Here is a peak into one of our first encounters with Pinot Noir.

People say that no matter where you go, there you are. In the world of wine we firmly believe that all roads lead to Pinot Noir. Our first memorable moment with Pinot Noir was in Paris, the City of Lights.

We had spent the day touring Sacré-coeur, Notre Dame and the Louvre. As the late afternoon turned to evening, Ernie could see a bit of cloud cover forming to the west. This could only mean one thing; find a strategic vantage point to view the sunset.

We were on foot, and quickly made our way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. As luck would have it, the refracting sun rays put on a show that filled the twilight sky. Each moment was a continuum of depth transcending from auburn, to red, to fuchsia and mauve. The sky was fluid in its afterglow. Stars began to appear in the dark blue fringes of the sky. Twinkling in their pin point precision as the last of the wondrous colors evaporated. 

We were left with the indelible memory emblazoned into our psyches. We seemed to float back down to street level, without ever really touching the ground. Ernie had a reservation at Vin sur Vin and we were going to be right on time, just after 10 pm.

The establishment was well lit and the aromas of French Cuisine were intoxicating. Beautiful stemware adorned white linens and held a private showing of wine for each couple. We moved through the room and were seated. It had begun.

The menu was in French, of course, but we seemed to intuitively understand. We watched as masterpieces occasionally exited the kitchen and were delivered nearby. The menu presented the challenge of deciding what to try at the expense of what not to try. We seemed to have the luxury of time. And then the wine list arrived, a tome really.

Wine is a universal language unto itself. Once you know some keywords, a few growing regions and the fact that Pinot Noir grown in France is called Red Burgundy, you are well on your way, at least in the US. This was something other.

Apparently, we had “the look.” A universal look that the Sommelier had clearly seen before. “Why yes, of course, we would like some help” Dena quickly asserted while shooting Ernie a silencing glance. This is the same woman who taught Ernie to take the first parking spot available, so as not to lose precious time that could be spent shopping.

After much page pointing, finger flipping and utterance of the phrase “Of course,” we had agreed to a selection that would not only complement our meal, but it would be “C’est Bon!” We were soon informed that our well aged selection was only available in magnum. Of course.

When the wine arrived at the table, it had the requisite amount of dirt and dust to indicate that it had been lying around somewhere, undisturbed, for quite some time. With a firm but gentle motion, it was out with the cork. A quick whiff indicated cedar and a sweet perfume reminiscent of your grandmother’s handbag. Then it was into the glass. At first blush, the wine was very pale, and we began to wonder about how the wine had been stored. “Perfectly” we were told, as it had been cellared on the premise.

After a suspecting glance we each gave the wine a gentle swirl and explored the bouquet. Good God! Ernie exclaimed, what IS this!? Dena returned an enthused and satiated smile. The wine was ethereal. We had just turned onto the road less traveled and discovered Domain Dujac. We really expected Rod Serling to cut in at about that moment.

It turns out that it was our great fortune to have been able to experience this wine from a magnum. Especially since we had about an hour until our mains arrived. This gave plenty of time to explore our newfound avenue called Pinot Noir.

Our first roadblock was trying to understand how we could read through the glass containing this wine. We could literally see through it! We were told, quite frankly “It is Burgundy and that is how it is supposed to be.” Of course.

The aromas in the bouquet were sweet and tart, ever changing with air, but always lingering just out of our vocabulary’s reach. A quick back and forth revealed Pinot Noir is a unique experience unto each person. Dena’s descriptors did not match Ernie’s - at all! Maybe we were saying different words but meaning the same aromas, maybe not.

Taking that first sip was an epiphany. How could a wine do this? It was at first with fruit and then dried fruit, herbs, sweetness, very expansive and seamless. There were distinct layers of flavors leading you to not at all where you thought they would go. The finish was surreal with a mélange of tannins, acid, texture, length and cut - “the tail of the Peacock.”

For the second time that evening, we were left with an indelible memory emblazed onto our minds. The food we cannot recall at all, but our newfound appreciation for Pinot Noir continues to burn brightly. We had found our crossroads, and there was no going back.

If you would like to create your own memorable wine moment, we can show you the way. Start at the Eiffel Tower, say just around 8 pm on a warm summer’s eve. The walk to Vin Sur Vin is a casual 400 meters and takes about 5 minutes:

Walking directions to:

Vin Sur Vin Restaurant,
20 Rue Monttessuy
75007 Paris, France

1. Head east on Avenue Anatole France toward Avenue Pierre Loti   120 m

2. Turn left at Avenue Gustave Eiffel   110 m

3. Continue onto Avenue Silvestre de Sacy   110 m

4. Turn right at Avenue de La Bourdonnais   22 m

5. Turn left at Rue de Monttessuy; Destination will be on the left   62 m

How We Found Our Pinot Noir Groove