Archive for August 1st, 2019

August 1, 2019

Wines: France and Spain!

Ok so let’s go back and talk about one of my favorite subjects in a general sense as it can be very personal issue. I will write a bit on wines, the beautiful healthy drink of the gods. And why not make this time a combine entry of the two countries very dear to me and who not only are No 1 and No 2 in visitors by the UN-WTO but also produce some if not the best wine in the world. I will spare you reading about my credentials in the wine world. Oh yes, of course, as the title says Wines: France and Spain!

According to the OIV =  International Organization of Vine and Wine ; more on it here: Official site of the OIV

The world vineyard area, whatever the final destination of the grapes grown in it, including the vineyards that have not yet entered production, is in slight increase compared to 2017, +24,000 hectares. Spain remains largely at the top of the cultivated area, with 969,000 hectares, followed by China (875,000 ha) and France (793,000 ha)!

In 2018, the world production of fresh grapes (for all uses), China is the first world producer with 11.7 million tons, followed by Italy (8.6), United States (6.9), Spain (6, 9) and France (5.5). The three European leaders increased their production by 28%.  Table grape production has doubled to 27.3 million tons, with China’s world leader followed by Turkey.

The wine (discounted juices and musts) reached one of its biggest productions since 2000 with 292 million hectoliters, 17% more than in 2017, year of serious climatic difficulties. Italy (54.8) is the world leader, followed by France (48.6) and Spain (44.4 hl). Productions in the United States, Argentina and Chile are still high. South Africa suffered a severe drought and fell. Second year followed by recession in China, due to a fall in crops: -22%.  The available data show a stabilization of world consumption with 248 million hl. Since 2014 it fluctuates between stabilization and recovery in Europe. The United States confirms its leadership with 33 million hl, followed by France (26.8), Italy (22.4), Germany (20.0) and China (17.9). The distribution was, by volume: 54% bottled wine, 33% bulk, sparkling 9%, BiB 4%. But in value the bottled ones represent 69.7%, the sparkling 19.8%, the bulk 8.6% and the BiB 2%.  Spain (21.1 million hl), Italy (19.7) and France (14.1) dominate exports by volume, with more than half of the world total. The main importing countries were Germany (14.7), United Kingdom (13.2), United States (11.5), France (7.1) and China (6.9).

The first forecasts for the harvest of 2019,in  Spain, counting with the unknown of how the high temperatures of August will affect the ripening of the grape  draw a campaign with a medium production and a harvest that will be generalized around September 10, somewhat earlier than in 2018. The agricultural organizations and Cooperatives Agro-Alimentary consulted by Efe (Spanish press agency)  calculate a harvest of between 40 and 44 million hectoliters of wine, which means a return to normality, with a considerable reduction compared to the current one and that It can even reach 20%  less in some areas.

There are no serious accidents been recorded, with the exception of the storms that affected the area of ​​Utiel-Requena (Valencian Community) and La Manchuela (Castilla-La Mancha) a few weeks ago, with multiple cases of hail. To this is added the heat of recent weeks, which can have a very negative effect on the vineyards, given the water stress that the plant already suffers; and although they insist that it is early for exact valuations, all these climatic conditions could lead to a normal pulling down campaign.

More in Spanish from Efe here: official Efe Agro on Wines of Spain

The wineries in Bordeaux are still full of wine when we approach the grape harvest, sales fall sharply, especially in supermarkets, the Chinese market is going bad ! Bordeaux wines have announced a series of measures to try to turn this brutal crisis. The new president of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB), Bernard Farges, has recognized ” Bordeaux suffers at this time”.  The sales have decreased greatly, under the short-term effect of the 2017 harvest (-40% due to frost), but also due to the structural effects of the sector and the evolution of the types of consumption, exports are up 4% in value, but in fact they have been saved by high-end wines, because the global volume drop reached -13%, caused particularly by the collapse of the Chinese market, in which French wines suffer from the competition of Australians and Chileans, who have no import tariffs, and this at the time the economy China is slowing down. In the long term, the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB) , also wants to evolve in terms of communication to reach the young generation and remove Bordeaux from its clichés. My five cents; need a lot of work catching up, I told you so many years back! More info at the CIVB here: Official CIVB in French can be change

