I caught my train at Gare de Beaune at 12:31 pm. I placed my blue luggage on the rack, opened my laptop and carefully put the wine case under my seat. I had been travelling over the last few weeks between Pommard and Zurich. I had been working on an exciting project with an amazing team. I felt exhausted after an intense week of work but as tired as I was, I felt extremely happy with my latest adventure. On my way back, I started sending emails to get some work done. However, the wi-fi was weak and I had to give up after few minutes. When I noticed that my phone was also out of charge, I closed my mailbox and I turned on one of my favorite scenes from Coffee and Cigarettes staring Taylor Mead and Bill Rice. (Here, if you haven’t watched it) I looked out of the window and started thinking about this beautiful place: Burgundy.
B: Are you all right Taylor?
T: Not really.
B: What’s up?
T: I don’t know. I feel so divorced from the world. I’ve lost touch with the world.
Burgundy did not look like any place in the world, I thought. It did not look like any wine region I had ever been to. I tried to understand what makes this place so special.
T: Do you know that song, by Mahler? “I’ve lost track of the world.”
T: It’s one of the most beautiful saddest songs ever written. I can almost hear it now. Can you hear it?
I could hear the song, with its original name: ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’. I thought Burgundy is actually a place where one can lose track of the world. The vineyards lie along the roads. If there are no vines, then one sees the yellow rapeseeds. It is not a sad place though. Burgundy is quite, proud but unpretentious and purely beautiful. The villages have their own small restaurants, boulangeries, chocolatiers or charcuteries. In some villages like Meursault or Pommard, one will have a wine bar to hang out in the evenings or a coiffeur to get a haircut.
T: It’s gone now, did you hear it?
B: I think so.
T: It resonated right to the whole building. Where are we?
I was leaving Dijon. Leaving the lovely region behind me. I felt hungry. The dry sandwiches are the only options in TGV. I started thinking about the delicious food we had been eating over the last days in Burgundy. We had visited many high-end restaurants in/around Beaune and tasted many local dishes paired with a glass of Pommard, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet. I very much like the fact that all of these restaurants are very modest and one doesn’t need to dress up to eat there. They are mostly small and cosy places with friendly staff. One can enjoy the delicious chicken made by Johan Björklund at Bistro de l’hotel or veal chops at Ma Cuisine with hundreds of wine choices. It’s really the definition of heaven.
B: Nicola Tesla perceived the earth as a conductor of acoustical resonance.
T:I have no idea what you are talking about. Could you explain it to me?
B: No, not really.
It was not easy to explain the nature of Burgundy to those who have never been there. One would certainly know that it’s one of the important regions that make wines to express the terroir. There isn’t a better grape variety than Pinot Noir to reach this goal. It’s one of the most transparent varieties in the world that reflect the land, the climate and the vintage. The worlds best Chardonnay’s come from Burgundy as well. However, no one speaks about the grape here. It is all about the villages and the vineyards. People are aware of the style of un-oaked mineral flavors of Chablis or oak aged fleshy and fruity nutty flavors of Côte de Beaune.
The trade structure of Burgundy is also not very easy to understand. Following the French Revolution, church’s remaining vineyards were divided and distributed to grape growers. Some of the farmers owned one or two rows of vine. This created a highly segmented system. However, since then the farmers were not focused on winemaking. Therefore, négociants emerged to buy grapes from grape growers in order to produce wines. Today, this system still continues. Some of the négociant own vineyards as well. However, there are some talented winemakers who own vineyards and/or buy grapes. These are more small-scale artisan wineries that have been gaining reputation over the last decade.
T: I know, let’s pretend this coffee is champagne.
B: Why do we do that?
T: Well, to celebrate life. Like the rich elegant people do. The classy people.
B: I prefer coffee. Simple working mans coffee.
I thought; Burgundy is neither like champagne, nor like a coffee. It actually carries something from both. Burgundy is about seeing the elegance in simplicity. Burgundy is classy; it has nothing to do with show-off. It is about celebrating the beauty of the nature itself. It is about appreciating lovely misty mornings, people who are cycling between the villages and sharing delicious food among friends.
T: Do you know what your problem is?
T: You have no joie de vivre
T: No besides this coffee is awful.
T:I propose a toast.
B: So what should we toast
T: Oh God, Paris, in the 1920’s, Josephine Baker, Moulin Rouge. Qu’est-ce que c’est…Ca va…
B: And also New York in the 70’s, in the late 70’s
T: Really, All right.
B: Delicious isn’t it?
Well yes, Burgundy is certainly delicious and produces the finest Pinot Noir’s in the world. There is a lot to say about the changes and challenges in Burgundy but as my wi-fi was finally back I had to leave this Wonderland and get back to work.