Category Archives: French Wine

Champagne, Wine and Ravioli with Truffles

Our friends Ernie and Louise De Salvo invited us to their home for a special lunch featuring the season’s first white truffles. Their grandson Steven De Salvo, who is a terrific cook, would be assisting in the kitchen. I knew that Ernie would choose just the right wines to complement the meal.img_1845

We started with the Champagne Gosset “Celebris” Vintage Extra Brut 2002 made from 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot from Grand Cru grapes. This is complex Champagne with tiny bubbles, floral aromas and citrus fruits aromas and flavors, a hint of lime and a touch of vanilla. 2002 was an excellent vintage for Champagne.img_1838

We had this with dates stuffed with foie gras, nuts and Parmesan cheese wafers.img_1846

Barolo Bussia “Dardi Le Rose” 1995 Poderi Colla made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, liquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.img_1848

Stephen prepared delicate ravioli in a brown sauce stuffed with duck breast.img_1843

Ernie showered the ravioli with white truffles. The combination was exquisite!img_1854

Barolo Monfortino Riserva 1997 Giacomo Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. Another classic Barolo with hints of tar, tea, leather, red berries and faded roses.img_1851

With this we had Ernie’s interpretation of a classic Osso Buco served on whipped potatoes.img_1858

A 375 bottle of Sauterne Chateau Doisy-Véderines 2001.Made from 80% Semillon,15% Sauvignon and 5% Muscadelle. Fermentation in temperature controlled steel vats for a week and then the must is transferred to barriques for about 20 months. This is a full-bodied Sauterne with hints of apricot, orange blossom and a touch of honey and marmalade. It is a dessert wine that will age.img_1856

With it we had a rich Italian style cheesecake.

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Filed under Champagne, Chateau Doisy- Verderines, French Wine, Giacomo Conterno, Gosset Celebris Champagne, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Poderi Colla, Sauterne, Sauterne

A Thanksgiving with a Difference

Sometimes Michele makes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and sometimes she cooks something completely different. This time it was completely different

We started with smoked duck breast, cashew nuts, green olives and foie gras on toast with fig jam.img_1861

For an aperitivo, we drank a Franciacorta Bellavista Grand Cuvèe Brut 1989 Classic Champagne Method. The wine today is made from 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Bianco but I do not know what the blend was in 1989 and they have since changed all their labels and the names of the sparkling wine.img_1865

The next wine was a Champagne Blason de France Perrier-Jouèt, A Epernay Brut Rose NV Prestige Cuvèe. Made from 50% Pinot Noir, 15% Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. The dosage: 10g/l and it matures for at least 3 years in the house cellars. This is a powerful wine with a distinctive flavor, roundness, hints of red fruit and a touch of brioche. I do not know how old it was but I do know this label is not used anymore. It was a perfect combination with the foie gras and fig jam.img_1875

The next course was mushroom soup made with chanterelles and other mushrooms, a splash of Cognac and finished with cream.

We began with the Roero Arneis 2001 from Bruno Giacosa. Made from 100% Arneis. The wine was showing very well. It had a depth of aromas and flavors that one would not expect from a 15 year old white wine. I was not surprised because I had the 1974 a few years ago and it was showing very well.img_1869

Volnay 1er Cru “Les Santenots” 1972 Domaine Potinet Ampeau. At a dinner with such remarkable older wines this was my favorite. It was all one could ask for from a Burgundy.img_1860

Our main course was a pork loin roast stuffed with mortadella, accompanied by a potato and Fontina gratin prepared by one of the guests, green beans with Parmigiano Reggiano and Brussels sprouts with pancetta and walnuts from Michele’s book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook.img_1879

With it, we had the Vino Nebbiolo Sori Del Turco 1971 from Gaja. Angelo Gaja’s father made the wine. I would think it was 100% Nebbiolo but back then they often added Barbera to the blend. This is a classic wine with all the aromas and flavors of the Langhe.img_1871

We finished the main course and the cheese course with a magnum of Villa Antinori Chianti Classico 1964.

The wine was in excellent condition which did not surprise me because I had the Antinori Chianti Classico 1943 not too long ago. So much for those who say Sangiovese does not age. Sheldon Wasserman in his classic book “The Noble Red Wines of Italy” has a tasting note dated 1/83 on the magnum. He gives it one star and says it might be drying out. He was wrong. This is a wine with body and hints of cherry and blueberry, Chianti Classico just the way I like them.

