Archive for February 15th, 2020

February 15, 2020

Some wine news from France!

And back with some news about my favorite or one of , pastimes that is wines.  In my belle France ,there is always something about wine even if with the dacronian modes of living today they are trying to eliminated. I have written several posts on wine and this is another one with news from various sources I follow here and have translated.

When the number of cafes continues to decrease in France (they were 38,800 in 2016 against 45,080 in 2011 according to Statista), Paris is an exception. According to different studies, the City of Lights had 14,363 cafes and restaurants in 2017. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris and Île-de-France thus recorded an 11% increase in the number of these types of shops between 2014 and 2017.

But those who continue to appreciate a good bottle, and there are more and more of them, especially in Paris; no longer hesitate to push the door of one of the 600 or so Parisian cellars shops, almost a quarter of wine merchants have developed their bar. wine and more than 60% offer delicatessen products. La Grande Épicerie du Bon Marché cellars has a clientele 80% Parisians. True national pride, wine is above all a marker of the strong identity of French gastronomy, especially in Paris. Alain Ducasse and his head sommelier, Gérard Margeon offer, in the four brasseries of the capital, very beautiful wines at affordable prices.

What comfort the 87% of Parisians who drink wine in restaurants (against 81% for all of France), but who find the wines too expensive. It must be said that, according to Statista, wines are 26% more expensive in gourmet restaurants in Paris than in the rest of France, and 15% in independent restaurants and bistros. (Of course Paris carries a price!)

Matthieu Bosser, co-founder of the Les Vignobles Parisiens  (55 Rue de Turbigo 3éme) in 2015, succeeded in making wine in the heart of Paris. Of course, his grapes do not come from Paris or even from Ile-de-France, but they are transported by refrigerated truck from Visan, in the Rhône valley. All winemaking and maturing are then carried out in Paris, or at least were given the success of the Parisian winegrowers, the company had to expand and create a winery in Saint-Denis, even if the aging is always done in the Marais in their barrel cellar.

The Les Vignobles Parisiens has already taken the plunge with 10 hectares of vines have already been planted, in organic conversion, in the plain of Versailles and 13 others will be planted this year. The land has a flush of limestone, on the Davron plateau, in the Yvelines (dept 78), 140 meters above sea level. While waiting for the vines to enter production, the young company vinifies and ages in Montreuil, in Seine-Saint-Denis (dept 93) , wines made from grapes from different French regions. The latest highlight is the installation on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower of wine-making tanks and barrels for the aging of part of the 2019 harvest, from the Ile-de-France vineyards.

An effort to revive the first vineyard in France which had some 42,000 hectares at its peak in the 18C, before completely disappearing after WWII. The numbers are

14,363 cafes and restaurants were identified in Paris in 2017, which represents 61.3% of Ile-de-France establishments (Source: CCI de Paris Île-de-France). 604 wine merchants are established in Paris, i.e. + 11% between 2014 and 2017 (Source: CCI of Paris Île-de-France). 8,800 bars and restaurants in Paris have an IV license, which allows them to sell alcohol (Source: CCI de Paris Île-de-France). 8.84 restaurants per 1,000 inhabitants in Paris far ahead of Lyon (5.62), Bordeaux (6.77) or Marseille (5.22) (Source: CCI de Paris Île-de-France). 5.40 euros average price of a glass of wine in a restaurant or an independent bistro in Paris. An amount which rises to 9.10 euros in a gourmet restaurant (Source: OpinionWay for Wine Paris). 52% of wine consumers in Paris consider themselves to be enlightened amateurs  (Source: Wine Paris). 250 sommeliers are members of the Paris and Île-de-France Sommeliers Association.

In other front, Champagne sales fell 1.6% in 2019 to 297.5 million bottles, but the overall turnover of the sector increased by 2%, announced the Comité Champagne , the ex- Interprofessional committee for Champagne wines. In terms of exports, the European Union is on the rise again (+ 1%) while the rest of the world has seen its growth slow (+ 0.7%). Winegrowers’ Champagnes have jumped almost 18% in major exports (Americas, Asia), with 3.4 million bottles sold. Same trend on this market for cooperatives with an increase of almost 7% (5 million bottles).

2019, was a great year for French wines and spirits for export. Driven in particular by the return of volume, thanks to good harvests, the sector recorded a turnover of 14 billion euros, an increase of 5.9%. Over the year as a whole, 194.6 million cases of 12 bottles (+ 0.7%) left the country, for a balance of 12.7 billion euros (+ 8.5%). Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters of France (FEVS), announce these are trompe l’oeil results, international trade and political tensions are weighing on exports and herald a difficult year 2020 as told during a press conference on the Wine Paris-Vinexpo show. The first three markets, the United States, the United Kingdom and China, which represent 50% of total turnover, are indeed surrounded by uncertainties. Anticipation of the application of US taxes of 25% in the first case and of Brexit in the second.

