The Devil Dog recently returned from France where he spent a mad week in Champagne and Burgundy in search of all that is holy and true in a a bottle of bubbly, pinot and chard. It is no mean accomplishment to begin to plumb the depths of what goes into making a bottle of Champagne or which rows of vineyards are the peak exhaltation of the Grand Cru. Lets just say that you start with a few preconceptions, have them blown away, and then realize your little bit of dangerous knowledge leads you further into the chasm of great wines and greater winemakers.
We began in Reims (pronounced Rance), explored the cuvees of Vueve Cliquot (literally the widow Cliquot), exhalted at the tables of Chateau Les Crayers ( have you had a bottle of Champagne Ruffin Rose....Oh My God) one of the worlds finest hotels, followed the half timbered streets of Troyes (pronounced Twah) , lingered at the remote Chateau Bligny over a multi coursed lunch of exqusite house champagne, drowned our sorrows at Drapier, Charles de Gaulles favorite champagne house, moved on to the tiny village of Les Ricey and Renoirs hideaway in Essoyes, blinded ourselves with the magnificance of the Abbey of Fontenay before rooting out the meaning of moutard in Dijon with star chef Alex Miles, moved on to the beauty of Beaune, the very heart of burgandy, where we lived like kings at Le Cep, one of the truly great hotels, and then biked thru the vineyards to Puligny Montrachet, all along learning the difference between Grand Cru and Premier Cru, which 33 parcels of land between Nuits St George and Chassange Mantrachet are truly worthy of worship, glistened in the presence of Olivier le Flavre and dined on venison at the ragingly cool new hotel L'Ermitage de Corton while swilling magnums of grand cru from 2001 and 1994.
Dizzy yet...oh no...theres no time for dizzy. This is just scratching the surface. We will explore each separate piece of joy in more length along the way, but suffice it to say that the good people of Maison de la France are an invaluable asset to the roving Francophile (THANKS KATHERINE).
Devil Dog was awestruck with the journey, more than sublime with the result, and in thrall of his fellow compatriats and companions. Vive la France.