Archive for December 14th, 2021

December 14, 2021

The wines of the Sud Ouest de France!!!

I have written several posts on my other love, wines ! As said, it is a tradition in my house and we drink with meals or apéritifs every day, It is good for you if don’t read the alarming brainwashing of governments. As a strong proponent of wine drinking as a cultural phenomenon, I like to dwell again into one of my favorite wine regions that I have left out for some reason unknown to me ! Here is my take on the Sud Ouest de France or the South West of France !!! Hope you enjoy it as I,

The Southwest is a region that nature and history have endowed with an incredible wealth of heritage. The discovery of the vineyards is thus inscribed, beyond the quality of the wines and the meetings with the winegrowers, in a larger framework: the monuments will tell you about the past which has shaped the culture of this region, the landscapes will invite you to contemplation, towns and villages will invite you to share a moment in the daily life of their inhabitants.

If the existence of the vine goes back to the dawn of time, the development of the vineyards was gradually established during the Roman conquest. But the Southwest is distinguished by two other historical factors. Located between two mountains, the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, and between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the southwest is a particularly humid area favorable to wild vines. This unique geographical location has allowed the emergence of native vines and grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc, born in the Basque Pyrenees !  An obligatory crossing point between northern Europe and Spain, the Southwest will see the abbeys and monasteries flourish that welcome pilgrims. These religious communities developed the culture of the vine, while the Jacobean routes became an essential vector for the distribution of grape varieties, exporting indigenous grape varieties from the southwest, and importing other varieties. The Garonne, into which all the rivers of the southwest (Tarn, Gers, Lot, Ariège, Aveyron) flow, is historically the river route through which the wines are transported to the famous barges. Today, the originality of the grape varieties and wines of the Southwest is a real asset in the face of the double challenge of globalization and climate change.

The vineyard stretches from the reliefs of the Massif Central to the foothills of the Pyrenees, and from the banks of the Garonne to the beaches of the Basque Country. The Garonne, a torrent born in the Pyrenees, turns its back on the Mediterranean, then takes with it the waters of Ariège, Aveyron, Tarn, Lot to the Atlantic Ocean. Further south, the Adour and the Nive irrigate the Pyrenean foothills. This water network strongly influences the growth of the vines and seals the aromatic and taste characteristics of the wines. The Southwest basin covers the whole of the former Midi-Pyrénées region, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and the south of the Landes. It is therefore based on two administrative regions, Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine. Further west we discover the Bergerac and Duras vineyards. There are 300 varieties of grapes listed in the South-West, including 120 indigenous grape varieties. Among the most famous progenitors of the Southwest, prunelard gave, among others, Malbec. The prize goes to Cabernet Franc, native to the Pyrenees, which gave rise to Carménère, Chile’s emblematic grape, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which, with more than 250,000 ha planted, represent the second and third most widely used grape varieties in the world!

The vineyards of the South-West include 16 denominations in AOP and 11 in IGP, spread over 6 basins. There is also a regional IGP, Comté tolosan. The Protected Designation of Origin (AOP) is the European equivalent of the AOC, which results from French regulations. AOP / AOC wines are Madiran, Pacherenc du Bic Vilh, Saint Mont, Gaillac, Fronton, Cahors, Iroùleguy, Côtes du Marmandais, Saint Sardos, Brulhois, Coteaux du Quercy, Marcillac, Estaing, Entraygues le Fel, Côtes de Millau, and Tursan. In black highlight, my favorites fyi. My pictures of nice 12 bottles in the past in a pictorial for space savings , in vino veritas! or dans le vin, la vérité or in wine, the truth!!!

I give you a brief description on the Red grapes varieties in the South West or Sud Ouest, and the nuances of the name due to local dialects

The Négrette is part of the prunelard and the cot family, both native to the Southwest. Very versatile, the Négrette gives fruity and aromatic wines sometimes evoking scents of violets, sometimes more animal flavors with notes of leather. Main component of Fronton (the Toulouse wine!) wines, it makes it possible to develop fruity rosé and red wines to be enjoyed in their youth as well as wines intended for aging that are described as “high expression”.

The Duras grape has no connection with the town of the same name located in the Lot et Garonne, but takes its name from the hardness of its woods. Duras is certainly one of the oldest varieties cultivated in the Tarn and it is one of the flagships of Gaillac, where it gives an excellent colored red wine, with fine tannins and spicy and peppery aromas.

