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May and June are known for being the best months of the year. Why would you ask me ? Well because they do excel in growing bank holidays !

And when talking about excellence in growing, it gave us the idea to go for a 4 days trip nearby on the other side of the Jura : Burgundy and its landscapes, wines and other delicacies at 2 hours from our home.

Packing the car with just what was needed, all passenger on-board and there we are on our way to the lovely little village of Cuisery, located a 45km South-West of Beaune. Actually as we were 5 people travelling together, it became a better solution to find a house to rent rather than a Hotel for all the group, as prices are quite high in the region. It is as well a choice to spend a more reasonable amount of money in a rental, so when it is about visiting, tasting, drinking and eating, you can feel free and allow yourself some well deserved treats.

A good thing about staying away from the most touristic place is to get a feel of locals every days, by going to the same bakeries or  supermarkets. Cuisery is a village having its roots back to the XIII century. It used to be an important stronghold but after two large fires, lost of its strategic interest. Nevertheless in recent history , it got the visit of the Général de Gaulle, and is now officially Cuisery, the town of books. A lot of animations are based around books all year long.

http://www.cuisery.fr/

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Nearby stands the city of Tournus, famous for its abbey Saint-Philibert  from the XI century, as well as its Hotel-DIeu (hospital) from the XVII century. What strikes you in this little 6000 people town, is the beauty of the center, the peaceful river shore – we are next to the Saone – and the smiles of its population. We arrived on a bank holiday and late in the day. Too late for some restaurants to feed us – if you arrive after 3 pm it is just after the end of the service – but not for them to indicate us where some tasteful snacks were available. On a great advice we moved towards the abbey and found a local little snack bar /  groceries store where our hunger could be satisfied : La Maison de Marion. And what a great place ! The owner prepares you a limited choice of dishes, but uses all herbs, oils, jams and other products from the store.  The products are from a well known old fashioned style groceries branded “Le Comptoir de Mathilde”. The products are originally from south of France but in such a sunny day, I must say that Burgundy was a lot of south.

http://www.tournus.fr/

http://www.lecomptoirdemathilde.com/

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Of course we couldn’t help buying some products. Was it because of this delicious mustard and olive oil we had with our croque-monsieurs ? Or maybe the lavender and apricots jam in that minute maid pancake ? Well we all left the place with a little bag, a couple of jars and a little orange jam on top as a gift from the owner. Time to visit a bit the city and go back to our car. The city is definitely worth a tour. On top it won’t take you a lot of time unless…unless your gaze is stopped by an amazing store called La Banque. A wine and liquor store where the owner shows not only his taste and generosity by the displays but also by opening more than 10 bottles of rum if you are a lover and connoisseur.

http://www.labanquedesgrandscrus.com/

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In the evening, our tour and again hunger lead us – and by chance – to what has been so far the greatest restaurant experience of the year. In Tournus you really have a large choice of Restaurants and of Michelin stars since a couple of years : 4 restaurants have at least one star. For us, it had been the Meulien. What can I say ? Service, smiles, quality of the place, of the food, of the wines, decoration and even price make out it what you could expect from a top restaurant. The owners are both chef and in charge of the dining room. Three hours of pure and fine pleasure.

http://www.meulien.com/#actualites

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Did I tell you about another advantage of renting a house ? It is about the home made breakfast and the home made cooking. Of course you need to like it, which in my case is beyond the passion. So over 3 days we had the pleasure of having special menus for the breakfast, with all type of cheese, meat and foie gras. Yes foie gras for breakfast ! After all we said it is vacations !

And for one evening, as being in the Burgundy, we couldn’t escape from tasting the local Charolaise meat, tender and tasty. Was it a diet day ? Mmmh sort of as we ate only salads with…

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The region is obviously not only famous for the cows, but of course for the wine. In our case we were in Beaune in less than 50 minutes , and in 1h20 in Dijon. Knowing that the vineyards start in Chalon and finish around Dijon, it takes only one hour to cross it. But to try and taste, I would say it takes years. Having much less time we decided to visit five spots :

  • Beaune and its Hospices, as well as the greatest cellars of Burgundy at Patriarche
  • Meursault and its castle for the white wines
  • Pommard and its castle for the red wines
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges and its stores for one producer
  • Vosne-Romanée and its famous crop for the pilgrimage picture

Beaune – Meursault – Pommard

On average you can count 18€ to 21€ for the visits, where you will try from 5 to 14 wines. Every house has its own concept, from non guided tours and self wine pouring to private small group guided tours; a little advice is to go early morning and as a group to be held with more care. In both Beaune and Pommard we stopped for a quick diner. If the first was in a very nice bar, where you can buy glasses of wines, the perfect thing to try many ones (what we did as a group), the second was another Michelin star at the Chateau de Pommard. Actually the Restaurant doesn’t belong to the Chateau but they closely collaborate, so that when our diner was over the Maitre d’Hotel went to the front desk to make sure our guide was ready. Another great moment of french cuisine in a marvellous location.

