Andrea Calestani Photographer


In the basement “cave” crowded with illustrious aspiring sommeliers, the air was full of the scents of the imminent grape harvest. It was September 2016 that we wanted to celebrate our passion for wine by wandering around the vineyards and Château of Bordeaux: St. Émilion, Margaux.

The tasting began. Not that the audience, I immediately understood, was made up of leading experts. The inevitable orientals and a reddish-haired North American stood out. They distributed the glasses with a sip of wine, and the speaker invited everyone to taste it: “What do you feel about this wine?” he asked the audience, already prone on sniffs with half-closed eyes or intent, with every sip, in aerial acrobatics with clenched jaws.

It was a real flood of judgments. The result was a riot of oenological terminology that would make even the most experienced sommelier shudder: «… a hint of berries on the nose! » one in the front row immediately stated. «… light spicy base! » added another. «… intense ruby color! » said an affable and polite lady with her glass held out against the light. «… wood, lots of wood! » said a brilliant grizzled gentleman in a double-breasted suit. To all of them, the patient “maître de cave” responded dejectedly with his head lolling from right to left in permanent denial.

I don’t remember whether at the fifth or sixth more or less appropriate judgment, with an authoritative gesture, he silenced the audience. He took on an inspired look. He stuck his nose back into the glass. He inhaled a long breath. He sipped voluptuously. Then, opening his eyes wide and raising his eyebrows, he declared: «JOIE! » (joy).

At first, the know-it-alls felt cheated. The indifferent people “nonchalantly” overcame the brief moment of amazement. I was simply struck by it: he was right. What that wine gave off was actually a sense of joy. No particular oenological quintessence, but only a feeling that came from the heart, from the simple pleasure of taste.

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