“Um, are you wearing pajamas?” this was the question I was asked as I stepped out of my little hotel room in Beaune one chilly, very gray March morning in 2003. I was on my first trip to France and had no idea what I was even doing there, had no idea how I had even gotten there. One minute I am in the shop picking up the phone to hear, “So I hear you’re going to France with me this year” and the next I am in Beaune…me, the girl that once lived on pancakes and Kayro syrup, lived in government aided housing, and now here I was, tasting, swirling and spitting in some of the most prestigious estates in Burgundy, what the hell?!
The first few days were fun, blurry but fun, I had never before experienced anything even remotely like that before, the language, the architecture, (man do I love the old buildings and structures in France) the food, travelling with complete strangers for 25 straight days……strangers that knew what they were doing, talking about and tasting. Never before felt so out of place, how would I have…I had never before been so out of place. But here I was, little puffs of white air escaping my lips as I stood there, in my, “pajamas” overstuffed luggage resting behind me, toes uncomfortably wiggling in my very white tennis shoes, as I looked at my then hero, (way to knock yourself right off that pedestal Michael) as he went all Heidi Klum on me.
I lumbered my chunky, powder blue sweatshirt covered self into the travel van in a full on snit, “who the hell does he think he is?” face shooting dirty looks into the rearview at my fearless leader, (like he even noticed) feeling indignant and down-right pissy. I didn’t even want to come on this trip and now I was being mocked, I felt my face getting warmer and warmer with each kilometer on our way to our next destination…Domaine Goisot in Saint-Bris in the Northern part of Burgundy that neighbors Chablis.
I felt myself softening a bit as we entered the breathtaking cellar at Goisot, stony stairs and walls, little lights leading our way, a place that spoke its history without having to say a word. I was spellbound, felt smaller than I ever had and being there, freezing, (even though I was clad in my biggest…apparently ugliest…sweatshirt) all pissy about my wardrobe malfunction, made me see how very small my world was before I ever stepped foot in that cellar, before I came to France and before I opened my heart, palate and voice to a place that would forever change me.
I survived the trip and took away not only an understanding of French culture, (um, white sneaks..bad, puffy hoodie not so good when doing the whole fine dining thing) but a very real, very true, dear friend, that would continue to nurture me, teach me, break my balls when I needed him to, and whose, “are you wearing pajamas?” question was the first to take a swipe at that shell, that shell that I had been protecting myself with for years. It was his slightly smug, very informed, concerned, but understanding and gentle hammer that broke this Nut wide open….so blame him.
So the reason for this walk down memory lane is The Nutcracker sent me a gift, a gift I know most wine geeks would be willing to endure a high colonic…with Boones Farm for. A mixed case of wine; older vintages, things I had never seen…just a wild array of wines that induced that freaking squeal, that girly…high pitched, piglet sound when I opened the box, (if you tell anyone I will be forced to pinch you real hard). I brought the box home yesterday, acted as if I were going to put all the wines in the little wine fridge that buzzes away in my living room. Instead I fondled the bottles and posted shit on facebook…bragging about all the fancy crap I got, feeling spoiled, (far cry from the pajama day) adored and very lucky. Lucky to have such a dear friend and even luckier that I was now in a position to truly understand and appreciate what I was given.
Tonight I came home and on my living room table was…the box. The box that had been selected for me, a case of wines that most people only dream of, the box of wicked cool wines that I should….should be sharing with others. Yeah, I grabbed the most obscure thing and tossed it in the fridge. I sucked back a glass or two of some Sauvignon Blanc, didn’t even really taste it, I was just buying my time…waiting to get my geek on, dying to taste the wine I had chosen from my box of chosen wines.
1997 Domaine Goisot Corps de Garde Gourmand, (Um…seriously, not available) When I pulled the cork I was a bit startled by the thick, grey, spongy layer of mildew that was just beneath the foil, even more nervous when I rested my waiting nostrils on the opening of the bottle…funky, smelled kinda funky. With trepidation I brought the glass to my nose…Holy Mother of Jarring Aromatics! Meursault, this Sauvignon Blanc smells like Meursault. Deeply nutty, powdery and full of caramel. On the palate the wine is thick, palate coating…the weight is astounding, simply astounding, this is Sauvignon Blanc? There is that slightly salty thing that drives me wild, that freshly sweating skin thing, and each rich layer brings something sexier, more intriguing and each sip reminding me that no one, not people and surely no wine, should be judged solely by what we think we know about them. Each sipp reminded me of how many people dismiss this little grape as something inferior….1997 Sauvignon Blanc people and it was un-freaking believable.