The night after our amazing debut in Paris, the band dined in the home of Céline’s gracious parents, Syliva and Uli Wiesendanger. We were all a little tired following our big night at the Flèche d’Or, still drunk in the afterglow of playing for a 500+ crowd and one of the city’s top rock clubs.
Celebration was in order and Uli started us off with a wonderful Pinot Gris rosé. Although Chardonnay and Pinot Noir rightfully dominate the hills of Burgundy, growers do plant a few other varieties there. Technically, Pinot Gris is neither a red nor white grape: its white skin is bespeckled with red and purple. Hence the name: "gray" Pinot (in romance languages, white grapes are called blancs while red grapes are often called "black" or noirs. Pinot Gris, called Pinot Grigio in Italian, falls somewhere in the middle of black and white). The lovely pink coloring of this wine was undoubtedly the result of skin contact during maceration. The hue wasn’t quite as dark as you might see with a Pinot Noir rosé: the lightly colored Pinot Gris skin gave the wine a bright rose glow. The wine was fresh and bright in the mouth and paired well with the smoked salmon tartines.
Next in the flight was a 1996 Corton Grancey Grand Cru by Latour that I found at the Wiesendangers’ neighborhood Nicolas, a chain of wine shops scattered throughout Paris (luckily this branch was open on Sunday evening). This wine was simply gorgeous: 11-year-old Grand Cru by one of Burgundy’s oldest "shippers." Maybe not as graceful and refined as the wines you find from smaller houses but this wine was undeniably powerful, with intense fruit, and lingering secondary and tertiary aromas and flavors. Paris is one of the world’s greatest "wine" cities: to think that I found this wine in a commercial chain at a price I couldn’t believe! Still aglow from the concert of the night before, I purchased two bottles for a song.
Above: the morning after (photo by Greg Wawro).
Last but not least in the flight were a few bottles of Château Bonnange, produced by Claude Bonnange, a gentleman winemaker and friend of Uli’s who owns a 38-hectare estate just outside of classified Bordeaux. While so many new winemakers in Bordeaux are trying to make overly concentrated and oaked wines for the American market, producers like Bonnange are inspired solely by their passion for wine. Wines like this are nearly impossible to find in the States. Bonnange makes very few bottles and from what I’ve gathered googling the house, most of its bottles are sold to fine restaurants in France. I believe that the wine was a classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc (perhaps with some Malbec?). It had a wonderful classic right-bank nose, judicious wood, and beautiful fruit in the mouth. These bottles, which had been given to Uli personally, were a wonderful coda to a flight of three wines that I would rarely if ever have the chance to drink in New York.
Not unexpectedly, the end of the night found us gathered around the Wiesendangers’ harpsichord, gleefully singing our favorite Beatles songs. A night to remember following a night that I’ll never forget.