Thanksgiving is here and it’s time for feasting. As a nation, we have surely earned it this year with all the election stress. Now it’s time to relax with loved ones over the long weekend and enjoy good food, home … Continue reading
by Paige Donner On a recent round-up of Paris interviews, I succeeded in doing the near-impossible – catching up with the man-in-motion, the chef who never stops, Mr. Yannick Alléno, 3* Michelin chef and champion of local-sourced ingredients for his … Continue reading
by Paige Donner At the International Catering Cup competition held earlier this month in Toulouse, the team from Paris’s Shangri-La Hotel took home the top prize. This means they will be representing France in the International competition held in 2015. … Continue reading
From the 28th of February to 10th March, Paris’s Hotel Plaza Athénée invites you to experience their Alpine-inspired Pop-Up restaurant.
Cuisine is inspired by the Rhone-Alpe region of France known as the Haut-Savoie with its Savoyarde regional cuisine. Think hearty, mountain cooking for cold nights and white winters!
Welcoming cocktail of warm wine and flammenkuche at 9:00 p.m.
Dinner follows and is served Continue reading
Foreword from the Minister
The Fête de la Gastronomie is a festival that is not to be missed, and it will be taking place on the first day of autumn [Sept 23rd]. It will also have its own theme, uniting all the different events and initiatives taking place throughout the country. This year we have chosen Our Earth, because it generously allows us to work it, harvest its fruits, and use them for our food. Because man and earth are inseparable. More INFO
Everywhere you look there is something to do with gastronomy: in the media, in the increasingly imaginative dishes available in our restaurants…as though the whole idea were something new, whereas in fact it is no more than a tradition in a constant state of renewal, very much alive, and one that makes the most of our country’s dynamism, the foods we produce, and what we do with them. Continue reading
By Paige Donner
Jaillance produces the only sparkling wine from France’s Rhône Valley. They call it their “Clairette de Die” and its 7% alcohol content makes it a festive choice for most all occasions. Their rosé, the Cuvée de l’Abbaye, is made from 100% merlot and their “Cremant de Bordeaux” is 70% semillon and 30% cabernet franc.
Jaillance committed to organic farming in 1989 and has more than 200 growers in their winegrowers’ “cooperatif.” They take their commitment to sustainable winemaking seriously… far beyond simply changing out their bottles to the lighter 775gr. from the heavier 830 gr. champagne bottle. Take their cork recycling initiative for instance…
Did You Know?
- 12 billion corks are manufactured every year. 3 billion of those are destined for France alone!
- The cork oak tree does not die when its bark is harvested. The bark gradually grows back, like shedding its skin.
- Cork Oak trees can get up to 300 years old and grow a thick new layer of bark every nine years.
- 100% of harvested cork is used.
- Cork oak forests have great ecological value, sustaining a rich level of biodiversity and protecting many species of fauna and flora.
- A harvested cork oak tree absorbs 2 1/2 to 4 times as much CO2 as one not harvested.
Jaillance’s Cork Recycling Initiative: How It Works
Starting this summer Jaillance is calling on their consumers to save and collect their corks and bring them back to designated collection points. These collection points La Cave de Die Jaillance, Jaillance sales outlets and all Gamm Vert Shops (France).
These used corks will be sold back to to the cork industry, and the money sent to the Institut Mediterranéen du Liège (Mediterranean Cork Institute). The Institute will use the funds to plant more cork oaks in the Eastern Pyrenees forests.
Once the wine corks have been collected, the wine corks are taken to a recycling plant to be transformed into floor coverings, decorative items, components for the aerospace and automobile industries – or even into electrical power.
Cork is 100% natural and 100% recyclable. It is one of nature’s treasures.
By Paige Donner Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine A biannual affair, France’s monumental, just-wrapped Vinexpo Bordeaux has, once again, firmly established itself as the world’s leading exhibition for the wine industry. A few numbers: there were approximately 50,000 … Continue reading
BORDEAUX VINEXPO FROM 19 TO 23 JUNE 2011 Champagne Louis Roederer, Concha y Toro and Baron Philippe de Rothschild are among just some of the world-class wines that will be represented at this year’s Vinexpo, Bordeaux. Alongside these major groups, large numbers of vigorous … Continue reading
By Paige Donner
La Revue du Vin de France held its wine salon this past weekend in Paris at the “ancien Bourse” which is the old stock exchange of Paris. As you can see here, it’s a beautiful building. It’s spacious and airy and the perfect place for wine tasting on a sunny Spring Sunday afternoon in May.
Honestly, if I have one recommendation to make to visitors to France, it’s that you really must coordinate your travels with these wine salons. For a few Euro, you get to not only see the interior of a national monument, you get to drink and taste your way through the wines of France.
So many wonderful wines. It will take the rest of the month to wade through all my tasting notes.
And the crowd was super friendly. Maybe it’s the sunny weather in Paris in Spring or perhaps it’s simply that good French wine brings out that “conviviality” that the French speak so glowingly of when discussing their wines. Whatever it was, the LRVF crowd was super friendly, very forthcoming with anecdotes about the wines they were pouring and the wines they were tasting and just plain, well, welcoming.
