Category Archives: French Red

Sud de France Portfolio Master Class & Tasting

Jamai Rayyis is a wine journalist who has been with Sud de France, an organization representing the products of that region, for more than 10 years. At a recent presentation, he gave a very informative two-hour talk on the wine areas of the Sud–Ouest (the South West) and the Roussillon-Languedoc of France.

Jamal Rayyis

However, all the wines tasted in the master class were from the Roussillon-Languedoc area. At the tasting, there were also wines from the Sud-Ouest but I was unable to stay to taste them.

Languedoc-Roussillon is a historical coastal region in southern France extending from Provence to the Pyrenees Mountains and the border with Spain. It is the southernmost region of mainland France. It is now part of the Occitaine (the southernmost administrative region of France excluding Corsica created on Jan. 1 2016 from the former region of Languedoc-Roussillon and Mid-Pyrenees). The area is a major producer of Vin de Pays d’Oc. It is the single largest wine producing region in the world. There are many different soil types raging from rocky soil to thick clay. There is a wide variety of grapes grown here.

The Wines: I was very impressed with the older wines and how well they aged.

Chateau Guilhem Prestige 2015 & 2014 AOP Malpère made from 50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Malbec. (Organic) After the harvest there is a hand selection of grapes on a vibrating table, with manual debudding and leaf thinning. The grapes are pressed and fermentation takes place at a cold temperature to preserve the aromas of each grape. Maceration takes place in concrete tanks. These are wines with hints of red fruit, cherry and a touch of blackberry and spice and good acidity. I liked both vintages.

Jamal said the wines of the Malpère distinguish themselves from the other wines of the Languedoc with varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are to be found traditionally near the Atlantic Ocean. Brought to the region in the 1970’s, they grow very well in this particular terroir. Chateau Guilhem thrives on this land with its sandstone hills and benefits from its south-southeast exposure.

Chateau Guilhem Prestige 2005 VDQS Jamal said he could not find any information on the wine. This wine is not showing any sign of age. It is drinking very nicely with hints of red fruit, raspberries, strawberries and a hint of blueberries, a very pleasing aftertaste and long finish. If the 2015 and 2014, develop like this they are great buys.

Domaine de la Réserve d’O Hissez O 2014 AOP Terrasses du Larzac made from 50% Syrah, 35% Grenach Noir and 5% Cinsault. The soil is clay and limestone at 400 meters. The farming is certified both Ecocert Organic and Demeter Biodynamic. The wine is vinified entirely in a mix of cement and stainless steel and is fermented spontaneously. It is unfiltered, unfined with low sulphite-35mg/L. This is a full-bodied red wine with hints of raspberry, currants, pepper and floral notes. I was really impressed by this wine.

Chateau Paul Mad Clos du Moulina AOP Peézenas 2012 made from 55% Syrah, and 45% Grenache Noir. The wine had hints of red fruit and a touch of coconut. This is a very big producer.

Domaine de L’Edre Carrement 2010 AOP Cotes du Roussillon made from 50% Syrah, 25% Grenache,15% Carignan Noir and 10% Mourvèdre. Sustainable viticulture. The grapes are traditionally hand picked into small crates. Total destemming then fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. There is a cold pre-fermentation maceration and malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of black fruit, notes of licorice and showing no signs of age.

Château de Fabre Gasparets 2005 AOP Cabieres Boutenac made from 50% Carignan Noir, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah. The soil is pebbles quartz and limestone and the harvest is manual. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. The winery is organic certified. This is a full-bodied meaty wine with hints of black fruits and sweet spices and a note of cherry on the palate. It is showing no signs of age and drinking very nicely.

Domaine Fontanel Rancio sec 2007 IGP Cotes Catalanes made from 100% Grenache Blanc. The winery extends over 30 hectares in Tautaver, the most southern eastern part of France between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees foothills. The soil is marl. Traditional vinification. The wine is aged in barrels according to the soleras system (the wine goes from cask to cask during its blending). The alcohol is 17%. The wine has hints of nuts and flintstone with a notable aftertaste and long finish.

Ey, Hors d Age NV IGP Banyuls made from 100% Grenache Noir. It is a fortified Vin Doux wine (sweet natural wine).

Domaine du Mas Blanc “Collection” 1975 AOP Banyuls is an area near the Spanish border where the Pyrenees reach the Mediterranean Sea. Made from 100% Grenache Noir from their oldest vines. The grapes are hand harvested and trodden by foot. It was fermented in cement tanks with native yeasts and aged in 650 liter oak half-muids for 10 years. The wine is aged for a minimum of five years before bottling with or without temperature control and occasionally out of doors. It can be aged in old barrels, demi-muids (600 liter oak barrles) and foudres ( large wooden vat between 20 &120 hl), as well as glass demijohns. This is an oxidized fortified wine and it as fantastic!





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Filed under Banyuls, French Red, Sud de France, Uncategorized

A Delightful Lunch in Provence

Once in a while, if you are lucky, you try a restaurant for the first time and it turns out to be an unforgettable dining experience. This was the case with restaurant Les Florets (which is also a hotel) just outside of Gigondas in the Provence region of France.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a nice breeze and some diners were sitting on the charming outdoor terrace when we arrived. We decided to sit inside (it was a little to breezy) in the comfortable and well-appointed dining room. The service was attentive but not intrusive. The food and wine may have been the best I had in my 3 weeks in the area. They have an exceptional wine list with older vintages and very good prices.

