Gouttes de dieu, part 2

Getting back to ”Drops of God”, or should  that be ’god’? Gods, in the plural, even. The Japanese ‘kami’ appears to be more of a ‘spirit’ than a ‘god’.

Shizuku finds ‘Queen’ in a Bordeaux

One of the peculiarities with Shizuku, and his minions, but also of the nemesis, Isse Tomine, is, that wine appreciation apparently is synesthetic  – the aromas of the wine induce highly complex sensations that have at times little or nothing to do with the wine, as such. Odd or romantic landscapes, wide forests, wood elves, flying horses appear, persons from the drinker’s earlier life … or ‘Queen’. No surprise that Isse and Shizuku both gravely claim that, origin, composition, production, and so on, has nothing to do with understanding the inner nature of the wine. This understanding is, however, open to a very select few, while others (tellingly called, at times, “mortal kind”) may briefly gain a feeble, reflected sensation, of this “inner nature”. The defunct Yutaka was a past master of this, including spreading the blessing of his understanding – a sort of Japanese Robert Parker but much more poetic (and without the smelly dog*).

Old Pepe, in his way, not only can apprehend this inner nature, he is even able to see what his adepts should experience but has not already managed; when he is in a good mood, he will point in the right direction, and is, I suppose, a ‘guru’, or, a ‘sensei’, though a rather reluctant one.
He is rarely in a good mood.

Zen art archery
Many years ago I read a fairly uninteresting book, “Zen in the Art of Archery” by a German professor of philosophy, Eugen Herrigel. I remember that, in that book, the archery teacher, being also a ‘guru’ or ‘sensei’, was proclaimed to have deeper insights into the mind of his adepts than they had themselves, apparently just by watching them perform archery. Very mystic. Very spiritual. A definite link between the archery teacher and our alcoholic cardboard box dwelling Pepe, who discerns the inner workings of people by having them describe a wine while drinking it.

Almost 30 years after Herrigel, a guy named Pirsig wrote a book called, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” – he himself admitted that it had nothing to do with Zen, and precious little to do with motorcycles, nor their maintenance. I remember picking it up, hoping it would be a spoof on the ‘Archery’ book which I found at the time (early 80s) fairly stuffed-shirt, but, not even that. It dealt with what the author saw, quite incorrectly, as the rationale of electro convulsive therapy in psychiatry. And Aristotle, apparently. Oh yes, and quality in writing, and various other things – I remember it as a slow and dreary read, but, it is considered an icon of US writing.

Getting back to the divine drops.

This recurring dictum, that there exist a ‘correct’ way of ‘understanding’ a wine, one and one only, and that this will apply to the same wine for years and years – it is, to my feeble mind, unadulterated bovine eBull Shit Generator 4xcrement. The end-result of prolonged rumination.  No, it is not possible to say that there exist a way of describing a wine that is correct, and universal. Or, that, vice versa, a description can be given such that it will identify one wine, and one only. Perception is both personal and cultural – this fact is blithely passed over when Shizuku, in Bordeaux, to a group of French wine makers, describes a certain botrytized white wine in terms of a certain Japanese festival, very obscure to a European, and is greeted with enthusiasm – rather, he would be met with incomprehension. What festival? Why? How?
One example: Some people are very sensitive to, and very adverse to, the smell of certain strains of Brettanomyces – typically, these give a ‘barnyard’ smell, ‘stable’ has been mentioned. Others are less sensitive, or, find it rather appealing (up to a point). There does not exist a ‘correct’ level of Brett and an ‘appropriate’ reaction to it. In fact, in the end, you can reduce it to, “If you don’t like the wine, don’t drink it”.

I remember a tasting, where out of 9 participants, 6 discerned strawberries in the nose of an old Gevrey-Chambertin, while 3 experienced tar or woodsmoke. Who was ‘right’? Well, none, of course. Nor was anybody ‘wrong’.

The “Drops of god” manga perpetrates a view that is very alien to me, to wit, as already stated, there exist a ‘correct’ perception of a wine. It is not a good introduction to wine, in my opinion.

I will continue reading it until the bitter end – volume 44, I think. So far, I have not bought any wines on a recommendation from the manga.

