Archive for ‘Food and Wine’

August 16, 2018

The Summer feasts of Wine in France!

This is a nice breezy not too hot not to cold day in my lovely Morbihan and we set out to do many things (more of that on later post). However, wine is in the air, Summer is the tradition of wine and the refreshing idea of drinking it with friends and family.

In my humble efforts to tell you all about wines in France from a seasoned taster, drinker, collector and diplomé person of France let me tell you the latest happening. Oh yes I will be in the trail by August 21th in the Loire.. Some of the tourist activities you can join are

Tasting under the Earth , some of the latest tasting going on in my belle France.
The Ardèche winegrowers make their wines grow old in spectacular galleries, and on the Cave of Saint-Marcel. A speleologist guide and a wine expert take you to taste them in the dark. Spéléoenology, 58 euros/pers. (2 h 30 to 3 h 30.)  more at www.escale-ardeche.com

For tasting on the waves , see Denis Retiveau, winemaker and Marinier, embarks on his cabin flat bottom boat ;this flat-bottomed boat, topped by a hut, slips over the Loire (or Vienna) river while you enjoy a drink of wine from his Domaine des Champs Fleuris.
From 25 euros/pers. More info at  www.loire-vins-aventure.fr

A canvas at the vineyard. In Puyloubier, Provence, in a Transat, enjoy a cinematic projection in the vineyards. A food truck treats you all night. 11 Euros/pers. Every Friday night, until September 7th. More info at these sites :  Www.chateau-gassier.fr and www.billetweb.fr

Have a carriage Ride at the Château Fontainebleau du Var , they organize carriage rides on its field grown in organic farming and biodynamics. 11 Euros/pers. (30 minutes.). More info at Chateaufontainebleauduvar.com

Have a “Escape game “ in the property. At the Castle of Rayne Vigneau, in the Sauternes, invites you to unravel the mysteries of its property. Its thrilling escape game ends with a tasting.  30 euros, from 4 pers. (1 H 30.) Book 72 hours in advance. More info here:  www.raynevigneau.fr

How about an animated course. The visit of the cellar Robert and Marcel, very close to Saumur, is worth visiting. Eight scenographies, around the wine, punctuate the course in the underground of the La Perrière. 5 Euros. The cellar with sensations. Until September, 11h to 15h and 16h to 17h. More info here:  Www.robertetmarcel.com

The latest and 15th edition of Vines, Wines, Randos is upon us!

Event held from 01 to 02 September 2018 by the Interloire,association of vineyards and growers . Offering to you for the occasion 15 unpublished courses each composed of a exceptional stage. 3 hours of relaxation, conviviality and taste sensations on the occasion of VVR.. All guided by a winemaker, you leave for one of the 15 walks offered, punctuated by tastings, pairings and wines and discover the wine know-how. The kit of the perfect hiker in hand, you have all the ingredients to taste the savours of the terroir and discover the riches of the Loire heritage.

On your return, you are welcomed in the village VVR, in a festive atmosphere ensured by a group of music.. This VVR event is routes of 6-9 kms , with a family trail of 3 km, 2 days of hiking, -15 winemakers walks, including three new courses, 20 appellations tasted. 400 winegrowers. And 12 000 participants.

Practical information :Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 September 2018
Timetable: Departures between 9h and 16h15; Price: 6€ and 1€ for under 18 years pre-registration on the site before August 30th, on site 10€. Address: 62 Rue Blaise Pascal, 37019 Tours. More in English here: http://vvr-valdeloire.fr/en/

Some hints on where I am going next: Loire

Pluvigner

And do enjoy it all or as many as you can !!! It wonderful in my belle France. And remember , happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

August 9, 2018

The wine in Summer, wait the harvest!

And we are getting nice weather, cool breezy and sometimes rainy,  a whole difference from most of the rest of France. After a heat wave, now comes the flooding’s especially in the Gard, Drôme, Bouches-de-Rhône areas down south. We are cruising with 21C or about 70F.

And talking about weather, well it wine time as well. The season period is critical and some signs are ok for the big harvest in September, generally. Some of the latest news from France are

With the heat, the vintage 2018 of the French grape harvest is expected to increase compared to 2017, and quality too,  although some terroirs have suffered much from frost, hail in spring, and mildew mold.  In Bordeaux, two problems arise this year: 10,000 hectares of vine have been damaged by hail since late May and mildew molds have developed, following the rains of May and June.  Mildew has affected other French regions. The most exposed are the organic winegrowers.(BIO) It is Impossible for them to use chemical fungicides to get rid of the fungus that rots leaves and twigs.  Apart from the east, in Champagne and in Alsace, where the harvest is planned  “early “, the heat does not seem to have too advanced the date of start of operations, between mid-August and early September, depending on the regions and colors.  In Fitou, in the Aude (south of France), they start even two weeks later than the previous season. In this small village, was the first in France to launch the crops, which are traditionally in advance thanks to a micro-climate. The favorite wine of my dear late wife Martine, late maternal grandmother who always share it with me.  The  Interprofessional Council of Languedoc AOC Wines, the sales of the Aude whites have “doubled in four years”. With wines exported to the Japanese and American market.  In Alsace (east), Crémant will begin its harvest around 20 August.

Two properties known to me that are going the way of lodging rental and wines as many are developing into these arrangements. I will be in the Loire later this month on similar deals.

Eight Centuries of history , the Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in the Sauternes opens 10 rooms and three suites. The decoration is signed by the Maison Lalique with its crystal and light games. From 250 euros. Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. Hotel & Restaurant, 33210 Bommes-Sauternes . More here : Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey

After a boutique, inaugurated in the building of the 18C, the trader, Champagne Leclerc Briant opens 5 rooms and a restaurant. From 300 euros per night. At 25 bis, avenue de Champagne, 51200 Épernay. More here: Le 25 Bis Laurent BriantLe 25 Bis Leclerc Briant

And here is one at you, we try for new things always here ,innovation my dear, elementary . A summer drinks: The Crémant d’Alsace Ice Petite Folie, signed Wolfberger, is savored on ice cubes in a pool glass! Try with: 5 thin slices of cucumber to arrange on the walls of the glass, 1 leaf of mint to rub, 12 cl of ice Petite Folie cold and and ice cubes.

In Spring and Summer to spawn and lay, sardines spend the Winter in very cold waters, between 500 and 600 meters deep. And then protects themselves by a thick layer of fat. But of “good” fat, rich in Omega 3 excellent for the heart and his vessels of us! The sardine is mainly intended to be grilled whole on a barbecue , but strong odors particularly unpleasant for the neighborhood. However, there is a way-too poorly understood-to reduce this disadvantage. it is enough to rub first the fish with laurel leaves, then to pour on the embers a few drops of vinegar flavored with thyme and rosemary !! voilà okay

And to wash it down once done, here are two suggestion from one of my fav magazine , Le Revue du vin de France.  A bottle or two to go along with them, well Sardines is one of my favorites fishes and grill on the barbecue is awesome.

White wine, I will take one in Roussillon, in Baixas, at Domaine Brial. Its cuvée Château Les Pins, a Côtes-du-Roussillon, made of white Grenache, Malvasia and Roussanne, is a pure delight. In the nose, notes of grass, thyme, pineapple, chamomile… In the mouth, a good power in alcohol with a final a little minty . More here: Domaine Brial

For a Rosé, I go to Cases-de-Pène, at the Château de Jau (which houses a splendid space of contemporary art, to be visited absolutely). The wines produced here by the Dauré family in the three colors are superb, and I have a weakness for this rosé of Syrah and black Grenache. In the nose, it is an explosion of red and black fruits (strawberry, blackcurrant, and even Violet), in the mouth, there is power, enough roundness to counter the salty side of the sardines and a final of a beautiful length. More here: Chateau de Jau

They are vines that extend to the western limits of the Médoc Vineyard, where the sands of the Landes and the forest eventually prevail. The AOP Listrac-Médoc is with its cousin AOP Moulis-Médoc  the most “continental” of the communal appellations of the Médoc. The area of Listrac and Mouldis is one of the most belated of the vineyard Bordeaux. And this is real wine country, what is commonly refers to as Bordeaux (which is a huge area) the fame comes from the Médoc peninsula.

The soils of the Médoc depend largely on the six old terraces of the Garonne. The floors from Terrace 4 (Terrace 1 being the oldest) are common to all the appellations of the Médoc except those of Moulis and Listrac. In Listrac, it is essentially the deposits of terrace 1 that are found and, to a lesser extent , those of terrace 3. The vineyard rests on a clay-limestone plateau and on the rumps of Graves  and the sandy-gravelly grounds that cover it, coming from these famous terraces of the Garonne. The vineyard soils are generally more clayey than in the other Médoc communal appellations. Hence a higher proportion of merlot (63%).