After lunch, the breeze died down somewhat and we had coffee and cognac on the terrace.IMG_8439

Chateauneuf du Pape Chateau De Vaudieu Blanc 2012 made from 75% Grenache and 25% Roussanne. The winery is located in the heart of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation. The name comes from Val de Dieu (Valley of God). The vineyard is 10 hectares in the southern part of the estate and the soil is red clay, gray silex limestone and pebbles. Manual harvest in boxes of 15 kg with double sorting of the grapes in the vineyard takes place. Grapes are vinified and aged separately until blending.There is soft pressing with whole bunches. Static cold settling and alcohol fermentation is between 18 and 22 degrees. The wine is aged for 6 months. Most of the wine is aged in stainless steel and a small portion in barriques.

The wine has hints of white fruit, grapefruit, refreshing citrus notes with nice minerality and good acidity.IMG_8435

A small amuse bouche of salmon mousse with avocado was a nice starter.IMG_8436

My first course was sautéed foie gras with a red grape sauce that I really enjoyed.IMG_8441

Vacqueyras Domaine La Garrigue 2001   Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault The domaine is in the heart of the Vacqueyras appellation area (southern Cotes du Rhone, in the Vaucluse department, located on a plateau called Les Garrigues.) The vines are planted in 3 different types of soil: stony limestone-clay 40%, slopes and terraces 40%, and sandy 20%. The Syrah and Mourvedre vines are 40 to 50 years old and some of the Grenache vines are between 80 and 100 years old. Harvest is by hand and it takes 30 pickers about one month to harvest all the grapes. Before being vatted the grape bunches are lightly crushed without being de-stalked. During fermentation the run off juice is pumped over the cap twice a day. The grapes are pressed using two vertical hydraulic presses, and for the last two years also a pneumatic press. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months. The wine is not fined or filtered. It has hints of black fruit, spice and a touch of liquorice with a long finish and pleasant aftertaste.IMG_8440

This wine is at its peak and was a great combination with my main course of roast veal covered with black summer truffles in a rich truffle sauce.IMG_8462

I really enjoyed this wine and on another day, we went to visit the winery. The Brechet family owns the restaurant and the winery.IMG_8442

Dessert was a warm apricot tart with vanilla ice cream. Michele declared it perfection and promises to try to duplicate it for me soon. I can’t wait!


Filed under Chateaneuf du Pape, Chateau de Vaudieu, Domaine La Garrigue, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Gigondas, Vacqueyras

Visiting Martinelle

I posted a picture on Facebook of the house Michele and I are renting in Beaumes de Venise and a friend that I worked with in the wine business saw the post. He said he spends a lot of time in the area and suggested we visit a winery that was only 10 minutes away. He liked the wines and was sure that I would enjoy them. The name of the winery is Martinelle and the winemaker/owner is Corinna Faravel. She speaks English, he added. The winery is east of Gigondas and north of Beaumes de Venise.


Corinna Faravel

The winery is not easy to find and 10 minutes became 30 as we drove around and, though we were less then 2 minutes from the winery, we could not find it. When we finally arrived there, it was well worth the trip.

Corinna, who told us she began her career in Germany where she worked for two different wine estates, greeted us. After 6 years of making white wine she felt something was lacking (red wine) and made her way to the Rhone where she worked at various wineries. In 2001 she discovered Martinelle, a group of small vineyards, separated by the solid rock of the Dentelles de Montmirail from Gigondas and Vacqueyras. This was exactly what she wanted.IMG_8374

She said it was a one-woman winemaking operation. In the beginning there were only vineyards and it was an exciting challenge to build a winery from the ground up. She realized how closely winemaking is related to nature. For her first vintage in 2002 there was torrential rain and it turned the harvest into a horrendous affair. In 2003, a freak hailstorm destroyed her entire crop. But she knew the incredible potential of the area and in 2004 she was able to harvest healthy grapes. Everything since then has been very positive.

The training system in the vineyard was both cordon and bush (goblet) but all the new plantings will be the traditional bush. Corinna now makes only two wines. She did make a Vin De Table “Le lleme” which was her chance to “color outside” the French AOC laws but does not make it any more. She is also experimenting with other Rhone varities.IMG_8371

Ventoux 2012 “Martinelle” made from 72% Grenache, vines 16 to 49 years old, 18% Syrah vines 28 years old, 7% Mouvedre vines 5 years old and 3% old vine Carignan, young Counoise and Viognier. The vineyard is 8.5 hectares and faces east/southwest. It is Trias soil-decomposed limestone with iron rich ochre topsoil, other parts of the vineyard are richer in clay based soils. The vines are cared for organically. Harvest is by hand in September and the grapes are sorted in the field and in the cellar. The grapes are destemmed but not crushed and fed into unlined cement tanks by gravity. There is gentle extraction with lees stirring. Maceration lasts between 3 to 4 weeks. Malolatic fermentation takes place immediately after alcoholic fermentation. The final blend is assembled and bottled unfined and unfiltered.IMG_8370

Corinna said that she uses unlined cement tanks because they are porous and they let the wine breath.

The gapes in the blend vary little from year to year except in unusual vintages. In 2013 Grenache did not do well. She showed us pictures of the bunches of grapes and there were only a few sad looking grapes on then.

She said that when she makes her wine she must be true not only to the terrroir but also to the vintage, so the blend was very different.IMG_8373

Beaumes de Venise 2010 & 2012 Grenache 75% from 21 to 30 old vines (some as old as 57years) and Syrah 25% from 20-year-old vines from the 2.85 hectare Bramadou vineyard. Corrina said that the decomposed limestone and chalk soil of this lieu-dit-iron rich vibrantly colored soil colored in deep reds and oranges gives the wine good concentration and freshness. This soil is unique to the Rhone valley. It usually lies deep down and breaks through near the village of Suzette where the Bramadou vineyard is located. Corrina said she was very impressed by the color of the soil when she first saw it and knew it would be the perfect vineyard for her.IMG_8368

In the small cellar there is one 2,500-liter barrel that is used to age the Beaumes de Venise

Maceration for the Syrah is 36 days and for the Grenache 26 days. The juice was combined after pressing and malolactic fermentation took place in December. Corinna said that both wines are vinified in the same way.

