Archive for May 29th, 2020

May 29, 2020

Looking at wines in France!

So here coming back with wines. Yes indeed love it and great drinker collector passionate and diplomé of it. I have written several posts on it and on many regions of France and the world. However, let me bring you the latest good news and stories on the wines of France.

The origins of the Union des grands crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) are not as old as that of the 1855 classification, but its tale is furiously reminiscent of a 19C adventure novel. It all started with a business trip to Japan in 1973 from a few big Bordeaux owners. Asia well and it seemed appropriate to them, after conquering America, to turn to Japan. But it was necessary to simplify the presentation of Bordeaux wines so that our interlocutors were not lost between the 1855 classification, that of bourgeois wines and Pomerol which did not have one. It was not a question of being profiteering, but of explaining Bordeaux outside the hierarchy. Quite naturally, in 1973, Jean-Bernard Delmas became the first president of the Union des grands crus de Bordeaux.

Wine tastings of members of the union were also started to be organized outside Bordeaux such as in Paris first, then in London thanks to the support of Irish-born merchant Anthony Barton, in Brussels etc. Opening up to new horizons, notably the United States, the highlighting of our wines by the Anglo-Saxon press and, in particular, by a young American journalist still unknown will change the situation. It will be the beginning of the Parker era, with great successes, but also some excesses. From 1997, the week of primeurs was introduced instead of two weeks of dedicated tastings, one for the international press and the other for trading. The idea of bringing everyone together over a week has gradually emerged to become what it is today with tastings seated for journalists and in properties for all buyers. On this it was decided to organize the first tasting in China. About fifty members of the union made the trip, Shanghai will be the first city visited in China, followed by smaller ones, but also trips to Brazil, India .all successes.

The history of its presidents to put effort and love into the Bordeaux association took Pierre Tari to bring a taste for travel. Peter Sichel had a profile perfectly suited to the Anglo-Saxon markets so important at the time. Alain Raynaud, son of a winegrower and doctor in Bordeaux, came up with modern ideas that upset the train before the arrival of Patrick Maroteaux, the right president at the right time. The UGCB knows how to find the one who will take it further. They are sometimes victims of the image of the Bordelais, a little locked in their castles, but at the head of all these properties, there are businessmen, passionate about their profession and the wines they produce and who are fully invested. It is normal that this is effective.

More information of this wonderful group of passionates about the Bordeaux wines , my fav is here in English. UGCB on wines of Bordeaux

One organism that I started my career in the world of wines while an office in Miami, now is New York, the food and wines of France or Sopexa (official France govt source). webpage in English here:  SOPEXA Food and Wine from France

The wine merchant Joseph Drouhin at the beginning of the last century when his son, Maurice, told him about his professional ambitions. What would the grandfather say these days? Founded in 1880 in Beaune, Joseph Drouhin is today a house unanimously respected around the world. A 73 hectare wine estate, two thirds of great and premier crus on the most beautiful lands of Burgundy, from Mâcon to Chablis. With 90 appellations, including Musigny, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, Clos Vougeot and the cult Clos des Mouches, a Burgundian icon. Catalog of legend to which were added, in 1987 and 2013, two properties in Oregon (United States). Vinified or produced, the wines signed Joseph Drouhin are exported to 90 countries.

In 1878. Joseph Drouhin and his wife, Pauline, left the Yonne to open a bookstore in Beaune, which was soon abandoned for trading in wine. Future profession boosted by the rise of the railroad. In 1914. Maurice Drouhin, the only son of Joseph, is one of the youngest captains in France. Perfect polyglot (German and English), he was recruited by the future general MacArthur. In 1918 at the end of the Great War or WWI and return to the wine market, cured of military chaos and phylloxera.

Their wines get all the attention and fame that it deserves. The director of Maxim’s, in Paris, requests exclusivity. People of yesterday and today love this dry and elegant white wine. Alfred Hitchcock, Louis de Funès, Sean Connery, Jean-François Moueix, the owner of the Pétrus estate. On June 7, 1944, the day after the Allied landing in Normandy, the friend of the Americans was informed of a raid by the Nazi police. Thanks to the maze of ancestral cellars under its vat room, it escapes, emerging through a back door, and reaching the Hôtel-Dieu. Protected by the sisters for several months, he donated 2.5 hectares of his best vintages after the war. Each year, during the charity sale for the benefit of the Hospices de Beaune, a cuvée from these vines now bears his name, several pieces (228 liter barrels) faithfully bought by his grandchildren to continue the charity work. Contact Maison Joseph Drouhin, 7, rue d’Enfer, 21200 Beaune.