More on the wines of Listrac: Wines of Listrac Médoc

And more of the wines of Moulis: Wines of Moulis

And to finish two webpages to help you understand the wines of France. First a site on how to present the French wines in the world or Vins de France: Wines of France

And another, from which I got my first Wine knowledge diploma on French wines course many many years ago; they are the main venue for exports of France in what we do better than anyone, Food and Wines. This is Sopexa: Sopexa: Food and Wines from France

Enjoy, we are reaching weekend soon. Enjoy  yours. And remember ,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

August 7, 2018

Some news from France CXCVIII

And not forgetting that I live here now, let me bring you up to my belle France with the latest news on the front as chosen by yours truly. It is now nice sunny cool breeze day it seems the heatwave of the last few days is gone at least in  my beautiful Morbihan of Brittany.

Some of the latest tidbits of my France to follow.

UPDATE: An important event happening today in Amiens, Picardie. British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Williams will be there today! The Battle of Amiens took place from 8 to 11 August 1918, during the 3rd Battle of Picardie on the Western Front, in France. The English troops were between the towns of Albert and the channel of the Somme connecting Amiens to Péronne. General Sir Henry Rawlinson’s 4th British Army was spread out over 25 km of front, consisting of 7 divisions and 4 reserve divisions. Between the canal and the Amiens-Laon railway line were the Australians of Lieutenant-General John Monash and the Canadians. To the south of the railway line was the French Army of General Eugène Debeney, consisting of 8 divisions and 4 reserve divisions. The German defeat was clear, but the losses many. RIP freedom fighters! More here : Europe 1 in French but Video on the event

Paris Maudit or Cursed Paris, organized by the group Sous le Pavés (under the pavements) gives you a nice guided tour to some incredible places in Paris. Now you know I do not take tours but this one was recommended by people I trust to be very good. Rate:21€. Twice a week at 8h. Adults from 12 years old. Reservations : Sous les Paves guided tours

Kicked off the Champs-Elysées for his Christmas market last year, forced to give up his big wheel place de la Concorde, Marcel Campion bounces back!. He will install his Christmas Market chalets in the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries )from November 24 2018 to January 6 2019.  A domain that belongs to the Louvre and not to the city of Paris! . The rides on the space Carré des Sangliers on the Seine side (1 000 m2) and the large Esplanade des Feuillants  (8 300 m2) are available for events, and the Louvre came through!

And to follow suit on Marcel Campion, until August 26, lovers of cotton candy, of rides and thrills have an appointment to the Festival of Tuileries which is held there every summer, for 20 years has therefore (re) installed for the summer its famous  Ferris wheel, Cars bumper, a phantom train and the 6g , a merry-go-round at 140 km/h. But also fun animations like archery and a climbing wall. The little ones are not forgotten with a duck fishing and a throws. What a summer of madness in Paris! Festival (Fête) of the Tuileries.Jardin des Tuileries (Iéme). Every day from 11h  to midnight, à1h on Fridays and Saturdays. Free entrance,but individual paying attractions. What thrills to bring my boys here and working just across from it for several years!

The sculpture exhibition “Les Sylphides” at the Bossuet Museum in Meaux (my dear late wife Martine native town always remembered) was extended until August 19. In addition to the “Sylphides”, the Bossuet Museum welcomes until  September 16, the exhibition of another sculptor whose works pay homage to the female body: Jacques Coquillay and “The feminine ideal, 60 years of creation”. At 5, place Charles de Gaulle; Meaux 77100. Open every day of the week except Tuesday. All schedules on  Bossuet Museum at Meaux

While in the same dept 77 Seine et Marne. The first Air Legend Paris-Villaroche, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September, at the aerodrome of Melun-Villaroche. The planes are  expected in the sky of Seine-et-Marne during this air meeting on the towns of Montereau-sur-le-Jard, Réau and Limoges-Fourches.  One  Catalina, an American seaplane, but also a P36, the first De Havilland Vampire Jet, released in 1945, the mythical Corsair, the Messerschmidt 109, the planes of the Battle of Britain:  the Spitfire, a Skyraider… Forty-five planes of  WWII, some still never seen in the île de France region before, will take the air. The two runways, 1 300 and 1 900 meters, and the hangars, including the incredible Eiffel hangar, will relive  in  great times, during the reconstruction of French aviation in the Fifties. The Dassault company has also carried out a number of test flights. Visitors will also attend a demonstration of the French patrol demonstration team  on Saturdays and a simple passage on Sundays. At the same time, the public will be able to stroll through a village of exhibitors, do helicopter baptisms and children enjoy inflatable games. Paris-Villaroche Air Legend, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September, from 9h to 18h. Melun Airfield, entrance 27 euros, presales 24 euros. Ticketing and information at Air Legend air show

The capital of the river boating  for 161 years, the city of Conflans-Saint-Honorine (Yvelines dept 78!) hosts the Musée de la Batellerie et des Voies Navigables( Museum of the inland waterways). It is in the Chateau de la  prieuré, built in the 19C, just a few steps from the Seine river, that the collection rests. A castle that belonged to Jules Gévelot, captain of industry, manufacturer of hunting cartridges, deputy and mayor of the city between 1871 and 1881. The tour begins on the ground floor in the outer courtyard which gathers a large number of ancient objects such as parts of boats, anchors, propellers and other tools showing the evolution of transport boats. In the first room is presented an imposing model of lock that introduces the spectator to maneuvers. To access the first floor of the castle, you have to take the staircase of honor. We then arrive in the best preserved space of the property: The Hall of Honor. Here are presented the means of propulsion used in France and the current technique: pushing. Family, the museum presents Dioramas, staged models. One of them takes the visitor to the Place de Greve, in Paris, in the 18C in a scene representing a water mark, a river boat, of wood, flat-bottomed, without motor. All types of boats that have been able to sail on rivers, rivers or canals of France are exposed on the first floor  Musée de la Batellerie et des Voies Navigables , 3, place Jules-Gévelot, in the Seine river at Conflans-Saint-Honorine . Open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10h  to 12h noon. and from 14h. to 17h30; Wednesday and Friday from 14h to 17h30. Price: from 1.50 to 5 euros. Reservations at +33 (0) 1.34.90.39.50 or   River Boatings Museum

Also, take a cruise. The tourist office of Conflans- Saint-Honorine offers several forms of cruises on the Seine and the Oise rivers. Saturday, a day in the valley of the Seine with breakfast and lunch is organized. The boat will depart from the Seine river and its many islands which widens to the royal towns of Poissy and Mantes-la-Jolie. You can also enjoy a 1-hour walk every Sunday until September 9th.  And inquire about the  walk in the Vexin Natural Park. Information from the tourist office at 23, rue René-Albert. Tel.+33 (0) 1.34.90.99.09 or on   Tourist office Conflans-Sainte-Honorine

La Roche-Guyon. Large cruise ships can now stop in the town, one of the most beautiful in France, since August 1st!!!. By the Ports of Paris. Stopover for cruise ships with accommodation of 135 meters maximum for a maximum duration of 24 hours. This is just in contact the city tourist office at La Roche Guyon on tourism

Memories of apéros happy hours with friends here and now back on.  The emblematic Hôtel Lutétia  on the left bank (rive gauche) reopens after four years of work. The address finds restaurants and bars that contributed to forging its legend: La Brasserie , the Orangerie and the Saint-Germain, which opens onto a new patio, the Bar Josephine, with jazz concerts, and an extended lounge of two Smoking Rooms. More at Hotel Lutetia Paris

Pierre Cardin celebrated his 95 birthday on July 2 last. The opportunity to return to the pair of fashions he formed with Jeanne Moreau, and those that were new and Saint Laurent, Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy  who the house has just paid homage. The cinema needs elegance and the fashion of a showcase. Yet they have seldom made good housekeeping. While fashion designers  have managed to impose some of their creations in films, few have experienced a rewarding relationship, apart from price discounts or red carpets. Yet, the joint history of cinema and fashion includes three notorious exceptions, three exceptional collaborations that have been surrended to the city… one is Pierre Cardin.More on the history here: Official site Pierre Cardin

Sad news indeed. The most starry chef in the world has just died at the age of 73. Present in New York, Las Vegas, London, Monaco, Tokyo, Hong Kong or Bangkok, it also has three tables and a cellar in the capital. Born in Poitiers in 1945, Joël Robuchon began his career as a chef at the age of 29 at the restaurant of the Hotel Concorde Lafayette (17éme). After being the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (best worker of France) in 1976, he took the direction of the kitchens of the Hotel Nikko (15éme) in 1978, where he won his first two stars. In 1981, he opened his first restaurant, Le Jamin (16éme), for which he obtained three macaroons in three years. In 1994, he inaugurated the restaurant Joël Robuchon Avenue Raymond Poincaré (16éme). Two years later, he makes his stars and announces his retirement. Retirement that it will not take completely, since it will create in particular the concept of the workshop, opening in Paris, Tokyo, London ,and New York. Last spring, Joël Robuchon, still full of projects, presented in the Golden Triangle what would be his last table, the pastry-tearoom-Restaurant-Sake Bar Joël Robuchon Dassaï (8éme). He will be missed but his creations continues ,here are to note:  L’Atelier Saint-Germain 5, rue de Montalembert (7éme). Tél. +33 (0)1 42 22 56 56.  Cave Joël Robuchon. 3, rue Paul-Louis Courier (7éme). Tél.+33 (0) 1 42 22 11 02.  L’Atelier Étoile de Joël Robuchon ,inside the Publicis Drugstore, 133, avenue des Champs-Élysées (8éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 47 23 75 75. Joël Robuchon-Dassaï. 184, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré (8éme). Tél. +33( 0) 1 76 74 74 70. More on his legacy here : Official site Joel Robuchon