The Trump administration has taxed French, Spanish and German still wines since October 18 2019 by 25%, in retaliation for the preferential treatment that the EU would accord to the aircraft manufacturer Airbus ( nothing to do with each other but here are the Americans again) Importers, distributors has said that given the number of intermediaries, a 25% surcharge is equivalent to an increase of 60% to 70% in stores, says Michel Chapoutier, a large merchant and producer in the Rhône Valley.

One general view on Champagne.  At the head of the wines and spirits business of LVMH, Philippe Schaus reviews the various actions carried out by his group, in particular with regard to sustainable development.

Living Soils brings together all the activities that they have implemented, whether in favor of reducing water consumption, inputs in viticulture, but also with regard to biodiversity, the carbon footprint or the consumption of energy, etc. They are currently building a new research center in Champagne in which are investing 20 million euros. When we talk about Living Soils, it is the future of Moët Hennessy that is in question. Just as we would like the Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon brands to be one of the most beautiful brands in the world of wines and spirits in a hundred years.

For Brexit, he continues, we do not yet know, in details what will be the results of negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on the new import and export conditions for wines and spirits, he said. We are in absolute uncertainty. But we believe that the English will continue to consume champagne, that the Europeans will continue to consume whiskey and that solutions will be found. Amen!

And he continues ; we are growing almost everywhere in the world. In Eastern Europe, which continues to catch up and its purchasing power compared to Western Europe. Africa is taking an important place especially for champagne and cognac. In India, we have very little presence because we do not have local brands. China is experiencing strong growth, but above all, for us, the United States continues to be the market that most drives the growth of our business.

France dominates in sparkling wines with Champagne. It is the country with the most prestigious wines. It is a world where France fulfils a very beautiful role and a very beautiful position. Champagne is more or less 300 million bottles. In terms of volume it is frozen since we are in an appellation area which is 100% exploited to date. Champagne represents today in this immense sparkling wine market 2 to 3% of the production but it is the top of the pyramid. The future of Champagne depends on our ability to continue to develop our brands and create value through price. It is a production which is very expensive therefore it must be sold dear.

Investing in rosé corresponds to several ideas. This color has undergone an important evolution in recent years since it has risen in quality thanks to producers such as Château d’Esclans and others. In this world, the rosé from Provence has taken on a particular stature. It is considered the excellence of rosé. We are the leaders of Champagne, we can be the leaders of rosé. We were interested in different actors, the most important being Château d’Esclans. Because it is the American market leader and there is an extraordinary personality behind this wine (Sacha Lichine). That is to say the search for excellence, freedom, entrepreneurship, the right balance between tradition and modernity. Besides that, we bought a smaller property called Château du Galoupet, by the sea, which will allow us to do different things. The North American market remains the main market for Provence rosé today, but we also plan to develop the United Kingdom, like the Germanic countries, and even Italy and other European countries. And also Japan.

We launched the Volcan tequila two years ago near Guadalajara, (Mexico) in our own distilleries. We are in partnership with the Gallardo family, a well-established Mexican family. This tequila was launched in the United States and Mexico and we are going to launch Volcan in Europe for the first time this year. We will start with Spain. We, also, acquired an American whiskey two years ago called Woodinville. It works very well. We are the leader in Washington State, in the United States. We are gradually developing its presence in the various American states and it works very well.

The above interview came out in Le Figaro Vins.

An unique event coming on from February 29 to March 1, 2020, find the fourth edition of the Rare Grape Variety Fair at the Saint-Etienne Chapel in Beaune, Côte d’Or dept 21 Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. The schedules are: Saturday February 29 from 10h to 20h. Sunday March 1 from 10h to 17h. Location: Chapelle Saint-Etienne Place Félix Ziem, Beaune. Price: from 5 € . More info here in French : Cepages rares at Beaune

And that is all folks ,for now at least. Hope you enjoy the post on the wonderful world of wines and of course France!

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


February 15, 2020

A king ! and a kingdom !! France!!!

So here I am in a cold rainy gray day due to the storms lately that thankfully bypassed us rather nicely, I like to tell you about a king. My favorite pastime is architecture and history other  than wines and football/soccer not necessarily in that order and this is history with a capital letter L.

As we came to know him well while living in Versailles and was such an influential there and elsewhere, I like to tell you a bit of the story on king Louis XIV of France. Hope you enjoy the story and see his doing while stopping by Versailles.