If there is only one little note I might give it’s that the Spanish wines were much too hard to find. Certainly, once I found my way upstairs, I loved the private room where the Spanish winemakers had stashed themselves, with the old stock exchange board that featured handwritten company signage such as Printemps and Paribas on it… But they were much too isolated up there. Since it’s the first time the salon has welcomed foreign wines amongst its midst in its 5 year history, perhaps affording them more accessibility would be a gesture of convivial diplomacy.
By the time I left, it was with a full glass of Spanish red liqueur wine. So sweet and rich and nothing like “ice wine.” I’ll definitely have some words to share about that and about the Priorat wines I discovered at the Paris Stock Exchange.
By Paige Donner
For the first time this year Independent Wineries all across France will throw open their doors and uncork their bottles to welcome visitors and oenophiles to their wineries for two days of Picknicking in the vineyards.
June 12 and 13, a holiday weekend in France, has been designated the days of Pique-nique by the French Vignerons Independant association. Already a remarkably successful yearly event in Alsace, where it has been drawing 10,000 picnicking participants during the designated weekend for the past 17 years, this year the Association is taking it nationwide.
Participating regions include Champagne, Provence, Bordeaux and everywhere inbetween – a grand total of 550 wineries, 12000 hectares and 31 counties in France are participating.
Why this is a bonanza for amateurs and oenotourists? For one, the wine will be “offered” for your picnic meal and many of the wineries even greet their guests with a glass of champagne or other aperitif such as Muscat (“offered” in French means free).
The real value, however, is in the fact that the winemakers and winery owners have set these two days aside to welcome people from all walks and levels of knowledge, degrees of enthusiasm into their world of wine. This includes winery tours, vineyard walks, in-depth tastings, explanations of what it is to be a winemaker or run a vineyard and more. The doors of the vineyards will be swung wide open, literally and figuratively, to all who wish to stop by on June 12 and June 13, 2011.
You bring your own picnic lunch, of course!
It’s also suggested to bring a dessert that you can share, if you wish, with the other gathered guests and families who have chosen that winery to spend their pique-nique at that day. As you wish…
As Jacques Legros, of French main television channel TF1 explained at the recent press conference, Wine is like a treasure. It is at the heart of French culture. We are very proud for people to discover our wines.
The website devoted particularly to this event is easy to navigate and when you hover over the numbered indications on the map, all the contact info of the wineries pops up. Check it out here: http://pique-nique.vigneron-independant.com.
Max Bordeaux When Only The Best Will Do by Paige Donner Max Bordeaux Wine Gallery & Cellar, Bordeaux, Photo by Paige Donner for Local Food And Wine When your wine tastes will be satisfied only by the best, Bordeaux has … Continue reading
(London) January 28, 2011 – The North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit (www.sustainablefoodssummit.com) drew to a successful close last week, with many participants calling for greater transparency and accountability from the food industry.
Organized by Organic Monitor, the summit brought together about 200 executives at theRitz-Carlton in San Francisco on 18-19th January 2011. New horizons for eco-labels and sustainability were the focal theme of the 2-day summit.The summit explored the evolution of eco-labels – such as Organic, Fair Trade andRainforest Alliance – in an increasingly global food industry.
The advent of international supply chains is leading many consumers to become disconnected from agriculture andfood production methods. Scott Exo, executive director of Food Alliance, echoed the general sentiment at the summit, calling for the ‘de-commoditization’ of food products byproviding greater traceability to consumers. Seth Goldman, co-founder and president of Honest Tea, opened the summit with his keynote on the triple bottom line. By using the example of tea plantations in China, he showed how modernization does not always contribute to sustainability. Since its launchin 1999, Honest Tea has become one of the fastest growing ethical beverage brands in the US.
The first session explored sustainability initiatives in the food industry, with many speakers raising the question, ‘how do you measure sustainability?’ The use of metrics in sustainability performance was explored by Joseph McIntyre from AG InnovationNetwork. Albert Straus, founder of the Straus Family Creamery, shared his company’sapproaches to measuring the carbon footprint of its dairy operations. The importance of offsetting carbon emission was also highlighted by Theresa Marquez from OrganicValley who showed the role of organic agriculture in carbon sequestering. Sustainability in foodservice was covered by Bon Appetit Management Company, which is sourcing locally from small farmers.
Also in the morning session, Kenneth Ross from Global ID discussed future trends in eco-labels. His paper stressed the importance of IT in combating food fraud and providing traceability to consumers. Convergence of mobile and internet technologies is expected to allow consumers to get ecological and social footprints of their food products. The session ended with a lively debate on sustainability indicators and measurement.The second session honed in on ethical sourcing and sustainable ingredients. The opening papers examined the role of Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade standards in lowering social and ecological impacts of food products.
Nasser Abufara from Canaan Fairtrade explained how social enterprise can improve lives of marginalized growers.Using case studies of three of the most traded food commodities, sustainable sourcing was discussed by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Theo Chocolate and Givaudan.
Marketing & distribution innovations were the subject of the third summit session. Leading retailers – Fresh & Easy and Safeway – shared some of their ethical trading and marketing initiatives. Alex Petrov from Safeway showed how its O Organics label had transcended the boundaries of a private label without cannibalizing manufacturer brands.Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of the global retailer Tesco, explained how it was raising the bar by implementing new ethical codes of conduct. Ellen W. Feeney from Whitewave Foods shared her experiences in developing brands to meet consumers’ needs for healthy and ecological products with the ‘planetary health’ initiative.