The Museum of the Orangerie, which offers until August 20th an exhibition entitled “Nymphéas. The American abstraction and the last Monet» ,has since 1922, welcomes, in two oval rooms, the great ensemble of Nymphéas by Claude Monet (eight panels of two meters high and a total length of 91 meters), offered by the painter to the French State. See also, the works of the collection Walter and Guillaume acquired by the French State in 1950 and which brings together 146 works from the 1860’s  to the 1930’s: Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, etc etc… To visit preferably from the opening to enjoy the calm and the serenity of the place.  Musée de l’Orangerie. Jardin des Tuileries . Place de la Concorde (Iéme). Every day except Tuesday, 9h-18h. Price: 9€, free for children under 18 years. Tel.+33 ( 0)1 44 77 80 07. More here: Musee de l’Orangerie Paris

See , taste , go now ! Sébastian Gaudard’s new patisserie reopening on August 21, it is towards the Salon de Thé  that you will have to direct you to fill up with sweets near the garden three years after the store at rue des Martyrs (9éme), under the arcades  Of the rue and the place des Pyramides, displays a real outraged charm. On the spot or to take away, you can find its traditional pastries brought to the taste of the day: Mussipontain, baba au Rhum, Saint-Honoré, Paris-Brest, puits d’Amour (well of love), millefeuille,  Tropezian, Kouglof, strawberry tartes, and  fruit pies.  But also its ice cream, sorbets and eskimos! In the  Salon de Thé French style of the first floor, it also offers some savoury dishes such as the croque-monsieur sandwich, as well as a brunch on weekends and holidays. Pâtisserie des Tuileries Sébastien Gaudard. 1, rue des Pyramides (Iéme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 71 18 24 70. Open every day except Mondays  from 10h to 19h. Closed August 13-15. More here: Patisserie des Tuileries Sebastian Gaudard

There you go , some more at you from my belle France. Summer is back to bearable and we are stepping out! Care to join us? Lovely days are coming and me just around the corner for my 3 weeks vacation!!

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

July 29, 2018

Guérande at Loire Atlantique!!!

It was that time again to go visit one of my favs places in my well west coast of France. The place is not far from me about 1h30 in a free toll road to heaven. It was yesterday Saturday, and we had to do many things.

I am was in need to take my sons to their Easycash , Vannes, place to exchange their games dvd cd etc for cash. Then, purchase my gallon of paint at Castorama Vannes, and on way back do my groceries at E Leclerc Vannes. Finally home by 13H we sat to have our goodie lunch. And finally done by 14h we set out on our way.

I had contacted a local friend to meet us there ,and set out to see Guérande again, in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 (old Brittany) now part of the region of Pays de la Loire. There was the 2nd edition of Village Vignerons festivities for local Loire muscadet wine tastings.

Guerande

The city of Guérande is in our back yard so we have been several times there and even collect my Loire wines there at the parent’s home of the winemaker.  This time we set out for another quick look at the town and take part in the festival. Easy on the road N165 to exit 15 and onwards on the D774 to the Porte or gate Vannetaise just by the ramparts walls of Guérande. Here , we always get a nice metered parking and this time was no exception parking right in front of the gate! The rest is on foot!

Guerande

My previous blog posts on it are here for reference and more touristic look

Guérande the best salt of France and more

Guérande and surrounding beauties

So a bit on the transports:

The transport here is mainly roads and car is king. The D213 road , nicknamed the Route Bleue (Blue Road) , is a tourist road, which, from the start of the route, leads to Moutier-en-Retz; It connects to Nantes-Saint-Nazaire are to the city center, several departmentals roads cross the Blue Road; D 233 leads to Saint-Molf, north of the road; D 51 heads towards Saint-Lyphard. The D 247 joins Saint-André-des-Eaux to the east; D 774a reached the peninsula of the Saillé after crossing the salt marshes to the south; Finally the D 99 leads to the Turballe, after being passed through Clis to the north-west. The D 774, via Herbignac, joins the dept 56 of Morbihan by connecting on the National road N165 which leads from Nantes to Vannes. (my road usually) . The bus network is Lila, never used it. There are many bicycle paths and one created for the region connecting to the European network here call Vélocéan, which follows the Atlantic coastline in the Loire-Atlantique department. And is served by 4 routes of the network, me never used it.

The city urban part occupies the top of a hillside that dominates a territory almost entirely surrounded by water, salty or sweet, called the Guérande Peninsula. The history of the town itself is strongly marked by the presence of salt marshes that have made its richness.  It is located in the west of the Loire-Atlantique department, at 17 km west of Saint-Nazaire, It is also at 44 km (about 27 mi) southeast of Vannes and 67 km west of Nantes.

A bit of history I like (done more in previous blog posts)

The first known signs of the existence of the present locality date from the second half of the 4C. The High Middle Ages is a period disturbed by the differences between francs and Bretons. it is then Breton  under Merovingian domination, then by the Norman invasions. The first known written reference of the town is from  1206. In the 14C, the city was drawn into the war of the Succession of Brittany, which pitted Jean de Montfort with Charles de Blois. It ends with the signature of a treaty  in 1365. At the end of the 15C, the city was the refuge for almost a month of  Anne of Brittany and her court fleeing the plague which then raged in Nantes. The Duchess will maintain privileged ties with Guérande throughout her reign.

An ancient construction having been reused as the first place of worship during the evangelization of the region , and was not discovered during the archaeological explorations of the site. But his presence is possible. A first building is located on the present site along the centuries, according to tradition, under the aegis of the king of Vannes, Waroc’h II. This religious building, probably modest, would be at the origin of the current urban settlement. After the transferred of the relics of Saint-Aubin of Angers, a second larger building was built in the late 9C or 10C ,and it was the Church of Saint Aubin. This building will be very quickly surrounded by a cemetery between the 10C and 12C. One of the sarcophagus found under the present choir, at the bedside level, in the 19C was deposited in the lower chapel or crypt of the Collegiate Church. The incursions of the Normans, with significant consequences in the region, needed the reconstruction of the buildings, in Late Roman style or the demography of the city and the assertion of its commercial power can also be at the origin of this reconstruction as a prestige event. This phase began after the middle of the 12C and ended with the construction of the main façade in the 13C. After the sack of Guérande by the troops of Louis de La Cerda in 1342 in the context of the War of Succession of Brittany, the ruined collegiate Church is rebuilt from 1380 in Gothic style; with the south transept and the Crypt done in the 14C , the north transept is then resumed and the choir and bedside are rebuilt in the 15C. A new Gothic façade finishes the building, the frame on the transepts is laid in 1541. The cemetery extends from this time to the north of the Collegiate Church, until its displacement to place Sainte-Anne in the 19C, at the site of the present place John XXIII, thus creating the present place Saint-Aubin in 1705, a hurricane destroyed the campanile of Renaissance style at the top of the façade. A new arrow is built, it will be destroyed by a storm in 1785. In 1789-1790,during the French revolution, the Church is dilapidated, the pipes of the organ are melted, the bells also. The Church will temporarily serve the worship of the temporay supreme being. The Church was returned to Catholic worship in 1802 under the Concordat. An always beautiful Church to visit.

Guerande

Guerande

Some beautiful stained glass do not believe had photographed them before.

Guerande Guerande Guerande Guerande Guerande

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Guérande tourism : http://en.ot-guerande.fr/heritage-and-the-salt-marshes.html

The area la Baule – Guérande tourist info : http://en.labaule-guerande.com/cites-remarquables.html

Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourism in French: https://tourisme-loireatlantique.com/selection/quoi-faire-a-guerande/

Right around the Church of Saint Aubin and the wonderful Halles (covered market)  you have a wonderful market and especially fish and seafood , and other local products on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturday morning . The building is a nice covered market and the morning markets overflow into the place Saint Aubin, Place de la Psalette areas. More here: City of Guérande on markets

Guérande

Now the main reason to come this day was the 2nd Edition of the Village Vignerons; or the independent winemakers of the Nantes region. We come here and get our house wines all the way from here to Amboise in Touraine. These are wonderful wines not yet too known ,very affordable and good winemaking with lots of history behind.  For France, this is still small ,regional fanfare but its gaining nicely thanks to folks like me an

The official name of the organizers are the Association de Vignerons Indépendants Nantais. If want to know more about them and the wines here see their webpage in French: http://www.vignerons-independants-pays-de-la-loire.fr/

The event took place Saturday July 28 2018 from 9h to 20h at the Place du Vieux Marché. You buy a glass with the icon of the independent vignerons for 3€ and this allows you to taste up to 3 different wines per winery. Therefore, there were 10 wineries and we tasted 33 wines!!! Not all drank mind you, there is a proper way of spitting most of it. It was done with plenty of children games that my friend’s son really enjoyed and got us into it! there were troubadours singing trios parading the place and goodies from oysters, to foie gras, pate  ,and jellies/honeys from the area.  More on the event poster here: City of Guérande on the Village Vignerons

However, the main thing was the wine and mostly Muscadet Sévre et Marne sur lie, but also, chardonnays, malvoises, gamay, glolleau, melon de Bourgogne,  old berligou red (Breton Ducal wine), 4754 a extinct grape from the 1800’s still kept a parcel here, and of course cabernet franc and apple juice and crémant bubbly wines, sauvignon gris, grape juice,  you name all done on site by families of many generations; my real France. All was set up in a circular motion around the square of the old market (Place du Vieux Marché).  The welcome or Accueil center where you purchase your glass and get a map of the presenters and a coupon to play on the nose senses challenge to win bottles of wines.  Some of the other producers on site were Servanne Bigot of the Conserverie Les Bocaux Locos with lots of canned, jar goodies, Les Chévres du Cougou with good goat cheese from the best area, Nicolas Josso with its oysters, and mussels etc all yummy!