Our dessert was roasted chestnuts and fresh fruit, followed by an airy pumpkin chiffon pie prepared by our friend Diane Darrow  https://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com for the recipe

We finished the meal with Romano Levi Grappa and cafè.

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Filed under Antinori, Arneis, Bellavista, Champagne, French Wine, Gaja, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Nebbiolo 1971 Gaja, Perrier- Jouet Blason de France, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook, Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots Domaine Potinet Ampeau

12 Wines $20 and Under for All Seasons

 

There are some wines that I like to drink all year round. They go with the foods I like to eat and I know I can turn to them at any time. I consider them wines for all seasons. Remember that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to drink well.

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $1IMG_9987

Falanghina Beneventano 2015 DOC 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. Donnachiara. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors nice acidity and good minerality. $18IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2014 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. Alois The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $20IMG_1091

Côtes-du-Rhone Samorëns Blanc 2015 made from Clairette and Grenache. Ferraton Père & Flis  The grapes are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly chilled upon arrival at the winery via a chill tunnel. After pressing, the must is cold-settled for 48 hours. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where many lots will under go malolactic fermentation. The wine is then blended and bottled without the use of oak. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and good acidity. $15IMG_1094

Pinot Grigio 2015 Alto Adige DOC Peter Zimmer. Made from a selection of grapes from the best vineyards of the valley floor and the steep slopes nearby. The soil here is stony, sandy and extremely chalky. The low yields per hectare and this particular terroir combines for a very particular Pinot Grigio.  The grapes are gently pressed, then clarified through the natural settling of sediment. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, and a hint of spice, good mineral character and fresh acidity. $16IMG_0912

Gewürztraminer Alto Adige DOC 2014 Elena Walch made from 100% Gewurztraminer from small vineyards around the villages if Tramin and Caldero. After harvest, the grapes are crushed and pressed. The fresh must is clarified at low temperatures then gently fermented at a controlled temperature of 20°C in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures in stainless steel tanks for several months on its fine lees. The wine has hints of white flowers and spice with a nice long finish. $20

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rose 2015 IGP Pays d’OC  Chapoutier made from 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah. The estate was purchased by Michel Chapoutier in 1999 and is located in one of the best parts of the Languedoc called the Cotes du Roussillon. The grapes are carefully vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in the same tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the delicate pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then carefully blended prior to bottling. $15IMG_1075

Bordeaux Rose 2015 made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Chateau de Lardiley. The soil is clay and limestone, organic agriculture and located in the heart of the Entre-Deux-Mers area in the village of Saint-Pierre-de Bat. The estate is situated midslope along the Garonne River. This is a ripe, red fruit dominated wine with hints of strawberries and raspberries. $15IMG_1092

Az. Agr. Apicella Colli di Salerno Piedirosso IGT 2014, made from 85% Piedirosso from ungrafted vines and 15% other red grapes. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is mostly pergola. Harvest takes place the third week of October. The stalks are removed and the grapes are pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 12 days. Piedirosso is used mostly as a blending grape.  (It is one of the grapes in the blend for Lacryma Chrisit del Vesuvio Rosso.) It is difficult to find wine made from 100% Piedirosso but worth the effort.
The wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of black pepper and spice a long finish and nice after taste. The wine should be drunk young. $16IMG_0914

Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Schiava from high side vineyards above Lake Caldaro at 1,312 ft. Elena Walch The soil is limestone and dandy clay. There is temperature-controlled fermentation at 27°C in stainless steel tanks for 7 days of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation and maturation take place in traditional 8,000-liter Slovenian oak casks. This is a fruity red wine with hints of cherry and a nice bitter almond touch on the finish. $16IMG_1093

Cahors Malbec Prestige 2011 AOP Cahors Domaine du Théron 100% Malbec. Family owned and operated by Pelvillain Freres. The domaine was established in 1973 and is situated in the village of Prayssac in the valley of Lot. The soil is limestone and clay with cover grass planted between the rows. Grapes are harvested in the early morning, destemmed and lightly crushed. Maceration and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After the wines are racked to different stainless steel tanks where malolactic fermentation is completed. The wines are aged in barriques for about 12 months, 1/3 of which is new wood. The best barrels are selected and blended into the Cuvée Prestige which is the top of the line and aged another year in bottle before release. This is a big dark wine with hints of spice and chocolate and a touch of blueberries with a smooth yet powerful finish. $18

