As I have mentioned at least a few times in this space as well as on social media, I spent the last ten days or so in Paris attending the funeral of one of my dearest friends. As one does (and he would have insisted), I ate some great food and drank some incredible wines while there, both from his cellar and all around town. I did not write any formal notes, of course, but here are a few pictures I took during the time in Paris.
The trip started with an upgrade on United to Polaris.
Once the flight attendant learned that I wrote about wine, she set me up a couple of taste tests. Firsts the whites (after a couple of glasses of Nicolas Feuillatte, natch).
… then the reds.
My friend and his family lived near la rue Montorguiel, in the 2nd, one of the coolest (and now trendiest) neighborhoods in Paris. We consider it our home as well, too.
As you might expect from the “City of Light” (although the origin of the moniker is a bit other than what you would expect), Paris really lights up at Christmas time. This is la rue Montorgueil where it starts, at Saint Eustache.
Our first night there, we stopped for a bottle of bubbles before meeting up with everyone. Champagne is what I consider a necessity in just about every situation.
My main task for the trip (other than speaking at the service) was to catalogue my friend Nicolas’ wines, which were in a few different locations and in various conditions.
I think this was a 1993 Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru. But I had no way of knowing, so I opened it. I am sure Nico would be happy to know that it was pretty close to fantastic.
Our friends live right next to Le Passage du Grand Cerf, which has changed dramatically over the course of the three decades I have been going to Paris. Now, it is a super-trendy, chic shopping area.
When I am in France, “lunch” almost always includes a carafe of wine, or a bottle when there are like-minded diners with me. This Sancerre was delightful.
The service on Tuesday afternoon was held at Père Lachaise, perhaps the most famous cemetery in the world, certainly in France. No doubt Nicolas would have approved (if not demanded) of having the service there.
Père Lachaise is remarkable and every visitor to Paris should include it among the “must-sees.”
My friend was a big fan of the wines of Jura, particularly Domaines Rolet. His personal cave was littered with magnums from older vintages and I decided to open this white Arbois from 1986 (I think) after the service.
Any lover of Arbois would immediately recognize the shape of the bottle as the 620 ml Vin Jaune vessel. This was a 1990 from Domaine Rolet that we opened on Wednesday.
Thursday, I had a Zoom tasting with other writers in the States. Since the wines arrived at my home in Houston after I had already departed for Paris, I decided to buy one of the wines for the tasting in Paris. The only shop that had it was way across town, about three miles away. I decided to walk it, and I was glad I did.
My bottle of La Nerthe Blanc in hand (only 30€ in France–quite a bargain), I decided to walk back, passing Les Invalides…
..and Le Louvre (any guesses as to the illuminated object in the center middle of the I.M. Pei Pyramid?).
My last night, I spent at the home of two of Nicolas’ dear friends. I brought a 1970 Vouvray that I had found in his cellar just moments prior–I am sure he would have approved of me bringing the wine. And he would have been thrilled at how spectacular the wine showed with the noir gras ravioli.
It was perhaps fitting that my last wine in Paris on this trip was another Vin Jaune, this one a 1997 from the tiny and rare Château Chalon appellation. Spectacular, particularly with the St. Jacques.
Thus, those were some of the wines that I had over a rather somber week. I have no doubt that my buddy Nicolas would have approved. I also know that they would have been much more enjoyable had he been there to open them.
I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.