129 days of our EU Austerity Drinking Tour have led us to Burgundy, France. I get a 50th wind and decide we need to wake up earlier to see more. Although a thousand museums deep and over art-saturated, we visit Dijon’s Well of Moses:
Around 1400, before the Renaissance had really woken Europe, Dutchman Sluter carved this to bury Philip the Bold. Drama, emotion, and color. My itchy pencil can’t help but sketch it.
We swim back to Dijon through the rain. After a disappointing but mildly familiar lunch at “My Wok”, we pick up fabulous pastries. Tracy (somewhat inappropriately) touches Dijon’s owl (for luck) at Notre Dame:
I am forbidden to post photos of her touching the salamander (for long life).
For reasons beyond us, Dijon’s other museums are free. So we hit up the Beaux-Arts, which has a Renn kitchen that would make Julia Child weep:
We secretly eat our pastries beneath that magnificent flue.
After rooms filled only by us, art, and a school group, we head out to shop away the evening. Even Christmas displays know we are in Burgundy:
Inspired, we buy a moderately festive 2 euro plastic tree from China. And then, Dijon’s other claim to food fame hits us:
For once, we splurge on a $28 jar of chablis truffle mustard (which now, two years on, we are still enjoying). Inspired by our spread-able extravagance, I open one of the most over-appellated (and thus priciest) wines on our trip:
Yes: Jean-Baptiste Béjot’s Santenay Premier Cru, Clos Rousseau, Grand Vin de Bourgogne, Appellation Santenay Premier Cru Controlee, Pinot Noir, Rouge, Produit du France 2006…and breathe!
The sheer number of fonts and font sizes makes my eyes cross. So, south of us, just before Burgundy turns into the Maconnaise, lay the vineyards of Santenay. This region may be derided, but one can touch the hem of single plot, Premier Cru Burgandy for around $25.
Beyond the loquacious label, in the glass, this 2006 Pinot retains its ruby core and honorable garnet framing. It smells complex, if moderately intense, with a range of classic clove and chalk powder dusted on tart red cherry. A hint of wild musk and forest floor pervades.
The palate is taught, tart, dry, riven with vinous tannins, chalk dust, a medium body and no room for laziness. Flavors are equally austere yet rustic: with bright red fruits playing off of wild game, chalk, and clove that last for a medium plus length.
We hate it.
We desperately need a filet mignon, or something wilder, something mushroom-laden, or slow-cooked pheasant at a street side restaurant with cigarettes infusing our experience.
But tonight, we bask in the green, plastic glow of our Chinese Christmas tree, in our no-star hotel. A tram rattles by. Neighbors babble through paper walls. Yet, with a hand-crafted, state-subsidized baguette lathered in local, funky, melty, Epoisses cheese, Béjot’s Santenay works. Here, it is very good (4 of 5).
A wine like this needs context. In a vacuum, everything sucks, especially in this case. But tonight this rustic red, the shambling hotel, and pungent cheese work.
More Burgundy Next Monday!