L’abus de modération nuit gravement à la santé –
Seppi Landmann
It’s life Shizuku, but not as we know it – Shizuku has a Star Trek moment


*) I refer to the movie, ‘Mondovino’. Apparently, the great wine critic, had a small farting and smelly dog whom he adored. Ever since, I have re-appraised my opinion of Big Bob. Because, he loves his dog, Apparently.




Copenhagen, Culture Night and the day after.

So, Copenhagen. In our little corner, Copenhagen takes an awesome amount of space. Much closer than Stockholm. Mucher larger than Malmö. Only drawback is, it’s not in Southern France.
Well, you can’t have it all can you? (To quote or paraphrase that great guy, Obelix, ”Why not? Is it forbidden?”).

Each year, first or second Friday in October, in Copenhagen is the Culture Night. You buy the Culture night pass (a pin you attach somewhere visible on your clothing) and then you get to enter lots and lots of museums, art galleries, and other more or less unexpected places, getting a view behind the normally closed doors in normally unobtainable institutions. Shops open long hours.

We had decided a long time ago to make the Culture Night this year after a very very long hiatus.
Things had changed: There was a downloadable app. Years ago, there was only one or two places you could get grub late – now food is ubiquitous. No Irish folk music performances, unfortunately (I like Irish folk music). Lots of swing/rock dancing but, unfortunately, mostly in faraway places.

So, we check into a hotel in downtown Copenhagen and hit the town. Art galleries. Art museums. Artsy craftsy shops still open (Would you like a glass of wine? For this is Copenhagen, remember). Institut Français – you can be tested for your aptitude in French. Yes? No. Not at 10 PM after four glasses of wine. The buses and Metro are free for pass holders, so we take a coach for the Zoo which is also open, and proves a huge letdown – the only animals we see are huge numbers of Homo sapiens stumbling about and trying to find the next set of animals going to get fed. Bummer. We get hungry. We want food. We stand in line for a bus to take us back into city center, and ramble down Köbmagergade. Not a street with a lot of options, so, we go left and hit Möntergade, continuing into Gammel Mönt. Have a look at that great and oh so dependable but, unfortunately, a bit expensive, restaurant ’Restaurationen’, and continue half a block when we spot ’R’. Hadn’t thought of that place. ’R’ is a wine bar run by the same people who run ’Restaurationen’. Are we too late? There are lots of people in there. Let’s go in … awe, full to bursting with people. Two possible seats in the cellar … nah, not in the cellar. We are out of … oh. These guys are leaving. OK to sit here? YES! We are first accosted by the wine list. ”The wines by glass are on the black-board” and there are 35-40 of them. Food, not so much, but, the wine list is highly droolable … not least in the ”white wines” department. Comte Lafon. Raveneau. Dauvissat. ”So, what can we offer the young couple?” says a waiter of a certain age with quite selfevident authority (he is, by my guess, 15-20 years youn2015-10-09 22.50.50ger than we are). ”Drinks for starters?” – For starters, 3 oysters and a glass of Chablis. DKK 149. Very good oysters, the Chablis is the entry level William Fevre 2013, no oak, as he points out. Thankfully. Putting innocent village level Chablis on oak is a crime against humanity, OK? Cool, sharp acidity, very good. Oysters nice and plump, served with slices of lemon and vinegar, but, really, not needed. The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things. Three oysters does not quell a professionally honed hunger, though: on with a terrine of beef with … on the blackboard is a Chambolle Musigny 1998! Wow! Yes! Errr … no. So sorry. Lasty
glass done been sold. We were however offered a Nuit-St-George 1er cru Vielles Vignes (he pronounces that ”villy vinyes”) 2008, same price (DKK 155 for a glass). Good choice: raspberries, strawberries, with an earthiness I recognize from previous NSGs (particularly those of Mr Chicotot in the village of that name – I mean, the name of the village is Nuit St George, not Chicotot). Terrine is served with cornichons, mustard, and a bottle of a very good olive oil with elegant grassiness and a certain note of vanilla.
Excellent. The terrine is not a big piece so, cheese? Yes, some cheese. With a syrah … ? The waiter’s facial expression says it all. No, not syrah. Your advice? Ah. A Riesling Beerenauslese 1996 from Dr Thanisch? Well, yes … Cheese are appropriately mature, the comte possibly on the salty side. Honey with chili served on the side and, this forms an excellent bridge to the Riesling.

