My first time

I don’t know if you read it but there is a great book called : “The small pleasures of life” or in french “La première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules”. I really advise this book : you will really enjoy it ! The writer is Philippe Delerm. I love this book even if I read it a long time ago. It has done something to me, it had an impact : it spoke to me. The topic is about all these little pleasures of our everyday : when you taste beer for the first time, the smell of fresh apples, the sunday evening… It’s so common, ordinary, homely, unexciting. But it’s our life ! And sometimes, often, we don’t care about these details. They are not important. But when you think about it : it’s all these details that are building our lives !

I thought about this book few days ago because I taste a lot of Japanese sakés with people who never tasted it before. So I lived their first time and the emotion is a little bit the same when I was reading this book. Some love it, some dislike it, some are surprised, some are chocked, some are processing… So I tried to remember my first time tasting wine, the first time I went into a wine cellar, the first time I visited a 1st Grand Cru Classé, the first time I tried (real) Japanese saké… And it’s quite funny because it’s so trivial that you don’t remember. But it’s because of a first time that I started to work in wine. It’s because it was not so platitudinous that it became a passion. It was not that banal ! 

Magnifiques fleurs de cerisier au Japon

Do you remember ? The first time… 

The first time I knew wine was different I was pretty “old”. I might have been 20. I was working at Cordier Mestrezat Grands Crus as Marketing and Communication Assistant (it was an internship). I had a lot of fun because every body was so nice. And I didn’t know anything about wine… I was like a virgin ! Touch for the very first time by the power of wine !! That day, a lunch was made for very important clients or wine merchants… I don’t remember and it’s not really important tho. But I do remember that they served very nice wines for this lunch. For sure I was not there, I was at my desk… I was just an intern and negotiation was something important for the heads of departments. But at the end of this lunch, they allowed us to taste the wines. Well, you imagine that these bottles were almost empty ! I think Château Boyd Cantenac was there. Also Château La Lagune. I don’t recall the vintages… But here it is. The bottle. The wine. The one. The only one. Château Sigalas Rabaud 1989. I remember the deep orange gold color in the glass. Very shiny. I remember few crystals at the bottom of my glass (tartaric acid in fact but I didn’t know and care). It was very fruity in the nose with some dried fruits, honey and safran. I tasted the wine and for the first time of my life I felt like my whole body was fueled. I know it was passion fruit, mango and vanilla. I know it was so smooth. So delicious. So powerful. I was surprised. I understood that wine could be powerful because it was not just about to drink it. It was also about to feel it. The wine spoke to me this day and since then it has never be silent… 

It was only a small sip but it has changed my life. And you can believe me or not but since this tasting, I have maybe tasted two or three times Château Sigalas Rabaud (during the future week). This sip was so impactful that I am afraid to be disappointed if I taste this wine again. But I know it’s a great wine. I know I will love it… But I am still shy. And it’s also why I love Sauternes so much. 

Do you remember ? The first time…

The first time I visited a brewery in Japan was maybe one of my favorite experience ever. I studied a lot Japanese Saké and I am still learning and tasting today for sure. As you might know, I am saké sommelier and sake educator. I feel sometimes like Andromède because I am stuck with my chains in France : I cannot go to the shop next door and take a bottle of Saké I don’t know to discover it. I can do that with wine : it’s easy. But with my dear Japanese Saké it’s very hard as only 4% of Japanese Sakés are exported out of Japan… So it’s quite magical when you have studied something a lot, taste something a lot and that finally, one day, you can see, you can smell, you can touch it for real ! I visited Banjo Jozo, a great brewery close to Nagoya in 2017. Mister Kuheiji is the 15th generation to run the Brewery. He is tall. He is nice. He is handsome. When you met him, you can not feel nothing. He has an aura : he is the ambassador of centuries of saké brewing and around him, his ancestors are watching. He has the keys of traditions and mix it with the modernity of his time. And his sakés look like him : vertical and wide, complex, generous, technical and moving. Mehdi welcomed us to live this experience. He is french and he is working at the brewery. He was the perfect guide and I am really thankful to have met him through Facebook ! The place was not like some of our Grand Cru Classés of Bordeaux cellars. It had the “wow” factor because it was so different of what I know. I loved it. I was confused by mixed feelings : I was amazed and in the same time I was trying to focus to learn as much as possible. The colors of the walls, the sound of my flip-flop on the wet floor, the temperature in the rooms, the smell of the fermentation, the taste of the Koji rice, the noise of the “pushing down”… I took pictures of this wonderful experience but I can not explain what I really felt. Even now, I try but I can’t. Maybe because I was excited, I was enthusiast but I was also serious and professional. My heart was jumping and dancing in my chest but my brain was like “focus, focus, focus”. 

It was like a dream. This first time in a Brewery in Japan… 10 000 kilometers away from what I expected but so similar tho to what I wanted to experience. I am very thankful. I don’t feel the same way when I visit a new Château. I know what to expect maybe : I still love it for sure. I would like to go back to Japan to live again this experience. 

Tell me about your first time ! Do you remember ?

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