We started of course with No 1 on the list Château de Fromenteau, and owners Anne and Christian Braud.  We continue with Domaine du Champ Chapron, of Carmen Suteau, Domaine Ménard Gaborit of Philippe Ménard, Château du Coing of Véronique Gunther Chéreau. Vignobles Jaumouillé of Gaêtan Jaumouillé, Domaine Le Jardin d’Edouard , with  Edouard Massart, Domaine le Moulin de la Touche of Vincent Hérissé. Vignoble Marchais of Philippe Marchais. Domaine Poiron Dabin of Jean-Michel Poiron. Domaine de la Coche with Laurent Guitteny, and Domaine Pierre-Luc Bouchaud with Pierre-Luc Bouchaud.

Guerande Guerande Guerande Guerande Guerande

And of course we load up as usual, the idea of coming to these things is not just to taste but to encounter the owners, learn more on wine (always time for that even for old pross like me) , and buy some of the better ones on a foursome panel (me and my 3 boys, sadly my dear late wife Martine was here and would have love it).

We purchased our favorites from domaine poiron dabin, domaine de la coche, vignobles marchais , and domaine le moulin de la touché. And we pickup some ideas to come back!

Guerande

First, the Vignobles Marchais have a lodging in barrels made into a cabin you can stay and rent it, the tariffs are 95€ for two persons and 120€ for four person ,one night, aperitif drink to start, a basket of breakfast, and a tour tasting of the property. You take a look only in French of course, you see the pictures and they can speak English: A night in a wine barrel at Marchais

The other we are thinking of going is by Domaine Poiron Dabin , they have a bigger selection of wines including the ones we purchase too, the Berligou Red 2015. This is a grape  ordered planted here by the Dukes of Brittany from 1460 after a gift made by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Reckless (téméraire)  cousin of Duke François II of Brittany! here you have a walk escape in the vineyards in early morning to find bottles hidden in their grape plot, middle of the enigma you will have a picnic meal, encounters with members of the wine making team that will take you to the cellar for tastings. Reservation from 2 persons and up, with prior reservation, cost is 30€ per adult. More info here: Picnic on Poiron Dabin

Another possibility with Poiron Dabin, and Philippe is very talkative guy!!! just my type lol!! jointly with the La Toue de Nantes will give you a boat ride call Régal vigneron, on the boat Libellule a replica of the traditional boats of the region navigating by the Sévre and later the Maine rivers with beautiful natural views and fairy tell lights, you will meet a winemaker  like him very passionate about his trade and will taste several bottles.  This is done leaving from Chaussée des Moines de Vertou and cost 50€ per person. A minimum of 8 persons needs to be wait to take off; more information at domaine Poiron Dabin, tel +33 (0) 2 40 06 56 42 or the La Toue de Nantes +33 (0) 6 81 87 64 49 cell/mob number. More at boat tour here:  boat ride Libellule by Poiron Dabin

Also, for these boats you can go on their tours apart by contacting them La Toue de Nantes in French here.  La Toue de Nantes boat rides

There you go a wonderful one day trip as many able to do here in my belle France, wonderful west of France off the coast and rivers of my beloved Brittany (and some parts that were::)). Enjoy the rides

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

July 21, 2018

Some wine news from France!

I let this subject slip by often, even if it is dear to me. Read my blog on wines and you will see my credentials. Maybe wine is so personal I dare not write much about it, but it is there with me always with me, wine is in me. Ever since my maternal grandmother let me taste some when 8 ,it has not stop. It’s part of our culture regardless on what the cro magnons will say.

Let me bring you some news on the wine trade in France, my belle cher France!

As we are getting into Summer, and barbecue is here as I write lol!  On the meat side, almost all combinations are possible , really stop been bigots all works. You have mastered barbecue cooking so that the taste of “burnt” is not too marked and does not eclipse that of the wine. On the other hand, vine branches used as fuels develop very subtle smoky flavors in meat. This gives relief to the food-wine chords.

With a rib of beef, tender and fond, this piece of noble red meat does not have its equal to magnify the Grands crus. It’s time to get out of the cellar a beautiful Hermitage, a Côte Rotie, a grand cru of Pauillac or a great Burgundy wine of which one is particularly proud. There is no possible error; on the other hand, treat the seasoning of this meat with peppers sorted on the shutter, few sauces and fireworks.

With skewers of poultry; the ideal, is the red wines of the Loire Valley type Sancerre or Saumur-Champigny  (love it) which give the response to poultry with their fruity, their vegetable tip but also a characteristic sour freshness. But the Burgundy red wines such as the Mercurey or the Beaujolais wines also lend themselves to the game of concordance with this type of food.  Lovers of white wines and skewers that mix poultry, lemon and vegetables will turn to a little fleshy cuvées; Meursault, Pouilly-Fuissé, white wines from the Massif de La Clape.

With grilled fish, try the rosés Provencal, the white wines of Cassis, those of the range of Ballet or Corsica enjoy the company of a bar or a grilled sea bream. And with sardines? Prefer the rosés of Roussillon, like those of Collioure powerful, with aromas of red fruits. The rosé, color of summer, is also the wine of the Grill par excellence! Prefer those who possess matter and density such as the rosés of Tavel, a rosé Bourgueil or a Marsannay.  There you go from 45 years of wine drinker, collecting, selling, and diploma guy from France and Spain.

A wonderful  event always looking forward to it if not always attending like this year. This will the 71st anniversary,of  the Wine Fair of Alsace inviting you from Friday 27 July to Sunday 5 August 2018 in Colmar.  Since 1948 the Wine Fair of Alsace has been vibrating in the summer thanks to numerous animations and a daily concert program in its open-air theater of 10,000 places!

It is around a good glass that professionals and wine lovers exchange opinions and wine knowledge. For others it will be an opportunity to discover good vintages at the stand of the vine leaf and share their impressions. The Fair is an opportunity to participate in commented tastings, lectures and initiations animated by passionate professionals. As each year you will also be able to attend the enthronement of the Queen of Vines. This year’s program will include Cooking classes provided by great chefs, Cabaret Colmarien that promises laughter and wonder, Children’s entertainment, -Stage OFF with regional artists, burlesque dance shows with Alsatian pinups.

Practical information shows the dates from Friday 27 July to Sunday 5 August at the Fairgrounds and Congress of Colmar. Monday to Saturday from 11h30 to 01h00. Sunday from 11h to 01h00. Rates: from 4.50 euros to 55 euros. More info here: Colmar Wine Fair

Some of my favorite bottles is the Les Folatières the largest Premier Cru vineyard in the Côte de Beaune commune of Puligny-Montrachet. It is located on the same line of the slope as the Le Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru vineyards, although its higher end reaches further up the slope of the Côte d’Or.  Les Folatières Premier Cru wines, made from Chardonnay, are typically Puligny  focused and minerally, but with nutty, rich overtones of fruit.

The vineyard covers 17 hectares (42 acres) Les Folatieres is right in the middle of the slope and is surrounded by other Premier Cru vineyards like Clavaillon and Champ Gain, with village-level vineyards visible in the distance at the bottom of the hill. Unlike many Burgundy Premier Cru climats, which are mostly named for the state of the soil or the vegetation there, Les Folatières’ name has a rather colorful origin. It refers to lights seen in the vineyard from a distance, although whether the word signifies fairies or the weather phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire is a cause of some debate.

The leading estates making wine from this vineyard include the Domaine Leflaive (my favorite) , Lalou Bize-Leroy’s Domaine d’Auvenay, and Domaine Etienne Sauzet. Their webpages to follow.

Domaine Leflaive

Domaine Etienne Sauzet

Domaine Leroy_ Auvenay

A bit on mother nature.  After the violent hail storms that destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of Bordeaux vineyards last May, a new stormy episode hit the Gironde last Sunday 07/15/18)  evening and touched some 2,000 hectares of the most affected areas of Bordeaux . During this last episode of Hail are most affected the  Médoc, Graves, Bourgeais and the Sauternes, according to the president of the CIVB (interprofessional Wine Council of Bordeaux) Allan Sichel, at the General Assembly of this forum on Monday 16 July. More on the wines ,grapes, history , all you need to know of Bordeaux here:  Bordeaux wines

Bordeaux

Pauillac

And you got some news, the latest from the world of wines, or Bordeaux or well France, what else is there. Always trying to be imitated, but never surpassed.  My opinion of course.

