img_3610Its only my second day in Beaune, and I already understand that everything here is about wine. The town is surrounded by wineries, the layout of this medieval town is such that every third or fourth shop is a wine shop and wine caves and cellars lined with walls and walls of wine bottles make up an alternative underground city. On this weekend, vinophiles go extra-wild as it is La Vente des Vins, an annual festival celebrating, what else but the famous Burgundian wines. The festival revolves around Les Trois Glorieuses, three events happening in Beaune this weekend: the grand tasting meal at the prestigious Chateau du Clos du Vougeot, the multi-million dollar wine auction benefitting the Hospice de Beaune and La Paulee, the most drunken BYOB lunch imaginable. While P and I did not participate in these events, we still had a glorious time literally soaking in the bacchanalian good cheer, voluntarily stuffing ourselves like force fed geese with wine and food. 

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Wine is the first order of business. We are in wine soaked Burgundy after all. We took an informative wine appreciation lesson at Sensation Vins, where the instructor patiently went through the essentials of Burgundian wines and guided us wine novices through a blind tasting of 6 wines. The lessons about terroir were a truly a little more than over our heads, but we walked out more confident about wine tasting abilities and tested them out at the wine caves later on. Upon our instructor’s recommendation, we then found ourselves at Maison Bouchard Aine & Fils, a venerable wine merchant since 1746 for a cheese and wine degustation. For an hour, we took its “tour of the five senses”, where it converted some of its musty underground cellars into interactive classrooms to showcase the sound, sight, taste, touch and scent of wine. We also tasted 11 wines in a tasting glass we got to keep as a souvenir, including multiple grand crus and a Corton Grand Cru almost as old as my dad. The cheeses were all local and we fell in love with the Citeaux cheese, a raw, runny and funky smelling cheese made by monks of the Abbaye de Citeaux. Now to find it and smuggle it back home.

Next up, the food of Beaune….

Sensation Vin

http://www.sensation-vin.com/en/

Bouchard Aine & Fils

http://www.en.bouchard-aine.fr/index.php?p=365

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With time to spare before or after church on the UES, I’ve found myself, thanks to Karen’s recommendation, headed towards Nespresso’s boutique on Madison Avenue for a cup of coffee. Unlike your neighborhood coffee shop, the cafe is part of an international luxury brand of coffee shops showcasing, besides the coffee, its ultra-modern coffee machines. The samples are cups of coffee patrons unfortunately still have to pay exorbitant amounts for, but thankfully they are expertly made with one’s choice of roast ranging from the fully astringent to the very mild-bodied. Experts may be able to taste the difference between the different blends, but for now, I’m just content lounging on one of the comfortable seats, sipping my foamy cappuccino while simultaneously munching on good but overpriced pastries. At $10 for a cap and a canele, its a good thing I don’t live nearby.

Nespresso is the upscale brand amongst the stable of Nestle brands, complete with branches on Madison Avenue and Champs Elysees and an ad campaign featuring George Clooney. It is admirable how successful the price discrimination exercise has been, that no one upon entering the Nespresso boutique would associate it with the chocolate bar or 3-in-1 coffee Nestle is known for. In fact, the line of cleanly designed coffee machines and the shiny aluminum capsules filled with different coffee blends that line the back wall whispers luxury, discernment and worldliness. It also sends subliminal messages such as “Buy me, buy me” to my brain. Indeed, if I’m not careful, I’m going to end up with a brand new machine and a box of multi-hued coffee capsules.  

Nespresso Boutique Bar

761 Madison Ave (Between 65th & 66th Sts)

http://www.nespresso.com/precom/contact/index_boutique_us_en.html?ref=NewYork2