An Impromptu Feast: A Tribute To Marcel
Delia Dent, from our office in Beaune, is our guest blogger today.
Many of my best memories since I’ve been living in Burgundy are of friends and family visiting, motivating me to show off the best of life in France and giving me an excuse to indulge a bit. One such experience was my sister’s visit a few years ago; we drove down to Lyons together then slowly made our way back to Beaune, stopping to visit a château or two on the way and making a special trip to Morgon to visit the Domaine Marcel Lapierre.
When I called ahead to re-confirm our visit, it was the first Marcel had heard of it (the appointment was on the calendar but he hadn’t gotten the message); but no matter—it would take much more than that to stop him from receiving visitors. We worked our way through the cellars, chatting as we sampled various barrels of his delicious Morgon, and finished our tasting at a large vat of the newly blended Vin de Pays des Gaules. As we contemplated this last wine, Marcel asked what we were doing for lunch, and I replied that we would grab a sandwich somewhere before hitting the road. “Well,” he looked pensively off into the distance, “I didn’t know you were coming so I don’t have anything prepared, and my wife is having lunch with her girlfriends today. I’m afraid all we have is some leftovers from last night. It’s nothing fancy, but you’re welcome to join us if you don’t mind just a simple little bite to eat.” We happily accepted.
Marcel filled a pitcher from the vat of Vin de Pays and led the way to the kitchen, where a cook was standing over an enormous pot as wonderful odors of roast meat wafted over. We sat down to an aperitif of homemade saucisson and a glass of the wine, which still had a refreshing touch of fizz. An employee came in from the vineyards to join us, and the cook brought over a pan of cauliflower gratin. As we passed it around, Marcel popped a cork and poured us some Morgon. The atmosphere inspired warm conversation, and Marcel’s open, welcoming personality had defeated my sister’s reluctance to try out her French.
Another bottle came out as the cook served an enormous platter of roast leg of lamb and potatoes. I wished leftovers at my little apartment were like this and took a hearty helping. Marcel had selected a robust older vintage to accompany the main dish. Realizing that I had written “DELICIOUS!!!!!” for every single wine, I gave up on tasting notes and just enjoyed myself.
The meat was followed by a generous green salad and a staggeringly vast cheese plate with more chèvre than I had ever seen in one place. By now there were at least five bottles on the table, and Marcel encouraged us all to help ourselves to another glass, and another, of our favorite vintage. Finally there was a tarte aux mirabelles for which we miraculously found room.
Throughout the meal, my sister repeatedly turned to me in wonder. “I can’t believe you live like this!” she exclaimed. I tried to explain that this really wasn’t an average day for me, but she would have none of it. “I can’t wait to tell my friends about my sister’s decadent life in France!”
This impromptu feast—which obviously seemed unremarkable to Marcel—left my sister and me with an indelible appreciation for his wine and his convivial lifestyle. So much more than a bon vivant, he had welcomed us into his home as he had so many others, freely sharing the bounty of his pantry, his cellar, and his irrepressible spirit.