Enjoy the wines ,it’s good for you, and helps keep a long long tradition of human existence alive. Drink in moderation, always with a meal and good friends. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

June 28, 2018

The wines ok ,but then again a Pauillac is out of this world!

If you have follow my blog over the last years, you know that wines play an important part of my life. I have detail my experiences in previous blog posts so will skip it here. Bordeaux is a wonderful city ,and written on it too. However, when it comes to speak about the Médoc that wonderful peninsula we tend to usually call it by the broader name of Bordeaux is awesome.

And ,if I can tell you about Pauillac then we are talking about what wine is all about, and what the world for many years are trying to imitate without success in my opinion.  The peninsula of Médoc is what is surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, the Gironde river, the pointe de Grave, the forest of Landes and the marshes of Bruges. Simply put, you have one of the best beaches in France on the Atlantic ocean side and the best wines in the world on the Gironde river side. All divided into three areas, Bas-Médoc, Haut Médoc, and the Landes. When it comes to wines, it is these famous areas that makes it great, appellations such as Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Saint Estéphe, Pauillac, Saint Julilen, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis-en-Médoc, and Margaux.

All of these using different grapes in a mix by now just call the Bordeaux blend.  The main grapes representing  more than 90% of the grape varieties are:
· The Cabernet Sauvignon  brings frame and structure to wine and guard capacity.
· The Merlot  roundness, flexibility, complexity and ability to appreciate the younger wine.
· Cabernet Franc  brings roundness, fruity, complexity to wine.
The complementary varietals meaning in addition to the above in the blend are :
· Malbec or côt brings flexibility, roundness and structure, but demands that the yield be well controlled.
· The Petit Verdot brings aroma, framing and structure, but requires good maturity.
· Carménère is an almost absent relic grape but still available

However, enough of general news, what I really like to tell you about is Pauillac.

Well I wrote on the beaches of Medoc, and Bordeaux, and wines in general but not on my favorite wine spot in the world. No need to explain just tell you the name, Pauillac.  Pauillac is located in the department 33 Gironde in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine on the river side. The town is about 50 km from Bordeaux. The best way to come here is by car, from the rocade or beltway of Bordeaux take exit 7 or 8 then take the road N2 via Blanquefort (the route of chateaux) or the D1215 via Castelnau de Médoc. Also, there is a bus 705 from Bordeaux passing thru several wine communities and of course Pauillac, the schedule of Transgironde is here in pdf file.https://www.transgironde.fr/ftp/lines/siv-705-hiver.pdf

There is also the regional TER Nouvelle Aquitaine trains, webpage : https://be.oui.sncf/fr/billet-train

The interesting bit of history I like here is that even if the town is known since pre history it is only until the 18C wine commerce that it became known.  In 1777 , Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette arrived in Pauillac on the banks of the Gironde river to eventually reach USA to help the American people gain their independence. A stone is erected in the river front of Pauillac to commemorate this event showing the boat La Victoire. The words written on it says, D’ici, le 25 mars 1777, s’est embarqué Marie Joseph Paul Yves Gilbert Motier ,  Marquis de LAFAYETTE, avec l’espoir de rallier les Amériques,  A bord de la “VICTOIRE”. Simply saying that here on March 25 1777, set sail Marie Joseph Paul Yves Gilbert Motier , Marquis de La Fayette with the hope of reaching the Americas on board the Victoire.

As said  the wine here is big, glorious simply the best in the world. The vineyards of Pauillac are Grand Cru with almost 1100 hectares and about 37 wineries of which 18 are Grands Crus class 1855. These are:

Premiers crus : Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, and my favorite Château Mouton-Rothschild

Seconds crus :  Château Pichon-Longueville, Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Quatrième cru : Château Duhart-Milon (part of Mouton Rothschild)

Cinquièmes crus : Château Pontet-Canet, Château Batailley, Château Haut-Batailley, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Château Lynch-Bages, Château Lynch-Moussas, Château d’Armailhac (Mouton property), Château Haut-Bages LIbéral, Château Pédesclaux, Château Clerc Milon (Mouton property), and Château Croizet-Bages

Other than the wines things to see in Pauillac

The parish Church of Saint-Martin at the place Maréchal Foch; the museum inside the Château Mouton-Rothschild with wine objects from all civilizations. The Orangerie in the Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with a private glass collection as well as those coming from Venice, Bohemia and French/English glasses from the 17C to 19C. It comprises about 700 pieces collected by owner May-Éliane de Lencquesaing.

The caves of Artigues, built in 1897 as a replica of those of Lourdes and with a statue of the Virgin. To allowed the pilgrims to drink water of Lourdes, they will exchange with the priest of Lourdes a barrel of wine of the Château de Haut-Bages with one full of water of Lourdes.

Some events of interest happening at Pauillac are;

The Spring in the Castles or Le Printemps des châteaux done in April bringing all properties from those of 1855 classification to the cooperative wines. More in French here: https://www.bougerenmedoc.com/ch%C3%A2teaux/

The festival of the lamb of Pauillac in the pentcote weekend.  A very appreciated lamb dish traditional of Pauillac. More in French here: https://agneaudepauillac.jimdo.com/

The Marathon du Médoc, each second Saturday in September. More here: http://www.marathondumedoc.com/en/

The property of Château Mouton-Rothschild is a splendid place , beautiful gardens, great cellars and a wonderful museum all in one.  In 1954, Rothschild married his mistress, Pauline Fairfax Potter (1908-1976), an American, born in Paris, who was a fashion designer at Hattie Carnegie. After their marriage, she makes use of her aesthete talents to restore the old warehouse of the property and make it a superb mansion, which makes it famous in the world of fashion and interior decoration. She was born Pauline Potter at 10 rue Octave Feuillet in the Paris neighborhood of Passy in the 16éme district to wealthy expatriate American parents of Protestant background.Her mother was a great-grand-niece of Thomas Jefferson and a distant cousin of Britain’s Lord Falkland and Lord Cary.  Her father was a playboy who was a grandson of an Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania, and a nephew and great-nephew of successive Episcopal bishops of New York . Baron Philippe de Rothschild  belongs to one of the three branches of the Rothschild in France. He was a Grand prix pilot under the pseudonym of “Georges Philippe”, screenwriter, theatre producer, film producer, poet, and one of the world’s most famous winegrowers. Both are now deceased. The property was carried out by the daughter of first marriage, Philippine de Rothschild, under the stage name of Philippine Pascal, she was previously known as an actress, mainly at the Théâtre (Comédie-Française), but also, in a more marginal way to film and television. She was the daughter of Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure, who died in deportation in Ravensbrück in 1945. Current principal of the company is Philippe Sereys de Rothschild , the son of Philippine de Rothschild, who lately is in relation with French actress Carole Bouquet.

Other properties of the company are  the  Domaine de Lambert, Baron Arques, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Mouton Cadet, Opus One in Californai and  Viña Almaviva in Chile amongst the best known. The company is part of a select group of winegrower owners call Primum Familiae Vini (often abbreviated PFV, Latin: “First Families of Wine”) is an association of family-owned wineries with a membership limited to twelve families. The official webpage is here: http://www.pfv.org/en/

Hope you enjoy it the general overview of this town and wine properties and especially my Mouton Rothschild, I am direct and received all their primeurs wines and lists.  The official webpage for them is here: https://www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com/

The whole of the properties are in this webpage: https://www.bpdr.com/en/

And for orders online as we do in France, need to check if allow in other countries is here: https://www.labaronnie.fr/fr/

The museum of Mouton Rothschild is here in English: https://www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com/the-museum-of-wine-in-art

Personal Pauillac photos here, as a memoriam anecdote, my dear late wife Martine was not into wine when we married in 1990,however, over the years she became alongside a good taster and fine companion, will be missed forever.

Pauillac PAuillac Pauillac PAuillac Pauillac Pauillac

Other webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Pauillac city hall and tourism : https://www.pauillac-medoc.com/fr/

 The Médoc wine region tourist office on chateaux: http://medoc-tourisme.com/fr/incontournables/la-route-des-chateaux/

 The country or pays de Médoc on tourism https://www.pays-medoc.com/l-oenotourisme.html

The Gironde 33 tourism: https://www.gironde-tourisme.fr/decouvrir/la-gironde/medoc/##

The wines of the Médoc: https://www.medoc-bordeaux.com/en/

Enjoy it as I do every day is part of a state of mind or culture at its best. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

May 13, 2018

The Quib continues at Esplanade Café

Ok so Saturday we did our errands with the boys always remembering mama we had some thirst so decided to go down south of us to our family favorite Quiberon. So many trips here, it was our best beach and a place to unwind with my family. Today, we are missing one physically, but we came to remember the better days.

The owner is very friendly and talkative and already had a good rapport with us,my wife loved to come here and chat and drink at lunch time. The evening is something else a real meeting place if you are young and restless lol!