Tannat, native to the Adour basin, is the mainstay of Madiran (60% minimum of grape variety) and Saint-Mont (minimum 70% of grape variety).

Cot, often called Malbec outside of southwestern France ,where it also bears the name Auxerrois ,was the most cultivated grape in the region before phylloxera. producers of Cahors , where malbec represents at least 70% of the blend , Malbec is also cultivated in the Côtes-de-Brulhois.

Cabernet Franc originates from the Basque part of the Pyrenees. In Madiran, it is also called Bouchy (Bouchet in the Libournais); in the Basque Country, in Irouléguy, it is known as Aceria.

Fer Servadou stands out for its deep color and late-ripening berries whose blackcurrant aromas sometimes evoke those of Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a beautiful structure and is often used in blends in Madiran and Saint-Mont (under the name of Pinenc), in Gaillac (where it is called Braucol). It constitutes the almost unique grape variety of Marcillac. It is a major part of the red wines of Entraygues and Estaing in Aveyron. Originally from Lot-et-Garonne, it is emblematic of the Côtes-du-Marmandais. Early, it gives the blends a fruity note and a robust taste.

Now, I give you a brief description on the White grapes varieties in the South West or Sud Ouest, and the nuances of the name due to local dialects

Colombard is now mainly used in the production of Côtes de Gascogne and Armagnac. Due to the recognized quality of the wines it produces, this grape variety is developing worldwide.

Courbu blanc and Petit Courbu, These two varieties of Pyrenean origin, from the same but very distinct family, are part of the Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Saint-Mont (20% minimum) and Jurançon appellations.

Gros manseng is native to the Pyrenean foothills, it is cultivated on approximately 3,000 ha in the south-west of France where it mainly produces dry Jurançon, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh and Tursan. It is also used in Saint-Mont and in Gascony where it gives dry white wines its aromas and freshness.

The Petit manseng is related to the Gros manseng, but has smaller berries with a thicker skin, Alone or assembled with the Gros manseng, the Arrufiac or the Courbu, the Petit manseng raises the Jurançon and the Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh to rank of the most distinctive sweet wines in the world.

Len de l’el is only grown in Gaillac. Its name derives from the remoteness of the first cluster from the twig that gave birth to it. It is also increasingly used for the production of sweet and syrupy wines thanks to its remarkable ability to concentrate on the strain.

Everything suggests that Mauzac has its origins in the Tarn valley. Its berries can develop a high concentration of sugar and are used for making dry wines, sweet wines and sparkling wines, mainly in Gaillac.

Ondenc is originally from the Tarn valley, it was present for a time in the Entre-deux-Mers vineyards. Today it is only present in Gaillac where it produces excellent but rare sweet wines.

The Arrufiac seems to have its roots along the Adour valley. it enters into the composition of Pacherenc and Saint-Mont Blanc. It is particularly appreciated for its refined and distinctive aromas,

Baroque , sometimes spelled Barroque, this local variety is the backbone of the white wines of the Tursan appellation.

Most of the above information was translated from the Vignobles de le sud ouest or vineyards of the southwest webpage:

The Hachette Wine Guide on the wines of the southwest :

The Occitanie region on its wines

The Nouvelle Aquitaine region on the Bergerac/Duras wine areas

There you go folks, a wonderful wine region of my belle France. The wine region and its many other attributes are dear to my family, and we have spent quite a bit of time in it from several years already even from before settling in France as family on wife’s father’s side is from here. Hope you enjoy the wines of the South West or Sud Ouest of France, they are superbe indeed, we love them!!!

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

December 14, 2021

Wines news of France XIII !!

And why not in this nicest period of the year to show off some of the best wines in the world! That is wines news of France in one of my newest series on one of my preferred hobbies. Let me tell you some news, some tastings and some technical stuff I like. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Grenache is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in France. According to a 2017 report from the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), it covers 10% of the national vineyard and, with 81,000 hectares, it is located in terms of area just behind Ugni Blanc (82,000 ha, mainly cultivated for cognac) and merlot (112,000 ha). As popular as it is must-have. It is even more present in France than in Spain, its native country, where it covers 62,000 hectares, especially in the north. Very faithful to these two countries (which represent 87% of its world surface), it is found, sporadically, in other countries, the United States, Australia, Argentina or Morocco for example. It is the eighth most cultivated grape in the world for wine and spirits. While its drought-resistant plants adapt perfectly to rising temperatures, several diseases threaten the longevity of this grape. So on the endangered list of wine producing grapes ! Yet very delicious ,big areas in France to look for wines of this grape are Languedoc-Roussillon, PACA, and the Rhône valley.

