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11.15.2010

The Road to the Maconnais

My journey began with a series of comical errors, starting with me settling into my seat on the plane only to find, right when I wanted to go to sleep, that it was broken and wouldn't recline. A prompt upgrade to first class fixed that problem (please, may I always be this unlucky?), and left me only slightly less bleary eyed than normal at Charles du Galle at 6 the next morning, before sunrise.

For the first time in my life, the Non-EU passport line was shorter and faster than the residents', and I emerged into the terminal looking for someone who was supposed to be holding a sign reading "Burgundy." After casting a glance back and forth, I noticed a man holding a sign that read "MMe. Burgunby" and had a quick hunch that this was perhaps just a chance misspelling. But the "Mademoiselle" bit threw me.

I approached anyway, and determining quickly that the man spoke no English, I told him, with the tiniest bit of French I possess, my name, to which he appeared confused and pointed to his sign, saying that he was waiting for a Mademoiselle Burgunby. So not the right guy.

But after waiting for 30 minutes, I called my Paris contact, who called the taxi driver, who complained about waiting for half an hour, and the very poor translation got sorted. Turns out I was Mademoiselle Burgunby after all.

We get my luggage out to the taxi and then the driver turns to me and asks me where I'm going. The comedy of errors continues. I had no idea. And neither did he. My itinerary only said, "The taxi driver will take you to the train station where you will be met by a representative from Fleischmann Hillard [the PR agency co-coordinating my trip]." Never mind that there are 19 train stations within 30 kilometers.

Another cell phone call later (where WOULD we be without them?), and I was off to la Gare du Lyon, for a pain au chocolate, and a relaxing 1.5 hr TGV ride through the countryside to Macon. The last leaves of gold were still clinging to the wispy branches of poplar and elm, but the fields were bare stubble. Winter was hard on the heels of Autumn.

As we approached Macon, I heard faint music, and was surprised to hear the melody line of "the wheels on the bus go round and round." It sounded like it was faintly coming from the train speakers.

"That's funny," I thought to myself, "the music that the train plays before it arrives at the station sounds JUST like the music for the iPad game that I bought my daughter." The last high speed train I rode was in Japan, and they played music before every stop.

Fifteen minutes later I realized it WAS the iPad game I had bought my daughter. My neighbors on the train were apparently too polite to yell "someone turn off that damn music!" I guess. But then again, if the didn't yell it, maybe they were all talking about it and I just didn't notice. My French is all but nonexistent at this point.

A short taxi ride later (this time with a man who knew my name AND where we were going) I found myself wandering the little streets of Fuissé and its golden cobble houses, vineyards stretching up to the limestone escarpment that marks the end of the fabled terroir of Burgundy. In search of the only restaurant open in this little town on a Sunday.

Two hours of a four course lunch would drive anyone to a nap, even without the jet lag.

I woke to rain and the sweet mineral smell of wet leaves and wet stone. The town smells like the wine. Or is it the other way around?


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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud