You know his wines,especially in every late November when the New Beaujolais is released. But you see his wines year round, no matter where you are or where you go. Georges Duboeuf is synonymous with Beaujolais. But you probably don’t know about his Hameau en Beaujolais. This 30,000 square meters of Disneyesque construction superimposed on the ancient village of Romaneche-Thorins is the first — and probably the only — theme park dedicated exclusively to wine and the vine.
It sits between the Romaneche train station, where the TGV races by every hour, and the mammoth Duboeuf wine center. Admission is like buying a train ticket, because the entrance resembles a Victorian-era train station where after you buy your 19-euro ticket (which allows free admission to an accompanying child) you pass through the turn styles to access the wonderlands within. Going as part of a guided tour takes away the bewilderment of what to do or where to go first, but there is a unique joy resulting from unexpected turns and surprise after surprise.
Within the hamlet are model vineyards where visitors can check on the grape growing process year round. There are enchanted gardens where the Beaujolais flora are ever in bloom and awash in costumed bees and other insects willing to tell you all about them. Simulated flights take you over the whole of the Beaujolais region and three-D film programs trace the history of the region and of wine-making. A wood-paneled tasting room adorned with art nouveau frescoes allows you to sample and, if lucky, hear and watch the animated turn-of-the-last century circus organ.
When you do finally get to the exit area, you can enjoy a meal in the cafe and/or visit the large gift shop where all the wines in the Duboeuf portfolio are available at very attractive prices and displays are stocked with very tasteful gift-type items that prove you had actually been in the Hameau en Beaujolais and on the premises of Georges Duboeuf.
If you still haven’t had enough of the Romaneche experience, just a few steps away is a cheerful restaurant — Rouge & Blanc — owned and managed by Georges Blanc, one of only two dozen three-Michelin-star chefs in France and whose local staff presents ordinary food as defined by an extraordinary chef at family-friendly prices. Rouge, of course, for the Beaujolais; Blanc for the master chef.
I confess to having dined on two consecutive nights in Rouge & Blanc, where I even enjoyed a white Beaujolais.
Though I will be spending most of today involved in Memorial Day ceremonies — even being in a parade — I have not forgotten that some have designated May 25 as either International Wine Day or National Wine Day. Neither should be confused with International Drink Wine Day, always held in February, usually on the Friday just before the U.S.President’s Day weekend.
As readers have reason to surmise, every day is drink wine day in my household. I don’t really know the origin of these designated days, but I do know that reverence for and appreciation of wine goes back a long way. The ancient Greeks, as we know, had a god of wine, that’s how important wine was to them. And Christ’s Mother asked her Son to do something about the shortage of wine at a wedding feast in Cana. Wine has had a lot of respect for a very long time.
In Armistice Day and World War II Surrender Day commemorations in England and France, I have been served a vin de l’honneur, proof that wine belongs at very special occasions.
Most of our states now have a State Wine, just as they have a state flower or bird or nickname. (Some states even have a state gun!) The Indiana State Wine is Traminette, a lovely white wine that can be vinified sweet, dry, or shades between.
But having a designated wine day is a good thing. Probably, at least in America, tagging it on to our solemn Memorial Day activities is also a good thing, giving us a chance to have a wine of honor to honor those who kept it possible for us in Europe and North America to continue enjoying wine. As soon as we stack arms after today’s programs, I shall offer up a white wine from Alsace, a red wine from California to symbolize an alliance not just of peace-making and liberty creating, but also for producing our world’s noblest beverage.
Nor do I intend to wait till the end of August to enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon on its designated day. Wine days are good.
Though I have been these past four weeks treading the vineyards of France, I have not forgotten my roots and am proud of what Hoosiers have done with wine production in recent decades (less proud of what our General Assembly has done for the wine industry), and I call attention to the 16th annual Vintage Indiana Festival scheduled for Saturday, June 6 in downtown Indianapolis.
Indiana has earned an American Viticultural Area designation and has more than 70 active wineries, more than half of which will be pouring (and selling) at the 2015 Vintage Indiana Festival. Past festivals have attracted some 10,000 visitors, so the event is a big deal. Besides wine tents, some of the city’s best restaurants will have food booths, and on stage all day long will be all kinds of music for sipping, singing, and dancing.
Vintage Indiana will be open from 12:00 noon till 6:00 pm, though for $50.00 you can get an early admission ticket which lets you in at 11:00 — allowing for getting the best seats in the entertainment area — and gives you your very own glass and lanyard. Tickets at the gate are $35.00 ($25.00 if you get them in advance) and only $10.00 for your designated driver.
Complete information is available at www.vintageindiana.com, and if you feel a need to call, 1-800-832-WINE. Red, white, sweet, dry, sparkling — it’ll all be there on June 6 in Military Park.OLDER POSTS »