She feels that her Beaumes de Venise can age and most people drink the wine when it is too young. The 2010 was bright and fresh and showing no signs of age. It is one of the best I have ever tasted.

Corrina said that her wines used to be imported into the US and is now looking for a new importer.

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Filed under Beaumes de Venise, French Red, Martinelle, Uncategorized

Dinner with Steven


Though I often have the opportunity to enjoy great meals, it is not often that I have the chance to sample the cooking of a talented young man like Steven De Salvo. Steven is the grandson of our friends Ernie and Louise De Salvo. This dinner was at the home of their son Jason and his wife Deborah.


Steven preparing the food with his helpers

Steven has always been interested in food and is studying it in college. He works part time at one of New Jersey’s best restaurants. Steven planned and prepared the meal, paired with wines supplied by his father, Jason, and the dinner guests. The report that follows includes Jason’s wine notes because he has an excellent palate and wine memory.IMG_7203

Our meal began with three different crudos, among them lightly torched bluefin toro with dashi broth and scallions. This was a perfect starter before a meal with so many rich flavors.IMG_7206

Next there was wild mushroom lasagna with spinach, ricotta, and truffle Gouda finished with a healthy shaving of black truffles. I have never had Gouda in lasagna before, but it balanced the other flavors and added savory cheesiness without overwhelming. It was great to see Steven’s creative touch working so well.IMG_7211

For our main course, we had beef Wellington with black truffles and prosciutto. I can’t remember the last time I had beef Wellington, and this was a treat.IMG_7212

The pastry was beautiful and the beef was cooked perfectly.IMG_7190

Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 The grapes come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Cramant, Les Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Oire in the Cotes des Blancs. The unblended wines are aged in stainless steel to retain their pure character. This is followed by 7 years of bottle aging in the cellars before release. This is a rather full-bodied Champagne for a Blanc de Blancs. It is elegant with hints of citrus fruit and a touch of raisins and bread. It is drinking very nicely and went well with the food.


1942 Patriarche Pére & Fils – wine merchants and producers have been in business for 230 years. They are in Beaune and have the largest cellars in Burgundy (5km). This was the oldest wine and it was still drinking very well. I purchased this wine in Paris.  IMG_7201

1967 Remoissenet Chambertin Clos de Beze Recent Release from Domaine.  Light-medium ruby color.  Jason: The nose is gorgeous with red currants, black cherries, minerals, damp earth and a touch of sauvage.  On the palate this is both elegant and powerful with a velvety texture, excellence balance and long finish.IMG_7205

1971 Domaine Louis Remy Latricieres-Chambertin. This was from a recent release. Jason: Light-medium ruby-garnet color.  Flowers, red cherries, Gevrey Earth and baking spices on the nose.  Bears a striking resemblance to the Philippe Remy 1971 Chambertin that we had alongside it.  On the palate this is sweet with a note of iron filings to the taste.  Velvety and medium long finish.IMG_7204

1971 Domaine Philippe Remy Chambertin.  Jason: The nose here is strawberries, earth, baking spices, flowers.  We had this alongside a 1971 Louis Remy Latricieres-Chambertin.  On the palate this is deep, gorgeous, nuanced, velvety and long.  A great bottle of wine. Both Jason and I agree that these last two wines will age for a number of years.


Granbussia Riserva 1974 and Riserva 1989 Aldo Conterno made from Michet and Lampia varieties of Nebbiolo. Harvest is manual with grape selection in the vineyard and the harvest takes place in mid-October. Vinification is in wood with maceration of the skins in large Slavonia oak casks. The must remains in contact with the skin for 60 days, during which alcohol fermentation is fully completed. The wine is then placed in large Slavonia casks for 32 months.IMG_7214

The grapes for the Granbussia Riserva are from the oldest vineyards: Romirasco 70%, Cicala 15% and Colonello 15% depending on the vintage. The wine remains in the cellar for 8 years before release and is only produced in the best vintages.

1974 was not a great year for Barolo and it was given a lot of attention because 1972, 73, 75, 76 and 77 were off vintages. The wine was showing its age and it was well passed its peak. 1974 Jason: Some of the guests really liked this.  Everyone else hated it.  They thought that it was flawed and over the hill.

For me the best two vintages since 1982 have been the 1989 and the 1996. The 1989 is a wine with all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors: cherries, prunes, tar and leather. It is a wine that will last.

Jason: Double Decanted for 4.5 hours.  Medium-deep ruby color.  The nose is white pepper, red cherries, licorice, black truffles, with a distinct “vinyl” omponent.  On the palate this is more closed in on itself than I remember it being.  Maybe this has entered a bit of a dumb stage or maybe it’s a less than perfect bottle?  Finished the last 40% of the bottle two nights later after it was stored in the refrigerator in a 1/2 bottle and it was even better than two days prior.  The flavors have knitted together and become deeper and more profound.  IMG_7210

Cantina Bartolo Mascarello 1982. About 13 years ago Michele and I visited the winery with Alfredo Currardo, a close friend and owner/wine maker of the Vietti winery. Bartolo and Alfredo spoke about wine and Bartolo was teasing Alfredo and told him that he made “industrial wine” because Vietti produces, as Bartolo said, “so many wines”. I only wished I had a movie camera with me at the time to record the conversation between these two legendary wine makers. Both Bartolo and Alfredo are no longer with us but Maria Teresa, Bartolo’s daughter, continues to make wine in the same uncompromising style as her father–traditional, classic Barolo at its best. This is a great wine in a great year and it will age.

