by Paige Donner
This episode of Paris GOODfood+wine, April 2019 is dedicated to my father, Eugene Martin Donner. He passed away on April 11th.
It was his love and passion for life, and his appreciation for fine wines and good food that started me on this path discovering exceptional terroirs of the world. Thank you, Dad. Your wisdom and guidance enriched my life immeasurably in countless ways since the day I was born. And will continue to do so, even though you have now departed this world and evolved into the next.
My dad, Eugene Martin Donner. b. February 27, 1932 – d. April 11, 2019. Pictured here May, 2015.
The French have an expression. It’s C’est la vie.
“Ç la vie,” sums up so much about life. Perhaps only ‘I love you’ are three words more potent and full of meaning.
C’est la vie is both acceptance and resignation. It’s that recognition of changing the things we can and accepting the things we cannot change.
This past month of April in Paris has been most certainly a C’est la vie point in time.
As the world stood and watched Notre Dame Cathedral burn, in people’s shocked and stricken faces, there was a sense of powerlessness in the destruction of this great monolith of love.
Whether one is Catholic or not Catholic, Christian or perhaps not even practicing any kind of religion, the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris is so symbolic of French culture, of Paris, of the uniting of the world’s peoples in prayer and love, that watching it consumed in flames, was a devastating and heartbreaking moment.
As I stood on Pont de la Tournelle, at 8pm on Monday April 15th, watching my beloved neighborhood church burn in bright red and orange flames, I couldn’t contain my sorrow.
But my overwhelming sorrow was not just for the church. My father had passed away only days before, and watching the spire of Notre Dame burn felt like watching my father’ funeral pyre.
The great church came within about 30 minutes of being completely destroyed. But in the end, France’s firefighters were able to save it.
Photo taken April 16, 2019 7am Paris time; photo by Paige Donner copyright 2019
It has been just over a week now since the fire. It has been roughly about the same amount of time since my father’s soul and spirit have been set free from his human body. For if anything, that is the message I’m getting from my meditations this week. It’s that God’s love and the human spirit are eternal. And whether they are housed in a church or in a human body, or liberated from these outward structures, they live on. They exist. In eternity.
They live now in an invisible realm. But in God’s love, they exist eternally.
The Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris survived on this earth for 850 years without destruction or significant damage. That historical fact changed on April 15th , 2019
My father, Eugene Martin Donner, survived on this Earth for 87 years, without significant damage or destruction. That historical fact changed on April 11th, or 12th if you consider Paris time, 2019.
A very strange, and even somewhat spooky coincidence, is that the architect of the spire that burned along with Notre Dame’s roof, was named Eugène Viollet Le Duc. Of course it is just a coincidence that my father and he both shared the same first name. But it feels significant, in a sort of God’s winking kind of way, nonetheless.
Both the spire of Notre Dame and my father, who had a terrific sense of wit, comedy and irony – his favorite writer was Mark Twain – and who resembled to a great degree Jean Paul Belmondo, and who had a heart and soul full of love for humanity, in all its forms, colors and expressions, will be sorely and sadly missed.
I thank him for so many things, including his unwavering love for me, but also for instilling in me such a great appreciation for good food and wine. It’s thanks to him that I was set forth on this fascinating discovery of God’s and Earth’s fruits and elixirs. As Benjamin Franklin once said,
Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
My father always seconded that. Cheers to you Pops. May God’s love keep you eternally forevermore.
Our April show of Paris GOODfood+wine is one focused on wines.
First we speak to Samuel Montgermont of Domaine and Clos St. Patrice in the Côte du Rhône.
Pictured here: Samuel Montgermont of Domaine St. Patrice, Côte du Rhône. photos by Paige Donner copyright 2019.
With his wines, we are firmly in Chateaneuf-du-Pape territory. In fact, we’re right in the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. He has a lot to say about his unique wines. Interestingly, he is a musician as well as a wine master blender.If you haven’t heard the term master blender coupled with wine before, don’t worry. He’ll explain all that to you during the interview.
Following that segment, we then go to Burgundy. In fact you are being whisked off to the Cuverie des Ursulines which is an ancient convent that was once inhabited by Ursulines nuns.
The family Boisset, of Jean Charles Boisset fame, has just renovated and built an impressive and absolutely stunning Cuverie, or chai, a wine estate, around this historical property in Nuits St. Georges. Nuits St. Georges is, of course, one of the most prestige areas just outside of Beaune in Burgundy wine country.
Along with opening up this Cuverie in 2018, they have also now instigated daily wine estate tours. It is open to the public, you just have to call and reserve in advance. The tour includes a visit to the tank room, also outside into the ancient convent’s gardens dating all the way back to 1717, and then concludes with a barrel tasting and then a tasting of a total of 6 of their wines in the historical Ursuline cellars down below.
It is one of the most comprehensive, friendly, and educational wine tours you will get in all of France, and certainly in Burgundy, that is open to the public. It lasts about an hour and a half and costs only €32. Though if you want to organize a special group and throw in a lunch after the 10am tour start time, just communicate that to the Boisset team and they’re happy to make your wishes come true in a bespoke way.
So, ç la vie. Life goes on. The cathedral of Notre Dame will be rebuilt. And Dad, I’ll see you in heaven one day when I get there.
Hemingway: As people bring so much courage to this world, the world has to kill them to break them. So of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong in the broken places. But those it will not break it kills… It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave impartially. – Ernest Hemingway
Another big new development this season is the release from Domaine Clarence Dillon of their new range of Clarendelle wines.
There’s Clarendelle Rouge, Blanc, Rosé and Clarendelle Amberwine.
All are inspired by Haut-Brion the estate’s famous and historic 1855 Grand Cru Classé chateau in Bordeaux. The rouge comes in several expressions, including Médoc and St. Émilion.
All are accessible and are perfect for when you have a taste for fine quality, but perhaps don’t feel like opening up your First Growth wine that very moment.
I particularly enjoyed the Amberwine. Especially so because it isn’t always easy to find a sweet wine that expresses that balance between the honey-like sweetness brought on by the natural botyritis and a fresh acidity that keeps it fresh with every sip. The Clarendelle Amberwine achieves this by using both methods: grapes are allowed to develop botyritis as in the grand tradition of Sauternes, and then others are late harvest which allow the grapes to sweeten on the vine with their ripe maturity. The wine takes its name, Amber, from the beautiful color achieved by this assemblage. The varietals in this fine wine are the traditional Graves Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc with a bit of Muscadelle.
The wines are available widely now. Though I encourage every listener who gets to Paris to pay a visit to the Cave du Château located near the Champs-Elysées on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt. It is hands down one of the very finest wine shops not just in Paris but the world over. Here you will find famous and rare wines as well as handpicked affordable coup de coeurs that you can put all your faith in that they, guaranteed, won’t disappoint.
Check our show notes for the wine shop’s address. Or just do an online search for La Cave du Château, Paris.
31 Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, Paris 75008 lacaveduchateau.com
Thank you for joining us on this episode of Paris GOODfood+wine.
A big thank you to all who helped make this show possible.
Jazzy Piano from Bensoundmusic.com
Terry Jacks, Seasons in The Sun
Ilya Truhanov, Miracle from
Contact Host-Producer, Paige Donner @http://PaigeDonner.info
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