Arriving back at the hotel I ask the others if we are having a nightcap or just going to bed. They point out it's half past seven and we haven't been out to dinner; we've been out to lunch. In Chablis. The St Vincent lunch with 1300 friends in a big tent. That's Burgundy for you.
la la la la la..-la
La la la
La la la
Sorry about that it keeps coming over me. Chablisians keep chanting this. Waving hands and clapping. No idea what it means but they really love doing this.
We arrived at the lunch after a huge tasting Chez les Dampt. The three brothers Dampt; our most important - and best - suppliers in Chablis. Located up at Collan. Did our work. Then off to the lunch in the big tent.
Twelve thirty. Table with the three brothers, helen Mark, Henry, me and some cousins. Served with the Chablis Saint Vincent Cuvée 2009; a blend for this weekend's events. A very big blend as they are expecting 40,000 or so tomorrow for the Fête, and everyone gets a few glasses of this. Waiters and waitresses march with military precision, napkins over left arm. The terrine, the rich cassoulette of coquille St Jacques like a sort of pie, the veal noisettes and just keeps coming with different wine or wines for each dish. All very slow. So you chat and have time to cope with all that wine. The Chablis, then the Premier Cru's, then the Grand Cru's , some Irancy for the cheese, all beautiful.
There is the odd speech of course and the la la la clappy thing. Then a little old chap in a white suit and rather obvious toupee comes on with his trumpet to lead his orchestre. Shades of Eddie Calvert and his Golden Trumpet. Or the Billy Cotton Bandshow. Very traditional; our Chablis. And the girls! 'Les Filles du Moulin' wearing masses of feathers that in no way cover their nubile bodies. Scenes of old chaps leaping up, then being dragged back to 'sit'! by wives. Especially during the Can-Can! Such a splendid tradition! Such splendid....
And it's half past five with dessert, coffee and a glass or two of Marc still to come.
But you've met so many people. Who were they? I do remember Chris Watson came over; international lawyer, owner of a few good acres in Chablis, and father of the famous Emma.
Many others, much happiness. It's a glorious, great party. Not at all as formal as the Chevaliers de Tastevin dinner I did last autumn.
This is just winegrowers having a nice long shirtsleeve lunch like they do most weekends. With the bare bottom dancing on tables and Eddie as extra. It's an honour to be here. I can't remember it all, but what I can remember I'm sure I'll never forget. Goodnight.