The last session of the summit – organic plus strategies – began with an update on theglobal organic products market. Amarjit Sahota, President of Organic Monitor, showed how pioneering organic food companies were integrating sustainability into their corporate ethos and how some eco-labels were converging. Proceeding papers gave case studies of such developments. Equal Exchange stated how companies could intertwine organic and fair trade practices, whilst the Brazilian company Native Organic Products shared its raft of sustainability actions.
Using wine as a case study, the potential of biodynamic foods was explored by Demeter USA and Fetzer-Bonterra Vineyards. Chad Smith from Earthbound Farms closed the session with an interactive discussion onecological packaging for sustainable food products.The third edition of the executive summit raised many questions about sustainability inthe food industry: Will an eco-label ever fully represent sustainability? What ecological and social parameters are most important in such a standard? What are the most efficient methods to measure sustainability? Where is the line between green marketing and greenwashing? How can companies become more sustainable in distribution andpackaging?
The next editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit aim to address such questions. About the Sustainable Foods Summit Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to discussand debate the major issues the food industry faces concerning concerning sustainability and eco-labels. The proceedings of the North American summit (San Francisco, 18-19th January 2011) are available for a small professional fee. More information is available at: www.sustainablefoodssummit.com
Organic Monitor has announced the dates of the next editions of the Sustainable FoodsSummit as…European edition Amsterdam (23-24 June 2011) North American edition San Francisco (17-18 January 2012)
In 2011, Organic Monitor is celebrating 10 years ofencouraging sustainable development. Since 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries.www.organicmonitor.com
2011 Confirmed Chef Line-Up
Friday, January 21 – Brian Malarkey, Season 3 Top Chef
Saturday, January 22 – Jared Van Camp, Quality Social in Chicago, James Beard Nominee
Sunday, January 23 – Kerry Simon, Palms Palace in Las Vegas
Monday, January 24 – Michael Chow, Mr. Chow (receiving ChefDance Legend Award 2011)
Tuesday, January 25 – Jared Young, Winner of Iron Chef
Chefdance was started in 2004 and coincides with the Sundance Film Festival every year to provide the perfect marriage of fine food with film for a culinary experience unlike any other. Chefdance’s acclaimed chefs bring their culinary expertise, passion, and life story to your table. I hope you are able to join us in this unique and memorable experience! For more information on Chefdance, please visit http://chefdance.com/.
by Paige Donner
The cutest, funnest, hippest cooking class in Paris is not easy to get into. Not easy at all. Which runs directly contrary to the vibe once you’re in. Amongst a citizenry that takes its food seriously (UNESCO! cultural heritage designation!) cooking classes among youngfolk have become the thing to do.
It’s almost replaced hanging out at cafes and smoking cigarettes all afternoon discussing the tortures of romantic love as the thing to do when you’re young, single (or in a couple) and looking for some social activity. Well, scratch that. It has replaced it.
There are increasingly more chef “ateliers” springing up and those that have always been around and are now being rediscovered. What the French have found is that a cooking class is 1) Fun 2) a great ice-breaker 3) a level playing field 4) a learning experience and 5) a great way to enjoy a meal or a dessert.
The Super Hip “concept” store, Colette, which is located at 213 rue St. Honoré is the location for Cooklette. The store has such a following that the cutest boys in Paris hang outside of it 5 minutes after closing pleading with the bouncer/doorman to let them in for just another 10 minutes so they can find a last-minute gift for their girlfriends. The 7 ft. tall bouncers invariably say, “No.” Explanation is that it happens every day. But that’s what Colette has become: The trendy Parisian club of concept stores.
Downstairs, in the Water Bar, on the first Friday evening each month, they stage “Cooklette” which is their free cooking class. How do you get in? You have to be one of the first twelve to sign up on their website as soon as they announce the date in their newsletter.
January’s class was devoted to making Galette des Rois. These are the flat round tarts filled with almond paste that the French eat for the New Year. Custom has it that the cake must be cut into as many parts as there are people present, plus one.
It is also always baked with a tiny feve which is a small porcelain figurine or button that designates the recipient the “King” or “Queen”for a day. Another custom, which Cooklette faithfully practiced, is that the youngest in the group sits under the table and chooses who gets the pieces of cake and when. This is so that the person who cooked the cake can’t choose who gets the feve. Égalité, Fraternité, Degousté!
The La Galette Colette class was taught by Catherine Kluger who is famous among Parisian gourmands for her Tartes. Her Tartes Klugerare at 6 rue du Forez in the 3rd. She does sweet and savory tartes: Zuchini, Tomato, Mozzarella; Ham, Parmesan, a touch of Bechamel with some Bacon Crispies on top. Sweet tartes include: Tarte au Cafe’ with grains of coffee and chocolate; Tarte a La Mousse au Chocolat Noire; Rhubarb and Milky Rice.
A very self-effacing chef, Catherine approached the class as if she were teaching a group of friends in her own kitchen. She used her own recipe which rendered a simple but flavorful frangipane galette that was moist, flavorful and flaky.