Jason: Double decanted for 4 hours.  Stunning wine.  Too tired to take detailed notes at this point, but this was drinking really well right now.  IMG_7208

Hermitage La Chapelle 1980 Jaboulet 100% Syrah is planted in a diversity of terroirs. The age of the vines is 40 to 60 years. The grapes come down from the slopes of l’Hermitage on small sledges and then are sorted manually and vinified traditionally in the cellars. The final assembly is made during aging in our cellars in wood for 15 to 18 months. During this time the wines are also racked. This is a complex and elegant wine with hints of black fruit, spice and leather. It has a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste. It is at its peak and was the wine of the evening. I also purchased this wine in Paris.

Jason: The nose here is gorgeous.  Soaring aromatics with smoked game, beef jerky, camphor, black cherries and bacon fat.  On the palate this is also stunning.  Deep, balanced and hugely nuanced.  I have never before had a Hermitage from 1980, and I must say that this was impressive!  WOW. IMG_7216

Chateau d’ Yquem 1997 (half bottle). Made from 80% Semillion and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Harvesting is by hand and the grapes are picked one at a time over a period of time. There is a gently pressing of the grapes and the wine is aged in oak barrels. 1997 is considered a great vintage. There was no Yquem produced in 2012. This is a complex and balanced wine with hints of dried apricot and a touch of tropical fruit. It was wonderful.

Jason: Medium golden color.  The nose is white flowers, apricots, almonds and marzipan.  On the palate this is balanced, deep and nuanced.

It was served with a peach and almond tart made by Deborah, Steven’s mother.



Filed under Aldo Conterno, Barolo- Bartolo Mascarello, Bartolo Mascarello, Chateau d'Yquem, Domaine Louis Remy Chambertin, Domaine Philippi Remy, French Red, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Jabpulet Hermitage La Chappelle, Patriarche Pere and Files, Remoissenet Burgundy, Tattinger Comtes de Champane, Uncategorized

Paris: Three Restaurants, Two Wine Stores, Eating and Drinking

Paris is such an enchanting city that Michele and I try to go there every year. Last year in November, we rented an apartment in the Marais for a week and the weather could not have been better. Michele wanted to try some new (to us) restaurants, and we returned two of my favorite wine stores.

l’Ambassade D “Auvergne

This is a classic French bistro 22 rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare Paris 3 +33142723122

I started with a specialty of the Auvergne region, swiss chard torte with salad. It was very good.IMG_6423

For the main course I had plump, rare cooked magret de canard-duck breast, served with a thick and creamy aligot –a potato puree laced with fresh local cow’s milk cheese. It was whipped at the table and was piled on my plate, hot and delicious.  For dessert we had a wonderful chocolate mousse –a large portion was served and they left the serving bowl on the table so you could eat as much as you wanted. For the quality, it was very reasonably priced.IMG_6419

We drank a Bandol 2009 Domaine de Terrebrune made from 85% Mourvèdre 10% Grenache and 5% Cinsault . The average age of the vines is 25 years. The soil is characterized on the surface by limestone gravel in brown clay so characteristic that it inspired the name of the Domaine. There is total destemming and fermentation is for 15 to 20 days in a closed vessel, maceration is achieved by pumping over. The wine is aged in oak barrels 50 to 60 hectoliters for 18 months. The Domaine is certified organic. This is a wine that can age. The wine went very well with the food. Service was very pleasant and friendly. I enjoyed the whole experience and look forward to returning.

 L’Ami Jean- 27 rue Malar Paris 7 +33147058689 http://www.amjean.euIMG_6441

Michele wanted to try this place the last time we were in Paris but we could not get a reservation. It is a small crowded restaurant and you can watch the chef, Stèphane Jègo, preparing the dishes. He screams, he pleads, he shouts loud enough to make you jump, he is in his own world but what he produces is fantastic. We had the 5 course tasting chef’s choice menu.IMG_6430

A fish dish was so good and so light that I wished there was more, a venison steak with a touch of caramel was without a doubt the best I had ever eaten, and for dessert, a rich rice pudding. It came with toasted walnuts and a salty caramel cream but it did not need any of it. I could not stop eating until it was all gone. It was without doubt the best rice pudding I have ever had in a restaurant. Michele makes an excellent rice pudding.


We drank another Bandol that day. Bandol 2006 Domaine Ray- Jean Made from 90% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault and 5% Grenache. Each variety is vinified separately. The vines are old and not staked. Fermentation lasts for 20 days and malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for 2 years in 40hl barrels. It is a balanced wine with hints of blackberries and other fruits and spice with a nice aftertaste and long finish. This is a wine that can age for many years.

Bistroy Les Papilles   30 Rue Gay Lussac

Stepping into this small cozy restaurant one cannot help but notice shelves filled with wine. There is no wine list so if you want a bottle of wine you just take it off the shelves and bring it to your table. The wine is also for sale retail and if you drink the wine in the restaurant there is a 7 Euro charge above the retail price on the wine. In the evening there is a four course menu set by the chef Ulric Claude (known as Tom). The menu changes everyday. There were six of us so we had the large table in the back of the restaurant, which was very comfortable. We made a number of trips to the shelves to pick wine for each course.

IMG_6500_2We started with some delicious charcuterie and pate, followed by an excellent beef stew with mushrooms and potatoes, a cheese course and dessert. The food was very good and the stew alone was worth the trip.

Our friends Nicole Serle and Travis Scott, owners of Turtledove wine store in NYC, chose the wines. They picked from the shelves wines that were rare and difficult to find in NYC. It was an excellent selection and all the wines went very well with the food.IMG_6495_2

We started with Champagne “Substance” 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Jacques Selosse. Low yields; organic viniculture and terroir are a hallmark of Mr. Selosse’s wines. He has all Grand Cru holdings in Avize, Cramant and Oger. He uses indigenous yeasts for fermentation and ages the wine in barrels, 20% new oak. The wine is left on the fine lees for an extended period. Dosage is kept to an absolute minimum. “Substance” is a solar Champagne created by Mr. Selosse in 1986, by marrying some 20 vintages in order to avoid vintage variation and allowing the terroir to speak on its own. This is full-bodied Champagne with good fruit, hints of orange peel and spice with good minerality.IMG_6492_2

Bussion Renar 2004 D. Dagueneau made from 100% organically grown Sauvignon Blanc. The soil is clay and flint and the vineyard is mid-slope on the Southwest side of Saint Andelain, the highest village in the Pouilly Fume appellation. The wine is barrel fermented and aged in almost neutral 450 to 600 liter barrels. It is a very balanced wine with hints of grapefruit, lime, herbs, good acidity and a touch of flint.

