Archive for December 10th, 2022

December 10, 2022

The wines of Saint Emilion !

So let me tell you a bit about Bordeaux wines! huh! wait the title says Saint Emilion !!!  Yes, a bit of French international confusion. The whole area around the city of Bordeaux which covers a huge area can be call Bordeaux wines in its genetic form. Then, you have areas that can use their respective names for the better wines according to INAO the French wine regulatory agency in charge of guarding this National heritage ,indeed! This instroduction will be on my black and white series, no pictures, Hope you enjoy it as I.

I will tell you my five cents on the Saint Emilion wines that are on the right bank of the Dordogne river.  The town of Saint Emilion is in the Gironde department 33 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It is about 48 km from Bordeaux, The oldest economic entity and very related to wines here is the Jurade , established in 1199 by Jean sans Terre, king of England. There were designated to delegates economic ,political, and judicial power, as well as nobles, and magistrates to guide the general administration of the town that was part of England at the time. In 1948, the winegrowers within the vineyards syndicate/union brought back the jurade in the form of a confrérie(brotherhood)  that becomes the ambassador of the wines of Saint Emilion in all the world. It is composed of 54 juras, it is administered by the Council of the Jurade which has 12 members including the 1st Jurat, the cleric, the great treasurer, the great baker, the churchwarden ,who is the master of ceremonies.

I must confess I am a Bordeaux specialist if can say such a word with humility. I am diplomé on the wines of France and Spain, and have visited major houses in all major wine areas of the world, including some now never heard of like Yugoslavian and Cuban wines!  However, the Saint Emilion wines are not my favorite due to their over abundance of the Merlot (up to 79%); even if also use the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (Bouchet here). Also, in minority of Malbec, petit Verdot and Carménère.

A bit on what is a Saint Emilion. It is dedicated to red wines, the vineyard of Saint-Émilion extends over 7500 hectares (18530 acres) around the village of the same name, on the right bank of the Dordogne river. The Saint-Émilion appellation is divided into two quality levels: the Saint-Émilions “Grand Cru” and the Simple Saint-Émilions. The latter can be produced throughout the territory of the appellation. They are simply subject to a quality label that is less demanding than the wines that aspire to the term “Grand cru”. In general, they are simpler wines and easier to access in their youth.   The term “Grand Cru” is considered to be a full-fledged appellation. The conditions for getting it are more stringent. Very heterogeneous in its production. The ranking of Saint-Émilion was born a century after the historical ranking of the Médoc wines, in 1955. This nomenclature consists of three categories: first Grands crus classified “A”, first grands crus classified “B” and grands Crus classified. Contrary to the ranking of 1855. Thereafter, really into two with some exceptional name with an « A » , The Saint-Émilion is revisable every ten years, with the latest middle of this year 2022.

The 82 crus in the AOC Saint-Émilion classification, The 2012 classification names 82 estates: 64 Grands Crus classés and 18 Premiers Grands Crus classés.

Premiers Grands Crus Classés: Château Angélus (A) ,Château Ausone (A) ,Château Beau-Séjour (héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse) ,Château Beau-Séjour-Bécot ,Château Bél Air-Monange ,Château Canon ,Château Canon la Gaffelière ,Château Cheval Blanc (A) ,Château Figeac ,Clos Fourtet ,Château la Gaffelière ,,Château Larcis Ducasse ,,La Mondotte ,Château Pavie (A) ,,Château Pavie Macquin ,,Château Troplong Mondot ,,Château Trottevieille et Château Valandraud,

Grands Crus Classés : Château l’Arrosée ,Château Balestard la Tonnelle ,Château Barde-Haut ,,Château Bellefont-Belcier ,,Château Bellevue,, Château Berliquet ,Château Cadet-Bon, Château Cap de Mourlin,, Château le Chatelet ,,Château Chauvin, Château Clos de Sarpe ,,Château la Clotte ,,Château la Commanderie ,Château Corbin ,,Château Côte de Baleau, Château la Couspaude, Château Dassault ,Château Destieux ,Château la Dominique, Château Faugères, Château Faurie de Souchard ,Château de Ferrand, Château Fleur Cardinale, Château La Fleur Morange Mathilde, Château Fombrauge ,Château Fonplégade ,Château Fonroque, Château Franc Mayne, Château Grand Corbin, Château Grand Corbin-Despagne, Château Grand Mayne, Château les Grandes Murailles, Château Grand-Pontet ,Château Guadet, Château Haut Sarpe, Clos des Jacobins, Couvent des Jacobins ,Château Jean Faure, Château Laniote,Château Larmande ,Château Laroque ,Château Laroze Clos la Madeleine ,Château la Marzelle, Château Monbousquet, Château Moulin du Cadet,, Clos de l’Oratoire, Château Pavie Decesse, Château Peby Faugères, Château Petit Faurie de Soutard, Château de Pressac, Château le Prieuré, Château Quinault l’Enclos,, Château Ripeau, Château Rochebelle ,Château Saint-Georges-Cote-Pavie ,Clos Saint-Martin ,Château Sansonnet ,Château la Serre, Château Soutard, Château Tertre Daugay ,Château la Tour Figeac ,Château Villemaurine,et  Château Yon-Fig