According to Anais Sidali, Cooklette is just something that Colette does because they want to offer a fun activity for their customers to participate in. The downstairs Water Bar is an ideal location. They just pushed some of the center tables together and Voila’ we had a cooking atelier. Diners were welcomed to stay and observe at the booths that hug the walls of the 20-cover or so blue and white simple diner. A Marseille-based blogger, So Food So Good, did just that
To my left was Stephane Bureaux, the author of Design Culinaire, a book full of fantastic photos and food ideas. Colette sells the book and still has a few copies left. You can’t miss it: It has a carrot and a fork on its cover. As far as culinary concepts go, Design Culinaire is to food what haute couture is to fashion.
To my right were a couple of young ladies who had, after three attempts, finally gotten lucky enough to get the reservation for the course. According to Sidali, they don’t take reservations months in advance, just the first ones to sign up that month get to come. It attracts the most passionate foodistas: The girls were raving about their intended brunch that Sunday at Chloe S.
Our advice: Subscribe to the Colette Newsletter; Sign up for Cooklette the second it’s announced; Get Ready for some Culinary Fun ‘cuz it’s a nice cooking class if you can get it.
by Paige Donner
“La Garde Robe,” is a closet. Which is about the size of this snuggly little wine bar just off the rue de Rivoli, a hop and a skip from the Louvre.
Wandering in late one night after a meal with friends, there were just enough stools at the bar to accommodate the few of us. The high tables and the low tables towards the back, were all full of revelers who had the appearance of having spent the entire night at the comfy little “closet” swilling vins naturel and chomping on made-to-order plates of cheeses and thinly sliced meats.
La Garde Robe ha a loyal following and locals will name it as one of Paris’s top wine bars. You can get a good glass of red for anywhere between Euro 3,50 and 7,00. Come with a sense of adventure, ready to try something you haven’t before. It might be within a recognizable apellation, but likely you’ll find producers you haven’t yet tried.
Or just come for the ambiance. It’s one of those exquisite central Paris hole-in-the-wall wine bars that you’d never know was there until you purposefully set out to look for it. And on these cold winter evenings when a lighted window friendly beckons you to come in from the cold, well, if there’s still room for you to squeeze inside, you’ll be glad you did especially once you’ve tried a few things you may not have before. This is Paris, after all! You can also buy your bottles to go.
La Garde Robe, 41, rue de l’Arbre-Sec (rue de Rivoli) 75001
By Paige Donner
There are 6360 restaurants in Paris. But there is only one that lays claim to the throne of the Trocadéro. There, seated at the right hand of arguably the most recognizable monument in the world, is the Café de l’Homme.
It would be easy to choose to stop in at the Cafe to warm up or cool down, depending on the season, after a session of sightseeing. But it’s not really that kind of cafe. Indeed, it’s not at all a cafe, not even in the French “brasserie” sort of way. It’s a full-on restaurant.
Just slightly at arm’s length, despite its famous address, it is a restaurant that is easily overlooked. You reach the Café de l’Homme by entering through the same monumentally sized doors as you do for the Musée de l’Homme. This is probably why it took me a bit of time to brave the experience.
But once inside, I realized that the Cafe’ is completely independent from the Museum and neither are places that are even remotely intimidating. The Café de l’Homme’s actual entrance is shielded by a floor length dark olive velvet curtain that the Butler/Coat Checker and the Maitre d’ keep firmly shut to keep in the warmth.
Once through the olive emerald veil, the red warmth with tones of leather couches and sparkling wine glasses, greets you. That’s if you can peel your eyes away from the straight-shot view of the Eiffel Tower.
It would be lovely to be able to order a drink at the bar as you await your dinner mates, but, alas, the Maitre d’ will fussily try to seat you straightaway or usher you back outside into the cold hallway to wait. Not exactly overabundant in the art of graciousness. There is a couch-loungey seated area off to the far left of the dining room where you can share drinks with friends. It seats one group. Only.
All snootiness is forgotten however once your meal is served. Appetizers include choices of Riquette salad with parmesan shavings and pine nut kernels; Tuna belly with Basque Country lettuce hearts; and even King Crab salad.
For the main dish the Grilled Iberico Pluma (pig) marinated in ginger is tender, sweet and spicy; the roast French Rack of Lamb with Terragon sauce is a classic; and if you want steak, they serve a 200 gr. Fillet. It’s not cheap: the main courses start at 23 Euros, and quickly average at around 32 Euros.
Remember, you are paying for the view. When you think about it, those across the river who are dining at Jules Verne and looking down at you don’t even have the view that you do. And you didn’t even have to take an elevator to get where you are.
Reservations are definitely recommended. The dining room might have some empty seats at 7:30 but by 8:00 they will all be filled. Leave room for dessert. They do the chocolate molten cake pretty well, but their Strawberry soup with Sichuan pepper and organic vanilla cream is interesting enough of a blend of flavors to have to try. They also serve a satisfying plate of A.O.C. cheeses.
Café de l’Homme. Come for the view. Stay for the food!
Restaurant Café de l’Homme – 17 Place du Trocadéro, Musée de l’Homme – Paris XVIe – Tel : +00 33 (0)1 44 05 30 15
by Paige Donner
Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Louis Roederer,Gosset,…these are some of the most exclusive names in the coveted appellation of France’s Champagne region. And now it’s their time to shine in the New Year spotlight.
