Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Surrounded by men on my recent journey to France I learned a few things. They kiss by 3’s in the south and only on 2 cheeks in the north. But they kiss…each other!   How lovely!

And almost every Frenchman I met in the countryside has great biceps that definitely were not sculpted in a gym. But I digress. I want to talk about the generous nature of men and in particular my dear friend Aarin who enticed me to take my recent trip to France and a new friend James who welcomed me into his home so graciously.

Words like never and always are infuriating to me. Use them frequently enough and you will find me poking holes at your generalizations trying to pluck out that one exception that dissolves the rest. And so when at a wine tasting Aarin was using exactly that kind of vocabulary talking about the grapes we sampling, I was momentarily taken aback.

I have spent my life blowing up boxes. Was I being now asked to enter another one, albeit a tasty one?  Was acceptance of some of the extremely rigid rules of growing grapes the price of admission to the club? I decided to stretch my thinking.

What if breaking rules simply because they were rules was actually an act of adolescent rebellion? Perhaps you first have to know what the rules are in order to decide to ignore them. 
And what if rules are not inherently bad or constricting but can actually create standards that offer consistency in a world of massive variables.
When I look at all the rules in wine making AND all the exceptions to the rules it makes my head spin. 

So where do I learn more? Cue the music. Enter James Dunstan, writer and wine importer who lives part of the year in Vacqueyras in the beautiful Southern Rhone part of Provence. Wine has been produced in this region since the 15th century and the photo above depicts just how charming the village is. 

James has become my hero of the grape and his knowledge of wine and passion for quality seems to surpass famous American wine critic Robert Parker's penchant for high scores.  James was not only a fountain of information, he invited us into a world of mouthwatering sensations that while focused on wines also included music and conversation and superb taste treats from the local countryside.  His gift pairs his love of musical tracks with the perfect libation, and we reveled in this ambiance at his glorious home.

I tend to translate names into verbs when I am struck by the remarkable in a person’s character.  So while ‘Do a Grace Kelly’ means to take the high road, and ‘Do a Buns and Marty’ means you jump both feet into the next adventure that presents itself, ‘ Do a James Dunstan’ means you are going for the best. Be it a gorgeous wine, a simple luxury, a decadent treat or creating a moment that will resonate in memory, his taste for quality and a full bodied experience of sensual pleasure is to be appreciated.  Check out his blog at www.jamesdunstan.jp 

There is a lovely wine we enjoyed later in Paris called  L’Empreinte de Saint Mont 2011 . Its label reads. ‘ Laisser dans le temp une idee precise du plausir.’   It means, know the moment that pleasure enters.   This motto reflects my experience at James’s table. Pleasure and gratitude seeped into my pores. The delight was auditory, gustatory and held the resonate zing of meaningful connection.  This is how to live! 

Thank you gentlemen.  My heart says "Merci beaucoup."

Branded by the senses:

Authentically Yours,

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