Clos Rougerad is an organic winery owned by the Foucault brothers. There are low yields, wild yeast is used and there is a long soft maceration with some new oak. The wines are vinified in barrel and bubble for a few years (18 to 24 months) depending on the vintage. The wine is stored in a glacially cold cellar and are bottled without filtration.IMG_6498_2

 Clos Rougeard “Breze” Saumur Blanc 2009 The wine is made from rare, old vines of Chenin Blanc from the Foucault’s own vineyards. The wine may be bottled as sec or demi-sec, depending on the vintage. The wine is golden-hued, with complex notes of dried fruits and nuts, a touch of honey and excellent acidity. The version we had was sec (dry). IMG_6503

Clos Rougeard Poyeux Saumur-Champigny Rouge Saumur-Champigny is a red wine appellation of Saumur in the central Loire valley. 100% Cabernet Franc. Juice from 40-60 year-old vines is fermented in a mix of oak barrels. Half of the wine is fermented in new Allier barrels; the other half i in 1-year old barrels purchased from Ch. Margaux and Ch. Haut-Brion. Poyeux’s bouquet displays hints of tobacco mingled with red fruit aromas. On the palate, red fruits flavors are rich and full. Tannins, though present, are remarkably integrated with a long finish returning with aromas of sweet, cherry tobacco. A very impressive wine.


There are many wine stores in Paris but these are the two which I go to the most.

Bossetti 34 Rue des Archives 01 48 04 07 77  They have a large selection Burgundy and Rhone Valley Wines and are famous for their Chartreuse collection. Look for older bottles from the Loire Valley going back to the 1950’s and not that expensive.

Le Vinis Illustribus 48 rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve   +33 1 43 36 12 12

If you are looking for old wine this is the place to go. Linonel Michelin, the owner, loves to talk about wine, especially older wines. When we were there he was doing a tasting for a group of young Japanese women and told us they were the leading wine bloggers in Japan.IMG_6740

I purchased a 1964 Crozes Hermitage, Andre, which I drank and it was excellent. It was his last bottle. I also purchased a bottle of Hermitage “La Chapelle” Jaboulet 1980, 1983 Clos des Papes and a 1942 Bourgogne Patriarche. I opened the ‘83 and it was drinking like a young wine. The 1942 and the 1980 are resting at a friend’s house for a special wine dinner next week.








Filed under Bandol Terrebrune winery, Bandol- Ray-Jean, Bistroy Les Papilles, Bossetti- wine store, Buisson Renard D. Dagueneau, Champagne Substance Jacques Selosse, Clos Rougeard Breze, Clos Rougeard Les Poyeux, French Red, French Sparkling Wine, French White Wine, French Wine, L'Ami Jean, Le Vinis Illustribus, Paris, Restaurant l'ambassade d'auvergne, Uncategorized

Two Traditional Restaurants in Provence

These are two of my favorite restaurants in Provence,one is perfect for lunch the other for dinner.

Restaurant Auberge de la Clue– Deep in the country east of Vaison la Romaine, this family owned restaurant serves traditional Provencal cooking at a very reasonable price.

Gizzard Salade

Gizzard Salade

I could not resist ordering the gizzard salad with smoked duck breast and walnuts.  I was not disappointed.  The salad was excellent. For he second course I had duck confit one of my favorites and it was perfect. Then there was the dessert – prune ice cream with Armagnac – it was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.IMG_3624

We drank a Château d’Aqueria Tavel 2012.  It is made from seven different grapes, the principal one being Grenache 52%.  The vines are 35 years old.  The grapes are completely destemmed before being put into the maceration vats for 24 to 48 hours. The grape varieties are then blended two by two. After fully “bleeding” the vats (drawing off the juice), fermentation takes place at regulated temperatures (18 to 20°C). The different grape varieties are then all blended together and age for several months before being bottled at the estate. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and more than a hint of strawberries and raspberries. About $20 in the US.


Restaurant Mas des Vignes –IMG_3699

This restaurant is on the road that goes up to Mt Ventoux. There are exquisite views across the Rhone Valley to the Cevennes Mountains. The sunsets are spectacular but do not get there too early as the sun can be blinding.

Pork Cheeks

Pork Cheeks

I began with foie gras, which was perfect followed by very tender pork cheeks with mushrooms and polenta. The dessert was 3 scoops of sorbet with very intense flavors of blueberry, basil and melon. This was one of the best meals I had in Provence.IMG_3709

For the wine, I ordered a Gigondas Domaine du Grand Bourjassot “Cuveé Cécile” 2009.  They have 7.5 acres in Gigondas. The wine is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. This is a full-bodied wine with black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of blueberries and a touch of lavender. About $35 in the US.



Filed under French Red, Gigondas, Provence, Restaurants Provence, Tavel

Eating in Provence: Rabbit, Gizzards, Pigeon and Bull

When I am in a restaurant in France I try to order dishes that are difficult to get in NYC.   On this trip so far, I have enjoyed rabbit, gizzards, pigeon and bull. 

La Bastide Bleu –Sequret

This is a very charming restaurant with outside dining in a courtyard of a farmhouse with very good Provencal food. I started with a salad of arugula and gesiers, confit gizzards, with hazelnuts and sun dried tomatoes, followed by braised rabbit with rice.