The recognition by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the first 84 Singular Vineyards, which has just been published in the Official State Gazette. The Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin gives the possibility of identifying a more specific origin for certain wines, certified by the Regulatory Council. They were thus defined as wines from vineyards with more than 35 years of age and whose yields do not exceed, naturally and by virtue of their limited vigor, 5,000 kg. per hectare in the case of red varieties and 6,922 kg. in white varieties. In turn, its transformation is limited to 65 liters per 100 kg. of grape, its cultivation is respectful with the environment and its harvest manually. The counter labels that will guarantee these wines will include, certifying all these extremes, the mention “Viñedo Singular”, or Singular Vineyard , which will allow consumers to know that all the characteristics described are certified by the Regulatory Council. In fact, Rioja is not marking a path, but several, sometimes contradictory. It has not entered, for example, by the process of distinguishing the towns of its current territory that do not offer enough quality in their territory to receive the DO label, but still receive it. And it already has 84 high quality vines selected without specifying whether there are one or more levels in that category (such as ‘grands crus’ and ‘premiers crus’ in Burgundy). Finally, its regulation of the village wines or towns  fails, compared with that of the best French denominations, because it requires, for a wine to hold that category, which is made in the same town from which its grapes originate, thus making it impossible for a Winery that can make several ‘village wines’ when it has vineyards in several villages. In Burgundy a winegrower usually produces two, three, five or ten wines from different ‘villages’ in the same facility. And it is logical: what counts is the vineyard, not the location of the winery.  In the list there are vineyards already well known by Rioja wine followers, such as the Tapias de Marqués de Riscal, Alto Cantabria or Finca La Emperatriz, along with others that are completely new. More to come on this issue and will follow up!

More from the Consejo Regulador de la Rioja here: Rioja wines consejo regulador on vinedos singulares

The publication in the Official State Gazette,(BOE) that makes it official law in pdf file is here: BOE official announcemnet of the 84 vinedos singulares

And let me finish with some exciting samples of the Navarra region wines which I have been drinking for a long time and just in recent years are becoming very good value price/quality ratio.  In specific let me tell you about the wonderful wines of Navarra!

A panoramic review of Navarrese whites in which we find more white Grenache wines than chardonnay is a sample, anecdotal if you want, of the transformation of the wine sector in the community since those times dominated by French grapes!. From this white selection my favorites are:

Chivite Chivite Collection 125 Blanco FB Collection (2016);  bodegas y Vinedos Artazu, Artazu Santa Cruz de Artazu Blanco (2015), Chivite Legardeta Chardonnay FB  (2018), Bodega Nekeas  Nekeas Cuvée Allier FB (2017) (great price /quality ratio here) , Laderas de  Montejurra  (Emilio Valerio) Emilio Valerio Rosado de Leorín (2018);  and Bodega del Señorío de Otazu Otazu Chardonnay (2018).

On the reds my selection are (only my selection there are more ok) : The red Garnacha in Navarra. The regional community was slow to begin the recovery of a native grape that had been systematically uprooted. Now we contemplate its happy return, with several styles according to the terroirs of origin , the Navarra vineyard is geologically and geographically diverse  but always with a combination of power and elegance that has excited us. The selection are :

From Viña Zorzal Senora de las Alturas (2016), Lecciones de Vuelo (2016); Malayeto (2016); Corral de los Altos (2016) , then , Bodegas y Viñedos Artazu, Pasos de San Martín (2015); Bodega Inurrieta , Inurrieta Mimaò Garnacha (2017); Bodegas Nekeas El Chaparral by Vega Sindoa (2017), Grupo Chivite Las Fieles Garnacha (2015); and Bodega San Martín Sdad. Coop.La Matacalva Garnacha (2016).

A wonderful town nice places to see and most of all its wines, the tradition of Madrid!

The town of Valdepeñas, is located in the province of Ciudad Real autonomous región of Castilla La Mancha.  At present, the Wine Festivities are held annually in Valdepeñas, at the beginning of September. Its wines belong to a designation of origin that was founded in 1968, and that produces wines throughout the region.

Of the eight visited wineries in Valdepeñas, the most unique is Dionysus. It is better known as La Bodega de las Estrellas (winery of the stars), not because they are famous, but because they make organic wines (mostly in traditional clay jars), taking into account at all times, from pruning to racking, lunar phases and  the position of the stars. They make 12 astrowines, ad hoc wines for the Aries, for the Leo, for the Virgo and for the rest of the zodiac gang. Córcovo is a family winery, with quality wines and an impressive cave of barrels carved into the rock. To make tastings and acquire oenological jewels you should go to the Enoteca 11 Ánforas ( amphora’s). Their webpages to follow

Bodegas de las Estrellas

Bodega Corcovo

Enoteca 11 Anforas

Without wine, Valdepeñas would not be Valdepeñas. And Madrid, without wine from Valdepeñas, would not be Madrid either: The Puerta de Alcalá gate was built thanks to a special tax that levied the consumption (important since the mid-16C) of these wines in the city and court. These and other curiosities are told in the Museo del Vino (wine museum ) ,open from Tuesday to Sunday; entrance, 3 euros, former cellar of Leocadio Morales, from 1901, where the afternoon will be night walking through the monumental vessel of jars and contemplating the photos that the American Harry Gordon took on this earth during the vintage of 1959.