Then, you have others a bit down the ladder but equally good indeed such as those from Lussac Saint Emilion and Puisseguin Saint Emilion. And what is going on in the vineyards of France lately and especially in Saint Emilion, well many buys and sells going on and even by foreigners. Therefore, watch out the landscape of French wines are blending well to the world; after all the world simply copy our grapes, production methods, vinification, and marketing lol! In five years, 25% of the 82 Crus Classés from Saint-Emilion have changed hands.

The official Saint Emilion appellation on their wines :

The official Wines of Bordeaux on Saint Emilion :

The official INAO :

The town of Saint Emilion on its heritage/tourism info :

There you go folks, another nice wine from Bordeaux, but totally different , this is Saint Emilion. Take a look at the niche wines here and hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

December 10, 2022

The wines of Alsace !

I admit right off the bat, this would be the least experience with as the region is mostly whites and I am mostly red. However, over the years I have my share of Alsacian wines and even done a bit of the wine route of Alsace. I like to update this older post, now that I am more inclined to write about one of my favorite hobbies, wine drinking, Therefore, let me tell you a bit of the wines of Alsace! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Alsatian vineyard is a long ribbon 170 km long, located at the foot of the Vosges massif, which stretches from Marlenheim in the north to Thann in the south, completed by a wine-growing island on the border of Germany, around Wissembourg and of Cleebourg.  In 1828, the vineyard thus extended over 30,000 hectares (ha) , but competition from wines from the south and phylloxera in the second half of the 19C and then the world wars of the 20C led to a long process of decline, In 1948, the vineyard had only 9,500 ha. Today, the vineyard covers more than 15,000 ha, a quarter of sales being exported; and ironically mostly to Germany. Recognised in 1962, today the protected designation of origin AOC Alsace represents ‘ over 70% of the production including 90% of white wines. In 2011, AOC Alsace was supplemented with two geographical names: the Communales (villages) and the Lieux-dits (localities).

The majority of Alsatian wines are dry whites (around 80%), aromatic, fruity and floral, well typified by their grape variety. Most of the wines come from a single grape variety, with the exception of a few grands crus (Kaefferkopf or Altenberg for example), crémant and edelzwicker. Frequent, on the label, the mention of the grape variety is not mandatory. Recognized in 1984, the Alsatian “late harvest” and “selections of noble grains” are sweet wines from overripe harvests and subject to very strict production conditions, particularly with regard to the sugar level of the grapes. There are also 51 grands crus in Alsace, corresponding to terroirs defined according to geological and climatic criteria, and meeting strict production and development criteria (limited yields, manual harvesting, use of limited grape varieties, etc). Finally, Alsace is at the top of the production of crémants (sparklers méthode champenoise) in France.

The grapes are  Riesling, the driest of Alsace wines. The Sylvaner, dry, fruity and fresh.  The Gewurztraminer, full-bodied and fruity. The Pinot Blanc, all in balance Pinot Gris, ample and fragrant. The Pinot Noir, the only red of Alsace wines, Light, dry and delicately fruity, is drunk chilled and replaces the usual summer rosé. Crémant, festive and sparkling from Pinot blanc, Pinot noir or Riesling, Crémant d´Alsace is a sparkling wine. Muscat d ‘Alsace comes from the assembly or not of three varieties of muscat: white muscat with small grains, pink muscat with small grains and muscat Ottonel.  Only the Alsace wine called either “Edelzwicker”, or “Zwicker” or “Gentil” is a white wine made from the assembly of white grape varieties. The AOP Alsace, AOP Alsace Grand Cru, which has 51 identified terroirs, and finally, for sweet and syrupy wines, Vendanges tardives (VT) and Sélections de grains nobles (SGN).

The latest tasting ratings shows  2016 excellent, 2017 good, 2018 very good, 2019 excellent., 2020 very good, and 2021 good.

