My French Connection

Laurent giving me a bird's eye view of St Emilion, Bordeaux- a UNESCO heritage town
Laurent giving me a bird’s eye view of St Emilion, Bordeaux- a UNESCO heritage town

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.

Laurent and me at a Brasserie in St Emilion
Laurent and me at a Brasserie in St Emilion

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!

Destinations Galore in Laurent's Wheels
Destinations Galore in Laurent’s Wheels

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!

Wood Fired oven Pizza at Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Wood Fired oven Pizza at Chateauneuf-du-Pape

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!

Col Joe
wirtten by: Col Joe


  • I guess that is how many a friendship starts – these are matters of the heart. Look forward to your further adventures down newer vine alleys (pun intended) 🙂

  • Truly said Sunil Sir! It is but natural that a global personality like you would get the feelings behind the expression. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • It is a well written recount about your friend and your passion. Ofcourse, passion gives you great opportunity and helps you meet such good friends. Wood fired oven Pizza looks amazing, wonder what cheese they used. Bonami!

  • Thank for appreciating the essence of this piece Monsieur Samrish! I suppose the cheese used in the pizza was a mix of mozzarella and Chèvre (Goat). It had olives and ham too. And of course it was delightful!

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