Confit Gizzards

Confit Gizzards

To go with the meal I ordered a bottle of Jean David Red Blend Cotes-Du-Rhone 2011 72%, Cinsault 10%, Carignan, Counoise 6% and the rest Syrah and Mourvedre.  Located within walking distance from the restaurant, the vineyards and winery are organic certified.IMG_3540

All work in the vineyards is done by hand and the soil is clay and limestone. There is no de-stemming.  Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts and varieties are co-fermented.  Both fermentation and aging occur in stainless steel or concrete. The wine is aged in concrete for one year. Bottling is done without fining and filtration and with minimal SO2. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit and a hint of spice. It is a well-structured wine and goes very well with food.

Lemon Sorbet

Lemon Sorbet

Our dessert was simple yet bracing, lemon sorbet drizzled with limoncello, and topped with whipped cream.

Auberge Du Beaucet — Beaucet

The Bull

The Bull

The restaurant is situated in a hill top village with a lovely dining room and covered terrace with great views. I ordered foie gras to start and then had roasted bull filet with red wine sauce.  The meat was chewy with a deep beefy flavor.   Fries made from butternut squash were a delicious accompaniment.IMG_3581

Chãteau Du Mourre Du Tendre 2005 Red Blend Cotes-Du-Rhone-Villages. This is a very traditional organic winery. Made from 65% Grenache, and 35% Mourvedre. The grapes are from a single parcel called Le Clos des Grenadiers that abuts the Chåteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. The Grenache was planted in 1925 and the Mourvedre was planted in 1969. The soil is gravelly clay-limestone. The vineyards are worked manually and as naturally as possible in terms of chemical additions. Pesticides have never been used. Yields are kept extremely low. Grapes are hand harvested. Triage (sorting) is done in the vineyard before grapes arrive at the winery. Grapes are all harvested by hand and sorted both in the vineyard and in the cellar. The grape bunches are not de-stemmed, and fermentation occurs naturally with indigenous yeasts and fairly long maceration. The wines are then aged for a minimum of 3 years in concrete tanks and old foudre, then bottled without filtration. This is a full-bodied wine with black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of leather and a touch of spice. The current vintage is 2008

Restaurant Beaugraviere — Mondragon

This restaurant was a little out of the way but it has a great wine list featuring the wines of Côtes-du-Rhone, Chåteauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage among many others.

The Piegon

The Piegon

They are also known for their truffles and have an entire truffle menu.  I started with sautéed foie gras with a puree of apples and Michele had a truffle omelet, which she really enjoyed.  For the second course I had pigeon, which was excellent.IMG_3588

Chãteauneuf –du-Pape White 2011 Domaine De Nalys Grenache, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Picpoul are put into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and fermented at 18 degrees C. Rousianne and Picardan are barrel fermented before blending with the other varieties. Maturation takes place in tanks for 8/12 months. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Bottling is very early to keep the wine’s aromatic freshness. This is a wine with subtle citrus aromas and flavors with good minerality and a savory character.IMG_3592

Bandol 1993 Domaine Tempier made from 70/75% Mourvedre, 14/16% Grenache,8/9% Cinsault and 2/3% Carrignan depending on the vintage. The soil is a mix clay and limestone. Traditional tilled soil, both mechanically and by hand, without the use of herbicides. The vines are treated without any chemical fungicides. Grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins 30kg. Clusters are hand selected in the vineyard and in the cellar. After destemming traditional fermentation takes place with natural yeast for 2/3 weeks in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. After pressing, the wine is put into large oak casks 25/75HL to complete malolactic fermentation and to mature for 18/20 months. The wine is bottled without fining or filtering. This was a very impressive wine showing no real sign of age. It has black fruit aromas and flavors, with hints of leather and spice a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste.









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Filed under Auberge Du Beaucet, Bandol, Chateau Du Mourre Du Tendre, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de Nalys, Domaine Tempier, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Jean David Wine, Restaurant Beaugraviere, Restaurant La Bastide Blue

In Provence

When we arrived in Provence the weather was very hot, just perfect for enjoying the Rosé wines from this enchanting part of France.  Of course we would drink some white wine and if the weather cooled off, a red wine or two. We had rented a house in Abignon near Carpentras. It is very near to great wine areas such as Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Cotes du Rhone, and Vaqueyras, so wine would not be a problem.

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

We decided to go out for one meal a day, usually lunch, and have one meal at the house. There is a large organic garden where we can pick our vegetables and there are a number of towns nearby with great farmers markets.

Veal and Langoustine

Veal and Langoustine

 For lunch one afternoon we went to Restaurant L’ Oustalet in Gigondas. This restaurant has a very interesting menu different from the typical ones in the area.  One of the courses I ordered was a carpaccio of veal and langoustine mixed together covered with foam. It was not what I expected but it was very good. They also have a very good wine list from which I ordered a bottle of white wine:IMG_3512

Coudoulet de Beaucastle 2011 Cotes- Du-Rhone made from 30% Bourboulemc, 10% Clairette, 30% Marsanna and 30% Viognier. The vines grow in a 3 acre vineyard between Orange and Avignon. There is manual harvesting, sorting of the grapes, pneumatic pressing, racking and fermentation partly in oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for 8 months. The wines are assembled and bottled without passage at low temperatures. This white wine with a mineral  and savory character, subtle citrus fruit, good acidity, a very pleasing dry finish and long aftertaste.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The house has a pizza oven on the property and one afternoon we decided to make pizza. Michele made the dough and I tended the fire and baked the pizzas.  With the pizza we drank:IMG_3526

Bandol Rosé 2012 AOC Bondol Domaine Tempier made from 50% Mourvédre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 2% Carignan. The soil is a mix of clay and limestone; it is tilled mechanically and by hand. The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins of 30 kg and hand selected in the vineyard and cellar. Vinification is by direct pressing or after cold maceration or by saignées between 5 and 10 percent. This is a Rosé with a lot of body and flavor, floral overtones, peaches, a hint of spice and good acidity. The wine worked very well with the pizza with its different toppings.IMG_3491

Les Palliēres “ au petit Bonheur” 2012 Rosé Vin de Table- the winery is located outside the village of Gigondas.  Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette, the blend depending on the vintage. The soil is clay and limestone and the vines are at 250 to 400. The grapes are sourced from younger vines and the juice is obtained from directed pressing.  Fermentation takes place in 650-liter demi-muids. This is a very pleasant wine with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of melon. We enjoyed this wine with the shrimp that we purchased at the market.



