Vicky Corbeels has submitted this entry for our indie writing competition:
If wine were a seasonal symbol of life cycles – as in four seasons in a lifetime or four seasons recurring over periods of time – then the knowledge about this extraordinary juice, about the workforce devoting their lives to it, about professional critics and most importantly about the wine world networks, is part of the 'where and when' desire of wine itself. You mature, and as you do, some wines start tickling you. Make your tongue acquainted with taste and vocabulary. Make your conversation with experts worth the sweat. Make yourself at ease with what you yourself have to offer.
I had jumped into my parents' car in the hot spring of 2011 for a five-week tour of France. My wine career was two years old and I had been swallowing so much theory in my Brussels apartment that I had gotten deadly thirsty to see, to feel, to smell vineyards.
After 7,500 kilometres and 66 bottles in the trunk of a car without air conditioning, I arrived at a wine shop in Montpellier where Agnes, a friend of mine, had invited me to discover the job of her life. Frédéric Jean-Jean (not the namesake who is president of the Languedoc interprofessional syndicate) welcomed me with open arms. I had never met him before. After he had put his hand on my forehead to take my temperature, he asked me how many bottles I had collected during my trip. 'We have to get them out! They're burning!', he shouted in such an irresistible French that I didn't stop him taking all of the boxes out so as to put them in his tiny cellar in the back. Frédéric allows his bottles to live in the best possible conditions. His shop must have been the cosiest, fullest cave I have ever come across.
That evening, coincidentally, the wine shop celebrated its 10 years of existence. I met some of the people I have since come to admire endlessly. Chefs, sommeliers, producers, wine journalists, clients and amateurs of the fine Languedoc wines which are the speciality of the shop. The wines I discovered that evening were thanks to the people I was introduced to… I had matured, it seemed, and was ready for a step beyond what I had been doing before.
[Vicky is now a Brussels-based sommelier and independent wine consultant. Her blog is in Dutch and her website is www.viconsult.be]