http://www.tripadvisor.fr/Restaurant_Review-g187109-d1747393-Reviews-Le_Bistrot_Bourguignon-Beaune_Cote_d_Or_Burgundy.html

http://www.meursault.com/

http://www.chateaudepommard.com/fr/

http://www.christophe-queant.fr/restaurant-chateau-pommard.php

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Nuits-Saint_georges

We stopped in the village to have a walk and to discover the little stores of the center. We stopped by the Aegerter shop where the manager welcomed us with a great smile and a lot of interesting stories. We could try one of the Aegerter’s wines – very nice and subtle Fixin – and is it really a surprise that we left with some bottles ? Again you feel more than welcomed to the store and the quality if the wines speaks for itself, which isn’t always the case as some vinemakers or producers are sadly only interested in making profit. We had the bad luck to enter some vinemaker’s yard where oversized road signs brought us. Two extra large luxury SUV’s and a luxury Porsche were parked in the yard, but no customer in his small boutique : “I don’t make free tasting and don’t want now” was all of his language when seeing us. Good we didn’t try the wines as they probably are as bitter as the man who makes them.

http://www.aegerter.fr/boutiques/boutique-de-nuits-saint-georges/

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Vosne-Romanée

Time to reach the final place of our trip, and to take a picture of what is the most expensive wine crop in the world. You can park the car in the center of the village and then walk a 400m uphill towards the lonely but famous cross of the Romanée-Conti. 1500 years of history of the most desired plot in the history of wine in France. Every bottle costs a minimum 11.000 $ but the pictures are for free ! If you are a wine addicted it is a must be visited once, if not the landscape will convince you.

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So what to say ? Well over a long weekend it is definitely a nice destination with a lot of things to do. If you are a wine and food lover don’t hesitate and do it once…or twice …or as many times as you like. It is true you need some good savings to stay in the area as all seems up-priced. You will hear a lot of how much the hail made the winemakers suffer and how much the little production makes the prices high. But the secret lies in that : take the time to try from the bottom of the production to the top finest once. The plots are so close from each other and the new generation of winemakers is so deeply involved into raising up the standards and acquiring new knowledge that there is no need to target only the top wines to have a great pleasure. Our visits were focused on some iconic plots which was the best to give a hint of Burgundy to our South American guests.  But again tasting some Grands Crus helps you in knowing the geography of the different “clos” and once back home you can always study and then  find the “producer next-crop” and its half price wines. On the food side there is so many offers that you can change every day your diet and budget. We decided to rent a house and to cook as well to have the opportunity to cook with the great local ingredients.

Overall a great experience and a lot of fun ! So what are you waiting for ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A safe landing 2 days ago. The feeling of an uncommon jet lag. We arrived home after our holidays. We came back home after work as well. 3600 km in 10 days. Our plane was a car. Our trip back in two times. Our vacations in four movements and 8 bits.

Now time to start the week. In fact not – we are Thursday. Weekend is close and no time to breathe. The air feels different. Probably the mountains, the altitude. It was flat over there. Never ending horizon. A vaste space where thoughts get wiped away by the wind. Here the mountains are hermetic. Here the heights are a barrier. We should feel safe. We do feel home.

Working time. Restless. Something changed. The landscape changed. Snow in the Alpes and rain here down. I feel like it is time to rest. But the rhythm is an new one. Actually like an old friend we knew that came back to our place. 3 steps for the movement. Then immobile. Time to think. No need to hurry before the next step.

The rain goes on outside and I know the digestion time started. A lot happened between the road trip, the memorial visit and the Festival. So many different things. So much in common. We are moving and entering a new phase of our lives and it is right. It sounds right.

All experiences are worth. Every new person you know completes you. Sometimes it is hard to see it, sometimes it is easy. Just natural. Just the way it should be.

I remember something from a deep past that goes beyond my own existence. It is rare.

I shared time in every possible way. It is rare.

I had the greatest professional time ever with amazing people. Every jury member. Every staff member. Thank you guys

Bounds are created.

Lace is woven.

Life can grow further.

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I am in Poland. Family, work and vacation time : this is the plan. Actually the family and vacation are almost done, with like always a great time in my wife’s parents place and a quite surprising vacation time. Indeed we moved east to spend a couple of days in Krakow and its surroundings (meaning not only visiting the polish kingdom’s jewels but also all the Jewish heritage and drama of the area)
Great discoveries, nice surprise and very hard moments but at the end, and what puts all of it together, something that warmed up my heart and made me feel like back to a known place : liver kaviar, herrings with apples, czulent, beef tongue, hummus, pita, olives in quantity and quality. Nothing to add, just the certainty that when words are not enough, a warm plate is enough to say it all.

