02 Jul Vive la France! 12 days in the world’s mecca of wine
We’re just back from France,
where wine is revered…elevated…
an essential component of the French national culture.
But we weren’t there for the wine.
We traveled to France to take in the Women’s World Cup.
Thus, wine wasn’t the primary focus of the trip.
Nonetheless, it played a prominent role.
After all, we were in France.
I’ll get to the wine…and wine shopping…in a moment.
First, I’m going to beg your indulgence
as I go a little Rick Steves on you and summarize our trip.
(No family photos. I promise!)
The soccer (futbol) was outstanding.
For the highly-anticipated match between the US and France,
we were fortunate to get ground-level seats in one corner.
That’s the celebration a few feet away from us
after Megan Rapinoe scored her first goal.
My I Phone shot is a little blurry since,
when the American faithful went nuts,
it felt like an earthquake.
In the quaint coastal village of Honfleur,
we met a guy who was a little rough around the edges.
But every other aspect of France was highly refined.
The people…the places…the art.
Especially the art.
The Louvre is unmatched.
During previous trips to Paris,
we didn’t make reservations so we were shut out.
This time, we planned ahead, buying tickets well in advance.
Once inside the Louvre,
we wandered its seemingly-endless exhibits for nearly six hours.
I now know why it is regarded as the greatest museum in the world.
Beyond the Louvre, there’s no lack of interesting art on the street…
and above the street.
You don’t have to look far to find unique takes on familiar icons.
Imagine our surprise when we discovered that Snow White is a wine lover.
But why the tears?
Maybe she got her hands on a bad vintage.
Regarding wine, it’s everywhere.
And we enjoyed our share of it.
We didn’t drink anything particularly noteworthy.
France’s everyday wine is just fine…sometimes it’s remarkable.
Since Paris was in the grips of a record-breaking heat wave,
most nights we simply opted for chilled rosé.
We discovered that the wine shopping experience is quite similar
to what you and I are confronted with here in the US.
The major grocery stores have a large…and baffling…selection.
Hundreds of different bottles stare back at you
as you try to make sense of it all.
Pat The Wine Guy should open a bureau in France.
Nicolas makes wine buying in France much easier.
Nicolas is France’s 7-11 of wine.
It’s a chain of small wine shops
that seem to pop up on every other street corner.
The selection is more than adequate. The prices are competitive.
While Nicolas doesn’t have the inventory of a Bev Mo or a Total Wine,
the convenience factor is huge.
You can be in and out in a few minutes.
I wish we had Nicolas in the US.
We didn’t have time to find/visit the great wine shops of Paris.
We did, however, stumble upon a gem in the La Grande Epicerie Paris,
an impressive upscale grocery that’s part of Le Bon Marche.
The entire basement is devoted to wine.
It was filled with the traditional as well as the extraordinary…
including a “jeroboam” of the renowned 1983 Chateau Latour Paulliac.
This monster is the equivalent of six standard bottles.
If you have to ask what a jeroboam of Latour costs,
you can’t afford it.
But I’ll tell you anyway: about $3300.
Someday, we’ll return to France
and the focus won’t be soccer.
Rather, we’ll home in on Burgundy and/or Bordeaux
and/or Southern Rhone and/or Champagne and/or…
well, you get the picture.
In the meantime, this was a fantastic scouting trip.
As always, if you have questions or comments
about wine shopping…either in the US or France…
please contact me: email@example.com.
Vive le France!