Gifts from Burgundy
Don't think I went all the way to Burgundy and didn't bring you spirits drinkers anything fun as well! While I spent most of my time tasting and working out deals for wine, I did manage to grab what is in my mind the ultimate Burgundian spirit: superbly-splendid fruit liqueur. Many people don't know this, but there's a designated and protected appellation (just like Champagne or Cognac) for both Crème de Cassis and Framboise from Burgundy. It's more prestigious because the quality and standards are on another level. In order to call your spirits "Crème de Cassis/Framboise de Bourgogne" you have to of course source all of your fruit from within the region and adhere to certain standards of production. I tasted a number of different options from which we could import directly, but the stand out for me was Jean Arthaud. I didn't even know crème de cassis and framboise could taste like this! It was like having my brain rewired as my mouth began to comprehend layer after layer after layer of complex and intricate decadence. First off, both of these babies have real acidity! Like a sweeter riesling or Sauternes, any great wine must balance sugar with acidity; otherwise it's what we call "flabby". I'm not used to tasting true tartness in my liqueurs, but it's here in spades. Then there's the level of depth in the concentrated fruit flavor. These are up there with some of the better Tawny Ports I've tasted. I mean, these are sip and contemplate liqueurs! They're almost too good to mix with. Each has spent five weeks macerating in 192 proof alcohol before being filtered and sweetened with beet sugar before bottling. Both will blow your mind.
You might expect higher end, IGP-designated liqueurs like this to cost a pretty penny (and you'd be right), but I brought these babies into California directly. That means you pay significantly less. One 750ml bottle will cost you the same as our regular Mathilde selections, it's just that one tastes like sweet fruit and the other tastes like a hedonistic elixir of the gods. Fellas—buy a bottle for your wife and watch her freak out. I'm expecting a similar result on the home front later tonight.