Again, this large building located at the exit of the village of Ampuis from the capital of Gaul. In a curve of the road RD86 (ex-route 86), the famous N7 sung by Charles Trenet, impossible to miss this high plastered house of brown ocher crossed out with the name of its company name: Établissements Guigal. Three generations of a family name synonymous with the biggest appellations in the Rhône valley: Côte Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-pape, saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, etc. Among which, mythical plots: La Mouline, La Turque, and La Landonne. So many treasures cultivated on the steep hillsides of the Côte-Rôtie ,the cradle of Syrah for 2,400 years, the steepest and oldest vineyard in France.

The young Guigal is doing so well that in twenty-two years, the Vidal-Fleury house has become a first-class property and trading house. The Vidal-Fleury-Guigal duo is renowned. Joseph travels the world, palaces and wine-growing authorities. Etienne manages everything else; from the management of the vineyard to real estate investments. His father wanted to put his surname on the labels and founded his own house in 1946. The break with his employer was dramatic. Joseph Vidal-Fleury contracted jaundice and when he met my father in the village, he was feeling unwell. On January 11, 1961 when on his return from high school, he found his mother in tears, his father decked out in dark glasses from a detachment of the retina, operated three times. Etienne is blind. Marcel does not have a driver’s license, not his bachelor’s degree, not even a major. He has no choice but to imitate his father’s signature to prevent the establishment from collapsing. But the reward is there. In 1961, the house of Guigal, that’s 13,000 bottles per year and an employee; by 2020, around fifty people work to produce more than 8 million bottles, not counting the production of satellites passed under the Guigal fold. From north to south, some 150 hectares of vineyards: Vidal-Fleury establishments, Château d’Ampuis, Domaine de Vallouit, Domaine de Bonserine, Château de Nalys, etc, and always the three hats owner, winemaker-breeder and merchant- breeder; sported with equal pride by Philippe, like before him his father and grandfather. Contact at Etablissements Guigal, 5, route de la Taquière, 69420 Ampuis.

A nice pairing for the  Summer.  From mid-May to mid-July, the orchards that have become immaculate see the branches of the cherry trees bend. From the soft, dark red burlat to the rather sour and almost black morello cherry, passing by the pale yellow Napoleon and the vermilion Montmorency. To wash down with cherries which we love you can have a Maury from the Domaine Pouderoux ;aromas of cocoa and black cherry with a hint of mint; on the palate, a lot of sugar richness, but a very integrated and well-balanced alcohol structure, and above all a very pleasant suppleness. Delicious.

a couple of late taste with a meal and very good value/quality wise I believe very well spread in the world  ,the reds of Bordeaux:

Château Rollan de By, Cru bourgeois 2015, Médoc, Red. The tannins are tender, nice length, full, suave, elegant, powerful, fresh on the finish. I had their rosé as well very nice balance fruity wine excellence for a Bordeaux rosé! Château La Tour Carnet 2009 Grand cru classé, Haut-Médoc, Red .Full, intense, concentrated, fleshy, this Grand Cru Classé of unbeatable value for money offers a nice freshness, very fine tannins.

And one from lointime my period of Burgundy and the first property tasted and visited at Beaune. Louis Jadot, Monopole Clos de la Barre 2014, Volnay Premier cru, Red Soft attack, elegant mouth. The power is gradually installed. Silky tannins. Always a great property.

Entitled Boire avec les dieux  or Drinking with the Gods, the temporary exhibition at the Cité du Vin did not open on April 10 and is postponed for a year. In 2021, from April 9 to August 29, announces the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilizations.

