Grenoble is a ville that thrives on its festivals and expositions. If the day-to-day hubbub isn’t enough for you, there is always an activity waiting around the corner for your enjoyment. The festival de la semaine is Le Millésime 2010, a festival œnologique & musical de Grenoble, which has come to town. Every year for the past 15 years, winemakers from all over France, and as far away as the island of Corse (Corsica), come to Le Village Vigneron (The Winegrower Village) at Place Victor Hugo for 4 days of celebrating wine (du 21 au 24 octobre.) But even before the events at Place Victor Hugo, there has been La semaine du Millésime en ville (The week of the Vintage in town.)
La semaine du Millésime en ville is 8 days (the french week consists of not 7, but 8 days) of soirées, concerts, and dégustation (du 13 au 20 octobre.) The focus this year, the 16ᵉ édition, is on Fréderic Chopin… & les vins de la Région Rhône-Alpes. I guess since one can only take so much Chopin, they’ve thrown in a few other composers to celebrate as well – Mozart, Bach, Schumann, Scarlatti, and to keep everyone happy, they have featured some jazz bands.
Entrée Gratuite made this evening out an appealing prospect for us. (The dollar is not faring well against the euro.) Place Victor Hugo was full of white tents holding winemakers from all over France set up to show off their wares. When we stepped up to the booth at the entrance, we were given a card to fill out for our name and postal code for demographic purposes. Further on into the tent official wine glasses were set up, and we paid our 6€ each for them. (Entrance is free, NOT the wine.) With our souvenir glasses (not plastique!), we could stroll the “playing field” and taste as many wines as we liked, or in our case could.
The first booth held an exposition of various gigantic flasks that reminded me of huge terrariums. Each flask held beautifully displayed items assembled to feature an aspect of the flavors and smells involved in wine making. Some held fruits-citrus, berries, and of course, grapes. Others contained flowers, nuts, coffee, cheeses(??!!), leather(???!!), and my favorite, des amandes (almonds). Putting your nose at the opening, you pushed a small button and inhaled the aromas.
We made our way, glasses in hand, among the people enjoying the beautiful evening with the aural aroma of Chopin coming from the stage of the performance tent. Either Grenoble is a small town or we have come to know more people than we thought. We bumped into many people that we know from our language groups, and we stopped and talked about wine, the music and, of course, the weather which is now turning cooler. We also couldn’t resist buying some of the wines we tasted. Yes, so much for this week’s grocery budget, but vive La France!
Stopping by the booths and chatting with the winegrowers, we learned about them and their regions. At one booth, we sat and listened to a man talk about the different varieties from his region, as we kept sipping and spitting, sampling the multitude of wines he kept pouring. There were many small wineries represented among the larger operations. Many have been in families for generations. One relatively new winemaker from the beautiful French island of Corse told us that he chucked working for IBM in Paris 5 years ago for the vines and La Belle Vie on the coast!
Hummh…. that sparked a new idea. Are you in, Steve Melchiskey?
festival de la semaine: festival of the week
Entrée Gratuite: Free Entry!!!