Museo del Vino de Valdepenas wine museum

vineyards fairs of Valdepena from Castilla La Mancha in English

Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on bodegas in Valdepenas

And if you are in France soon, check these dates out for wines galores!!

The 2019 Foire aux vins (wine fair)  is coming!  The major supermarket and stores, my selection are Auchan: from 24 September to 8 October 2019, Carrefour hypermarkets: from 10 September to 23 September 2019 Géant Casino: 3 September 15, 2019, Franprix: from September 18 to October 6, 2019, Intermarché: from September 10 to September 29, 2019; Lavinia: from September 17 to October 15, 2019, Leclerc: from October 1 to October 13, 2019, Monoprix: from September 9 to October 27, 2019, and Nicolas: from September 11 to October 15, 2019.

A great domaine and great wine to keep in mind while in France or maybe you can get where you are!

The Domaine de Fontenille, in the Luberon Regional Nature Park, between Provence and the Rhone Valley, organizes from September 19th to October 27th, from Thursday to Sunday, the Matinées Vendanges. Domaine de Fontenille, Route de Roquefraiche, 84360 Lauris.  Les Matinées Vendanges – Price: 60 € per person On reservation only by phone at +33 (0) or by email

Webpage Domaine de Fontenille:

And for closing, cachet finale at Château d’Estoublon!!!

The Château d’Estoublon,  majestic work, took up its quarters in the 8C near Fontvieille, in the valley of Les Baux, in Provence. Surrounded by unspoilt nature, it offers a quality wine tourism program, with a very upscale service in the spirit of the region. The 1.6-kilometer stroll lasts about 45 minutes and allows you to cover a part of an exceptional site that includes 120 hectares of olive groves and 20 hectares of vineyards. In addition, the Château, whose entrance is magnified by a path of century-old pine trees, has a restaurant, the Bistrot Mogador, located in a former winery. The Bistrot has a beautiful terrace, with a view of the rose garden. Guests can also settle in an indoor room, which is an old cellar. A shop-grocery store allows you to taste different wines from the estate, commented by experts, free of charge and without an appointment. Château d’Estoublon, Route de Maussane 13990 Fontvieille. More info here :

This is it in the wonderful magical wine world; do you dine with wines? we do every day good for you. Enjoy them while you can, life is too short. The pleasures of France and Spain, unlimited!!!

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


August 1, 2019

Some news from France, CCXLII

So here I am again on my news of my belle France! There is never a dull moment here, so much around me, it is just wonderful. Today we are cloudy, cool ,17C or about 64F , and a bit light rain at times. It is time for a cooling off period after the canicule!At our eternal Paris is a bit better for a change temps of 24C or 75F and sunny.

And now the latest news from my belle France. Hope you are having a wonderful summer, might this year took it at the end for vacations just to be back at the rentrée!! early Sept19.

After a year of construction, the new Place de la Madeleine (8éme) will be inaugurated between late October and early November 2019. The works make the square much more pedestrian. This square of the 8éme arrondissement is the 7th of the capital to be developed as part of the renovation of major Parisian squares launched by the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo  in June 2015. Now that is one thing that was needed around this square my old walking path to work in Paris. Bienvenue! A bit more on the Place de la Madeleine from Paris tourist office!

Scooters/trottinettes  are no longer welcome on our Parisian sidewalks. Users of the latter will now have to comply with the parking rules for cars and scooters / motorcycles. It will therefore be necessary to park the scooters on existing parking, but the goal is not to limit the actual places, the City of Paris began in early July 2019 to create materialized locations to accommodate, eventually, some 15,000 of them. Ok good initiative to regulate them as any motor vehicule!