We passed a farm stand one day advertising fresh cepes, porcini mushrooms.  They were big and beautiful and Michele bought a few to serve as our appetizer that night for dinner.  She larded the caps with slices of fresh garlic, drizzled  them with olive oil and sprinkled them with fresh thyme from the garden.  After roasting in a hot oven, they were tender and meaty, just the way we have eaten them in Italy.  For a second course, we had rotisserie spareribs that we had gotten at the market in Carpentras.  The wine for the night was a perfect choice: IMG_3529

Gigondas 2005 Clos du Joncuas made from 80% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah. They use organic methods in the vineyards and traditional vinification. The wine has red and black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of spice. It was an excellent combination with the roasted porcini mushrooms we had at the house. I do not believe this wine is imported into the US but I really liked it. The wine cost 14 Euros in the coop store in Gigondas.


Filed under Bondol, Clos du Joncuas Gigondas, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Domaine Tempier Rose, French Red, French White Wine, Gigondas, Les Pallieres Rose, Pizza and Wine, Provence, Rose, Uncategorized

The Return of the League of Gentlemen

I have not written about the League because it has been over two years since we last met. Then last week I received an e-mail for a “pop up” meeting of the group to be held at Barbounia Restaurant on Park Ave South in NYC. The message also suggested that we dig deep into our cellars and bring our best wines.  Six of us attended and the wines were fantastic.  The food at Barbounia was very good. I believe they may make the best thin pizza (Roman style) in NYC.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The WinesIMG_3415

Champagne Salon Brut “Le Mesnil 1997– vintage blanc de blanc, prestige cuvee in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger 100% Chardonnay. The grapes come from 100% rated village (Grand Cru).  This is all they produce.  In his book “Champagne for Dummies,” Ed Mc Carthy says the following:  “this is a massive, complex champagne that uses almost no dosage, but tastes so rich that you do not miss the dosage. With age it takes on aromas of walnuts, honey, vanilla and coffee. It is a superb example of the grapes of the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, the greatest Chardonnay village in Champagne. It can age for a very long time.” Ed is right on the money!IMG_3421

Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos” 1995 Dauvissat 100% Chardonnay. This is my favorite producer of Chablis and it was everything and more than one would expect from Chablis.IMG_3418

Corton Charlemagne 1994 Vincent Girardin 100%. Chardonnay The grapes are harvested by hand and are sorted twice-when picking the grapes and on the sorting table.There is a light pressing to get a slow extraction. After a gentle racking of the must, the wine is put in French oak casks (between 10 and 35% of new oak depending upon the appellation) The primary and malolactic fermentations can then begin with wild yeasts, which are on the grape berries. The aging is long on fine lees, between 14 and 20 months(depending on the “cuvees”).  They follow the lunar calendar for bottling.IMG_3414

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1970 St. Emilion 66% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 1% Malbec.IMG_3411

Chateau L’Angèus 1966 St. Emilion  60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot.

Both of the Bordeaux wines were in excellent condition. There was a discussion as to which one was drinking better and it was a split decision.IMG_3413

Côte- Rôte 1994 “Côte- Brune” Gentaz- Dervieux Syrah with a tiny addition of Viognier. This is a wine I have only had once before. It is a traditional classic style Côte-Roti. The vines are 100 years old and there is fewer than 2 hectares of vines.  The wine is aged in old oak barrels. It is a complex wine with hints of cherry, a touch of apricot, a mineral and savory component and it needs more time to develop. I was very impressed with this wine.  IMG_3410

Barbaresco Riserva 1978 Borgogno 100% Nebbiolo. Borgogno is noted for their Barolo but they also make an excellent Barbaresco. 1978 was an outstanding vintage. This Barbaresco is drinking very well now and is at its peak.IMG_3427

Domaine de Trevallon 1994.  Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I have never had this wine before but really enjoyed it.  The winery is located in Saint-Etienne du Grès in the Bouches du Rhone. They use no pesticides or insecticides, only sheep manure. The use of close pruning methods reduces the yield and prolongs the life of the vine from 20 to 50 years. They believe that it is best to do as little as possible in the cellar, no use of exogenous yeasts and no corrections for acidity. The whole process is completely natural, either by punch over by foot, or pump over to aerate the wine. The wine is aged for two years in oak.


Filed under Chablis, Champagne, Corton Charlemagne, Cote Rote, Domaine de Trevallon, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Gentaz-Derieux, Italian Red Wine, Salon, Vincent Girardin

Eating and Drinking in Paris

There is something about Paris that makes it special, even in the snow. Our flight landed at 8:20 AM the day after the snowstorm and we did not leave the airport until 11:00 AM. Turns out they were unprepared for snow. The taxi driver got lost trying to find the hotel, not because of the snow but because he did not his way around Paris. By the time we got to the hotel we were tired and cold and the streets were full of slush and ice.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

 But it was Paris, so we made our way to Café de Flore, 26 rue Benoit/Sain Germain-Des-Pres. I had the La Jockey (Croque Madame) and Michele had quiche.  This is a very popular place both with the French and tourists and there are so many interesting people to watch.

