Roses of Bordeaux on board in the Bay of Archachon

Jul 31, 12 Roses of Bordeaux on board in the Bay of Archachon

Posted by in Food and Wine, France

Rosé is still fighting an up hill battle. Despite the variety of styles available, most people either associate it with sickly sweet Blossom Hill or the light, pale rosés of Provence. There are however, wines that fall into the middle and that is where you can find the rosés of Bordeaux. Deeper in colour but still bursting with fruit, they are dry with balanced acidity and some even have a hint of tannin to them. As part of my trip to the Fete le Vin with the CIVB, we got to spend one sunny day on the Bay of Archachon, which is less than an hour’s drive away from the centre of Bordeaux, sailing, eating and drinking those lovely wines. Archachon is the beach playground of Bordeaux and it has a long promenade of cafes facing a wide beach of tan coloured sand. We arrived at around 10am as people were setting up beach football pitches and sun umbrellas. Arcachon is also famous for its oysters and we got to sample them once we were on the boat. A few winemakers were also along for the ride (and they just happened to bring along some white Bordeaux) along with the rosés. White Bordeaux is probably just as misunderstood as Bordeaux rosés. If people know about it, they think of the sweet white wines of the region but dry whites are also made from the sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes that are predominately grown in the region, along with a bit of muscadelle and ugni blanc. The Bordelais seem to be focusing on sauvignon blanc and I do like the wines, they have body and weight to them with lemon and grapefruit aromas and flavours. The rosés made an appearance and were very welcome as we were boating along. A cavalcade of seafood joined the roseés and we had literally buckets of langoustines, crabs, oysters, snails, all on ice and just waiting to be cracked open. We had to shuck the oysters ourselves but it’s...

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Bordeaux’s Fete Le Vin 2012

Jul 26, 12 Bordeaux’s Fete Le Vin 2012

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Travel

So it seems we might actually be getting a summer in London, albeit, 2 months tardy! Happily, I was invited  by the CIVB to Bordeaux in late June for the Fete le Vin, a bi-annual event held on the quays of Bordeaux City which features affordable Bordeaux for everyday, where they are having a proper summer. The Fete le Vin runs for almost a week but there is plenty to do in and around the city. The first day we went on a city walk,which was great fun. The city is quite ancient and the Medieval section of town, which is very close to the river holds many fascinating nooks, crannies and alleyways with a plethora of cafes, restaurants and bars. I could have spent the day hopping from one cafe to another! The historic part of the city itself was declared an UNESCO site in the 1990’s and the limestone buildings have recently been completely cleaned so the city is nice and bright! The city is one of Europe’s biggest 18th century architectural urban areas. You can almost imagine  horse drawn carriages through the streets until one of the super modern electric trams goes gliding by. The wines of Bordeaux are often perceived as being out of reach of most people but in reality, the Petrus’ and Cheval Blancs make up only a tiny percentage of the production of the region. The majority of the wines are made for consumption within a few years. The Fete likes to also emphasize that wine should be paired with food and this year they hooked up with Hong Kong to showcase how Chinese cuisine and French wines can go together. I loved wandering along the quay and stopping at the various stands with my glass in hand,sampling the multitude of wines and styles. The event featured just about all the wines of the region other then the top crus. Red, white, sweet, sparkling they were all represented along with various delicacies of the region and plenty...

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2011 Secret de Leoube, Provencal rose

Jul 22, 12 2011 Secret de Leoube, Provencal rose

Posted by in France

It looks like summer is finally going to make an appearance and really not a minute too soon as I was beginning to give up hope. I’ve been drinking rosé wines anyway because I think that rosés can be drunk anytime of year. I say that with the proviso that I like my rosés to be dry with the fruit not too apparent on the palate. I tried Chateau Leoube’s rosé last year and enjoyed it very much. A delicately hued pink colour, it ticked all the boxes of a Provencal rosé . I tried the 2011 vintage this year and it is still a great wine. Chateau Leoube is a venture started by the same folks who own Daylesford Dairy so they do all they can to ensure that the vineyards are as organic and sustainable as possible. The wine estate consists of 65 hectares of vineyards and 20 devoted to olive trees for their organic olive oil. I also tried their Secret de Leoube 2011. A wine with body and elegance, it dances on the palate, a pale peachy colour, red berry fruits on the nose, creamy in the mouth with strawberries, cranberries and a bit of spice with a long finish (for a rose). This is a wine that is much more then an everyday rose, I loved it! The Secret de Leoube is available from Corney & Barrow and retails for £21. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Bicycling through the Loire

Jun 25, 12 Bicycling through the Loire

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Lifestyle, Travel

I tend to go on a fair amount of press trips as a wineblogger and they are all fantastic. I mean who wouldn’t enjoy the chance to visit the winemakers in their own milieu, tasting wines that quite possibly have been resting in the cellars for years or wines that never even leave the estate but are saved for special visitors. However, I recently came back from a trip to the Loire Valley in France that has to be one of my favourite press trips ever. The reason is quite simple, it’s because it was like no other press trip I’ve ever been on, a bicycling trip through the Loire. Usually press trips are an endless treadmill of get on the bus, get off the bus, taste, eat, repeat, sometimes up to 5 times in a day! It might sound like fun but if you have to do it for 3 or 4 days in a row, it can get very tiring. Now bicycling might also seem tiring but it was actually very exhilirating to be out in the fresh early summer fresh air of the French countryside. Not only that, but being on a bicycle, we could proceed at our own pace and stop and take a picture now and then or even stop and inspect the soil of the vineyards if we so desired. So many times I’ve been on a press trip bus whizzing through amazing countryside unable to snap a single pic. Before we started, Jim Budd, one of the wine bloggers on the trip wondered if this trip was designed specifically with bloggers in mind as no respectable “wine journalist” would deign to be forced to pedal around the countryside. Well, all I can say is, they don’t know what they are missing! The sense of wonder, joy and just plain satisfaction of feeling you’ve earned that lunch after doing 20 kms in the morning. I also loved the fact that I wasn’t cooped up on a bus for...

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Chateau Margaux gets experimental

Mar 09, 12 Chateau Margaux gets experimental

Posted by in Biodynamic wine, France

If you are one of the 5 First Growths of Bordeaux (Ch. Margaux, Ch. Lafite Rothschild, Ch. Latour, Ch. Haut-Brion and lastly, Ch. Mouton Rothschild), you might think you could rest on your laurels, not give a fig for any new fangled advancements and just continue to produce wine the way it’s always been done. I mean, the first classification was done in 1855 and only one chateau has been added since then (Mouton Rothschild), and that was back in the 1970’s. You could do that but if you’re Chateau Margaux you won’t or rather, you don’t. That’s not to say the others are not also innovating but Ch. Margaux is the first to go public with their experimental findings.  Paul Pontallier, Managing Director and winemaker of Ch. Margaux was in town recently to give us a sneak peek into the inner workings of Ch. Margaux and how they are striving to maintain their reputation as one of the best wines of Bordeaux. He wants the world to know that Margaux is a forward thinking chateau and that they are looking to the wine business of the future, and the younger generation that will not only carry on the traditions but also build upon and improve what has gone before them. According to Paul, there is a plenty of experimentation and research going on in Bordeaux. He stressed however, that they themselves are not making anything new but rather in an organized way, they started these experiments because he does envisage change at some point in the future and his goal is to make the best possible wine and remain the best possible wine now and for future generations. So what are they up to? Pulling back the curtain of the great and mighty Oz (as in Wizard, not Clarke) we find, biodynamic wine! Let me explain first that the wines we tasted are not the ones that go into the first growth but are distinct plots that they are using on the estate...

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