With the approach of another year, I start planning for my annual wine pilgrimage. Today I am looking forward to the harvest in Beaujolais, where I shall spend a couple of days, starting in the village cooperative of St-Julien, housed in a desanctified parish church. There some years ago, sipping fruity, fresh village Beaujolais, the parish priest (stopping by on his way home from the new church) explained to me that Beaujolais is a gift of God that makes better all foods and can be enjoyed with just about everything — everything except water, he said. Just down the street is the birthplace of the great medical pioneer Claude Bernard, who they say, never stopped loving his beloved St-Julien.
In vain once again, I shall look for the long lost treasure of the Knights Templar, supposedly buried in the grounds of Chateau d’Arginy, and enjoy hospitality at the 105-meter-long cellar of Chateau de la Chaize, named for the family who gave Louis XIV his Confessor and for whom the famous cemetery in Paris is named. I shall call in at Chateau de Corcelles for another look at the plaster- of -paris skeletons placed in the 13th-century dungeon to amuse the tourists and to re-visit the modernized cellar to taste some of the best Beaujolais in the region.
In Romaneche-Thorins I shall stop at the house of Benoit Raclet who in the 1830s watered all his vines in 90-degree water to kill the pyralis worm before it killed his vines. It worked, and the villagers have been grateful since, turning his home into a pleasant sojurn for visitors curious about life in an early 19th century country house. Another stop is the Hameau de Beaujolais, an amusing, enjoyable, animated museum about wine production, developed by Georges Duboeuf with help from animators from Disneyland
Yes, there’s much to do and see in the land of Beaujolais, so we begin planning early. (There are also plans to be made for Burgundy and Alsace.) Oh, and did I mention the wines? These wines — even the Grand Crus do not need a lot of planning. Beaujolais is reliable, predictable, delicious, and always enjoyable. While they make great companions when writing, they are doubly good when taken from the barrel in a village farm house. You will be reading a lot more about these plans.