Moscato d”Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG –NV 100% Moscato d”Asti, Vietti. Grapes are selected from vineyards in Castiglione Tinella. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and they are about 40 years old. The grapes are crushed, pressed and naturally clarified. Must is stored, without sulfite, at low temperature in order to naturally prevent fermentation. Before bottling, yeast is added and the temperature is increased. Alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel autoclave to preserve natural CO2 from the fermentation. The fermentation is stopped at 5.5% alcohol by again reducing the temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place and preserves acidity, varietal fruit character and freshness. The wine is held in stainless steel tanks before bottling. The wine is delicately sweet, slightly sparkling, frizzante with hints of white peaches, apricots and ginger. $16

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Filed under Alois Winery, Cotes du Rhone- Ferraton, Donna Chiara Winery, Elena Walch, Falanghina, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Nino Franco, Pallagrello, Peter Zemmer, Piedirosso, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, 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!

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

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   http://www.ambassade-auvergne.com

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.

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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.

Winestores

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 www.Bossetti.fr  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 http://www.devinis.fr

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

“Fines Bulles” from the Loire Valley at Restaurant Bouley

Fines Bulles of the Loire Valley

An invitation for lunch and a tasting of 12 sparkling wines from the Loire Valley at Bouley in New York City seemed like a perfect opportunity to experience these very interesting wines. Bouley Restaurant is one of my favorites and though I had visited the Loire Valley only once, I enjoyed my stay there and liked the sparkling wines.IMG_6669

The speaker was Christy Canterbury M.W. She began by speaking about the Loire Valley and gave some background on the wines.

In 2002 the Fines Bulles (fine bubbles) was established for sparkling wine from Anjour-Samur-Touraine. The sparking wines here are made according to the Methode Traditionnelle. Like Champagne, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Christy said that this gives the finished wine a fine creamy mousse (foam) and texture that other sparkling wines cannot match

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Christy Canterbury, M.W.

The Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the third largest AOC vineyard in France. It is also the leading region for “fine bubbles.” The area extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the borders of Touraine along the Loire River, the longest river in France. It is one of the most northern wine regions in Europe. The terroir is the “tuffeau,” a soft porous, chalky (limestone) sub-soil. Christy pointed out that the limestone was used to build the region’s castles.

The main grape used in these sparkling wines is Chenin, but 11 others can be used, among them: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’ Aunis and Gamay.

The Loire Valley appellations that produce Fines Bulles include:

Vouvray: The appellation starts on the eastern edge of the city of Tours and includes 8 communes on the right bank of the Loire River and its tributary, La Brenne, covering 2,100 hectares. The vineyards cover stony slopes over a sub soil of tuffeau, punctuated by converging valleys made up of perruche (flinty clay) and aubius (clayey-limestone). Only Chenin Blanc can be used in the production of Vouvray Fines Bulles. Here Chenin Blanc is known as Pineau de Loire.

Christy said that the unique character of the wines comes from the limestone caves in which they are aged. They date from 60 to 90 million years ago. IMG_6674

Cuvée Excellence, Vouvray Brut NV Caves des Producteurs de Vouvray C. Greffe. 100% Chenin Blanc. Method Traditionnelle. This is the largest co-op in the region. The wine has hints of white flowers, citrus and a touch of baked apple. $20IMG_6684

Vouvray Méthode Traditionnelle Brut 2011 Domaine Sylvain Gaudron 100% Chenin Blanc. This is a third generation family run winery. Citrus aromas and flavors with hints of honey and a touch of candied fruits. $18IMG_6690

La Dilettante, Vouvray Pètillant, NV Catherine and Pierre Breton. 100% Chenin Blanc Méthod Traditionelle. This is an organic and bio-dynamic winery. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts present on the grape skins. Additional sulfur is kept to a bare minimum. They believe that the wine should be a true expression of the terroir. It has hints of citrus and pears with a touch of brioche. $20