Bubbly and New Year’s Eve. They go together like caviar and blinis, oysters and aphrodisiacs.
And, as we all know, champagne comes only from the well-designated, well-demarcated geographical area East of Paris. It claims the cities of Epernay and Reims as its own. Everything else might be bubbly, but it can never be champagne.
Of course what’s always fun is to learn the backstories of these gastronomic names of legend. When something becomes so lodged in our collective conscience as are certain brands of champagne, we forget that they started out as people who decided to build a business out of the grape. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a flute or a “sacred cup” of the festive drink, and come with us on our succinct tour de force of Champagne and a Sauternes for a sweet finish:
La Maison Perrier-Jouët gets its names from a husband and a wife, respectively. Famous and easily recognizable as the bottle with the beautifully painted flowers – Japanese anemones – on its glass, the house was established first in 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier, estate owner, married Adèle Jouët. Their joined names went on the Champagne Estate’s marquee and now 200 years, and only seven Cellar Masters later, the exquisite champagne is world-reknowned.
If you are in the mood to celebrate with the best of the best, Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is the choice. It’s a vintage that is sourced from a singular terroir, a singular year and a singular varietal. Only two parcels of Grands Crus Chardonnay were harvested to create this champagne, “one of the most rare and exclusive in the world.”
Perrier-Jouët, 28 Avenue de Champagne, Epernay, France
You may be most familiar with Piper-Heidsieck as the champagne you drink from a lady’s shoe – especially designed for the champagne house by Christian Louboutin. Or perhaps you know them best as one of the first and still main supporters of the Cannes Film Festival. But what you might not have known, is that back in 1785, at Versailles, Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented Marie-Antoinette herself his special champagne vintage. A hundred years later, Fabergé decorated the bottle in gold, diamonds and lapis-lazuli.
And Marilyn Monroe? She said she went to sleep with a dab of Chanel No. 5 at her ear and awoke with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne in her hand.
The house of Piper-Heidsieck just released their “Rare” 2002 Vintage only three months ago. “Le Rare” is aged seven years in the cellar and made primarily from Chardonnay grapes with some Pinot Noir. Its subtle minerality plays as an hommage to Mount Reims. The bottle is beautifully designed with a filligreed gold dress. Girls like to wear it as a Tiara. Champagne fit for a Princess, or a Queen. “Le Rare,” has only been made in the years 1988, 1998 and 2002 (just released.)
Piper-Heidsick, Reims, France www.piper-heidsieck.com
Bruno Paillard is a champagne that you have likely not yet had the chance to drink. Too bad for you. It is the youngest of the champagne houses, established in 1981 by then 27-year-old Bruno Paillard. In a region where champagne houses had existed for centuries already, Mssr. Paillard decided to sell his Jaguar MK2 and buy a vineyard with the capital he raised.
Today the Domain produces about 500,000 bottles (for comparison, Moët produces about 5 million) and he exports about 70% of his champagne to Asia, North America and the rest of Europe.
Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée, 100 % Chardonnay, is a “fresh, bright sparkler,” says Parker who gives it 90 points. Its bouquet is grapefruit and white flowers, its mouth is white pepper, lemon, lime. Wonderful as an aperitif and also can be paired with food.
Bruno Paillard, Avenue de Champagne, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagnebrunopaillard.com
Louis Roederer’s future was set when Tsar Alexander II, already a devotee of the champagne, ordered his personal sommelier one day in 1876 to see to it that the bottles served in his court should be markedly distinguished from all others. Hence the birth of “Cristal.” After the Russian Revolution of 1917, only then was Cristal allowed to be sold the world over.
The Louis Roederer house was first established in 1776 and has been in the same family since 1819. Today it can boast of being still one of the largest Champagne domains independently owned. They produce approximately 3 million bottles per year and sell in approximately 80 countries.
Champagne Louis Roederer, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagne-roederer.com
Pol Roger has, for a long time, had friends in high places. During a dinner in Paris, the English Ambassador, Duff Cooper, introduced Sir Winston Churchill to Odette Pol-Roger. At that time, 1945, Sir Winston Churchill was already a man who had marked history. He was fond of saying that Pol Roger (Odette? the champagne?) incarnated all that was well and beautiful of France.
Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; Its composition is a jealously guarded secret. It is a robust and mature champagne, one with characteristic power and refinement.
Pol Roger 1, rue Henri Le Large 51200 Epernay http://www.polroger.com
Since taking it over not too many years ago,brothers Henry and Emmanuel Fourny have transformed their family domain nestled in the traditional geographic are of Vertus in Champagne. They do something unusual with their Chardonnay, they cultivate it as if it were a Pinot Noir. Why? It has to do with their vineyards’ South-South East exposure.
Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne Rose Premier Cru Vertus Brut has notes of rose and delicate, soft notes of hyacinth. This vintage comes exclusively from the Domain’s terroir, “Les Gilottes 1er Cru.” Refined, velvety bubbles.
Champagne Veuve Fourny 5, rue du Mesnil, Vertus, France http://www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com
Gosset Champagne makes not just delicious champagne but also packages it in wonderful ready-to-gift packs. The Gosset Grand Reserve, 750 ml., is sold with a portable isothermic bottle keeper and a replaceable cork. The house also sells cognac, which they make in the cognac region of France. Another choice for their champagne is the “Excellence Brut” sold in 1500ml. bottles.
