Photo credit: Gabriel Meffre
Hi folks. Here is the second installment in the “Throwback Thursdays” republication of my 2010 Rhône Canuck blog. This brief post details my move from Burgundy to the Rhône Valley. Enjoy!
So here I am happily ensconced in the foothills of the majestic Dentelles de Montmirail (the range of craggy mountains that towers over the sleepy hamlet of Gigondas). My new job? To sing the praises of the noble marriage of Grenache & Syrah.
Please don’t think that I have forsaken my first loves, Pinot & Chardonnay. They still stand mightily on their pedestals and I make the pilgrimage back to the motherland regularly! But somewhere around my 3rd winter in Beaune the endless winter fog got the better of me. The locals scoffed at a Canadian complaining about the cold, but these people don’t heat their lofty 17th century homes. The damp seeps in every corner and you can only put on so many sweaters before you start feeling like the Michelan man. Sure the vin chaud helps, but what with the glass or so of petit Chablis at lunch, a kir or three for the apéro, a nice bottle of Pommard with dinner and maybe a Poire Williams for the digéstif…Beaune was definitely having a wee effect on my young liver!
So what’s a wine-loving Canuck to do? Go home and work for one of our beloved monopolies, scheming up ways to bring the next Fuzion to Canada? Certainly not! A stint in South Africa as a lowly winemaking assistant for Hamilton Russell Vineyards, that was the solution. What an incredible place…the endless blue skies, the breathtaking sunsets, the generosity of spirit! Almost, but unfortunately not quite, makes you forget the endless shantytowns, the breathtaking inequality…
A few months and a pair of callused, purple hands later, I realised what a great job sales is! So off back to France, to start anew, in the sunny and WINDY southern Rhône as a proud footsoldier for the maison Gabriel Meffre.
I have decided to partake in few throwback Thursdays this fall, and republish excerpts from the blog I wrote in 2010 while living in France. I called myself “The Rhône Canuck” and shared my musings as a Canadian wine lover living and working in France.
This first introductory post summarizes my decision to move to France. I hope you enjoy it!
As a child sitting on my father’s knee while he sipped his wee dram and told stories about the good old days…Paris in the ’60s, drinking crate loads of excellent, cheap Bourgogne rouge…I never thought I would one day end up living in the country of his wistful reveries. But the seed was planted early and, it would seem, in fertile soil.
By age seven my dad swore that I had “the palate of the family” as he poured out Sherries of varying qualities and asked me to sniff out the best. Though I’m sure my correct response must surely have been a fluke, the die was nevertheless cast.
And so eighteen years later I found myself winging my way to Beaune, my personal mecca, with visions of Corton dancing in my head. I had been accepted at the CFPPA de Beaune (an agricultural college linked to an engineering university in Dijon) for a year-long course in “Connaissances et Commerce International des Vin”. My Dad and I celebrated my new adventure with a bottle of his coveted 1982 Leoville Las Cases. I knew from the first heady sip that I was on the right path.
With my head filled with glossy Wine Spectator images of elegant, refined looking winemakers, I was in for a shock when I came across my first red-blooded Burgundian vigneron! And so launched my 6 years…and counting…love affair with Burgundy and the Rhône; the wines, the savoir-vivre and of course the people (had to throw that one in since I just married one!).
Yes, the administration is a nightmare, the rudeness of the public service industry is hard for a nice Canadian to bear and everyone truly is always on strike. On the other hand, taking two hours for lunch everyday is a perfectly acceptable practice, and wine is always served.