Wines of my belle France!

So here I am in one of my all time best hobbies, wines! Once in a while I dwell into the world of wines in my posts; its a habit to be away from old stones sometimes ! One of the pleasures of mankind , and much abuse these days of zero tolerance for some, it is still the motor that moves our civilization. Therefore, let me tell you a bit on things about wine happenings in my belle France!

You need to keep up with the weather to know who is doing what, and then choose the best known producers from it to maximize your pleasure of drinking these bottles later. As we deal with nature, and know it best, weather is key factor 1.

Since the beginning of April, French vineyards have been experiencing frost episodes, especially Bordeaux, Burgundy and Beaujolais, with consequences that are still difficult to measure but seem less dramatic than two years ago. In the Bordeaux region, the cold shot struck for two consecutive nights. Overall 5%  of the vineyard  was touched. In Burgundy, Chablis was hardest hit by this frost dry, with wind. If it is too early to evaluate all the damage, the Chardonnay looks like it lost against the Gamay, no matter what happens. In the Beaujolais, making it both violent and early. The most affected areas are in the lowland and lower slopes (less than 200 meters above sea level), especially the appellations Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages (towards Belleville, Saint-Georges de Reneins and the Valley of the Azergues).

How about that huge space we call Languedoc, its really a country of wines and coming on strong with its Rosés to the detriment of sweeter white wines.

In 2018, the immense vineyard of Languedoc, which stretches from Nîmes to the Spanish border, descending from the foothills of the Massif Central to those of the Pyrenees, produced nearly 2.5 million hectolitres of rosé wines, a 25% leap in two years. In the Languedoc, the wine was long before red table wines. It became more and more rosé and festive, under the influence of a global trend drawn by Provence, which could give the winegrowers the comfort to manage their agro-ecological turn. Rosé now represents 16% of the region’s production, compared to 10% 10 years ago. The Languedoc is by far the first producer in France with some 30% of the total. In the region, the success of rosés, are not the same for organic wines and  niches such as the terraces of Larzac, the Livinière or the Pic-Saint-Loup also masks the problems encountered by the Muscats, sweet wines (Rivesaltes, Banyuls, Lumel, Frontignan…) less in fashion, when they lost  20% volume in 10 years. The Rosés are it.

And Burgundy is fighting it on! The UK and US markets are crucial, whereas between 2014 and 2018, Burgundy wine sales in the European Union declined from 41 to 38 million bottles. The Burgundian winegrowers, who sell one bottle out of two abroad for revenues flirting with the billion euros, see with concern the protectionist threats of US President Donald Trump and the even delayed specter of the exit of Great Britain from the EU. They remain substantial, with almost half of the volumes exported. Canada has become a benchmark market. The province of Quebec is the most interesting because it is the fifth export market for Burgundy. South Korea , a small rich country that could look like Japan in a few years shows potential. In the longer term, India and its billion inhabitants where free trade would go pretty well, or China market, more complicated at administrative level and where tariffs are higher. All seek the international markets for volume and profits. Expansion and marketing are in order here.

Some prices in France for you to compare these are primeurs prices or before the harvest ok. The prices are all H.T (hors taxe) meaning before TVA sales taxes. And of course, my favorite bottles only, a sample.

CHÂTEAU D’ARMAILHAC  Pauillac, 5th Cru Classé  2010 : 41 euros – 2011 : 42,20 euros – 2012 : 30 euros – 2013 : 26,80 euros – 2014 : 28 euros – 2015 : 33,90 euros – 2016 : 38,10 euros – 2017 : 36,70 €

CHÂTEAU CLERC MILON  Pauillac, 5th Cru Classé  2010 : 60 euros – 2011 : 50,70 euros – 2012 : 37 euros – 2013 : 35,3 euros – 2014 : 40 euros – 2015 : 50,80 euros – 2016 : 59,50 euros – 2017 : 59,30 €

CHÂTEAU DUHART-MILON  Pauillac,  4th Cru classé  2010 : 130 euros – 2011 : 82,50 euros – 2012 : 59,9 euros – 2013 : 55 euros – 2014 : 48 euros – 2015 : 55,20 euros – 2016 : 63,50 euros – 2017 : 55,20 €

CHÂTEAU MOUTON-ROTHSCHILD Pauillac, 1st Cru Classé  2010 : 1 000 euros – 2011 : 478,40 euros – 2012 : 282 euros – 2013 : 250 euros – 2014 : 282 euros – 2015 : 450 euros – 2016 : 495 euros – 2017 : 410 €

Second wine of  Château Mouton-Rothschild,  LE PETIT MOUTON DE MOUTON-ROTHSCHILD 2012 : 78 euros – 2013 : 78 euros – 2014 : 92 euros – 2015 : 120 euros – 2016 : 155 euros

White wine of Château Mouton-Rothschild   AILE D’ARGENT DE MOUTON ROTHSCHILD Bordeaux Prix : 56,50 euros – 2015 : 60 euros – 2017 : 64 €

CHÂTEAU PONTET-CANET  Pauillac, 5th Cru Classé 2010 : 145 euros – 2011 : 90,80 euros – 2012 : 67,40 euros – 2013 : 67,40 euros – 2014 : 75 euros – 2015 : 85 euros – 2016 : 129,60 euros – 2017 : 96 €

