Tag Archives: autumn
“The trick is to try it with Comté,” says Aurelien, lifting a glass of bright yellow wine to his lips.
“I feel like I’m tasting it just by breathing the air in this room,” I respond, squinting a little.
It smells of sherry: sweet and nutty, but piquant even from afar. A hint of eastern spices. Walnuts. Autumn.
I’m not so sure. I’ve heard about this wine’s reputation. I know that even the French call it particulier. (In English, that’s “interesting,” pronounced with a grimace meant to look like a smile.)
So I shrug. I’ll think about it.
Aurelien lifts the glass to his lips.
Conversation turns to birthdays and sports cars and business as usual, and the spicy nuttiness hangs in the air like fluttering fall leaves.
I am not off the hook.
Empty plates still warm from the poulet aux trompettes de la mort we’ve devoured, Aurelien points to the slab of cheese across the table. Then he sweeps his hand toward the vin jaune, indicating that now would be the time to give his recommendation a try.
I shrug again. He pours me a mouthful. Following his lead, I take a bite of the Comté. We chew. Aurelien and I lift our glasses to our lips.
Expecting the strong, bitter taste of ethanol, my taste buds rejoice — perhaps more quickly than my brain can register the sensations of warm nuts and cinnamon, vanilla, apples, and that something that is so typical of autumn air. The wine’s overpowering aroma had been a cover.
If ever an argument can be made for food and wine pairing, I’d say that vin jaune from the Jura department of the Franche-Comté in eastern France should be eternally married — with children and no prenuptial agreement — to Comté cheese.
Made from late harvest Savignin grapes and oak-aged six years under a film of yeast — which partially protects it from oxidation — vin jaune is a breed all its own. After the extended aging process, only about 62% of the wine remains. To commemorate the tradition, the wine is distributed into special squat bottles (clavelins) which hold only 62 cl, as opposed to the standard 75 cl for white and red wine.
This last distinction is probably the reason we Americans know so little about “yellow wine.” Importing wine comes with a whole list of bureaucratic restrictions and regulations, and believe it or not, the unusual size of the clavelin creates customs complications that most importers prefer to steer clear of.
So, even if the aroma catches you off guard, while in France do try vin jaune…with a little slice of Comté, bien sûr.
Photo Credit: Chateau Chalon
For the TRADUCTION DE MELIE:
Every season hath its pleasures;
Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vineyard’s ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn’s sob’rer time.
— Thomas Moore
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” –George Eliot
“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” –Stanley Horowitz
Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change. –Edwin Way Teale
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” –Albert Camus