And what about finding a good glass or bottle of Champagne in the train stations of France? Well they are there but minimum me think. Did I tell you had a French neighbor in Versailles when he invited me out for a drink, he always asked for Champagne in a bar and he found it. His favorite bar even had the bottles ready for him lol. Nice neighbor indeed!

Small and large, train stations are wonderful places, so they tell me…. We even have Éric Frechon, the head chef of Bristol who has established his quarters on the ground floor of Gare Saint-Lazare train station, and Christian Le Squer, that of George-V, whose team works wonders upstairs from the Rennes train station. The stations have remained the center of the world, haunting the storyboards of filmmakers and the notebooks of writers. We hear the corks of bottles of Duval-Leroy yearless brut popped out !!

At Gare Montparnasse train station, the bistro opposite remains a favorite place to drink champagne. By the glass, the waiters at the Petit Sommelier (ave du Maine) offered me the Brut Réserve cuvée from Maison Bérêche & fils, elegant, dense, very ripe, fruity and low in dosage. I was impressed by the Chartres train station , as in a world where everything changes, this long Art Deco building resembling a monastery, with its high central windows showing stained glass, seems to have to resist all modernization projects. I like the Chartres train station and Marcel Proust loved it before me, when he went with his family to Illiers, which became Combray through the effect of his powerful imagination.

To enjoy a glass of champagne, there is no need to stray into the bistros on Place Pierre-Semard, Chartres. You have to go up to the parvis of the cathedral square and sit on the terrace or slip inside the Bistrot Racines, a supernatural wine bar inaugurated in September 2021 by Bertrand and Nathalie Jallerat. At Bistrot Racines, I drank a glass of Pierre Pinard Tradition Brut, produced in Sézanne from pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier. Le Grand Monarque, place des Épars, where the sommelier Nicolas Duclos reserves for enlightened amateurs some marvels of champagnes from winegrowers: Pierre Gerbais L’Unique 100% pinot blanc 2014, Larmandier-Bernier Vieille Vigne du Levant Grand cru 2009 and, for the fond of rosés, the Grand Cru Extra-Brut Rosémotion from JL Vergnon. From Chartres to Reims, from one cathedral to another, it is 225 km. And more than 100 champagnes on the Grand Monarque menu. In this impressive list, I recognized the hand of Eric Beaumard, Breton of Fougères, one of the French stars of sommellerie, who lovingly watches over the 50,000 bottles of the George-V cellar in Paris His menu offers both safe values ​​and discoveries, with a single large house, the famous Blanc des Millénaires 2006 by Charles Heidsieck. To get from Reims train station to Bordeaux Saint-Jean train station, the traveler has no other way than to go back through Montparnasse. Sweet France, dear country of mine … Our rail network, built in a spider’s web with Paris as its center, illustrates in a caricatural way the centralization of the country. Yes indeed difficult to explain this but France is a centralized country after the kings/emperors were gone. And ,hey, now you know I do trains too Grand Voyageurs travelers SNCF to boot!! OF course, I still prefer the road warrior way lol!!

And now some tips from the pros, and me humble amateur but read my blog and you will know me better…As we are in the season to be merrier and gift giving is in vogue here are my pros and cons on gift giving wines!

5 tips for gifting the right wine: Choose a vintage echoing a year of birth. Choose the wine according to the dish. Play on emotion. Investigate target your friends’ tastes, their habits. The art of speech. Pick a wine you like, and tell them why, tell your experience at the estate, an anecdote, something they’ll remember when they open the bottle.

Gifting a wine: 5 mistakes to avoid: Do not trust the professionals… Buy without tasting. To be stingy. Choose an astonishing or very little known wine. Disregard their tastes.

The yearless non vintage Brut, or BSA for close friends, is the calling card of Champagne Houses. With a difficult objective: to succeed each year in being faithful to the style of the House, which its enthusiasts must be able to recognize regardless of the vagaries of the year serving as a “basis”. Some favorites are the Leclerc Briant Brut Réserve (Extra-brut); Chassenay d’Arce Cuvée Première Brut, and the Collet Brut Art Deco Premier Cru. There you go,find them and enjoy them, super!!