The 2019 Primeurs campaign in Bordeaux has just experienced its first boost this morning with the marketing of Château Pontet-Canet, 5th Grand Cru Classé 1855 (Pauillac) announced at the buyer price of 68€ excl. tax (source) or more exactly 58€ excl tax ex-trader, which represents a significant drop compared to the 2018 vintage, released at 98€ excluding taxes a year ago.  Will this 31% reduction in price for an 1855 Grand Cru Classé give the market trend for the 2019 vintage in Bordeaux? If that is the case, it is undeniable that this 2019 is going to be rich in good deals for amateurs. The next outings will be closely monitored in the coming days. At the start of the week, some pretty nuggets opened the campaign: Château d’Arsac, Cru Bourgeois Exceptional (14€ excl tax), Château Lanessan  Haut-Médoc (10.40 € HT), Clos Manou en Médoc ( € 17.30 HT) or Château Haut-Bergey in Pessac-Léognan (14€ excl tax). All prices are at least 20% lower than the 2018 vintage!. Gear up for bargains folks; I am ready willing and able.

There you go for the wine news from yours truly. Enjoy it en vino veritas!!!

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

May 29, 2020

Au Lapin Agile, Paris of course!

And I pull an old photo  out of the vault and as not mentioned before in my blog, feels its time to show a post on it for my memories at least, and maybe will becomes yours too. This is an institution in Paris and a must to visit at least once. I will be telling you about the cabaret show of the Au Lapin Agile.

At Montmartre, the life goes on away from Paris. By 1860 the districts are done and artists come out to the hill. Coubert comes with his manners to the Cabaret de la Belle Poule, and later others joined him at the Brasserie des Martyrs, Cezanne or Degas. In pigalle, the Café de la Nouvelle Athénes you can cross with Renoir or Pisarro. The bohemians go to the Bateau Lavoir. It is the time of the birth of cabarets such as the Chat Noir, Lapin Agile where Toulouse-Lautrec and Oscar Wilde are frequent visitors. It is in these cafes that the new literary art is born and continues because Paris is eternal. Au Lapin Agile is located on the Butte Montmartre, at 22 rue des Saules, in the 18éme arrondissement, near the Lamarck – Caulaincourt metro station ; and linking the quartiers Clignancourt and Grandes-Carriéres. And hardy one still open, one of my old favorites too.

The Au Lapin Agile was established in the second half of the 19C, bought by Aristide Bruant in 1913, it was one of the privileged meeting places for bohemian artists at the beginning of the 20C, from Max Jacob to Pablo Picasso via Roland Dorgelès, Francis Carco , Blaise Cendrars or Pierre Mac Orlan; thereafter, in the years 1940-50, it was attended in particular by Jean-Roger Caussimon and François Billetdoux.


A bit of detail history from various sources including my books.

The mount of Montmartre or Butte-Montmartre, resembles until 1914 a village, famous for its clean air, its mills and its low-cost housing, which attract artists, many who come to settle there , and whose number from 1890 becomes considerable. It is in the upper part of Montmartre that the building of what will house the Lapin Agile was built in 1795, which became, around 1860, a ro-ro hostel called Au Rendez-vous des voleurs (meeting of thieves). From 1869, it took the name of Cabaret des Assassins, because engravings representing famous assassins are hung on the wall, from Ravaillac to Troppmann. Between 1879 and 1880, the owner of the time entrusted to the cartoonist André Gill, familiar with the place, the making of a sign.and Gill paints a rabbit dressed in a green frock coat and a red scarf escaping from the pot intended for him; the cabaret then becomes known as Au Lapin à Gill, soon transformed into an Au Lapin Agile.

The cabaret was bought in 1886 by the former cancan dancer Adèle Decerf aka “mother Adèle”; this one, after having got rid of the most doubtful part of its customers, turns it into a café-restaurant-concert called À mon campagne,(to the countryside) which frequenters of the Chat Noir frequent during the day such as Charles Cros, Alphonse Allais, Jehan Rictus, etc. Singer Aristide Bruant is also used to it, and he brings Toulouse-Lautrec and Courteline there as well. At the beginning of the 20C, “Mother Adèle” sold the cabaret to Berthe Sébource, who settled there with her daughter, Marguerite Luc , aka “Margot”, and future wife of Pierre Mac Orlan. They were joined in 1903 by Frédéric Gérard, aka “Father Frédé”, thanks to whom the Lapin Agile becomes an essential place of Montmartre artistic bohemia . The Au Lapin Agile, under the impetus of “Frédé”, quickly becomes for the bohemian Montmartre a true cultural institution.