The wines of the Bas-Rhin are, by nature, more discreet than those of the Haut-Rhin. They can sometimes reach peaks of finesse (terroir d’Andlau) or power (terroir de Barr), The Haut-Rhin crus the northern part of the department, from Bergheim to Kaysersberg, produces the most balanced and attractive Alsace wines. The Rieslings are the finest and most distinguished, the Pinot Gris and the Gewürztraminers more elegant than powerful. The Alsace appellation may or may not be followed by the name of one of the authorized grape varieties. In this case, the wine is vinified exclusively from grapes of this variety. Blended wines are also classified under this appellation. The Alsace grand cru count 51 terroirs can claim the Grand Cru appellation. And four noble grape varieties can access this level of terroir: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. The sylvaner can also be authorized, but only on the terroir of Zotzenberg. And the Altenberg de Bergheim and Kaefferkopf terroirs can claim the Grand Cru appellation even if they come from a blend of defined and regulated noble grape varieties. The Alsace late harvest (VT) and Alsace selection of noble grains (SGN) are the top of the quality, thanks to a strict control of the grape and the wine, subjected to a compulsory tasting. VTs are made from grapes rich in natural sugar and generally retain some residual sugar. SGNs, as their name suggests, are made from grapes enriched with noble rot and rival the greatest sweet wines in the world., The Crémant d’Alsace are sparkling wines, produced using techniques identical to those used for champagne. An appellation in constant progression.

 I like to show some of my latest tasted into the world of Alsace wines chez moi !

My wonderful red Klipfel Pinot Noir: produces rustic, light wines that give off aromas of cherry, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry with supple, smooth tannins. Pinot Noir in Alsace is required by law to be bottled in tall flute-shape bottles, just like the white wines produced in the region. Webpage:


Louis Hauller Family.  A pale gold color, limpid and brilliant Riesling 2012. A nuanced nose revealing aromas of white flowers, citrus fruits and mineral notes. Its attack on the palate is lively with fresh acidity. In the mid-palate, a nice volume with these mineral notes that we found on the nose. webpage:


Wolfberger is cooperative whose history dates back to 1902 with the grouping of winegrowers around the cellars of Eguisheim and Dambach-la-Ville. Wolfberger continues its development and counts, in 2021, 420 vine growers members of the cooperative and more of 1200 ha of vineyard. Produced from the seven Alsatian grape varieties (Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sylvaner and Muscat d’Alsace). It also produces wines from localities producing Appellation Alsace Grand Cru wines which include: Rangen, Pfersigberg, Eichberg, Kirchberg-de-barr, Steinert, Ollwiller, Steingrubler, Mandelberg, Hatschbourg, Hengst, Florimont, Pfingstberg , Spiegel, Muenchberg, and Frankstein. Also produces and markets AOC Crémants d’Alsace. In addition to wines and crémants, Wolfberger also produces Eaux-de-Vie and Liqueurs. These range from traditional eaux-de-vie, such as Mirabelle or Raspberry, to innovative liqueurs such as the NEO range of liqueurs. I have tried what you see in the bottles ! Webpage:


The official wines of Alsace on its wine routes:

The wines routes of Alsace

The Alsace tourist board on the wine routes

There you go folks, a dandy selection of Alsace, and some small introduction to the wines of Alsace. We do love wines, and its shows in my blog. Hope you the Alsace wines and this post as I !

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

December 10, 2022

Gan, the Béarn,and the Jurançon wines !!!

I passed by here many times on my way to Spain, always using it as a rest stop either at Pau or around Gan. As time went on, we spent more time here and finally several days. And of course, not only did we drank the wines from the area but visited a very nice enclave of the Caves de Jurançon  in Gan. Let me update this wonderful post for you and me, bringing back many nice family memories. Of course, I am direct with them for the wines and get them delivered! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

First, a bit on what is Gan. Gan is located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department 64 in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region (even thus fiercily keeping the old habits of the Béarn) . 9 km south of Pau. The town is crossed by the national road 134 (N134), as well as by the departmental roads D 134, 217 and 230. Gan train station is located on the Pau-Canfranc line. It is served by the TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine between Pau and Oloron-Sainte-Marie (changing here for Canfranc in Spain). Gan is a bastide founded in 1335 by Gaston II de Foix-Béarn. He gave it this name, the namesake of Ghent (Gan) in Belgium, in memory of the campaign of Flanders to which he participated.