Remember my previous post? Well oysters is king or queen… The raw oysters go well with whites Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine, Pouilly-Fumé and Chablis. Grilled oysters goes well with Pessac-Léognan ,Graves, and Chablis. Bon appétit or in Vino Veritas!!

And this is what I love most France. The road warrior trip on the roads of my belle France and enjoying its wonderful culinary traditions and the best wines in the World! The Loire valley wines are on my podium. Here is some suggestions for the trip that can be done by bicycle too.

Following the banks of the Loire river to enter “gentle France”, this is the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is to take a road that leads from dungeons to castles, from gardens to royal abbeys, from wine-growing villages to historic villages. The route is punctuated by discoveries of a most complex wine over 800 km and 70,000 hectares of sparkling, still, dry, off-dry, mellow, tannic or more fruity. Will bring you to taste grape varieties with character like Cabernet Franc for the red, Bourgueil, Chinon, St Nicolas de Bourgueil and especially the star grape of the Loire Valley, Chenin, for the white, giving dry wines but also sweet wines sumptuous with Vouvray and Montlouis. Gamay in red, Sauvignon in white, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot noir, Chardonnay, so many grape varieties that are added to produce young and light wines but also more tannic wines for aging. . Between the Atlantic Ocean and Champtoceaux, you will visit Nantes, the medieval city of Clisson and above all you will taste the famous Muscadet! Between Champtoceaux and Saumur, you will enter the domain of Anjou, Saumur, Layon and Crémant de Loire wines. You will not fail to visit the Abbey of Fontevraud, the troglodyte sites, Angers, Saumur and their castles. Between Saumur and Chenonceau, the wine route of Touraine, country of Rabelais: the wines of Chinon and Bourgueil will seduce you. You will accompany their tasting with visits to the châteaux of Chinon, Amboise, Chenonceaux, Azay le Rideau and tufa cellars. Between Chenonceau and St Aignan, you will go to Sologne via the Cher valley to visit Cheverny, Chambord, Valençay while continuing to savor the wine of Touraine. Love it, will go next week God willing to Cheverny, Valençay, and Loches!!!

French winemakers will likely see the country’s 2021 harvest go down as the smallest for several decades, the country’s ministry of agriculture said this month. With forecast production of 33.3 million hectolitres, one would have to go back to 1977 to find a vintage of comparable size, said the ministry’s statistics service, Agreste. Even in ’77, the overall crop was larger than the projected 2021 harvest, because France’s vineyard area was bigger in the 1970s. Yes stay with the 2020 and 2018 me think.

From Bordeaux to Champagne, there is barely a region untouched by difficult weather conditions to varying degrees. Severe spring frost and early summer mildew attacks have been the main culprits, but not exclusively. Talking about the 2021 harvest. At Mas de Daumas Gassac in the Hérault area of Languedoc. They claimed that will lose about 50% of the white due to the frost, and about 30% of the rosé! In Champagne, the overall harvest could be the smallest for 40 years, Agreste said. In Chablis, the Drouhin winemaking family said, ‘The harvest in Chablis is low to very low because of the frost. Where frost protection has been successful, the harvest is fine, but the protected areas are small.

Elsewhere in Burgundy, a spokesperson for regional wine body, the BIVB, said ‘The situation is too complex with damages everywhere but heterogeneous: some plots have been preserved ,while, their neighbours have been hit. Sometimes it is from one row of vines to the other that you can see differences. In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc has been particularly hard-hit, according to France’s agriculture ministry. . Jura, for example, could see a harvest around 80% smaller than usual, according to Agreste estimates. Alsace was not so badly affected by frost, and overall yields there for appellation wines might be 17% down on the five-year average. Provence’s wine body, the CIVP, said in August that it believed around 30 wine estates had suffered at least some damage from fierce wildfires in the Var area. The full picture was unclear, however, and the body thanked emergency services for all their efforts to contain the fires. Provence’s total vineyard area stretches across 200 km and the CIVP also said in August that harvest size was still hard to estimate. It will not be good take read here first.