My near and beloved vineyards of the Loire, between Tours and Saumur, the vineyards of Bourgueil and Chinon face each other and offer a tasty stopover in the Loire and Vienne river basins. Touraine undoubtedly has its grand visitor centers of Ussé, Rivau, Chinon, Azay-le-Rideau, Langeais or Villandry. It is starting from Tours, which deserves its own respects. It is Villandry, Langeais, then Saint-Patrice and Ingrandes-de-Touraine that we must rally then, to the extreme east of the vineyard of Bourgueil. At Ingrandes, take the road D35 for about 1, 7 km and turn right towards the Peu Muleau. Continue on the small paved road under the forest, at the top of the hillside. The view is splendid !. It is good to step in the heart of the most beautiful terroir of the appellation Bourgueil, (yes indeed)  in Benais,  then Restigné (Domaine de la Chivalerie), Bourgueil (Domaine de La Butte), then Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil (stop at Frédéric Mabileau and Yannick Amirault), in the heart of wine-growing villages with charm still intact. You can then return to Bourgueil before crossing the Loire and spinning westward to Candes-Saint-Martin via the road  D7. The landscape is of serene beauty in Candes and Montsoreau, not far from the confluence of the Vienne and the Loire rivers

And of course, it begins to be feld. In New York, there is a real approach of liquor stores  and restaurateurs to go to the discovery of unknown things; they are the ones who also make the trends and its benefitting  the Loire. In ten years, exports of white Loire wines in the US market doubled, leaping from 42 000 to 86 000 hectoliters, or 11.4 million bottles sold last year, according to the figures of the professional body InterLoire. And the value tripled to reach 67 million euros of turnover in 2018, synonymous with a rise in range. The Sancerre caracole in the lead, in front of the wines based on Sauvignon or Chenin, emblematic grape of the Loire Valley (includes region of Centre-Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire), not forgetting the Muscadet. The big export is increasingly seen as a real outlet by the winegrowers of the Loire who see, like all the French wine-growing actors, the downturn of the internal market on one side and the consumer boom in the United States, world leader, on the other. The French system of appellations is really interesting because we do not sell a grape variety, we sell a history, a landscape, a culture. Yes indeed, and I have put some winegrowers there in touch with my old reliable sources in the US!

The 4 architectural cellars to visit in France! Some of the newer trend of wine tasting, history ,and architecture on all in one for the visitors appeals. Some of the trendy ones in my opinion are:

Chateau La Dominique ,the winery of this Château from Saint-Emilion was redone in 2013 and appealed to the services of Jean Nouvel.

Château Romanin , heading for Provence to discover the Château Romanin. The estate of 58 hectares (42 in wine production, 4 olive groves and 2 almond trees) reveals itself to you between Saint-Rémy-de Provence and Eygalieres.

Château Cheval Blanc, in 2011, Christian de Portzamparc built the winery of the mythical Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Emilion. The winery of the vineyard of Bernard Arnaud is then completely redesigned and made of concrete.

Chai logistique Ballande et Méneret ,located in the heart of Bordeaux between the Le cite du vin (city of wine) and the Musée du Vin et du Négoce (wine and trade museum) , this  winery has been noted in the city. With UFO tunes with its rectangular shape almost too perfect, this block of concrete transforms the night by brighten orange dots, sensations guaranteed.  Inside, these are not less than 4 million bottles that are stored in the 10 000 square meters available.  The must is to go around this building at nightfall, in the pine forest that surrounds it.

And a sentimental favorite with historical wines of my beloved Paris. Montmartre is another world indeed!

The vineyard of Montmartre is most certainly the most famous vineyard in Paris. Its existence is attested from the Gallo-Roman era, but it is in the Middle Ages that the wine-growing activity of the Butte will develop. At the time, the Mount of Martyrs (Montmartre) was quite different from today’s. On the Hill (Butte), the scenery was rather bucolic. There were mainly fields, vines and some mills.  In 1133-1134, King Louis VII founded the Royal Abbey of the Dames de Montmartre, at the top of the Hill (Butte), for his mother Adelaide of Savoy. In 1147 the construction ends. It is Eugene III, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and the Abbot of Cluny who dedicate the land and they plant the first vineyard of the Abbey.

Winemakers start cultivating their own vines and offer cheap wines such as “Le Clos Berthaud”, “La Goutte d’Or”, “Le Sacalie”, “La Sauvageonne” ,and later the “Le Picolo” . The wine of Montmartre is even known for its diuretic qualities. The setting up of the General Farmers  (fermiers généraux) wall around Paris in 1785 will greatly expand the Butte. To avoid paying taxes on wine, Parisians will drink it in Montmartre. Guinguettes (riverside cafes) and cabarets develop on the Butte in the image of the Moulin de La Galette, the Moulin Rouge or the Trianon. The Butte has become a festive and artistic place where wine flows.  In the middle of the 19C, the vineyards declined with urbanization and the development of the quarry exploitation of the Butte. The competition of wines from sunny regions and the arrival of phylloxera will mark a stop at the vineyards of Montmartre. In 1928, the vines disappeared completely.

But in 1930, the inhabitants of Montmartre led by the cartoonist Francisque Poulbot, mobilized against the construction of buildings on the vacant lot of 12 rue Cortot, which formerly housed the house and the garden of the writer Aristide Bruant. They transform the vague terrain into liberty square (square de la liberté) and they plant a tiny vineyard there. Three years later, three thousand thomery plants and three Morgon vines as well.  Today, the Clos-Montmartre is the smallest vineyard in France! It represents two thousand vines and twenty-seven different grape varieties, which produce approximately 1800 bottles of Clos-Montmartre each year. The bottles are sold at auction and the profits are donated to the social works of the City/Town Hall of Paris. An event each year not to miss, the Vendages! 86th edition coming up October 9-13, 2019! More here: Official Fêtes des Vendages de Montmartre

There you go another magical thing to do in my belle France, drink the best wines in the world. Often, imitated but never overall surpassed!  Enjoy them en vino veritas!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!





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