Saumur Brut: Christy said that there is a gentle climate here, and the appellation covers 1,400 hectares, which lie south of the Loire on verdant slopes reaching right up to the town of Saumur. The characteristic element of the sub-soil is the tuffeau, the porous limestone that leaves its mark on the wines. Christy added that here the wine is bottled with the addition of a mix of sugar, wine and select yeasts. After the wine is disgorged a little sugar solution is added and the bottle is recorked and labeled. Christy said that the sugar is added to balance the natural acidity in the wines.IMG_6671

Saumur Brut, NV Domaine du Vieux Pressoir made from 70% Chenin Blanc and 30% Chardonnay. Method Traditionelle and each varietal is vinified separately at very cool temperatures. The wine is left in bottles for 15 months on the lees before disgorging. This is a complex wine with good acidity and hints of white fruit and mint. $2o IMG_6688

Bulles de Roches, Saumur, Mousseux, NV Thierry Germain & Michele Chèvre Made from 90% Chenin Blanc, 5% Chardonnay and 5% Cabernet Franc and they are hand harvested. Methode Traditionelle with dosage zero. This is a dry sparkling wine, with good citrus aromas and flavors, nice minerality and a touch of baked bread. It goes very well with food. $19IMG_6695

Chevalier de Grenele, Saumur Mousseux, NV in magnum. Caves Louis de Grenelle. Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc with 9 months aging on the lees.

Christy said that under the streets of the Loire Valley town of Saumur, miles and miles of chalk caves meander. Carved centuries ago, many were dug with prison labor under the direction of the king of France. There are so many streets underground that they actually outnumber the streets above ground. Two and a half kilometers of underground caves belong to the Cave of Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers. All of the bottles produced by the cave are stocked here, under the city, and left to age for several years.

Louis de Grenelle has been producing wines in this location since 1859. It has hints of hazelnuts, mint and a touch of licorice. At $38 for the magnum, it is a great buy and one of my favorites at the tasting.

Touraine: This is a large appellation with almost 4,500 hectares from the gates of the Sologne region to the edges of Anjou. It is spread over two administration regions along the Cher and Loire Rivers. 85% of the appellation’s surface area is southeast of the city of Tours on the slopes high above the Cher.

The sub-soil is tuffeau from the Paris Basin with clay limestone soils. The terraces along the banks of the Loire are composed of sand and gravel. The banks of the Cher are made up of flinty clay and flinty sand.IMG_6670

Intense Brut, Touraine Brut, NV Chäteau de L’Aulée 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. The Chenin vines are 10 to 40 years old. Guyot pruning is used in the vineyards, with natural or controlled grass growing in the dividing rows according to the need. Some of the grapes come from the so-called Joan of Arc vineyard, where she is said to have rested on her was to meet the future king Charles VII. This is a wine with hints of lime, pear and baked apple. $17IMG_6702

Touraine Rosé, Brut, NV Jean-Michele Gautier made from the Grolleau grape. Methode Traditionnelle. Family owned and managed since 1669. The farming is traditional organic without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Traditional wine making with very little interference in the winery. The owner/winemaker, Jean Michael, prefers the wines to display the terroir. Fermentation is at low temperature in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before bottling. This was another one of my favorites and a great food wine.$20IMG_6691

Cuveé JM Brut, Touraine Brut, NV Monmousseau Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, Method Traditionnelle. The wine spends 24 to 36 months on the lees. The same family has owned the property since 1886. It has hints of apple, honey, and hazelnut and good acidity. $18

Crémant De Loire: The vineyards stretch out for over 250 kilometers from east to west. In the east there is the terres blanches (white soil) and in the west the terres noires (black soil).IMG_6672

Crémant de Loire NV Chäteau de Brézé made from 60% Chenin and 40% Chardonnay. The vineyards are being converted to organic and then to biodynamic farming. Traditionelle brut method is used. It has citrus aromas and flavors with a hint of molasses. $20IMG_6694

Cuvée Flamme, Crémant de Loire Brut NV Gratien & Meyer, 60% Chardonnay, 25% Cabenet Franc and 15% Chenin Blanc. Wine is aged in their cellars for more than 2 years. It has nice fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of almonds and a touch of licorice. $18IMG_6701

Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé, NV Deligeroy made mostly from Cabernet Franc. The vines are 20 to 30 years old. It has nice strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors and a hint of peach. $16

I found the wines went very well with the food and most are priced at $20 or less which makes them a very good buy.

 

 

 

 

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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