It has sports TV all over showing the matches in football/soccer, rugby, basketball, tennis ,motor racing etc all sports are covered. The layout is a tropical place with far away places on posters and deco, from the Pacific to the Caribbean. There is a big terrace given to the big square Esplanade Hoche so therefore the name of the place is l’Esplanade Café. Just steps away from the big beach at Quiberon, Grande Plage. It is ,also, in the middle of the plaza where the big market is held especially on Saturdays until 13h really good one. The city page has info on getting here and telephone; Esplanade Café on Quiberon

We had our usual beers here the Belzebuth beer at 8.5% and accompany by many tapas like dishes from saucissons of many kinds we love the provençal and nature as well as a full line of wonderful cold meats from breton maker Henauf, we love the tuna in basilic or orange etc etc. You ordered the sausages pre cut and the can comes with a basket of slice bread and spoon to put it on your slice from the jar of paté, terrines etc.

Quiberon

Belzebuth pint at Esplanade Cafe

All while viewing the square buzzle with people coming and going to the beach. This is the city on beaches so many so nice one but we prefer the big one at Grande PlageBeaches at Quiberon

Quiberon

Grande Plage Quiberon

The official site for the brasserie Goudale de la Belzebuth, Brasserie Goudale

For a popular place on the beach, the prices are reasonable and the company even better. The owner has been good to us as we have gotten beer mugs from the favorite Belzebuth beers 6 of them for free. My late wife was so happy to get this gesture to us.

Quiberon

menu carte Esplanade Café

We love to come here and do often, it is about 45 minutes from our house and if we were closer probably would visit even more often. I post a lot and usually leave it to the wind for those to come, this is one of the few places I will definitively tells you to come when in the area.

We had our couple pints and the usual munchies and left, free parking for an hour and then is metered at Vazquez parking where the market is held but we come just at the end to get the parking here. You have other car parkings but we love our place du Vazquez; here is the city on parking in English: car parks Quiberon

This is a pdf map you can print it at home: map parking Quiberon

The route by car is sublime as this is a peninsula of  Quiberon, and the passage by the wild coast or côte sauvage is fantastic. Part of the wonders of my area just south of me about 45 minutes by car I said, lovely, and plenty of family memories especially thinking of my Frenchie who is still with us in ashes at home.

Enjoy your Sunday, and remember, happy travels,good health,and many cheers to you all.

May 9, 2018

The wine news of France!

What better way to start my regular posts in my blog than talking about a favorite of mine all my life. The wines if you tap wines in my search front page you will see the history of my involvement with it. There has been some good news and interesting facts about it lately.

First, on this day May 8 1945 WWII ended in Europe and it is celebrated here in France as a holiday, so we are all off and some use the bridge on Monday too. Then May 10 Thursday is Ascension Day off and the bridge off on Friday 11th; a great long week.

A great men of wine I have followed for several years and enjoyed his wines is Bernard Magrez, owner of four Grands Crus Classés in Bordeaux, and about 40 other domains in the world. Taking aim at developing new vineyards and also to take position in new territories. Recently, he purchase the Château de Sartre and its 33 hectares in the appellation Pessac-Léognan. The castle was owned by the Perrin family, and produces 140000 bottles two thirds red and one third white each year. Now, it will allow Bernard Magrez to offer a complete line of Pessac-Léognan wines of high quality such as Château Pape Clément, Clémentin, the second wine and now Château Le Sartre of which the bottle price sits around 18€ in France. This latest purchase will allow a domaine of land of 54 hectares in the Haut-Médoc bordering his other property the Château La Tour Carnet that has itself 180 hectares. The idea is to increase the production of the second wine of La Tour Carnet. He had also made an acquisition of a property of 1,5 hectares in Pomerol as well to add to his portfolio which includes one hectare of Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as a sign promise to developed wine in the country of Georgia. More here: http://www.bernard-magrez.com/en

A bit on the outlook for the year 2017 wines from several sources I use. Last April 20/21 and later April 27/28 there were very cold temperatures in the Pessac-Léognan area going down to -3C and even lower in the Médoc at -5C. The grapes were so advance that the bunches were not only burned by the cold but also some early developing bunches of grapes too. The return to Spring in May allowed the flowering to be fast and unison as well as the heat of June helps the growth of the vines in the areas touch by the cold weather. The conditions were very helpful especially to the white grapes varieties such as the Sauvignon blanc that started in August 16 under the sun, a record of early heat and those of Sémillon were extended to September 15. The reds the situation is more unique as the merlots early ripers got the full of the precipitations of early September, and the harvest in many needed to be advance to avoid the rotten phenomenon.  The Cabernet Sauvignons the maturation is slower and were help by the return of the dry and sunny weather from September 20th and were able to be harvest in good conditions.

Finally, the consensus is that 2017 will produce very yummy , fresh, and cracking wines with a lot of body. OF course, the quality is not for all. On the left bank or rive gauche north of Médoc the wines were spare the cold, such as Saint-Estéphe, Pauillac and Saint Julien will get very good wines.  The situation is mix in the Margaux with a quality production and some wines bearing the effect of the cold with vegetable notes and hard tannins. It is the same with more important proportions in Listrac and Moulis . More on the south, at Pessac-Léognan we have a double situation; Pessac was spare but not Léognan.  The appellation gives excellent whites even more superiors than 2015 or 2016, while the reds are ok on the properties save from the cold. On the right bank or rive droite, the situation is more complex. The grand crus were little impacted by the climatic incidents of April , except the area between Figeac and Cheval-Blanc. Pomerol had a double vintage with great wines on the plains but those properties in the beltway of the appellation had less luck.

The world wine production was affected by the climatic waves in Europe and had a reduction of 8,6% in 2017. This is their lowest level in the last 60 years! Total production was 250 millions hectoliters against 273M in 2016 according to the numbers provided by the International wine organization in French OIV. In Italy, the first world producer it came down 17% in value and 19% in France the second producer due to the cold spell in the Bordeaux area, but also, Charentes, Jura ,and the Alsace pain in third place went down 20% as ell while the USA came down only 1%, been the 4th world producer . China going up to the 7th world position just behind Australia, and Argentina. The best movers were in Latin America with an increase of 25% in Argentina and a reduction of 6% in Chile (9th world producer).  However, the consumption of wine was stable with about 243 million hectoliters in 2017, against 242 millions in 2016. Here in world consumption the USA is first with 32,6 million hectoliters in front of France with 27 millions (bear in mind the total country population) On the export market, Spain is in first place with 20,5% of the market while France is first in value amount worldwide with 9 million euros exported.  The total world exports figures were 107,9 million hectoliters in 2017 and increase of 3,4% from 2016, and a value of 30,4 million euros or 4,8% increase from 2016.

More reading on the above here: http://www.oiv.int/en/oiv-life/oiv-2017-report-on-the-world-vitivinicultural-situation

Coming up. Onjune 6 2018, the most prestigious houses of Champagne will be in Paris on the tastings Grands Champagnes pour l’éte or great champagnes for summer.At the rive gauche of Paris in the heart of the neighborhodd of Saint Germain des Prés in the renovated HotelLutetia finding itself on the luxury ranks and a new chapter in its history. Gorgeous hotel had dine and drank at the bar there. The event hours start from 20h. Hôtel Lucetia 47 boulevard Raspail 6éme. A cheese buffet will be available to accompany the tastings admission for 39€ . There will be Champagne Castelnau , Champagne Cattier, Champagne Charles Heidsieck, Champagne Drappier, Champagne Gosset, Champagne Henriot,Champagne Joseph Perrier,Champagne Lanson,Champagne Laurent-Perrier,Champagne Moutard,Maison Mumm,Champagne Perrier-Jouet ; Champagne Philipponnat ;Champagne Piper-Heidsieck; Champagne Pol Roger Champagne Ruinart, Champagne Tattinger, Champagne Thienot, Champagne Veuve Clicquot , and Champagne Waris Larmandier. Just in time for the reopening of the hotel; more info here: https://www.hotellutetia.com/en

Tom Sullivan , an American story in purchasing the Château Gaby in Fronsac just over the Médoc in Bordeaux. The vineyards descend to the Dordogne river. There he and his wife owns a mansion that they enjoy spending time in . In little time Mr Sullivan has acquired four properties there, The Château Gaby appellation Canon Fronsac, also Château Moya appellation Castillon côtes de Bordeaux, Château du Parc, appellation Saint Emilion Grand cru and Auguste appellation Bordeaux Supérieur all in bio or in the process of conversion. All total about 20M euros in investments for this American millionaire who has made his fortune in the parquet and removable energies as well as real estate in Florida. The commercial strategy is to sell his wines in the UK and the USA/Canada markets only. He finds the wines from Napa very tannic and pre fabricated so he turns to France and especially the Bordeaux. He was looking to invest there but found the prices too high.  Today, 90% of his 320K bottles are produce in his properties in France and the wines are exported with good recognition in the USA especially on the west coast but also in Miami and New York. Do not know let me know readers please. One property is here Gaby: https://www.chateaugaby.com/

With my curiosity for wines, I have spent quite some time in the Luxembourg country.  There I have come to know very good bottles . The country produces about 6 million liters of wine in 2016 (last figures I got) , it has about 1280 hectares of vineyards and 42 km long of planting going from the famous Schengen to Wasserbillig all along the Moselle river. I was by the town of Remich name the pearl of the Moselle for its wines and scenery; but my best impression was the bubbly or sparkler (cannot be call Champagne) at Grevenmacher and the Caves Bernard Massard. Worth a detour and pretty town we visited with the family a short while back (search)it here: https://www.bernard-massard.lu/fr/