Then to the business at hand!  The wonderful  Caves des Jurançon, a wine cooperative of Gan founded in 1949, and its delicious Jurançon wines. To find it is real easy as there are right on the National road N134 at Gan just south of Pau. Just follow direction Centre Ville Gan and you will hit the cellars or Caves!


A cooperative in the heart of the vineyards: the cellar of Jurançon  plays a major role in the Jurançon and Béarn AOC, bringing together nearly 300 winegrowers. Located a few steps from Pau, this cooperative is committed and respectful of its terroirs. Founded in 1949, it has become a landmark in the Béarn. The wine of the Jurançon: a good wine is made with good grapes, sun, rain and foehn. Its most famous grape varieties are the small and the big Manseng (petit et gros manseng). On the vineyard of the piedmont Pyrenean, the vines are planted in the direction of the slope and are oriented to the South in order to be sheltered from the West wind. Harvest by hand, sort with love, vinify patiently… so many steps necessary to the quality of the wines of the Jurançon.

We arrive early but enough to have them all set up and ready to go. Ample free parking as the Caves occupies spaces on both sides of  Avenue Henri IV in Gan. We went to the main tent right in front of the receiving of grapes store. There was music groups playing French and Basque/Béarnaise music, a beret throwing contest (beret is the hat of the basque/Bearnese) , the store was fully open and staff ready to go.




We went Inside with a guide name Julien , who was fantastic, we exchange lots of questions and he was right on right away no hesitation real pro.  The building is where they have the process of receiving grapes from the coopératives that are members of the cave, 660 hectares are own by them and about 40 is own direct by the Cave.  The grapes are separated along the two main grapes gros manseng and petit manseng for the whites dry and moelleux or sweet sort of they go from dry to late vendage very sweet, they also do rosé and red wines from coopératives in other regions of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. They are blend it base on the master winemaker decision base on quality.



We then, took the ride on a petit train or little train into the back of the building where huge aluminum tanks stored the juice for fermetation and treatment. And we ran across with the little train to see the building across the street where they do the filling, labeling ,and packaging of the wines with special computised machines including a robot that does 6000 bottles per hour. The place hold about 80 full time employees and the automation has not decrease the number. They ship 10% international ,30% to individuals, another 30% to small stores mom and pop places and 30% to big distribution. We are glad to be part of the 30% to individual buyers!!!

The process is very computerized and very clean, all the personnel spoked with us very nicely, and very willing to explain their processes. Once the trip was done we headed back to the main Platform where grapes are received for a free tastings of all their lineup of wines!! Of course, we tasted them all!!! It was great the lady was very nice and we were serve sausages,and cheese to eat along the way.  You were given a list with prices and another pamphlet with the wines and matching suggestions.  After all this process and wandering about the place we headed for the boutique store for purchases. We already had our price list completed with the wines we wanted, handed it over and they do all the packaging for you. We purchase two cases of different wines for my cellar ::) and we did said goodbye to all, a wonderful day , and very friendly folks;  makes you come back for more….And we had!!! We had always friendly welcome and sharing here, and I am on their mailing list , so if not stopping by ,get my wines by domestic transport to my house.


For lunch we stayed there, one of the bottles we purchase we asked to be open and they did for us, went across to a bakery pastry store Boulangerie le Sarment, wonderful regional products like ham and chorizos yummy with great tarte of fruits, etc there is a bench outside by the road and had our picnic sort of right on the spot with a bottle of Oh Biarnesa rosé cold from their store at the Caves des Jurançon!!! webpage


Some things to see other than wineries are:

The prison gate (porte de la prison) dates from 1335; the Roman Baths from 1748 (with iron and sulphur waters); The House of Bazirus (Rue Ossau); The House of Ergashali (on the road to Lasseube); The houses of Arrac (1548), of Aldoins (1593) and the Château Marca prior to 1600 birthplace of Pierre de Marca. Church of Saint Barthélémy (see post) was rebuilt near the ancient church of St. Jean, which was restored in several phases between 1811 and 1930. The Church of St. Peter (Saint Pierre) (see post) dates from 1838. The Saint-Pierre Church is well before 1838, since traces are found in the parish archives in 1759 of baptisms, marriages, and burials.

The official Caves de Jurançon:

The official Wines of Jurançon:

The Pau tourist office on the Caves de Jurançon

The city of Gan on its heritage

The Bastides or fortified towns of the Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64 on Gan

There you go folks, in all a wonderful time we had here with funny moments, great company, excellent guide and plenty of bottles home to continue the tradition!!! En vino veritas!!! and I hope you enjoy the post and do visit Gan and the Caves des Jurançon! They claim to be the third most visited company in France!

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

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