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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Learning to ask for more than foie gras and Sauternes, Babble: an online gastronomic language course

Jul 17, 12 Learning to ask for more than foie gras and Sauternes, Babble: an online gastronomic language course

Posted by in Champagne

A friend recommended this site to me the other day and I thought it was worth posting about seeing as I’m always saying I should really learn French (and Italian and Portuguese) for my numerous trips abroad. You’d think my French would be pretty good by now! But anyway, the website called babbel.com offers online language learning courses and has, of course, it’s own online app. What really caught my attention and why I’m thinking of giving it a go is their Gastronomy and Wine course. According to their blog, “…you’ll be able to learn in seven languages how to describe wine, talk about everything from vegan (who cares? – winesleuth note) to molecular cuisine and unlock the secrets of herbs and spices (now that might be very useful from a wino’s point of view – winesleuth note ;)).” I guess I could stretch beyond foie gras and Sauternes so it may very well be useful, then again, I DO love me some foie gras and Sauternes…. Find out more about Babble here Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Bicycling through the Loire, part 2

Jun 27, 12 Bicycling through the Loire, part 2

Posted by in France, Lifestyle, Travel

The next day we had an early start, catching the train to Saumur, a short 45 minute train ride away. The weather was not as nice in the morning but as the day went on it cleared up to be a sunny afternoon. Seriously, when you’re on a bicycle, you don’t want it to be TOO sunny now do you? We headed through the vineyards of Saumur to our first stop of the day, Clos du Cristal. We had a wine tasting smack in the middle of the vineyards. An interesting note about Clos du Cristal is that their cabernet franc vines are planted against a wall with a hole about shoulder height. A large section of the vineyard is a series of rows of these walls.  Once the vines reach that height, the leaves and bunches of grapes all grow on the other side of the wall. The effect is that it looks like the vines are hiding from you on one side and the other side has grapes poking out of holes in the wall! This was done to keep the roots cool while still allowing the berries to get lots of sun. It seems to work as the cab franc was balanced with not too many vegetal notes coming through. Clos du Cristal is organic and they don’t use pesiticides as evidenced by the flocks of geese and chickens running around the vines. We hopped on our bikes and headed to a restaurant carved out of the soft rocks, L’Helianthe. I forgot to mention earlier that the region is dotted by troglodyte caves. The caves were dug out of the rocks thousands of years ago and were later used (and still are) as caves for the wines. Nowadays, it has become fashionable to use the caves as second homes by the locals. Or, a restaurant in this case. Lunch was quite tasty and one of the highlights was a Coteaux du Layon. Not far from the restaurant is Chateau de Targe....

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