The last few days I’ve been interviewing French students at the University in Montpellier. It has been fascinating learning their views on wine and why wine consumption has dropped so dramatically in France. The weather was nice (in the high 60’s and sunny) on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I was able to explore the city and have a nice dinner on Wednesday evening. Montpellier was established in the 900’s by the Dukes of Toulouse and has some fascinating arched structures, impressive mansions, and an old city center where no cars are allowed. It is filled with plenty of outdoor cafes, restaurants, and shops to explore.
I had dinner at a small charming restaurant called La'Colyte that sold local wines by the glass and had a great jazz piano player. I dined with Guitier, a wine student, who acted as guide and showed me the local wine shops. Dinner was filet mignon of porc with a great local red with leather and “animal” notes. In one of the wine shops, Gautier helped me locate a bottle of Vin Jaune from the Jura – a wine I have been wanting to taste for a long time. It is yellow colored and oxidized with a sherry-like nose, but tastes of nuts, dried apples, orange rind and has a refreshing acidity with about 14% alcohol. Very intriguing. The more I tasted it, the more it grew on me.
Today – Thursday – is cold and rainy. It was a good day to do my lecture on American wine marketing and let the students taste 6 popular American wines. I’m impressed with the caliber of the Montpellier wine students, who are pursuing the equivalent of a Masters degree. Most of them speak at least 3 languages. Tomorrow I attend more lectures and do some final research, before heading to Francois’s chateaux north of the city to visit his winery, have dinner and stay the night with he and his wife.