FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO LOVE WINE, BUT DON'T KNOW HOW
Cheers! Wine Consultants
This year, we opened a bottle of French memories
By Dan & Krista Stockman
It was Saturday morning in Paris, and the streets were quiet.
We had been out late the night before, visiting the Eiffel Tower, and were surprised to find the Metro trains were full, even at midnight. Paris, we learned, is a party town. And Saturday morning the citizens sleep in.
But being Americans, we had some Saturday morning shopping to do before heading back to London, and our friend Ed Diazovi (the importer for the red, sweet and fizzy San Giulio Malvasia) had told us where we needed to go: The Georges Duboeuf wine shop just off the Champs Elysees.
We had the Metro to ourselves on the way there. Though it was 9 a.m., the streets were empty. As we wandered, holding hands and savoring our last hours in the City of Lights, past the still-closed shops and restaurants on Rue Marbeuf, the only other person we saw was a street cleaner. We got to the shop just as it was opening up.
Ed was right – the store was a wonder, and the prices were dirt-cheap. We bought about as much wine as we could carry, and the total was only about $80.
Among the bottles we picked up was one with a windmill on the label, Duboeuf's Moulin á Vent. We should have recognized the name, but did not beyond feeling it was somehow familiar – we bought it because of the windmill, as we had spent time a couple days earlier in the Paris neighborhood of Montmartre, which has windmills, including the famous Moulin Rouge. Yes, we too buy wines just because of the label.
We only had a few days in Paris, but it was a whirlwind of sightseeing in the most romantic city in the world, and the trip was filled with moments that were absolutely magical. Like when we went to the Eiffel Tower, and just as we got there the lights began twinkling, as if it was glad we finally made it. Or when we climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and looked out across Paris' wide avenues. Or Notre Dame. Or discovering Alsatian pizza. Or Parisian hot chocolate. Or popping into the Louvre for “just a quick look around,” and finding ourselves enthralled by the priceless artworks there. Breakfast of fresh croissants so delicious we ate them plain. Walking hand in hand along the Seine.
So when it came time to choose a wine for Open That Bottle Night this year, it was easy. After all, wine is about memories, and our memories of Paris are wonderful.
Of course, we also wanted to make sure the bottle didn't need several years more aging, so Dan did a little research before we opened it. That's when we discovered we should have known this wine all along: Moulin á Vent is what's known as a Cru Beaujolais, and Beaujolais is one of our favorite wines.
Beaujolais works like this: Wine from the Beaujolais region is made from Gamay grapes. If it's not from any specific area within the region – or blended from more than one area – it's simply called Beaujolais. If it's blended from grapes from within the 10 designated villages, it is considered higher quality and can be called Beaujolais Villages [Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages is one of our favorite go-to red wines]. If it comes from one specific village, it will be named for that village, such as Juliénas, Fleurie, Morgon, or Brouilly. Each has its own character.
Moulin á Vent is the most atypical Beaujolais, because where Beaujolais is usually light, low in tannin and easy to drink, Moulin á Vent is a much bigger, more concentrated and tannic wine – it's much more like a Cabernet Sauvignon in size and structure. Most Beaujolais is meant to be drunk young, but Moulin á Vent will age, sometimes for decades. And unlike other Beaujolais, it is sometimes aged in oak barrels [You'll see “Ce Vin a été élevé en Fût de Chêne” on the label].
Normally, we wouldn't pair a Beaujolais with steak, but the Moulin á Vent was up to the task [and we knew that if it wasn't, we would just continue drinking the incredible Taittinger Champagne was had opened as an aperitif and would save the Moulin á Vent for dessert]. And as we enjoyed its smooth grace, we savored our memories of Paris just as much as the food and wine. Viva La France!
We'd love to hear how you celebrated Open That Bottle Night. Tell us all about it at CheersLLC@gmail.com.