The venue is pleasantly crowded, noise level reaches at the most dB 82 (don’t you bring a sound meter when you go to a restaurant? Really? No?), smoke free of course. Waiters very good, a couple of middle age men who have a very good working
knowledge of what they do – do not be fooled by some mispronanciations of French terms. This feast came to a bit more than DKK 1300. You could however go in four guys and share a bottle of Bojopif from Lapierre or Foillard and fingerfood for considerably less (about DKK 550). On the other hand, you could do a little vertical of Salon (oldest 1988) for considerably more. Whatever. This place is a small treasure. Highly recommended.

After a good night’s sleep I woke up feeling morose and with a considerable head cold. Had breakfast in the hotel, not bad (fresh pressed orange juice), but, still, working under a head cold. Went out for some window shopping, and planning to meet Mrs C’s brother and his wife (of whom I should tell you some time) who, however, were a bit, not to say fashionably, late. Being in the neighbourhood, we decided to have lunch in Café Sommersko. In Copenhagen, as I have explained somewhere else, a café is not necessarily a place where you just drink coffee. Normally, it’s a restaurant with a certain bistrot appeal, even if, this has to be said, no bistrot in France I have been to is quite like a Copenhagen café. Anyway. Place was rather full but not to bursting, we were seated, and menus proivded. These were of the ”chèvre chaud/soup du jour/ Caesar sallad” variety – we were in fact struck by the similarity of them to those of ”Dan Turell”, another Copenhagen make-believe bistrot we have visited quite often. We order a sallad each, and a glass of wine from the very short list of open wines. Water can only be had in bottles, of which there is only one size. Mrs C has chosen a Soave, I an Alsace Riesling from Gilg (never heard of). Waiting time is considerable. When wines arrive, mine is definitely on the warmish side not to mention sweetish, or, sweet. Not what I would have chosen for a Caesar sallad. The Soave is correct, though. Some more waiting and sallads are brought to table. My Caesar is simply not good. The chicken is grilled so hard that it is close to burnt, and dry. The shellfish of Mrs C’s salad is lacking in veggebobbles,
A visit to the men’s room indicates that this is a toilet designed for guys with the desperate need and poor aim induced by renting too much beer on a Friday night, while the lady’s room (this is hearsay) lacks toilet paper, and is filthy according to Mrs C. The caffe latte I order as a finale takes further time. Bad food, long waiting time, slightly disintertested waiter. Simply put, this place is not recommended. If you have better experiences from it, fine, let me know. It used to be a preferred hang-out for the young and beautiful some 15 years ago, perhaps we are not young and beautiful enough? I am not going back in the immediate future. Perhaps a beer at the bar?

The Danish word for butterfly is ‘sommerfugl’, which literally means summer bird. Nice word innit?
‘Summerbird’ is also the name of a group of stores selling fairly high grade chocolate, and this particularly Scandinavian treat, ‘flödeboller’

Blackboard of open wines
Blackboard of open wines

– it mean cream buns, it was a Danish invention from the start (or so the Danes claim), using whipped cream, which has since been replaced with egg white, whipped with sugar and stabilised with gelatine. They are covered with chocolate and the all-knowing wikipedia translates the name into the unwieldy Chocolate-coated marshmallow treats. Not a very good translation: the egg white filling is much lighter than your ordinary marshmallow. In ”Summer Bird”, they have taken the making of the treats into an elegant fine art, using various kinds of chocolate, adding fruit to the filling, or liquorice or … They have also reduced the size, and rather than on a plain tasteless biscuit, they reside on a thin marzipan wafer. The shop is slightly elegant, and you are urged to try their wares, such as almonds coated with white chocolate and liquorice. If you have  a sweet tooth, this might be the place for you.

R Vinbar – Charcuterie, ost & sødt
Café Sommersko