Champagne Gosset, 12 Rue Godart Roger, Epernay, 51200 http://www.champagne-gosset.com
Joseph Perrier makes a beautiful gift bottle called the Glamour Josephine. It comes packaged in a red velvet-lined box. The ornate bottle is sure to please any discerning Diva-Luxe in your life who also knows good champagne.
Joseph Perrier Champagne 69 Av. de Paris, 51016 Châlons-en-Champagne France http://www.josephperrier.com
Moët et Chandon. Who in the civilized world has not heard of Moët et Chandon? As noted earlier, producer of 5 million bottles per year, they can truthfully say they have a hold on a large portion of the world’s market of champagne. That’s a lot of New Year’s Toasts!
Still, if you ever get the chance to go to the Domain it is well worth it. Why? Not only will you get the chance to tour the cellars, but you might just get the opportunity to taste their Grand Cru 1975. Hint: it’s a champagne to drink on more occasions than just New Year’s Eve!
Now…as promised…A Sauternes. Chateau Bastor-LaMontagne. This Sauternes is a classic, class act. It is in fact a Grand Cru Classe’. Its pale, light acidity is a dessert in a drink, an aperitif that leads delightfully into the pop of a champagne cork. Delicate, refined, white blossom, pear and ginger.
I might even be tempted to create a champagne cocktail out of the two. Hello 2011!
BLAKE LIVELY AT LE CORDON BLEU PARIS
|Blake Lively, dynamic actress, and one of the young emerging Hollywood stars, is also passionate about gastronomy: recently a tailor-made workshop was held for her and her guests at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Chef Franck Poupard demonstrated French culinary techniques by preparing the following dishes:
Guinea fowl baked in a sealed casserole, sautéed winter root vegetables Soft centered chocolate fondant, orange compote
Blake was delighted with her course, she tells us about her experience: “My dream as a passionate cook has been to go to Le Cordon Bleu. Never could my most incredible dream have lived up to the experience. The food, the lesson, the chef, the ingredients –all the best of the best. I see why Le Cordon Bleu is world renowned. Now I only dream to have more time to go back to Le Cordon Bleu and spend months learning from the gods of food!!”
Photos: Fabrice Danelle
By Paige Donner
On a recent weekend in Paris, I found myself underneath the glass pyramid of the Louvre, in the grand marble Agora Exhibit Hall, spitting out champagne. And not just any champagne, the best champagne in the world: Louis Roederer, Bollinger, Veuve Fourny et Fils, Piper Heidsieck, Perrier- Jouët, G. H. Mumm, Nicolas Feuillatte, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Moët et Chandon…When Moët poured me their 1975 Reserve Vintage, that’s when I started drinking. It would have been a sacrilege to spit that out.
If there is a metaphor for the Festival of Wines that Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve have organized for 5 years now, it is this: Your cup runneth over.
At the festival, named Le Grand Tasting, I found myself in an earthly paradise filled with many of the world’s best wines, from mythical vintages to ones barely known outside of their own appellations, and most all of them from France. This year, 2010, as an exception, there was a side exhibit of Italian wines also featured.
As a local explained to me, Bettane & Desseauve are more than just a couple of France’s most celebrated and respected wine journalists, they are even more than simply the authors of Le Grand Guide des Vins de France, they are the “Robert Parkers of France and French wines.”
This year’s event was held over the Friday and Saturday of December 10th and 11th at Paris’s Le Carrousel du Louvre, which is the underground shopping center/ exhibit hall that is right underneath the Louvre. For a mere 25 Euros you could taste your way through more than 2000 wines and 350 individual producers from France and a small representation from Italy.
“We have Festivals of Film, we have Festivals of Litterature, but until Le Grand Tasting we haven’t had a Festival of Wine…Every wine, like a book or a film, tells its own story. It is the story of the winemaker, of the creator, and sometimes, of genius…” said Thierry Desseauve who, with Michel Bettane, is the co-founder of Le Grand Tasting.
Desseauve and Bettane, according to Desseauve, have plans to take their show on the road to English-speaking countries. Their highly successful Hong Kong Festival of Wine earlier this year has injected them with enthusiasm and they are starting to eye the U.S. and Canada. Their Grand Guide des Vins de France will be published in English in 2011 by Abrams Books.
When asked how was it to take the Festival of Wines to Hong Kong, Desseauve replied that he enjoyed the Chinese habit of embracing fast-paced development and he also noted that as Europeans, they are accustomed to dealing with significantly different cultures and languages. He pointed out that Germany, Italy, Spain are just as different from French culture as is the Chinese culture, in many respects. Both Bettane and Desseauve invested many years as journalist and wine critic at La Revue du Vin de France until it was bought by the Marie Claire publishing group five years ago, which is the same time they founded Le Grand Tasting.
According to Bernadette Vizioz, press liaison for the event, 10,000 people attended Le Grand Tasting over the course of two days. It’s not hard for them to keep count, the price of admission includes a glass for the wine tastings, supplied by Riedel. The attendees on average were surprisingly young and very much the trendsetting crowd. I’ve heard mention a few times that the regional wine syndicates are actively promoting their wines particularly among the French whose consumption of their native juice is down significant percentage points in recent decades.