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, born on September 5, 1638 at the Château Neuf in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines dept 78) and died on September 1, 1715 in the Château de Versailles (Yvelines dept 78) ,was a king of France and Navarre. His reign extends from May 14, 1643 – under the regency of his mother Anne of Austria until September 7, 1651 to his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years is one of the longest in the history of Europe and the longest in the history of France.

Saint Germain en Laye



Born Louis, nicknamed Dieudonné, he ascended the throne of France on the death of his father, Louis XIII, a few months before his fifth birthday. He thus became the 64th king of France, the 44th king of Navarre and the third king of France from the Bourbon dynasty.  France is, during his reign, the most populous country in Europe, which gives it a certain power especially as, until the 1670s, the economy is doing well thanks in particular to the economic dynamism of the country and to public finances in order. Through diplomacy and war, king Louis XIV asserted his power in particular against the Habsburgs. His pre-square policy seeks to enlarge and rationalize the country’s borders, protected by the iron belt of Vauban, which fortifies the conquered cities. This action allows it to give France borders approaching those of the contemporary era, with the annexation of Roussillon, Franche-Comté, Lille, Alsace and Strasbourg.


From 1682, king Louis XIV ruled his kingdom from the vast Palace of Versailles, whose construction he supervised and whose architectural style inspired other European castles. His court subjects the nobility, closely watched, to a very elaborate etiquette. The cultural prestige asserts itself there thanks to the royal patronage in favor of artists such as Molière, Racine, Boileau, Lully, Le Brun and Le Nôtre, which favors the apogee of French classicism, qualified, from its lifetime, of ” Grand Siècle ” (Great Century) , or even century of Louis XIV. After the disappearance of Louis XIV, Voltaire was partly inspired by him to develop the concept of enlightened despotism.

King Louis XIV was the son of king Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, Louis was the fruit of the union of two dynasties, with parents belonging to two of the most powerful families of that time: the Capetian house of Bourbon and the Habsburgs. To the traditional title of Dauphin de Viennois is added at birth that of First son of France. On the death of his father, Louis-Dieudonné, who is four and a half years old, becomes king under the name of Louis XIV. The Regent then leaves the inconvenient apartments of the Louvre and settles in the Palais-Cardinal, bequeathed by Cardinal Richelieu to Louis XIII, to take advantage of the garden where the young Louis XIV and his brother can play. The Palais-Cardinal then becomes the Palais-Royal, (as known today) where housekeepers abandon young Louis to their chambermaids who give in to all his whims, which will give birth to a legend.


Cardinal Mazarin, godfather of king Louis XIV, was given responsibility by the Queen in March 1646 for the education of the young monarch and his brother Duke Philippe d’Orléans (known as “the petit Monsieur or little Mister). Louis is not a very hard-working student. In his childhood, Louis XIV repeatedly escaped death. At 5 years old, he almost drowned in one of the basins of the Palais-Royal garden. He is saved in extremis. At 9 years old, in 1647, he suffered from smallpox. Ten days later, the doctors no longer have any hope, but the young Louis is recovering miraculously. At 15, he has a breast tumor. At 17, he suffered from gonorrhea. The most serious alert for the Kingdom takes place in 1658: the king, at 19 years old, is victim of a serious food poisoning due probably to the water) and of typhoid fever, diagnosed as a typhus exanthematic, when taking Bergues in the North. On July 8, 1658 they gave him the last sacraments and started to prepare the succession, but François Guénaut, Anne of Austria’s doctor, gives him an emetic based on antimony and wine which once again heals miraculously  the king.


By September 7, 1651, a decree of justice declares the majority of the king (the Royal majority is at thirteen years). All the great men of the kingdom come to pay him homage, except Condé who, from Guyenne, raises an army to march on Paris. The court then leaves Paris for Fontainebleau, then Bourges, where the four thousand men of Marshal d’Estrée are stationed. Then begins a civil war which will help to clarify things. king Louis XIV was sacred on June 7, 1654 in the Cathedral of Reims by Simon Legras, bishop of Soissons. He left the political affairs to Cardinal Mazarin, while he continued his military training with Turenne. Absolutism of divine right begins to take shape.

On November 7, 1659, the Spanish agreed to sign the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which fixed the borders between France and Spain. For his part, king Louis XIV consented, willy-nilly, to respect one of the clauses of the treaty: to marry the Infanta Maria-Teresa of Austria, daughter of Felipe IV king of Spain, and of Elisabeth of France. The purpose of this marriage, however, was to bring France closer to Spain. It takes place on June 9, 1660 in the Saint-John the Baptist Church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (see my post on it). Note that on the occasion of this marriage, Maria-Teresa must renounce her rights to the Spanish throne.

