On the Trail

Hotel Room Discoveries

David Driscoll

I was visiting Paris with my wife this past Fall, staying in the 7th arrondissement and enjoying the many sights, when I first bought a bottle of Alain Jeanniard Burgundy. It was our last night in town, we didn't feel like going out for a big dinner, so I hit the local shops for the basic snack necessities. If we were going to camp out in our hotel room, open the windows, and blast French MTV for the evening, I wanted to be fully-stocked with supplies. The boulanger on the corner still had a few baguettes and the cheese shop across the street was open for another twenty minutes, but I wanted some wine as well—something good. I hiked out across the Avenue Bosquet and down the Rue de Grenelle in search of an interesting bottle, beyond what the local supermarkets had in stock. That's when I found a tiny store with an interesting selection that focused entirely on les petits producteurs. That's where I spotted the bottle of Alain Jeanniard Morey-Saint-Denis, which the woman behind the counter vouched for. I had never even heard of Jeanniard, so I hoped maybe I had stumbled upon a diamond in the rough.

When I got back to the room I pulled the cork immediately, cut up some fruit, and opened the curtains to let the Fall air in. It was beautiful outside—romantic rooftops as far as the eye could see. I stuck my nose in the bottle and got a whiff of the cherry sensation. While my wife finished packing and we waited for the wine to aerate a bit, I did some research online about Jeanniard. The domaine is located between the villages of Gevry and Chambolle, and the man apparently owns a tiny 3.5 hectares of total fruit (and some of that is harvested en fermage, meaning he leases fruit from other vineyards). There was an email address at the bottom of the page for inquiries. Maybe if the wine turned out to be something special I could reach out and see about getting some for the store.

As luck would have it, the wine was outstanding. The fruit was front and center, but it was clear we were drinking the wine far too young. The structure was there for another ten years of cellaring at the very least, but this bottle wouldn't last another ten minutes. I decided to email Alain right then and there to see about getting some shipped to the states. Crazily enough, he responding ten minutes later while I was still checking through my messages, sipping on a glass of his rouge in the hotel room. We exchanged a few pleasantries, worked out some logistics, and a few months later the wines were on our shelf (marking the first time Alain's wines had been sold on the west coast).

Not all of our discoveries happen in the cellar. Sometimes a hotel room is good enough.

-David Driscoll