By Stephanie Powell
It seems violinist Lara St. John was fated to become a knight. Her latest accolade, being knighted as a Chevalier du Tastevins, or Knight of Burgundy, aligns seamlessly with her love of wine and love for the dragon (her pet iguana, Baby Cain) that she keeps at her side.
The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, founded in 1934, was established to promote all things Burgundy—particularly its wines and cuisine, all while preserving the folklore and time-honored festivals known to the region.
“It was just sort of a happy coincidence—serendipity—because I’m probably the world’s biggest wine lover,” St. John says of the honor, speaking over the phone from her landline in New York.
St. John was already in Europe when she learned of her nomination. The ceremony, which took place in France on April 25 and included more than 20 people from varied fields being knighted, included a nine-course French-style dinner that severed more than 400 guests, and included heaps of Burgundy’s varietals.
After starting the evening off by playing the gigue from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, St. John settled in her seat as a guest, awaiting her knighthood. The venue selected was the 12th-century Château de Clos Vougeot, a castle between Dijon and Beaune.
“We must have started drinking around 7 p.m., I mean, obviously, I waited until after I played,” St. John says with a laugh. “The next morning I woke up and I felt like a daisy! The wine is just so good—it’s quite something.”
The evening was interspersed with groups of men playing bugles and horns, and seasoned with some of France’s most renowned dishes—the egg in a burgundy wine sauce, a noted favorite of St. John’s that earned her admiration.
“It’s black tie—a very formal thing,” St. John says of the affair. “It’s just so much fun because everyone is so happy, and in the European tradition no one is there to get drunk and stumble out . . . all of the wine there is for the improvement of the mood and the meal—the way it should be.”
Maintaining the livelihood of a knight’s nine-course meal accompanied by endless wine on a daily basis may prove difficult, St. John notes.
“But I decided [once in a lifetime] is not enough,” she says. “I’m going to go seek it out again.”