In the first half of 2021, France exported 7.3 million hectolitres of wine worth 5.2 billion euros. This equates to increases of 15% by volume and 40% by value compared with the first six months of 2020 during lockdown, but more importantly to growth of 15% by volume and 9% by value compared with the first half of 2019. Not only are exports of French wines outstripping those during the first wave of Covid-19, they are also returning to growth rates in excess of their pre-Covid performance. I guess folks stay home they drink more lol!!! Among the top 10 export destinations for French wines, however, some markets are casting a shadow over the overall picture. A case in point is the drop in volumes shipped to Great Britain (of course brexit-johnson deal) at the beginning of 2021 compared to 2020 (-13%). Although China imported more French wine in the first half of 2021 than in 2020 (+47% in volume and +86% in value), it has not reverted to 2019 levels (-20% in volume and +6% in value). The above according to export arm of the French government, Business France.

There you go folks, another dandy episode on the wine history of ….Stay tune it can only gets better and I thank you for your support. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

December 14, 2021

My former job in the Morbihan !!!!

Well, I worked in the beautiful Morbihan , Saint Nolff, near Vannes. It was a very nice job, in upper management, with plenty of travel opportunity as we have branches in 20 countries, and my job required a lot of travel. One of the hidden benefits of the job! Now as the time has come to go into anticipated retirement and leave the job nostalgia sets in; it was a wonderful job that I could have continue until I drop !

The people were/are very friendly and nice, and we were allowed to work pretty much independant, no time limits plenty of trust, I was next to Vannes in a quiet, small, cozy country heaven, a big change from my previous post near and in Paris. Yes a loving job if I can call it that. I live about 35 minutes from the job by car on the road N165 or can take a semi detour and come into the country road D19 or even better the D779 . Traffic is minimum, and it was super to drive from to work. They tell me that on snow days it is difficult, well I left and still no snow, the last one a just white covered ground was about 15 years ago ! Heat yes very hot days but with a breeze as we are not far from the ocean so even in the canicule we are the least impacted.


The job was on the park of an old castle originally built in 1504 ,now only the ruins of its walls remains, and the face of the manoir or mansion call Chateau, where the main administrative office is,and where I was ! It has several buildings inside the Chateau, housing the different departments or as it is call here Services; a beautiful long garden and forest area, and a cafeteria with hot meals serve daily with choices of menus. Sublime where coming to eat was like going home ! The place even had a tennis court , and then change to a football /soccer field ; then it was added a club house with baby foot, musculation gym and coffee rest area as well as plenty of parking. It has several other buildings all throughout the old castle park of 44 hectares!



My trips were everyt month for several years taking me to Brazil,  Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, Uganda, Belize, Philippines,Indonesia, China, Singapore, Vietnam. Also, in Europe took off for the Czech Republic, Slovaquia, Poland, Russia, Romania, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium. I will remember the trips and especially the friendship of many nations still in contact, I have some neutral pictures would include in this post for memories’s sake, I was able to go into small towns in these countries away from tourism and see the real country , get to know the real people, families and all. Even taken to their homes!!

Uganda jinya iginvest igor pedro arriving son fish nile river apr18

vietnam dak lak tho duong pedro tung others lake dec18

I had to go every month to the world HQ in Paris by Porte Maillot and do visit some of our supplier service companies all over Paris, which was an added bonus, all company paid as well !! Many of these trips included convention held in Paris usually at the Palais Brongniart ! As well as world conventions in different places in France such as Paris and Chantilly. These conventions also took me to Spain ! All wonderful words cannot describe the top class travel that I was doing, Some of my collegues even told me I was lucky as I never was refuse a trip by my boss the CFO /DAF or the President /PDG !! The associations that I was paid for it and allow to travel to events all over Europe and into Ft Lauderdale, FLa where was able to see family and dwell on my former home there was super!!!

Cadiz barcelo convention party me carlos carole etc oct15

Cadiz convention oct15 pedro patrick festa

As I dwell into these wonderful experiences I take it with sadness , already 5 months out ! I was told and heard of folks telling me how wonderful retirement was and how glad they made it ! Well I do not think so, I rather stay working and indulging in all these pleasures and human contacts ! To all those friends that I will show this post, thank you so much for your kindness , cooperation, and respect on these wonderful last 10 years !!!


The Bretagne region tourist office on the Morbihan

The Gulf of Morbihan tourist office:

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office

There you go folks, my last job, and very memorable indeed, Saint Nolff is in my blog in several posts on its sights and now my job, Talhouet was awesome ! Hope you enjoy the post as I do,, and to share the memories with me, At least will have more time to spent with my old Dad and 3 boys as well as our dog Rex, My beautiful Morbihan, lovely Bretagne and belle France! And not to forget my current hole on earth Pluvigner !

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

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