What is the point of living in France without drinking its famous wines? And, what is the most famous region for wine? Of course, Burgundy!
My dear friend Camille from the wine club introduced me to Saint-Vincent Tournante late last year. Being a winaholic (this is not an official word, but I want to use it anyway!), I put the date and booked the trip without even knowing a single thing about the festival but that "I will be drinking good wine from Burgundy."
Fast forward over a month later, there I am with a few of my friends, one of which is the President of VINSEAD (that's right - the wine club of INSEAD is called VINSEAD), arrived in Gevry-Chambertin on Saturday afternoon. Despite the cold weather, by Southeast Asian's standard, everyone would walk around the town and drink, eat, chat, and even get a bit tipsy. The town is brightly decorated with bright purple, red, and yellow colors. Decorations in shapes of grapes, wine glasses, and wine bottles were put up everywhere - so much that it is impossible to not realize that you are in a wine festival. Most importantly, the people were so nice and cheerful. I came with a tad bit of expectation that I may receive the famous "French service", but I was pleasantly surprised by how smiley, chatty (despite not understanding a single word of French), lively they were.
Upon entrance, we received a small pouch with coupons, a map, and a brochure with an introduction to the festival. Not knowing French, the brochure was kept untouched in my pouch. The 9 coupons were our ticket to the wine heaven at this festival. There were light red wines from various vintage from 2009 to 2018, and each ticket can be exchanged for a tasting portion of the wine (1/4 of the glass).
As expected, I fell in love with the 2009's. It was very smooth and, while keeping the Pinot Noir's light character, still kept the complexity of aged wine. However, I was surprised (though the professional drinkers may not), that I loved the younger ones such as 2017 and 2013 more. Perhaps, it was because I am a fan of fruitier and more aromatic ones.
One funny plot twist though was that the most unexpectedly exciting thing for me on that day was the escargot soup. After the first two glasses of wine, we stopped by at an escargot soup stall and shared a portion of the soup. It turned out that the soup was so creamy, tasty, and so full of escargot that I fell in love within after the first sip (maybe even more than some wine on that day >< ). A few hours later, after being super exhausted walking for an entire afternoon, I was so determined to have a bowl of my own. I was super hyped up by just seeing the sign and realized that the stall was still open, and nearly ran to it with greater joy than getting a good GPA at the school. My only regret was that I did not take a photo of the soup because I finished the bowl way too quickly.
As a wine lover and a curious person, the wine festival was a fun adventure. It was such an amazing experience to see how, in one country, an alcoholic beverage was at the heart of the city and celebration, while, in the country where I came from, there was still a big stigma around it (except for beer festival of course). Most importantly, good companions can always make the trip much more fun!