“Our first day at the Johnston bus stop was a cluster that included kids running away from their bus stop TWICE, me realizing Finley had no shoes and had lost her new glasses as the bus was in sight (they’re at Burlington Coat Factory, FYI), and a neighbor regaling all the bus stop kids about the day in third grade she saw a kid get his head rolled over by a bus wheel and die. Happy first day.” Morgan Kent Molden of Johnston, Iowa, writes on Instagram.
Six bottles of wine sit in front of us on the oval table, deep underground in Beaune, France. Emmanuel Paulson is our guide for this tasting adventure.
“I don’t speak very well English,” he says at the start.
A heck of a lot better than my French, which, of course, is limited to the words from songs out of the musical Camelot. I’m not much help.
“I was born here in Beaune, France. Which means that I was born in the wine. I’m 41. My family, my father, my grandfather and now me. For us, wine is a way of life.”
No kidding. Earlier, my wife and I had hiked up into the surrounding vineyards that back up against the walls of the town. Miles and miles of small plots separated by stone walls shaped way before our time.
“In Burgundy, we just want to retranscribe, is the expression, from terroir. Of course, it’s some chardonnay grapes for our white wine, pinot noir grapes for our red wine, but that is too simple. We have some unique terroir with some great soil and subsoil. That is extremely important for us. If you compare with Coca Cola — if you drink a Coca Cola in the United States or here, it is the same thing, because it is a recipe. Our wine in Burgundy is not a recipe.”
Nor is raising kids.
Morgan Kent Molden writes on Instagram: “When my kids go quiet, it usually ends with a mess.”
“Today, I found Fin and Cece here. But earlier, Cece brought me the decapitated head of a Barbie and said she was going to eat it,” Morgan Kent Molden writes.
Emmanuel hands us our first glass of wine.
“This wine is something different. With something to eat, a delicate fish, a goat cheese, it is more complex. This wine is more buttery, a little like honey.”
It IS buttery. It IS like honey. And, by golly, it WOULD taste great with a delicate fish. Although I’m fairly certain that if Emmanuel with his French hat would have said the wine tastes like old tennis shoes, I would have responded equally enthusiastically: “It is like old tennis shoes! I’ll take several bottles.”
On to the next bottle.
“This is a feminine wine. It is pretty and velvet. Smokey to the nose and red fruit to the mouth. Raspberry and strawberry. We do not have full wines in Burgundy. We have long wines. Complexity is more important than a large wine.”
Okay, is this where the poetry of the Song of Solomon came from?
“The next wine is very spicy. First choice vineyard. We don’t put pepper into the wine. That is the wine. It is a complex wine.”
And so it goes.
But, Emmanuel, what is the best wine?
“It is very personal. The best wine is the one you like. That is it.”
Bedtime. Room on the Broom is the story of choice. Morgan Kent Molden writes on Instagram, “Is there room on the broom for a . . . face palm?!”
It is the end of the day for us also. The last tour is gone. The cavern is quiet except for the distant sound of dripping water. The wines are all back on the oval table. We drink the last sip. Emmanuel raises his glass critically, looks at the color and texture of the wine.
“The most important is of the moment. The wine creates some emotion with friends and family and with your wife. That is more important. What do you eat? That is important. But the moment is important. Enjoy the life. My opinion, no?”