Le Grand Tasting does its part to elevate wine drinking to its proper podium among Gen Y in France. And the event is doing so in ways that present the people who make the wine as people who are just like you and me, except they spend their days in grape vineyards and in fermenting cellars. What sold out in advance were the special courses, such as the Master Class, that took place simultaneously in the rooms adjacent to the Hall Agora. The standout of these courses was, according to French site iDealwine « Le Génie du Vin ».
The ‘Genius of Wine’ class, included Cuvée René Lalou by Mumm (1998 Vintage), Chateau Angélus 2000, Chateau Gruaud Larose 2000, Clos de La Roche GC (2004) from Domaine Dujac, Châteauneuf du Pape (1998 Domaine duVieux Télégraphe, château Climens 1989, Ridge Monte Bello represents California and finally riesling Clos Ste Hune 2000 by Trimbach.
Another sold out course offering, of which there were 20 separate classes, was l’Ecole des Terroirs. I managed to bump into a few Americans while I roamed the airy, well-lit, elegant and wonderfully climatised hall – underneath the Louvre! – who were thrilled to have just accidentally happened upon the festival last year.
This husband and wife marvelled at the feast of wines they were getting to taste, all for a mere 25 Euro entrance fee. They loved last year’s event so much that they actually planned their trip around the Festival this year. We North Americans couldn’t help but compare Napa’s $25 average cost per wine tasting flight/ per winery to the 25 Euro entrance fee which put 2000 wines, including the best champagnes in the world, at your fingertips and lips. The only limitation to your wine tasting is the hours in a day and your stamina for how many tastings you can fit in.
Le Grand Tasting marked a few firsts this year, notably in the category of positioning themselves more internationally. To that effect their Italian space welcomed 2000 visitors in a relatively small area of 90sq. meters located towards the back of one of the main halls.
In addition, this was the first year that they invited notable European wine critics: José Penin (Espagne, Penin), Neil Beckett (Grande-Bretagne, World Of Fine Wine), Armin Diel (Allemagne), Marco Sabellico (Italie, Gambero Rosso), Enzo Vizzari (Italie,L’Espresso)!
An elegant, hip, affordable, culturally illuminating wine tasting event, Le Grand Tasting’s Festival of Wine is not to be missed.
by Paige Donner
After the opening private reception for BVLGARI at the Grand Palais, where else would one dine than at Caviar Kaspia, Pl. Madeleine?
The more wisdom (?) I accrue, the more I realize that the world is but one big treasure. The key is to intuit the map that allows you to decipher the secret passages that guide you to the soft, exquisite, and often delicious, hidden treasures.
For the most part, the “hidden” treasures are hidden in plain sight. Paris is full of these. One of the most famous is Caviar Kaspia.
Caviar Kaspia sits discreetly and prominently, on the Place de la Madeleine and has done since 1953. When he founded his business in Paris in 1927, Russian immigrant Arcady Fixon simply wanted to share the culinary best his country had to offer with the city’s glitterati. In those days, when Paris was comfortably settling into its own as the world capital of haute couture, of arts and letters, of the ballet and opera…Caviar Kaspia instantly appealed not just to the Russian artistocracy who were flocking to the city, but also to the elegant society as they retired from their evenings at the Opera or Comèdie Française, to the dancers from the visiting Russian Ballet of Monte Carlo…indeed Caviar Kaspar quickly became the place to dine for Paris’s privileged society.
Private Dining On Place de la Madeleine
Walking up the narrow wooden stairs on the left as you enter the 8eme’s Caviar shop, you begin to feel like you have just fallen down the rabbit hole. For the upstairs dining room is sumptuousness itself. On a cold wintry December night, sipping Cuvée Kaspia champagne, swallowing dollops of Beluga Caviar, and washing it all down with velvety, fiery, iced Russian vodka…well, does it get any better? Oh yes, imagine having the chance to talk to the Bulgari jewels exhibit designer for the Grand Palais Paris show during dinner. Ok, now, can it possibly get any better?
But it does. The service at Caviar Kaspar is the kind that is impossible to train for. Either a person understands graciousness and has the gift of anticipatory intuitiveness, or they don’t. At Caviar Kaspar, the waiters are not just handsome, they are gracious, discreet, present, and anticipate all your desires even if it’s simply to replace your slightly warmed glass of champagne with a fresh, exquisitely chilled one.
The iconic restaurant creates seasonal special menus. Click HERE kaspia_sylvestre for the Menu de la Saint-Sylvestre 2010.Their classic appetizer is the raw smoked salmon served with blinis. But if your palate is searching for lighter and flavorful, the crabe royal du Kamchatka salad is divinity expressed on a dinner plate.
Caviar served on a baked potato is one of the Kaspia signatures. Honestly, it is so easy to forget one’s good breeding when you see something like that in front of you. The impulse is to dive in. Thank the sea gods that they serve the dish with a small flat spoon that is perfectly designed to lift the caviar off the top of the potato and savor it all on its own.
They offer two categories of caviar: wild or “caviars sauvage” and cultivated or “caviars d’elevage.” Of the former category you can try these varieties: Beluga, Oscietre, Sevruga and caviar pressé.