When Cardinal Mazarin died on March 9, 1661, king Louis XIV first decision was to abolish the position of principal minister and to personally take control of the government on March 10, 1661 with a “coup de majesté” . On September 5, 1661, the day of his 23 years, the king had Nicolas Fouquet  (Château Vaux-le-Vicomte) arrested in broad daylight, by d’Artagnan (captain of the musketeers). At the same time, he abolished the position of superintendent of finance. The reasons for Nicolas Fouquet’s incarceration are numerous and go beyond a problem of enrichment. specifically, Nicolas Fouquet can be perceived as a political threat Louis XIV. The king created a chamber of justice to examine the accounts of finances, including Fouquet. In 1665, the judges condemned Fouquet to banishment, a sentence which the king commuted to life imprisonment in Pignerol. In July 1665, the judges prosecuted the farmers and the businessmen who were friends of Fouquet, on payment of a fixed tax. All this allows the state to recover about a hundred million pounds (from what supposedly Fouquet dwindle).

King Louis XIV had several mistresses, the most notable of whom are Louise de La Vallière and Madame de Montespan. The latter, who has in common with the king a taste for pomp and grandeur, advises him in the artistic field. She supports Jean-Baptiste Lully, Racine and Boileau Things changed in the early 1680s, when the king got closer, then secretly married Madame de Maintenon. Around 1681, the king returned to a decent private life, under the combined influence of his confessors and Madame de Maintenon. The year 1683 was marked by the death of Colbert, one of his principal ministers and the agent of this rational absolutism which then developed, the fruit of the intellectual revolution of the first half of the century. Queen Maria-Teresa died the same year, which allowed the king to secretly marry Madame de Maintenon, during an intimate ceremony which probably took place in 1683 among others.


In 1685, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which granted religious freedom to French Protestants, restored the prestige of king Louis XIV vis-à-vis the Catholic princes and restored him his place among the great leaders of Christianity. The end of the reign was overshadowed by the loss, between 1711 and 1714, of almost all of his legitimate heirs and by the health problems of the old king. On September 1, 1715, around 8h15, the king died of an acute ischemia of the lower limb, caused by an embolism linked to a complete arrhythmia, complicated by gangrene. His courtiers surround him.The agony lasted several days. His death puts an end to a reign of seventy-two years and a hundred days (fifty-four years of effective reign if we withdraw the period of the regency from 1643 to 1661). The body of king Louis XIV was deposited in the Bourbon vault, in the crypt of the Saint-Denis Basilica. His coffin was desecrated on October 14, 1793 during the French revolution, and his body thrown into a mass grave adjoining the basilica, towards the north. In the 19C, Louis-Philippe I king of the French, ordered a monument in the Bourbon memorial chapel in Saint-Denis, in 1841-1842.

st denis

King Louis XIV had many legitimate and illegitimate children. From his wife, Maria-Teresa of Austria, the king had six children (three girls and three boys) of which only one, Louis of France, the “Grand Dauphin”, survived childhood. These were Louis of France, son of France, the Grand Dauphin; Anne-Élisabeth de France, daughter of France; Marie-Anne de France, daughter of France; Marie-Thérèse of France, daughter of France, and La Petite Madame(little misses) , Philippe-Charles of France, son of France, Duke of Anjou; and Louis-François de France, son of France, Duke of Anjou.

Of his two main mistresses, he had 10 legitimate children, only 5 of whom survived childhood. From the king’s union with Louise de La Vallière were born five or six children, two of whom survived childhood. The king is said to have had other children, but whom he did not recognize.

From Madame de Montespan were born: Louis-Auguste, Duke of Maine, Louis-César, Count of Vexin; Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Nantes, married to the prince of Condé; Louise-Marie-Anne, Mademoiselle de Tours; Françoise-Marie, Mademoiselle de Blois, married to the Duke of Orleans and Louis-Alexandre, Count of Toulouse.

Some webpages to note and help you plan your trip to Saint-Germain-en-Laye and/or  Versailles are

Official Château de Versailles on Louis XIV in English

Official Château de Versailles on the capital of a kingdom with Louis XIV in English

There are in French of course…

Birth certificate of Louis XIV:

Death certificate of king Louis XIV:

And there you go , I know a bit long but the personage can be describe in volumes of books and I did condense  my book at home with the main parts me think. Hope you have enjoy it as I do. King Louis XIV was awesome for Versailles, France, and the world; maybe we need another one today …

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



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