This carefree period ended on August 1, 1914, with the proclamation of the general mobilization against Germany as the Great War or WWI began. The clientele became scarce at the Lapin Agile, most of the regulars having left for the front, many of whom were not to return. The Lapin Agile will no longer regain its status as a meeting place for avant-garde writers and artists as the center of gravity of creation has moved to Montparnasse, just as it will move to Saint-Germain-des-Prés after the end of WWII.

In 1922, Aristide Bruant sold the cabaret to “Paulo”, the son of Frédéric Gérard to whom he taught singing. The Au Lapin Agile is also proud to have as clients Pierre Brasseur, Georges Simenon, as well as American celebrities passing through Paris, such as Rudolph Valentino, Vivien Leigh, or Charlie Chaplin. The Au Lapin Agile somehow continued its activities during the Nazis occupation of WWII, and again became a meeting place and a springboard for artists after 1945. It was there that in 1950 guitarist Alexandre Lagoya got to know Léo Ferré, and that in 1955 Claude Nougaro made his first appearances on stage, first as a poet, then as a singer. In 1972, Paulo Gérard cedes the management of the cabaret to his stepson Yves Mathieu who is still the owner; and evenings are still organized there, during which singers and humorists perform. An institution and a must to see in Paris.

The official webpage for the Au Lapin AgileAu Lapin Agile in Paris

The Paris tourist office on the Au Lapin Agile in English: Paris tourist office on Au Lapin Agile

And there you, I needed to tell you about it even if briefly, another wonderful monument to see in Paris. Oh yes it is a monument, it is Paris, you want to see all about Paris than come here at least once. Hope you enjoy my take on the Au Lapin Agile in my eternal Paris

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

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May 29, 2020

Poissy and its transports modes!

So here I am back to reality in my belle France, my adopted citizen country since 2000, and as the title of my blog tells you first visited in 1972! Today I like to bring you out of Paris and into the beautiful nostalgic Yvelines dept 78 where I spent my first few years in France. Several posts on the royal city of Poissy but today let me tell you a bit on its transports modes!

Poissy is in the Yvelines department 78 in the Île-de-France region. The city of Poissy is located approximately 30 km from Paris, in the north-east of the Yvelines, 8 km from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and 23 km from Versailles, prefecture/capital of the department. The neighboring towns of Poissy are Saint-Germain-en-Laye to the east, Chambourcy and Aigremont to the south, Feucherolles to the southwest, Orgeval and Villennes-sur-Seine to the west and Carrières-sous- Poissy to the northwest, town from which it is separated by the Seine river. A beautiful crossroad of my France indeed.

Many bypass this lovely small town on their way to Normandy from Paris on the A13 or the train. However, it is a royal town of France, birth and baptismal of king Louis IX or Saint Louis was at its Notre Dame Collegiale Church. I have written on the history and monuments in various posts, so this one will be on transports.   The tourist office is at 132 rue du Général de Gaulle and its a rounded tower built in 1832 to make payment of the animals sold, and a tax to enter the city, its mark the city limits. Here is the webpage in English: Poissy tourist office

I used to come by here on many business trips and to get my sons off school at the train station in Poissy .There are many roads here and yours truly has partake them all. The D 190, links Le Pecq to Limay and crosses the Seine river by the Poissy bridge and constitutes the historic axis of the city, deviated towards the north following the construction of the new bridge in the 1950s; the D 30 is a local road , D 308, which links it to Maisons-Laffitte; the D 113, nicknamed “route de quatre sous”, which crosses the D30 at a place called the Maladrerie de Poissy, passes south of the city; D 153 (facing the ND Collegiale Church ) connects Poissy to the Orgeval interchange, junction of the A13 (exit/sortie 7) and A14 highways. These two highways cross the city in its southern part. We came front or back the route down pad by getting out into the A13 autoroute de Normandie direction Rouen until exit /sortie 6 Versailles centre that brings you on the N186 is only 23 kms or take a bit longer but more scenic route on the D190 into the old N13 now D113 (route de quatre sous) at St Germain en Laye and onwards to the N186 to Versailles. And you will love the forest.

