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Allô allô, Bonjour!
Voilà, the harvest is done, the wine is safe in the barrels. For two long weeks we’ve used the leaves seen above this text as a confessional curtain. Yes, as a confessional curtain between the harvesters: people, who under normal circumstances would rarely meet (a heating engineer and a lawyer, a communications advisor and a biscuit baker), while harvesting they sit across from each other between the grapevines separated only by a thin layer of foliage. Together and yet separated; every once in a while a glace, a smile, an grunt of agreement, a disagreeing snort or a burst of infection laughter will make it through the green barrier.
Optimal circumstances for revealing intimate details.
The Merlot leaves seen at the top have had to absorb so much confidentialities that they’ve started to blush. besides all of that we also have, in the new edition of Slurp, a tasting with our coopers and an underprivileged wineboer.
Our wine ages in barriques, oak barrels. These barrels were made by coopers. An occupation with centuries of history and traditions. In the wine hierarchy they are therefore revered. They’re artists, with each his or her own methods, and conception of the way a proper barrel should be manufactured. Because we’ve never really been able to pin point which barrels are the best suited for our wine we vinify our wine in barrels from no less than nine different tonneliers. Seguin Moreau, Nadalie, Darnajou and a bunch of others. To put an end to this overkill we decided to choose three tonneliers who best suited the taste-profile of our wine.
To do so manager Paul had bottled 2 bottles from each of the nine different barrels and invited all nine of their creators over to judge them in a blind tasting.
A devilish task to be sure: nine times the same wine, but aged in barrels. The tonneliers would have to judge the wine by smell, taste, aftertaste and its preservability. Of course while doing this they’d run the risk of praising the barrels of their competitors and not their own. How does the ensemble of neatly raised ladies and gentlemen handle such a diabolical task? Do they start hacking away at each other’s foundations? Do they spit in each other’s glasses?
cliquez on the photo
for da movie
One tonnelier was stood out with head and shoulders above the others. A modest young man who blushingly waved away any compliments sent his way. In the next Slurp! A reportage from his workshop.
In Holland we get to deliver wine to the biggest grocer and the biggest wine importer around. On the other side of the channel they also enthusiastically slurp our wine. This is good, fore because of that we can afford to hire skilled personnel. And the newest vinification machines. And every once in a while a new tractor. Above all we can recruit the services of the most famous wine maker in the world.
Not even a gunshot away lies the residence of our neighbouring wineboer Jean-Luc Boudin. His Domaine de Pin-Pin counts 14 hectares of vineyards, which he and his wife can just manage. Jean-Juc hasn’t a clue as to how you’d go about approaching a category manager of a supermarket (if he even knows what that is), so he sells his wine himself; at conventions, the market and to the client list that he inherited from his father.
The chances of Jean-Luc inviting over nine tonneliers for a blind tasting are fairly slim.
But if the lawnmower breaks down, he buys a new one. The old one stays where it is and serves as a lookout for cats.
Jean-Luc’s workshop also has a very… original organizational system.
The fridge hasn’t met any cleaning supplies since Napoleon first noticed he had poor circulation in his right hand and decided to stick it in the front of his jacket and the waste produced during the harvest Jean-Luc just dumps next to the courtyard.
The Chai, were Jean-Luc vinifies his wine, doesn’t have air-conditioning; the door is left open, but is guarded by Bijou, the dumbest guard dog in the whole of France (as seen on the picture bijou constantly looks the wrong way).
Darlings, they are. Working hard, never complaining. Cordial, hospitable, and enjoying life.
Still they make good wine, despite of the unfavorable circumstances they have to work with.
Not that you’d fall to your knees and thank every god you could think of after the first sip, not quite that. It’s more of a tough and yet smooth, classic Bordeaux. A Mercedes of the Bordeaux wines. With a trailer.
Jean-Luc’s and Madeleine’s domain lies just beyond the border of the village at the bank of the Dordogne, surrounded by its vineyards. Its warm and quiet and the factor Time doesn’t seem to be important here.
The shutters could use a lick of paint. But guard poodle Bijou couldn’t care less.
Great people, great location. You don’t need boatloads of money to be happy.
On the way to Holland our tires crossed the most valuable wine soil in France when it suddenly was lunchtime.
Despite being in one of the most expensive wine regions in the world, the possibilities for having our lunch weren’t exactly endless.
The next culinary opportunity is also sub-optimal; the horshshoes, carefully attached to the gate, seem not to have brought the owners the sort of luck they were hoping for.
'La Régalade' meaning something like ‘the pamperers’. But if we would be pampered here seems uncertain.
Even an little aperitif in the Zanzy-Bar isn’t in the cards.
The facilities for staying the night also weren’t particularly inviting.
Saved! Routier ‘Le Relais des Grands Crus’. The overflowing parking lot leads us to believe we might be dealing with a real ‘adresse!’.
The daily wine consumption seems to have been met and the floral nonchalance is promising.
But when we enter the join
And ask for a table pour deux…
They look at us as if we’ve just come from a planet on the other side of the universe and forgot our humanoid costumes. A Hollandais with a alpino Français!
Luckily the troughs were of unexpected quality, the moules-frites met the standard set in Bruges, and the waitresses were selected by breast size.
The wine was light and delicious: a fridge temperature red Bourgogne. Fresh from the barrel, probably from an illegal batch that went over the quota set per hectare, but that did nothing to diminish the taste. Supple, berry-like and juicy.
And it was comprised in the menu (€11.40), just like the jug of water, the bread and the generous cheese platter.
The goodbyes were said in such a typical French, heartwarming manner, that I almost lost a piece of my wineboer mustache.
Relais des Grands Crus - 71, Route Nationale - 21 220 Morey Saint-Denis
Téléphone: 0033 380 518 054 - Fax: 0033 380 585 062