The Gobelins teddy bears are conquering Paris ! Until recently, they had been found exclusively in the quartier Gobelins neighborhood, (13éme arrondissement or district) but teddies will now be exported to other neighborhoods of the capital. In café terraces, slouched on deckchairs or hung on lampposts, you might have crossed already at least once these teddy bears on a human scale. A real element of distraction for locals and tourists, teddy bears should, from the start, make their show in various other neighborhoods, and leave to conquer the capital, as explained by Philippe Labourel of Paris, the bookseller of the 13éme who came up with the phenomenon. Rather nice indeed! More about them in Huffingtonpost in French here:

From now on, every Friday and Saturday until the end of August, classical music concerts are held in the arena of Montmartre. A concert of classical music in open air in the garden of the arena of Montmartre (18éme). Built in 1941, this arena is perched on one of the slopes of the hill  between the Place du Tertre and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacré Coeur), and welcomes up to 250 spectators.The opportunity to discover a unique place that only opens for occasional events. For this second edition in 2019, 12 performances are organized on Fridays and Saturdays evening until the end of August, as well as Thursdays August 15 and 22.Every Friday and Saturday until August 24, as well as Thursdays August 15 and 22. Garden Arena of Montmartre, 25, rue Chappe , Metro Abbesses. Online ticketing on site on concert days 17h to 20h30, price is 35€ doors open at 20h, and the show lasts 2 hours. More info here: .

Something on history I like

Clinging to the cliff overlooking the Seine river, Château-Gaillard watches over this small town of the Eure, dept 27. In the Middle Ages it was a fortress. More than 800 years after its construction, Château-Gaillard still attracts all eyes. It’s impossible not to be magnetized by this elegant silhouette defying time, clinging to the cliff. Once at the top, the site offers a breathtaking view. On one side, the ruins of the mythical castle. On the other, a meander of the Seine river  of spectacular beauty. The white of the limestone rock enhances the insolent blue of the river and the green of ubiquitous vegetation. In 1196, when the construction of Château-Gaillard began, a good part of the French territory was attached to the English crown. Normandy particularly attracts the greed of the French. The border between France and England is precisely here. Richard the Lionheart is at Les Andelys,  King Philippe Auguste opposite, in Gaillon.  The castle fortress is built in less than two years as a military fortress, no little gargoyle all carved and pretty. When Richard died in 1199, his brother Jean Sans Terre succeeded him, and only four years later, the French troops began the siege of Château-Gaillard. After four months of siege and two months of attack, the Anglo-Norman garrison surrendered. Château-Gaillard has never really been used, except as a stone quarry. The town is divided in two. You can stroll along the beautiful Norman style houses in Petit-Andely, the village at the foot of the fortress, which revolves around the Gothic church Saint-Sauveur. To reach the Grand-Andely, with its lively commercial square, you make a leap to the 19C along the brick houses. Château-Gaillard is open from March 30th to November 3rd, from 10h  to 18h  in July and August, closed on Tuesdays, admission 4.50 euros adult. Guided tours at 11:30, 14:30 and 16:30. More info here:

And the tourist office of the Eure dept 27 on Chateau Gaillard:

Closed for renovations, the municipal museum of art and history of Colombes (hauts de Seine dept 92) will reopen at the end of 2019, it is located at rue Gabriel-Péri, a charming little museum in the city center of Colombes. Closed since last June, the Municipal Museum of Art and History is currently under construction. The current building already existed in 1790. Its wide interior courtyard and driveway suggest a post office relay function. In the 19C, the space is divided into several commercial activities. It is in 1989 that it is arranged in museum of art and history of the city. But the most spectacular novelty is the creation of a Salon de Thé or tea room. The municipal museum gathers a variety of collections, reflecting the history of the city. From the Ancien Régime with the presence of Queen Henriette at the 1924 Olympic Games hosted at the Stade Yves du Manoir, through the industrial era marked locally by the perfumer Guerlain, Ericsson phones, Goodrich and Kleber tires. On the Beaux-Arts side, the collections include paintings by Victorine Meurent, Edouard Manet’s muse, which regularly attracts American visitors. More info at city of Colombes here:  City of Colombes on the museum

Great news!!!. After eighteen months of  renovations, the Salon de la Paix (Peace Salon)  is again open to visitors to the Château de Versailles. From this past Tuesday, July 30, the public will be able to rediscover this room arranged between 1681 and 1686, made of marbles and reliefs carved in lead and in gilded bronze. The Salon was soon reinstated at the Queen’s apartment, where it became the salon des Jeux (games’ room). It was then separated from the galerie des Glaces (hall of mirrors) by a partition. More info at the palace but only in French so far:

The wonderful emblematic places of Paris through a souvenir object, an atmosphere and a hotel nearby.  A temple of Anglo-Saxon books/letters. To be or not to be at Shakespeare and Company!!  Located at kilometer zero, starting point of all French roads, in a former monastery of the 17C, the wonderful English bookstore has become a tourist attraction, immortalized in the film Before Sunset. With it’s superstar cat (Queen Aggie and her suspicious look), its artists and writers lodged upstairs for a few services and reading a book a day (William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg were among those guests ), the place opened by George Whitman in 1951 has everything to attract the curious. it may be that this object lands in the archaeological category in the face of the tide of “all-digital”. This threat does not seem to affect tourists who trot in single file, backpacks, in narrow passages between tables and in small halls that lead from room to room. Frustrated by their inability to strafe furiously every corner of the bookstore, they will be able to catch up during a break at the adjoining Shakespeare and Company café.  Indeed lots of tourists but an institution in Paris! More info here:

The Hôtel Belloy Saint-Germain  in the Latin Quarter, address of this 4-star is steeped in history: it was here, at 2, rue Racine, then named Hôtel des Etrangers, that the 19C circle of zutistes poets such as Paul Verlaine, Charles Cros, Léon Valade , and the caricaturist André Gill etc came in. In 2018, the Belloy opened an extension, installed in the building just opposite, at number 1. Pastel colors, reproductions of paintings, hay chairs and breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower or Notre-Dame: the twenty-one rooms of the Petit Belloy  look a lot like, and do not have much to envy, their neighbors Belloy Saint-Germain. Breakfast is served at the Belloy , so you have to cross the street to start the day in the same mezzanine where, Arthur Rimbaud stayed for a few months. Petit Belloy Hotel Saint-Germain, 1, rue Racine, Paris 6éme.  More info here :

Paris in August is the best time to enjoy it. But, if  you think everyone has deserted the capital, your favorite restaurants might not. Do not panic, there is one eternal favorite where I bring all my friends and family visitors to Paris who is open in August! And ,the opportunity to test them without a horde of hungry Parisians! Plenty written on it on my previous posts.

La Gare or the Station, an institution with flavors of the world by Gaston Acurio, The Le Gare is simply located in a former Parisian train station and offers a travel card young adventurer modern day to discover the world. Its street kitchens and family tables, this is the inspiration of the chef through workshops and different universes. Rotisserie, cocktails and family brunch on Sunday!  You will love it , all do!!! La Gare, 19, Chaussée de la Muette, 16éme metro line 9 Muette out turn left and see it  More info here :

There you go another bashful of information on my belle France, enjoy the summer, its wonderful! And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

August 1, 2019

Restaurant: Elven!

Ok so now coming even closer home or rather my job location, this is a restaurant discovered because a collegue lives in the town, took the family, took other collegues to eat here always great. This is in Elven a town in the Morbihan breton of lovely Brittany.

The restaurant is the Hostellerie Lion d’Or, 5 Place le Franc, Elven across from the Church St Alban.


We went by noonish by car to the Hostellerie Lion d’Or; the building dates from the 16C! It is wonderful country food , as the best in France. We started with lots of conversation  to be accompany by a good Saumur-Champigny red Les Longes . And more red wine… In all a great lunch to finish the week.  More of this recommended resto is on the city of Elven, here: City of Elven on the Restaurant Lion d’Or


Very good restaurant, with fresh and quality products whether from the land or the sea., I have come three times already.  An updated decoration that highlights the rustic side of the place. Good value for money, incorporating a good selection of wines. Efforts have been made in terms of product quality, this may be due to the fact that the hotel is no longer a hotel, and that those responsible are more focused on resto,indeed. Note very good in house and takeaway burgers with very good fries.


Always a warm welcome and bright renovation of a magnificent listed building;  this is what will mark you from the threshold of the restaurant. The son is on the floor with the mother and the father in the kitchen. The cuisine is quality, simmered with fresh produce and homemade course. We appreciate the mixture of generations that expresses itself in the menu: hearty and delicious burgers, or traditional dishes, just as generous.  Vegetarians will appreciate the gourmet dishes offered to them.


The Morbihan tourist office has a fiche on them here: Tourist office of Morbihan on resto Lion d’Or/


There you go a nice place to eat away from the capital city of Vannes. Here in Elven off the beaten path on the N166 road direction Rennes then off at St Nolff to take the D775 direction Elven centre ville (city center).  You will have the real chow à la française good local fresh produce , owners on hand, and la vie en rose!! Enjoy it

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

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