By the next day the snow was gone and we went for a walk toward Les Halles. We passed a small restaurant that resembled an old Parisian Bistro and I looked in the window. The décor was old fashioned and kind of shabby and the menu on the chalkboard outside looked great, plus it was inexpensive. We kept it in mind and a few days later we went for lunch. Le Gros Minet 1Rue Prouvaires (+33 1 42 33) is a family run restaurant.  The food is simple in the style of Southwest France but very good and the bread is excellent. The staff is friendly and the service is attentive. There is a choice of house wines. I ordered a Cote Du Rhone and I could not believe how good it was, though I never did find out the name!  I had kidneys in a mustard sauce and Michele had a salad with foie gras.IMG_2921

When the taxi arrived at Taillevent, 15 rue Lamennais (, two men opened the doors and  escorted us into the restaurant. Inside there was a gracious welcome.  We were escorted to a very comfortable table and settled in with a glass of champagne. I do not have any pictures because one does not take pictures at Taillevent! The food was excellent as was the wine and the service.  The menu at lunch changes every two weeks, so I will not write about what we ate. But for dessert it was Paris Brest, basically a cream puff pastry with hazelnut filling.  It was so delicious. The meal ended with a glass of Armagnac.  The meal was expensive but I have paid more in restaurants in NYC that were not as good.  This was a very special experience.

Confit of Duck

Confit of Duck

One chilly and rainy night we made our way to Restaurant Chez Paul at 13 rue de Charonne.(+33 1 47 00 34 57). This is a traditional Bistro, very cozy and very crowded. Michele had made a reservation on line but when we got there the gentleman at the desk said they did not have the reservation. After a few awkward moments, he smiled and seated us at a table close to the bar. From now on we will always confirm our reservation that we make on line by phone when we arrive in Paris. I had an excellent confit of duck with apples and garlic and Michele had Steak au Poivre. For dessert Dèlicieuse poire au vin èpice et vanillè. It was, as it name says, delicious and it is the house specialty.IMG_2934 We drank the Domaine Milan Les Baux de Provence Clos Milan Rouge 2005 made from 75% Grenache, 20% Shiraz (Syrah) and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes come from vines that are at least 40 years old that grow in quaternary sands and gravels. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in cement tanks for about three weeks and then aged in old barriques for a further 12 months.



La Regalade now has two locations. The original at– 49 Jean Moulin and the other at 123 Rue Saint Honore (+33 1 42 21 92 40).   Both locations start you off with a large terrine of pate de campagne and a crock of cornichons with bread that is toasted and crunchy. It is almost a meal in itself and delicious.

Pate de Champagne

Pate de Champagne

The first night we went to the one on Rue Saint Honore because it was close to the hotel. The food was good but the pigeon I ordered was covered with FOAM. This was completely unnecessary, did not add anything to the dish, in fact it distracted from it. We had a nice bottle of Cahors 2009 Château du Cadre.Made from 90% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 5% Tannat Fermentation is between 30 and 35 days with with pumping down at the beginning of fermentation. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrels. Aging for 22 months in oak barrels (Troncais) of different ages. The wine is not filtered.  It has black fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of spice.

Pigeon with Foam

Pigeon with Foam

We went to the original La Regalade a few nights later with a French friend who lives in NYC but is working in Paris for the next six months. We went by Metro and she carried her dog in a cloth basket on the train and brought it  into the restaurant. The dog was very well behaved and was given some water by the waitress. The food was good but again the FOAM, this time on my pork.

Egg on a Bed of Asparagus

Egg on a Bed of Asparagus

Michele had a perfectly cooked egg on a bed of asparagus topped with a thin slice of cheese wich she really liked.IMG_2925

We drank a bottle of Bandol 2006 Domaine Ray-Jane.  I believe the principal grape is Mourevdre and it went very well with the food.

We stayed at the Hotel Molière, 21 Rue Molière(+33 1 42 96 22 01) on the right bank. This is a quiet family run establishment with very nice rooms. The highlight however was the bathroom; it had a large walk in shower, a big bathtub, a long trough-like sink and more light than any bathroom I have ever been in before. The hotel was in a good location because it was in walking distance of many of our favorite restaurants.

Just a few blocks away was Chez Georges- located at 1 Rue du Mail (01 42 60 07 11)

Calf's Liver

Calf’s Liver

Michele really enjoys the atmosphere of this classic Parisian bistro.  Usually we order the same dishes each time we go but this time we ordered foie gras to start instead of the Salade Frisee aux Lardons we usually get.  Once again we ordered calf’s liver al anglaise fried in butter with a big thick slab of bacon on top, and frites. Since it was our last night we added a cheese course. For dessert, as usual we ordered the Tarte Tartin, an upside down apple tart accompanied by a large bowl of extra thick crème fraiche.

Crozes- Hermitage 2010Domaine Saint-Clair 100% Syrah. This was a lovely red wine that went very well with the food.

Chestnut Souffle

Chestnut Souffle

L’Ardoise 28 Rue due Mont Thabor (+33 I 42 96 28 18) We had a very nice meal here but the food came out too quickly and the place is small and cramped. The most memorable dishes were the desserts, a chestnut soufflé and a lemon meringue tartlet.  IMG_2931

Jaques Genin 133 Rue Turenne.   It was cold in Paris and what better way to spend part of the afternoon than in a beautiful place enjoying a hot chocolate. We drank hot chocolate and munched on bite sized chocolates and caramels. The caramels are expensive but well worth it-they are indescribably delicious!


Filed under Cafe de Flore, Chez Georges, Chez Paul, French Red, French Wine, Jaques Genin, L'Ardoise, La Regalade, Le Gros Minet, Paris, Paris Hotels, Paris Restaurants, Taillevent