As the police officer walked away from me I said, "I'll see you later, Monsieur le Gendarme."
He gave a hearty laugh and I told him not to worry, I had taken the train to the 71st Saint Vincent Tournante festival. This year's version of the celebration of the patron saint of winemakers was held in Vougeout and Gilly-les-Citeaux, the former known for, well, one of the most famous wines in Burgundy, and the latter for being next to the former.
We had been to the 70th version of the event last year in Saint Aubin and 365 days in Burgundy had taught us an important lesson: LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME WHEN YOU GO TO A WINE FESTIVAL. We hired a babysitter, put on eight layers of clothing, drove to Beaune, ditched the car, and got on the 11:33 train to Vougeout. As the mass of humanity boarded, one girl already in the train said, "What's going on? I take this train every Saturday and I've never seen so many people." Burgundy wine festivals will do that.
Upon arriving, we purchased our pack de dégustation, which included a commemorative glass and its carrier, a map, and seven tickets for different tastings. Our first stop was for a grand cru red, made exclusively from Pinot noir grapes. The local winemakers had pooled their supply for this unique event, creating an assemblage of different grand cru wines that would only be available for this weekend. On Monday, it would be impossible to find this particular wine ever again. The man pouring it gestured to the falling snow and said, "Try to warm it up with your hands."
The weather had made this the opposite of the ideal tasting conditions. Instead of a controlled environment, the wind was bitingly brisk, and all the wines were served al fresco, far from their optimal temperatures. The air was crowded with odors competing for the wine's aromas: roasting hams, cigarette smoke, melted cheese, French fries, and more than enough BO to go around. We cupped our glasses in our hands, trying to warm it, but the effort was wasted. It was like defrosting a snowy windshield with your breath. And yet, that first wine...well it was magic.