Now time to work and 25 short movies are just behind the corner, waiting to be screened over this two coming days. I do look forward to it, to be a great jury member.

And if taking a decision or making a call will be difficult, well let’s discuss it over a nice diner.

The quest Europe movie festival in zielona gora, Poland :
http://www.quest-europe.eu/competition-movies.html

The restaurants in krakow :
Rubinstein
The olive tree

Great sunny days…

so what can be better than hiding in theaters to watch movies ?

Actually I have been and will still be visiting the Oenovideo Festival held in Aigle, a movie festival dedicated to any type of movies about wine. The first thing I can tell is when you spend the day there, you feel like drinking wine. You want to try what is on screen, but when you go out of the theater and that you see you are surrounded by vineyards, well, it is hard to not get thirsty !

Yesterday I could watch a couple of movies and must say I was pretty surprised. Indeed two different treatments and styles, but at the end the similar purpose : magnifying and celebrating what is wine making. If the idea is good and as wine amateur I definitely like when people are passionate.

However I felt, from a movie making point of view, that something was missing. Maybe is it only my tastes and preferences that always will need a deeper bond with reality or simply the ability to put in images most of the full picture of a situation, even if it goes against the celebration of the topic….but to say it in other words my usual ” we need to go beyond the fascination for the topic to enter the meaty part of life…and of the documentary” feeling was present.

I will only describe you the scene of a movie that kept me thoughtful for the day :

The movie is about harvest time in California. On one side you interview the vineyards owners. On the other you record and interview the workers, most of them Mexicans. You are given to understand that owners value their workers but that the hierarchy is needed. (ok just like in most corporations). Then you are following the 2011 harvest with its great moments. But of course you know most of the workers are / were illegals. How did they enter the US border ? Some of them say how, and specially one who says : I had to dig under the fence and I could make it. Fine. Next scene, a vineyard owner who talks about he fact they got awaken one night, 3 am, because of wild pigs in their vineyards. At least 30 of them. How  come ? He goes out to check it with his rifle and sees they run away. On next morning…a hole below the fence…and for 5 min to explain how they enter, how they destroy and spoil their cultures and that they are loosing at lot because of them and that they are not the only farmers suffering from that. And how to trap them.

There was I lost / not sure to understand the director’s point of view on the topic. But for sure I was feeling uncomfortable with this very goofy editing, and so I understood the following :

– there is a split in the  full picture of life and celebrating wine can overcome and win over any little political/ social involvement , little details that are nothing in comparison to the beauty of wine making…

– above sentence is re-applicable to any other movie, or discussion or action or personal choices, etc etc

= it is hard to find the right balance, when making a movie, on what works for the movie, what respects the reality of what you filmed, and what will be the dominant topic and overall coherence of the movie

All this to say ; I wasn’t comfortable with that editing, but overall images , style were nice and pleasant. Were my social expectations in line with the movie ? Probably not. And so this Festival is a great celebration of wine, as a main character. Like a great song, nothing else (really) matters.

So still one day to come, let’s see what it brings. It s a bit early to open a bottle and drink – well it depends where you are living on this earth – but what you can do if you are on rehab, and if you have an hour and ten minutes is to follow this link :

When coming back from Aigle I told myself : time to put WINOBRANIE movie online so that everyone can watch it, like it or not, comment it or not. And for sure all the comments I made above are kind of valid for my movie as well….but I do believe I didn’t miss the social part..maybe the wine one for sure !

So have fun and don’t hesitate to comment it !

cheers !

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or how to reconsider your beliefs

I never thought it would happen to me, but well yes…over this weekend I had to face a situation that is considered as a fantasy by some, a mistake by other, or even a way of living by the rest.

Maybe it can be seen as a seasonal thing : the sunny days following a cold winter give the nature a new boost and sometimes it can be hard to deal with this new energy.

Actually, in my case, I couldn’t make the right choice…and because of it had to accept I would cross the river of certainties. Of my certainties. By not wanting to have to cope with the responsibility of the choice, I decided to see what the consequences of the action would be.

And my learnings are :

– all the greatest concepts hardly make it once facing reality

– there is nothing wrong to enjoy the moment, but then think about what it means and be brave and act with maturity to take a lesson out of it

– accept the impact of this experience and the changes (deep sometimes) that they will initiate

As a conclusion ? Well I can only quote on of my favourite songs from Cole Porter….

” Experiment , Make it your motto day and night
Experiment , And it will lead you to the light ”

ps: by the way…all this was only about….red or white wine for some butter fried asparagus with fresh mint and some colorful zucchini / carrots polenta  😉

once with 2011 Argentinian Sauvignon White from Jean Rivier, then with  2008  Swiss Assemblage from Fonjallaz…diversity matters !