And if in France and need a quick wine, any prices and good advice search no more go to my reliable Nicolas stores all over France. I have a customer for years and never a problem or bad wine; the local store in Vannes is very friendly and so is the one in Lorient. The fair on them on the 2016 year is here. https://www.nicolas.com/fr/Notre-selection/Bons-Plans/c/1101/?q=%3Arelevance%3AmadeInCountryCode%3AFRANCE%3Avintage%3A2016&text=#

And if on this neck of the woods a local one with stores in Guérande, Vannes and Plescop (we go here) is the Les Chais Saint François, good advice and bigger selection too. More here: http://www.leschaissaintfrancois.com/nos-magasins/ploeren/

And finally, one wine.  While in 1815, the the cards of the kingdom of France were done by Cassini and on No 58 the review on Narbonne and its surrounding there was an auberge with the name of La Cendrillon; in the 17C Charles Perrault give it famous to the oral legend with a book play on the little princess (Cinderella). The Juyeux family owns it since 1750 just south of the Orbieu river and north of the village of Ornaisons, the owners dream of making it one day with the mention of Grand Cru on the bottles to make due the name of Corbiéres. Here they have good name neighbors such as the Boutenac, Caraguilhes, La Voulte Gasparets, Ollieux Romanis, Villemajou, and the closest neighbor Fontfroide, all very good names of wines here. Here you must taste the Classique a blending of Grenache, syrah and mourvédre fruity with long on the mouth. The bottles are only sold at maturity. Do find it and try wherever you are, red corbiéres 2014 16,50€ the bottle at La Cendrillon. More here: https://www.lacendrillon.fr/en/the-story/

Enjoy in moderation but do drink it, it is heavens. Happy travels good health and many cheers to all. Life goes on now stronger and more closer than ever.

April 30, 2018

Travels in Rabelaisie; François Rabelais!

So on this long weekend, let me tell you about something personal. I love wines and drinking them, and also ,the French literature like one of my favorites François Rabelais. And now he is so close to me, past by it and stop of course several times, drinking on the road such evangelists tell you is not good, but with a prudent men it is always a tradition worth keeping. In Vino Veritas!!!

Chinon

chateau de Chinon from across the Vienne river

Chinon

view of city from castle of Chinon

A bit on Rabelais I like

It all began near Chinon in the Loire Touraine area in the middle of vineyards and where the waters of the Vienne river meet the Loire river.  It was here in the end of the 15C in a farmhouse called “La Devinière”,(now a museum to his memory) attached to the parish of Seuilly and close by the abbey of Sully that came to our world  a literary genious call François Rabelais.  He offered the world the picturesque and funny stories of Pantagruel that his father Gargantua brought from the women Badebec, daughter of the king of the Amaurotes in Utopia. His books gave a tremendous popular following which was not to please the theologians of the Sorbonne in Paris. François Rabelais was accused of heresy and his book prohibited.  We have to say that François Rabelais was a humanist and his stories accompany the movement of the thinkers born in Italy and that marked the Renaissance. A humanism that the Church denounce as pagan.

Who is this guy? François Rabelais (aka Alcofribas Nasier, an anagram of François Rabelais, or that of  Séraphin Calobarsy) was a French writer of the humanism of the Renaissance period , born in 1483 or 1494 according to the theories and died in Paris on April 9 1553. His infant years was spent in a bourgeois level benefitting of a medieval schooling such as the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialective etc) and Quadrivium (math, geometry, music and astronomy etc) . According to the accounts of history, Rabelais starts as a Franciscan in the convent of the Baumette before joining that of Puy Saint-Martin in Fontenay-le-Comte.  While writing articles not to much to the liking of the Church he gets a waver by Pope Clement VII to have permission to entered the Benedictine order of monks.  At the Abbey of Saint-Pierre-de-Maillezais, he meets the bishop  Geoffroy d’Estissac prelate name by king François I. The bishop d’Estissac takes Rabelais as his secretary and under his protection.  Rabelais takes a trip to Paris in 1528 or 1530 to study medicine as well as his first love relationship with a widower that makes him father of two children in 1540.

Chinon

Francois Rabelais from wikimedia commons

By September 1530 he entered the Medical faculty of Montpellier where he received a bachelor degree in six weeks in the spring of 1532. He then goes to Lyon a great cultural center where the library business is booming. By November 1st he is name doctor of the hospital of Hôtel Dieu de Notre Dame de la Pitié du Pont du Rhône where he works in intervals.

The book of Pantagruel come out in 1533 was an immediate success as well as an almanac Pantagrueline Prognostication that makes fun of the superstitions. The bishop of Paris ordered Rabelais in 1534 as his secretary and doctor while he was on a trip to Rome for serious business of convincing Pope Clement VII not excommunicate king Henri VIII.  The re edition of Pantagruel in 1534 is accompany by various orthographical ,syntax and typographical corrections and very innovating at the times , and shows the fight against the Sorbonne.

By January 1536, on a brief of Pope Paul III authorized Rabelais to reach the Benedictine monastery of his choice and the exercise of medicine so he joined the Abbey of Saint Maur de Saint Maur des Fossées. By 1540, Rabelais departs for Torino Italy while on the same year the Pope Paul III declares legitimes his sons François and Junie born out of wedlock.  By September 1545 , Rabelais is given a privilege for the printing of Tiers Livre (third book) edited in 1546 by Chrestien Wechel that he signed with his own name; the theologies of the Sorbonne condemned him for heresy. By March 1546, Rabelais escapes from France  until 1547 or early 1548 in Metz at the time an imperial free town. He entered at the service of the city as doctor and adviser living by Estienne Lorens in the district of the Old town, the building still has his name. The Quart Livre  (fourth book)  still has souvenirs of this stay in Metz by introducing the language of the town, his costumes, and city stories like the Graoully. By 1551, Cardinal du Bellay bequest on Rabelais the priesthood of Saint Martin de Meudon and of Saint Christophe du Jambet. Rabelais does not lived in Meudon but maybe in Paris or in the castle of Saint Maur.

In 1548, eleven chapters of the Quart Livre are published and by 1550 Rabelais is given by the King the right to print all his works without been copy or reproduce without his approval (sort of the first copyrights ruling ).  At the same time, the printing controls becomes stricter and the law of Chateaubriand gives the rise on one of its clauses that every book printed a copy needs to go to the library of prohibited books by the Sorbonne. And of course, the three novels of Rabelias are on the list.  This prohibition does not stop the circulation of works benefiting of a Royal privilege. The integral version of the Quart Livre out in 1552 has a dedication letter by Odet de Châtillon thanking for his support.

On January 7 1553 , Rabelais  stop his treatment, he died in Paris in a house on the street or rue des Jardins-Saint-Paul (reach on metro line 1 Saint Paul or Line 7 Pont Marie or even line 7 Sully-Morland), there is a commemoration plaque on the street.  His death gives way to several stories and rumors  such as saying like « Je n’ai rien, je dois beaucoup, je donne le reste aux pauvres » something like I have nothing I give a lot, and the rest I give to the poor’s or this other one  « Tirez le rideau, la farce est jouée » something like bring down the curtains the farce is played.  He is buried at the old cemetery of the Church of Saint Paul des Champs in Paris. The Church is now call St Paul St Louis ,however, some parts of the old Church still can be seen, like part of the bell tower you can still see in the house of no 32 rue Neuve Saint Pierre at the corner of rue Saint Paul. The cemetery was closed in 1791 with many bodies in the wells some executed during the French revolution. The body of Rabelais is there below the houses that were built later, and never care to find his and others remains.

You can come and see his museum (farmhouse birth)  in plain Touraine vineyards here: http://www.musee-rabelais.fr/

To recap his most famous works and I love them all!

Pantagruel published in 1532, the publishing under the name of Alcofribas Nasier and some estimates it was published in 1533-34 or even 1535.  The déuxiéme livre or Gargantua is a follow up on the first one. Published in 1546 under his real name with the benefits of king François I and Henri II for the 1552 edition of Tiers Livre. The first edition of Quart Livre came out in 1548 with eleven chapters and many typos, the book printed by Michel Fezandat tells of the trip of Pantagruel and his friends to questioned the sayings of the Dive Bouteille.  By 1562 after his death it came out in the L’Isle Sonnante a partial edition of Cinquiéme livre (fifth book) that had 16 chapters. There was another version of 47 chapters coming out two years later. There is a manusciprt well preserve in the National Library or Bibliothéque Nationale ; since the 17C the authencity of these documents has always been questioned.