There are two paid parking zones in Poissy: a short-term zone limited to 2 hours (downtown lanes), a long-term zone limited to 5 hours (peripheral routes). Parking is payable Monday to Saturday from 9h to 12h30 and from 14h to 19h. There are parking areas such as the train station or gare de Poissy with 904 places at 6, rue du Bac. Another at the Hôtel de Ville or city/town hall with 271 places at Place de la République, and a third one at Les Lys parking with 129 places at 23, rue Jean-Claude-Mary. It has two terminals equipped with two charging sockets and accessible at rue du 8 mai 1945, near the city/town hall and at 4 rue Jean-Claude Mary, parking near the train station. There is a further parking we used by the Parc Meissonier  a bit walk into town but free and just great scenery along the Seine river and its peniche boats!!

Another popular spot by me and taken the RER A or train from gare St Lazare many times as we like to go to Poissy when lived in the area in Versailles! However, from Paris is easier by train from the Gare Saint Lazare in Paris direction Mantes or the RER A from several points in Paris. The train station or gare de Poissy is right off the city center so very easy for walkers and no car is needed. The city of Poissy is crossed by two railway lines: the Paris-Le Havre line which runs along the Seine river at the western edge of the town, the station is located on the J line Paris – Mantes-la-Jolie (Poissy / Houilles – Carrières-Sur-Seine / Paris Saint-Lazare). Trains are direct in the morning to Paris Saint-Lazare and in the evening from Paris Saint-Lazare . Also, the Grande Ceinture line, limited to a restricted traffic of goods, which runs along the forest of Saint -Germain-en-Laye in the eastern limit of the city. Passenger service is provided by Gare de Poissy, 14, place Georges-Pompidou ,which is a terminus station for services of the A5 branch of the RER A and a transit station for the other suburban trains of the Transilien line J bound for Les Mureaux and Mantes-la-Jolie as well as TER to Vernon (Eure). To Paris, all these trains end at Gare Saint-Lazare , a very short ride. The ile de France transport site RER/Train is Transilien, the webpage here : Transilien gare de Poissy


There is a taxi stand facing the gare or train station at rue Jean-Claude Mary: more info here in French: The taxis of Poissy

The city of Poissy has a particularly dense bus network as it offers 31 bus lines, serving all neighborhoods and many surrounding municipalities. Gare Nord or North bus station is at 2, rue du Pont Ancien. Gare Sud or South bus station is at 87, avenue Maurice-Berteaux. Bus transport is available to many including Versailles, on bus 24 to St Germain en Laye RER A station and then Bus line 1 to Versailles Château-rive gauche. Or vice versa. The bus no 9 from Poissy train station/bus terminal takes you to Avenue de l’Europe in Versailles near the palace/museum on Transdev network, webpage here on all bus lines at Poissy: Transdev IDF bus lines at Poissy


Some of the future development and even going on as I write slow down due to the wuhan virus are:

Phase 1 connecting Saint-Cyr RER to Saint-Germain RER, declared of public utility in February 2014 and whose work has started. Phase 2 extending Tramway line 13 express from Saint-Germain RER to Achères-Ville RER via Poissy. Declared to be of public utility in December 2018, this phase, which was the subject of consultation and a complementary public inquiry, records the urban layout and its three stops in the city of Saint Louis_Poissy!. The start of works is envisaged in 2021 for commissioning by 2026. The webpage in French for the Tram13 Express is here: Tramway 13 Express

There is ,also, the RER Eole project which will have a connection of quays or quai A to B underground to the bus terminal south or sud. More of it in French here: RER Eole project by Poissy

Served by lines A and J as well as by 28 bus lines distributed in two bus stations, the Poissy train station has a plan for an increase in traffic by by around 30% by 2024, with the extension of line E to the West (Eole) and the arrival of Tram 13 express (urban route), coupled with dynamic urban development on the two banks of the Seine river. The future Gare de Poissy train station will have to increase the attractiveness of the district thanks to the modernization of the services offered ,redefine and secure access and connections, reorganize the operation of the two bus stations. Whatever the preferred scenario, the project will be commissioned at the same time as the Eole RER, by 2024. More on the pole gare project in French here City of Poissy on pole gare project

Lastly, the Yvelines dept 78 tourist office talk about Poissy in French: Yvelines dept 78 tourist office on Poissy

And there you go folks, a wonderful town near Paris and Versailles on a fantastic region of the beautiful France, not to be missed , Poissy that is. Its a Royal Town of France, and it shows all phases of it up to now. See it and enjoy it as we did. Looking forward to be back!

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

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