Thursday, October 23, 2008

La bernache est arrivée!

I was walking toward the Seine yesterday under blue autumn skies, and as I headed down a narrow street with a 17th century convent on it, I noticed a bistro with a big white banner across the window: "LA BERNACHE EST ARRIVÉE." Ah! 'Tis the season of the sweet, yeasty pink fizz. The sign's peppy excitement made me smile (and made me realize, too, that it's time to get back up to the excellent L'Estaminet du Marché, a table d'hôtes in the 3rd arrondissement where they pour and sell bernache at this time of year).

On the face of it, bernache shouldn't be my kind of drink. It's carbonic, muddled, funky, and especially, pretty darn sugary. Bernache is, in the Loire Valley, Sologne and Berry, the not-yet-wine that gets bottled for timely consumption while the yeasts are still at work. It's weirdly tasty. And it has to be bottled with a rubber stopper with a hole, lest the bottle explode.

What I like about bernache is that it is the embottlement of the fleeting joys of wine, its seasonality; like a liter full of harvest festivities. You can sling a couple into a cloth sack and head out for a picnic near a lake.

Disappointingly, I won't be able to pour any, lakeside, this fall. But I like the nifty little reminder of nature and impermanence.


La Gramiere said...

Amazing, I've never heard of Bernache, and I thought I knew it all!!! Thanks for the enlightenment, though I don't think there's a chance in hell we'll ever see it down here in the Gard!

Mike Drapkin said...


I haven't heard of it either. Thanks for the knowledge and thoughtful words....

Tobias Ø said...

cool. And after fermentation's end there is no longer any point to drinking it?

Does the name have any reference to geese or barnacles?