In this episode, the U.S born Taiwanese restaurateur, chef, writer, and food personality Eddie Huang discovers the center of the universe for wine: Burgundy, France! Wandering “somewhere in Burgundy”, Eddie checks out selections of exceptional foods and Burgundian wines in local shops.
“If I was a truck driver or I was remaking ‘Over the Top’ I would do it in Burgundy,” Eddie says. Surrounded by the highest quality wines, the finest bottles, unique local cuisines, and the oldest vineyards in the world, Eddie is for sure in love with this place.
From the several varieties of red and white wines, Eddie focuses our attention on two of the best grapes from which the best wines are produced: the Pinot Noir (the red bottle) and Chardonnay (the white bottle). Eddie takes us much further than introducing the basics of winemaking (i.e. harvesting, crushing, and fermentation) to discover the lesser known parts of the process.
For example, he elaborates upon the relationship between barrel making and wine, as well as, winemaking as a generational family tradition. However, before going behind the scenes, you might wanna check out this brief glossary of wine terminology to fully enjoy this wine-twisted episode!
Situated in the heart of the Burgundian village of Volnay, Eddie pays a visit to the old Domaine Clos de la Chapelle to see the oak barrels in which the majority of fine wines age. The oak barrels’ subtle flavors are imparted to the developing wines as they age for months, years, or even decades. Indeed, the effect of specific woods and their aromas on different wines is the subject of great discussion to Eddie. Some are buttery, creamy, crispy, earthy, and flabby, while others are leathery, toasty, silky, and steely. The combinations proved to be endless!
Eddie teaches us that apart from the grape and the barrel (which we take for granted), the old-world wines are all about the place! “Tasting a wine means tasting the soil, the minerality, the limestone, you’re tasting from a particular place,” a local winemaker says.
Thus, Eddie introduces us to the well-known concept of terroir, the combination of elements of the land soil and climate that give the wine its particular flavor. He then visits Côte de Nuits, the most prized region for Burgundy known for its peppery grand crus and the most expensive wine in the world. The wine’s name, if you were curious, is called Domaine Romanée-Conti. It is $12,770 per 750-ml.
Eddie then attends the biggest BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) lunch party for all wine growers held at Chateau de Meursault. It is known as a paulée de Meursault lunch. However, it is not just a regular BYOB; the bottles are bottles of big jeroboams. Jeroboams are wines from the early 1900s. Apart from tasting the best foie gras pairings with 92’s Dauvissat Chablis, galette, and chutney, Eddie meets Jacques Lardiere, the man known as the Wizard of Burgundy due to his talent in growing wine.
The episode ends with Eddie visiting Burgundy’s greatest young winemaker Benjamin Leroux. When asking about the reason behind his success despite such young age, Leroux responds: “There is nothing special, if anything different, it’s to stay simple…to let the vineyard express itself.”
So, Eddie ends the episode with a very beautiful conclusion:
“Being in this cellar and seeing these wines from 1858 to 2014, you start to realize that you’re looking at something intangible, like time manifest itself in wine, and it captures bottle by bottle by bottle… and this is a story that the earth gave this winemaker, in 1750 milliliters. And if he does it right and protects the story, and transmits the story into the bottle, he can leave it behind for somebody else. And that’s why wine is special to me… As my dad taught me as a kid, ‘be a giver, not a taker’. Burgundians take it one step further, they’re protectors. They protect so that the earth can keep giving,”