Meet Laurent Piaton. A forty something quintessential Frenchman who loves his wines in equal measures as his Fourme d’Ambert (one of the oldest French cheeses) . Laurent & I met a couple of years back at a wine dinner when he was in India to promote his portfolio of wines. LPVM, his marketing company exports wine to several countries across the globe and this time, Laurent was on a ground level interaction spree with budding and experienced Indian wine enthusiasts. Being together at the dinner table we hit it off rather well as my curiosity towards French wines was well addressed by his in-depth background and a forthcoming demeanour. After a hearty dinner, we bade an optimistic “Au Revoir” with an underlying reservation about a future meeting – considering that I was still a serving soldier with just an occasional interaction with the professional wine community.
Fast Forward >> 2011 and my wine pursuits received albatross wings in the form of the Global Champagne scholarship! But would I have returned after the four days sponsored trip at Champagne? Not if I was a true blue wine maniac! So I thought it was worthwhile to contact Laurent to see if he could facilitate my adventure in the wine heartlands of France. Far exceeding my expectations, Laurent replied to my mail along with a proposed itinerary faster than a blink and even offered to accompany me to the wine areas in his stunningly beautiful Peugeot SUV! My French wine adventure was on!
After Champagne, I thus boarded the TGV to Bordeaux and started a further 10 days of hectic visits to wine estates that covered famed vineyards of Bordeaux, Provence, Rhone valley and Beaujolais. Be it the UNESCO heritage town of St Emilion with its quaint setting, the interiors of Provence where finding an English speaking person was akin to looking for the proverbial needle in the hay stack , the wood fired oven pizza at Chateauneuf du Pape or the picture perfect rolling vineyards of Beaujolais, it was the realisation of my longstanding dream of working hands-on in the Mecca of wines – all courtesy my French connection a.k.a. Laurent!
There is no option but to describe my experiences individually in future blog posts so as to befittingly transmit the intensity of the passionate winemaking I came across at each wine estate. To that effect, I guess it would not be out of place to title these posts in plural as – “My French Connections”- having forged lasting relationships in the deeply passionate world of wines!
Laurent however, would always remain that special person who started it all for me.
Pour toutes les choses vous avez fait pour moi – Je vous remercie Monsieur Piaton!