I was sitting across from Daniel Johnnes in a restaurant in Burgundy, empty except for us. Daniel was speaking perfect, unaccented French to the proprietor, who was wearing dirty shorts and what looked to be bedroom slippers. I watched in silence; four years studying French hadn't supplied me with phrases adequate to the occasion.
Daniel and I were together thanks in part to his impeccable French, but mostly because of his impeccable reputation with French winemakersspecifically Burgundians. Daniel is the wine director of New York's Burgundy-centric restaurant Montrachet; the founder of Jeroboam, an importing company specializing in Burgundy; the organizer of La Paulée, a Burgundy-style wine festival in New York; and as much of a spiritual Burgundian as any American I know (though he doesn't wear slippers in restaurants). Daniel also happens to be good friends with some of Burgundy's best producershe's even been the houseguest of a few.
- Burgundy Classics: Wheeling and Dealing
- Burgundy Travel Tips: A Guide to Burgundy
- Fact Sheet - Burgundy
These last two facts are not insignificant in a place as insular as Burgundy, for unlike Bordeaux or Napa, Burgundy's top winemakers are farmers, more likely (and much happier) to be out in their vineyards than talking with journalists. So when Daniel offered to introduce me to some of the great producers he knew and to show me the side of Burgundy that only a friend sees, I said yes right away.