David Derby - First Day in France

by Chuck Hayward

By David Derby, Wine Buyer

I spent the afternoon wandering about the city of Montepellier. I decided to step into a little cafe/bar on some side street, closer to what we would call an ally than a street. It was only about 6 feet wide. The building was the size of two large elevators, with about half a dozen locals inside and a few more that had rolled outside to enjoy a fume (cigarette). I immediately spied what I had come hunting for: Pastis. For me, this beverage invokes thoughts of Southern France whenever I hear its name, let alone catch a whiff of its distinctive anise inspired aroma. Often used as a digestive, I prefer the native blend of 5 parts water to 1 part pastis served as an aperitif. While America has plenty of commercial Pernod and an occasional Ricard, the other brands are rarely seen outside of France.

There on the wall was the potential for a new experience, which came in the form of a bottle marked 51. First, I tasted it straight and noted how restrained the licorice character was - this was no Greek Ouzo, that was for sure. So I mixed my blend and sat outside enjoying the sunshine and passing locals.

As the sun began its slow decent into the Mediterranean Sea, I made my way back to our hotel on the outskirts of town. With my mind, body and stomach confused with going through so many time zones, I decided to take a break and prepare for the week ahead with an evening fast and early bed time. My rest day was over, and the next day marked the beginning of hard work and structure (i.e. lots of wine tasting).

Tuesday March 25: Shaun Bishop (JJ Buckley co-founder and lead wine buyer) and Jeffrey Davies (Signature Selections) arrive.