuds. Then we will be at Newport jazz Fest Aug 2 and another family trip also in the first half of August. ellen

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