Archive for January 23rd, 2011

January 23, 2011

Wines of France,simply the best,my wines

It is a passionate subject for me as I am a wine collector/amateur/drinker/you name it. It is ,also, a very diverse and subjective issue as wine is today the center piece of many individuals and countries tastes and habits. I would like to concentrate on my personal experiences and share them with my readers on this mine,yours blog.

My first recollection of drinking wine was when I was 8 years old and my maternal grandmother had me taste a couple of fingers of Spanish wine. I recall it taste it very bad, but she insist it was Spanish wine!!! I took it again on and off for several years until already a young adult in Florida and wanting to be once again part of the beach bums in Daytona Beach moved to the area to get whatever job I could lay my hands on.

The first job was as a store clerk at the ABC wine and liquor store in South  Yonge St almost to the corner of Granada Blvd in Ormond Beach, Florida under the watchful eye of store manager JD Brandy!  This was about January 1985. Once in a while I had to serve as bartender in the adjoining bar which didnt like too much. In the store, most were gear to heavy drinkers and wines were put at a disadvantage; so much that I end up in charge of orders and inventory keeping of the wine section in the store. This allows me to mingled with other wine lovers, and go to wine pool parties as server, gaining valuable knowledge in the world of wines.

It was the beginning of something magical that has continue to my now life in France. I was instrumental in working with SOPEXA ,Food and Wines from France organisation in helping French wine sellers introduce themselves to the south Florida market. At the same time passing a rigorous test on French wines from the organisation. I worked with the Commercial Office of Spain in NYC under director Julio Becquer to bring about Spanish wines bodegas and restaurant under the beautiful Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for an evening of wines and tapas as an introduction to Spanish wines. I participated tireless into many wine tastings events done by the stores like ABC, Crown,and Gourmet Spain  in South Miami under Alberto Mueller writer for the newspaper El Diario de las Americas.

Many French , Spanish, Italian,American, Chilean, Argentinian wine growers would come to showcase their wines there in Miami. I was able to meet many of them, the most popular and biggest players in their respective countries. This contacts later materialise into visits to their wine operations in their respective countries. One memorable was meeting Pierre-Henry Gagey of Maison Jadot , Beaune, Burgundy in Miami on a Crown wine tasting evening. This was followed same year with a visit to his company in Beaune, France, and even thus he was not in house, I was treated like royalty and taken by able Commercial Manager-Europe Marc Dupin on a family personal tour of the installations and tasting 5 reds and 5 whites of great international renown. A pleasant encounter that has lasted still today.  I was able to visit Concha y Toro in Santiago ,Chile and realised the original owners were French immigrants, the tour was personal only me and my Chilean wine salesman friend, I still have souvenirs wine glass and t-shirt from this trip in 2002.

By now 2011, I am subscribe to the leading magazines of wine in the world,keep a healthy wine cellars in my house, travel and visit the very best wineries in France and Spain, and realised that after tasting wines from the world including even brand Viñales from Cuba !!! the very best are indeed the French ::) My concentration in the last 10 years or so have been exclusively French with some bottles tasted of Spanish, Chilean, Argentinian , and Italian wines.

Basically, wines in France are divided into four quality categories, from top to bottom AOC=appelation d’origine  contrôlée, with strict production characteristics all down the whole process, this is the best of France accounting for about 35% of production. Then, VDQS=vins délimité de qualité supérieure, almost as same quality of AOC and waiting to be approved, these account for about 2% of total wine production in France. Then, Vins de Pays, or country wines, more lenient in the grapes varieties used, a recent denomination to accommodate EU regulations, account for 15% of production. Finally ,there are vins de table de France or French table wines, accounting for 38% of wine production, these are the simple country entry wines in France and usually branded under a commercial brand name.

Tasting wines is an art form with over 900 identifiable smells and nuances available,you need years of top level tasting to arrive at this level of proficiency, is an ongoing learning experience even for me. Usual lenght of guarding these wines depends on the year and the producer as well as the grape varieties. Usually champagne,Alsace, Beaujolais, Loire Touraine are between 1-5 yrs, up to 10 years are the village appelation of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone valley, Loire Chinon etc, then,  up to 20 years you can cellared Burgundy premiers and grand crus, Rhone valley cornas, CdP, Côte Rotié, etc Bordeaux  crus bourgeois ,and Medoc etc, Loire sweet wines like Bonnezeaux, and finally those over 20 yrs are  the Jura wines, L-R Banyouls, south west sweets like Monbazillac, Jurançon, and the Bordeaux grands as well as Sauternes sweets. The grape varieties are many indeed from the well known Cab Sauvignon/Franc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Gamay, Pinot Noir, to the the less known Tannat,Malbec,Sauvignon blanc,Semillon,and the rare Duras (consider the oldest grape variety southwest France), Carignan, Cinsaut,Grenache, Grolleau,Mourvérdre, the list is endless it seems ::)

I will give you the wine official sites for the regions I like best, lots of official information can be found there. If you have any question on a particular wine dont hesitate to contact me ok. In English when available,but  in French it has more information.

wines from the Loire region, http://www.vinsdeloire.fr/SiteGP/FR/

wines from Burgundy region, http://www.burgundy-wines.fr/

wines from the South West (Sud Ouest) region, http://www.france-sudouest.com/

wines of Champagne region, (hit Entree) http://www.champagne.fr/

wines from Bordeaux region, http://www.bordeaux.com/default.aspx?culture=en-US&country=FR

For sentimental reasons my first and still drink from there, the Spanish site also a link on my blog of Spanish bodegas , in Spanish ; http://www.apoloybaco.com/Bodegas.htm

And my favorite Chilean ,Argentinian, and Italian wineries, such as Concha y Toro, Chile, http://www.conchaytoro.com/ ; Bodega Norton, Argentina http://www.norton.com.ar/inicio.php?video=1&id_idioma=2, and Michele Chiarlo, Italy  http://www.chiarlo.it/index_eng.htm

The best magazine in France is La Revue du Vins de France as here in my blog links too, http://www.larvf.com/ . My favorite online shop is Vinatis also in my blog links http://www.vinatis.com/ , and I am direct with the wines of Chateau Mouton-Rothchild, online here under la Baronnie , http://www.labaronnie.fr/

For wine stores there are many around, my favorite in Versailles is the Nicolas store  at link  http://www.nicolas.com/       or Aux Caves au Chateau as links here http://www.caviste-vin-versailles.com/ doing it here since 1840. In Paris there are the Nicolas stores again, and the Lavinia spanish chain at http://www.lavinia.fr/LaviniaFR/  or the Paris 16éme La Cave de Passy, 1 rue de Passy, tel +33 01 46 47 77 12;no web, metro Passy line 6. Over 2600 bottles to choose from.

Hope you have enjoy my entry into the world of Wines, French wines continue to be a reference point for all others to follow, with French advisors, grapes, methods, and investments all over the World. China is the next frontier and already the French are there even the magazine La Revue du Vins de France has an office.

The potential for wine is great and if carefully chosen a good enjoyable investment ::)

 

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