I have to admit, as Monsieur Jacquey closed the iron gate behind me and motioned toward his secluded front door, I looked over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t locking the latch.
“Le Nez de Saint Pierre,” he called himself. St. Peter’s nose. He was nice enough, although he blinked a little too curiously at me through his yellow tinted glasses. “I didn’t expect a young lady,” he said. I gripped my cell phone and followed him up a path to his “office.”
Monsieur Jacquey sells wine from his own collection, right out of his home, which is why I was a little wary. But he’s the only one in Dijon who had the wine I was looking for — a 2005 Charles Joguet Chinon Cabernet Franc — so, after supplying Nico with the name, address, and phone number, I had rung the “nose’s” doorbell and hoped for the best.
His office was a converted patio adjacent to the kitchen. It had its own entrance, marked by an oak barrel. Inside, papers and books covered a giant desk, which was lit only by a computer screen. I took a seat opposite Monsieur Jacquey and he poured me a taste of a 2006 Braucol from Gaillac, a town “not far from Toulouse,” he said. Ever vigilant, I took a calculated sip.
“How does a young woman like you become interested in wine?” he asked, an eyebrow arched over one oval lens.
Was that a trick question?
“I came to France,” I said.
“Thought I heard an accent.”
Yes. Yes you did, I thought. But I said, “Yes, and I still have trouble finding my words.”
He excused himself for seeming nosy (“Forgive me for sounding indiscreet”) and went right ahead with his questions. “Did you come to France for love? Do you live here in Dijon? What are your plans?” etc. I did my best to answer politely, and discreetly, then, glancing at my watch, I searched for the infamous bottle.
“Oh, one moment,” he said, taking the hint. Scrounging around behind a cotton curtain, he emerged with a dark bottle, almost black. I smiled when I recognized the familiar label, adorned with beloved French humorist Francois Rabelais’ portrait. (“Drink constantly,” he said once. “You will never die.”)
Jacquey placed the bottle between us. On the label, the name of the vineyard forfeits the spotlight to a vibrant red diagonal band announcing “Cabernet Franc de Pied.” My host underlined it with his finger. “This is a special wine,” he said.
“Cabernet Franc is the grape of Chinon. When the phylloxera came in the 1800’s, it wiped out most of the vineyards in France, Chinon included.” He tipped his chin. “The insect came from America, but then so did the cure. American vines were immune to the phylloxera, so after a while, when all other remedies failed, someone thought to plant American roots and to graft French vines onto them, to save French wine. According to purists, something was irreparably lost, even though the rootstock doesn’t interfere with the development of the wine grape.”
Oh, the joys of French-American sibling rivalry.
“Well,” he continued, arching an eyebrow. “Some of the vines were saved. And that’s why they’re called franc de pied. They’re 100% French, and proud of it. Like I said, this wine’s special.”
After paying for the wine and thanking Monsieur Jacquey, I practically skipped away with my new bottle. When would I taste it, and with whom? Would I lay it down for a while, or decant it and taste it now? With what meal would I pair it? These questions brought a smile to my face as I made my way back toward centre ville.
For the answers, tune in to tomorrow’s post!