The information on the books , publications and history of François Rabelais in French is at the National Library site here: http://classes.bnf.fr/dossitsm/b-rabela.htm

And, of course, been in wine country Touraine, Loire, Rabelais finally comes to mind the title of my post. The information in French is here:  Chinon has the travels of Rabelais: http://www.chinon.com/voyagez-en-rabelaisie/

First, the area I am talking about is one I passed several times and get my wines from, at least most of them. One of the oldest AOC in France that of Chinon from 1937 covering 26 towns, 2400 hectares of vineyards, 2300 of those planted with Cabernet Franc, 74 ha with Chenin Blanc, a total of 173 winemakers producing 13 million bottles of wine each year with about 1,3 million exported of which 50% to the United States (my figures from 2015).

Chinon

map appellation Chinon from the syndicat de vins de Chinon Touraine

The vineyards are about 8 towns of the Rabelais spirit on the left bank of the Vienne river including his birthplace area of Seuilly that are all in the Chinon AOC wine denomination area.  One of the most ardent defender of this Rabelaisiens and Chinon is the Domaine or Château Joguet (my favorite buy a must to buy) own by Anne-Charlotte Genet ,that has the bottles since 1957 decorated with the Rabelais. The humanism in a bottle with 550 hectares of vineyards. Here the Vienne river cuts the appellation in two while the Loire river helps with the climate escaping the clouds…

Here the black grapes do battle even if minorities providing 17% of the red wine in other areas, while at Chinon itself they do 85% of the production, later Rosé and only 3% of whites.  Fruity , gourmand wines simple and well digest and limited keeps. The underground cellars of the Chateau de Chinon are huge and at 12C constant they can be visited. The dominant grape here is the Cabernet Franc fleuron after WWI in the area producing from it wines of fine tannins, ripe as well.  The tradition continues thanks to the amazing fraternity of wine lovers of Rabelais or the Entonneurs Rabelaisiens webpage here: http://www.entonneurs-rabelaisiens.com/

Some biased choices, sorry, but they are good seek them out and tell me what you think.

Domaine Charles Joguet Clos de la Dioterie 2015 32€  here rated 18.5 /20!! absolute a must trust me.Only 2 hectares here but sublime bio cultivation; and les Charmes 2014 is awesome; anecdote Charles Joguet is a painter but seldom does interviews;in the property you can see his paintings which are well known .

Chinon

domaine Charles Joguet and its wines in Chinon

Another one Beatrice and Pascal Lambert ,La Croix Boissée 2014 , 20€ 18.5/20 bio in chalk lands black grape with minty and sweet spices it can be keep as the one above. For all budgets, Jourdan et Pichard , Les 3 Quartiers 2014,from parcels over 50 years old in bio too, mint coffee, muscadet nuts very nice at 15€ 16,5/20. Domaine Eric Hérault, La Poiteviniére 2016 10€ 16/20, high in the quaint town of Panzoult near the castle of Chinon, strawberries, black olives, and liquorice. All good!!

A webpage with properties information in the region, in English, have it on Chinon: http://uk.vignobles-chinonbourgueilazay.com/cellars-wines/chinon

Enjoy the Touraine, a lot more than castles I am telling you ::) Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all. Life goes on.

 

 

April 20, 2018

How about the history and things in Jerez de la Frontera!

Here we are again with a piece of my beloved Spain. This is deep Spain, in fact when visitors comes to Spain or hear about it, what they really see / hear is Andalucia. Not bad to wandered around Spain, as we say Spain is everything under the sun ::)

I came here to see the history as told abroad with the famous sherry ,horses,  and flamenco all in one, mind you as Spanish these are not my traditions been from Tenerife. However, all refer to Spain with these Andalucian treasures. So, therefore, lets talk about Jerez de la Frontera.

Jerez de la Frontera is in the province of Cadiz, autonomous region of Andalucia ; frontera comes from the frontier between moors nazari Granada and the Crown of Castilla. Only about 12 km from the Atlantic ocean and 85 km from the Gibraltar strait. It can describe in four words, wine/sherry ,horse, flamenco and motorcycles. The city is known for centuries as the capital of wine or sherry. Another trait is the horse or cartucian horse or jerezano a line of the andalucian horse from the 15C. The city is also known as the birthplace of Flamenco. The motorcycle Grand Prize of Spain is run here along the neighboring El Puerto de Santa Maria.

The name of Jerez is from the denomination Xera of the Phonecians in the area where the city id found today; later the Roman called it Ceret or Seret and after the  Visigoths it was called Seritium or Xeritium. After the Moorish invasion it was called Sherish and when the kingdom of Castilla took Jerez in 1264 the city came to be known as Xerez, and later added de la Frontera as it was in the frontier with the kingdom of Granada. It is said the origins go back to the city of Asta Regia founded by the Tartessos at about 8 km from the current location and could have been their capital. After the discovery of new world and the conquest of Granada in 1492 Jerez goes thru a tremendous growth period with trade with nearby ports of Sevilla and Cadiz. This made that king Felipe II ordered built a navigable estuary so the ships can reach the port in the city such as El Portal to the city of Guadalete,and that the city was included amongst the 480 cities of the world part of the  Civitates Orbis Terrarum  or panoramic cities of the world. By 1890, Jerez  was the first city to have public electricity at least for the lighting together with Haro in La Rioja . From the 17C, time where Sherry was famous all over the world, many British companies settled here such as Garvey, Gonzalez Byass, William & Humbert as well as Spanish Bearn such as Domecq; the strong close link to the  British remained constant.

I have written a piece in my blog a while back and will remind you to see the more touristic side of it here: My post on Jerez de la Frontera

Then, the city of Jerez has excellent information in Spanish here: Jerez city info on heritage

Tourist office of Jerez de la FronteraTourist office of Jerez de la Frontera

Tourism in the province of Cadiz on Jerez de la Frontera: Cadiz Province tourism

Some of the things to see from a religious standpoint are huge, some of my favorites are:

Convento de San José, now housing Franciscans Clarisas descalzas or no shoes ; Capilla de los Desamparados, Capilla de San Juan de Letràn, Capilla del Calvario, Convento de Madre de Dios, very good pastries here!!! with sisters of the Franciscans Clarisas , Church Madre de Dios (mother of God) Sanctuary San Juan Grande, Church of Santa Ana, and Capilla de Santa Marta.

The city has several castles/palaces some in not so good shape, again many, so my favorites are:

Palacio, Duke of Abrantes, here is the home of the Royal school of Andalucian Equestrian art. By the nice Plaza Benavente you have the Palacio de Camporreal, and Palacio de Bertemati, Palacio de Riquelme, 16C, Palacio Domecq baroque style built in 1778 with Italian red marble and decorated arches. Palacio Dàvial renaissance style, in the Plaza Rafael Rivero come to see the Palacio de Luna (moon palace) baroque style built 1777. Palacio Pemartin, home of the Flamenco Andalucian center. Palacio de Villavicencio inside the Alcàzar, the curious can see now a store but this is the Palacio del Marqués de Villamarta in Calle Larga! At the Calle Pozuelo see the Palacio del Conde de los Andes; Casa Palacio de los Ponce de Léon, now the home of the sisters of the Savior ; in the Plaza de Belén see the Palacio de los Condes de Montegil, and the unique Casa de los Basurto built between the 16C and 19C is now part of the Bodegas Domecq sherry house.  Plenty more I told lots of palatial homes here.

There are several museum spread all over the city, my favorites are:

The Archeological museum or Museo Arqueologico in nice Plaza del Mercado with a corinthian center unique in the western world found near the Cartuja and the Guadalete river. Museos de la Atalaya, includes the mystery of Jerez (wine museum) and the Palacio del Tiempo ( watches museum). Museo Taurino on the bullfights and matadors! The Museum of the Andalucian costumes :dresses or Museo del Traje Andaluz. A unique museum for all is the Museo de la Fundacion Espinosa de los Monteros, with guitars, and musical instruments on strings; interesting indeed.

Some other interesting building in my opinion worth a detour are: City hall or ayuntamiento in Renaissance style. The Zoo and botanical garden, Alcazar old arab fortress and as mentioned inside it has the Palacio de Villavicencio and a hidden camera; as well as the ramparts walls with pieces of it on several streets, open or encrusted in buildings today.

Jerez de la Frontera

walls tower of the Alcazar

And of course other then the horse, the best to come here is the sherry , or Jerez; in many forms. Many houses but in my opinion the best from a historical , architectural and wine perspectives are:

The Gonzalez Byass (visited), Domecq (visited), Grupo Garvey, Williams & Humbert, Sanchez Romate (visited), bodegas Lustau, and Bodegas Tradicion with wine cellars from 1666. Other aspects of a visit to this city is the vineyards festival or Fiestas de la Vendimia, celebrated since 1848, oldest in Spain, the first foot step of the grape is done the first 15 days of September. Another huge event here is Holy Week or Semana Santa, the biggest in Andalucia! with 42 processions averaging six per day, and several nativity scenes in town. The Festival de Flamenco de Jerez is considered the best in the world​ by many and including the prestigious Flamenco magazine, Flamenco magazine

Jerez de la  Frontera

Domecq and the horse Casimiro in the patio of the house

Jerez de la Frontera

Gonzalez Byass bodega los Apostoles barrel aging

There you go a full version on Jerez de la Frontera, Province of Cadiz, autonomous region of Andalucia, Kingdom of Spain. Enjoy your visit here, it is all worth it; happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!! and Weekend is here again lol!

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