Or you can try: Oscietre Tradition, Caviar d’Esturgeon Blanc, Caviar Impérial Baeri, Caviar de l’Empereur, Caviar de Printemps.
As the Parisian purveyors of caviar, they follow a few rules of etiquette for serving and tasting caviar. These are designed to release the fullest flavor and experience of caviar’s subtle tastes.
They allow the caviar to “decant,” or aerate for at least 15 minutes before serving on a small mountain of ice. Avoid allowing the tiny grains of caviar to have contact with anything metallic, which is why it is always served at Caviar Kaspar with the small spoon made of either porcelain, glass, or mother of pearl. Always allow yourself the time to roll the small eggs around in your mouth before biting into them to help release their fullest flavor. Always serve with neutral accompaniments such as blinis or baked potato. The drink to pair the meal with is champagne or chilled Russian vodka.
The small dining room that accommodates up to 18 people that is just off to the left of the main dining room has a hidden cache of pictures of top models dancing on its table tops. Which is a good reminder that although caviar is a serious gastronomic delight, we needn’t be so serious about it that we forget to delight in the sheer raw exquisite pleasure of the experience. Snow. Place Madeleine, Paris. Bulgari jewels. Grand Palais. Caviar Kaspia. Champagne. Delightful company. Gracious service.
The world is indeed full of treasures!
Gilles Goujon is France’s top chef for 2010. He was voted Chef of The Year by 6,000 of his peers, a group comprised of the nation’s top chefs, sommeliers and patissiers. Goujon’s trademark is his talent of combining “radiant, inventive yet traditional cuisine based on seasonal produce.”
In 2010, Goujon’s out-of-the way restaurant nestled 50km. outside of Perpignan in the Languedoc Roussillon region received its 3rd Michelin Star. This is a very exclusive circle and one reserved for the highest achieving chefs as is the Chef of The Year distinction, an award created by Le Chef magazine back in 1987 and reserved for top gastronomic distinction. Gault & Millau also awarded Goujon 5 chef hats this year, their highest award.
It was in 1992 when Goujon opened his “real adventure,” the Auberge du Vieux Puits, a modest out-of-the way inn located between vineyards and the garrigue scrubland in the 137-inhabitant village of Fontjoncouse, 50km. outside of Perpignan in the Corbières region. This little inn has earned a worldwide reputation, attracting connoisseurs from far, far afield who wish to delight in his inventive, with a Mediterranean touch, cuisine.
Born in 1961, Gilles Goujon worked with Chefs of such prestige as the Rouquette brothers in Ragueneau (Béziers), Roger Vergé at the Moulin de Mougins, Jean-Paul Passédat at the Petit Nice in Marseille and then with Gérard Clor at l’Escale in Carry-le-Rouet before opening up his own inn in the middle of the sweet-smellig, sage-filled garrigue. It was then, in 1997, that he earned his first Michelin star and the distinction of Meilleur Ouvrier de France. In 2001 he won his second star, recognized for his innovation. And now in 2010 he has his third Michelin star.
Goujon has spent part of his Autumn in Paris, on the Champs Elysees where he has been the guest chef at the time-honored Fouquet’s. In October he and resident chef Jean-Yves Leuranguer put on a “Diner 4 Mains” for lucky and delighted gastronomy guests. Seasonal ingredients and innovative cuisine are Chef Goujon’s signature and that’s what you were treated to if you were able to catch him for the fleeting moments when he stepped off his vineyards and into the haute urban setting to share his starry talents with Parisian diners.
By Paige Donner
At Paris’s port de la Villette on a recent weekend I had the good fortune to meet over 250 producers of French gastronomic delights. They were all direct from the countryside, having brought their specialties to the big city for a wonderful public celebration of French Food and Wine.
Safran de St. Hilaire
One of the more unique “farmers” I met was a woman who runs a Saffron farm with her family about 2 hours outside of Paris. It’s a little known sector of agriculture in France and one that once thrived but has since been mostly outsourced.
Still, this woman labors over her fields of purple saffron flowers, Safran de St. Hilaire, with her husband, Thierry Parde’ and their children, to produce some of the finest saffron available on the market. Each flower produces only three, at most, pistils of saffron that must be hand plucked ever so gently and guarded for safe-keeping until it can be put in small glass vials and spice jars. It is stunning to think that such an industry still exists anywhere in the entire world, let alone in France. Mind you, when you taste a crème bruleé á la safran, you’ll understand the rhyme and reason behind all the fuss. Mr. Parde’ Thierry/ Les Migeons/ 45320 Chantecoq/ 33 02 38 94 21 36
Celebration of Tastebuds
“Papilles,” means tastebuds in French. So it was the “Celebration of Tastebuds,” and just in time to start stocking up on holiday gift shopping. Most all the wine regions of France were represented, including small and mid-sized producers of Champagne.
The Inter Rhône, the Rhone Valley’s wine syndicate, was a sponsor of the event so the wonderful wines from Côtes du Rhône were on hand for daily on-the-hour wine tastings. www.vins-rhone.com
Les Crus des Côtes du Rhône
The signature of the Côtes du Rhône are its Grand Crus. They are known throughout the world: the rolling hills of the l’Hermitage and the hillside vineyards of Gigondas. Each of the distinct terroirs has been studied intensely by the experts before being awarded such supreme distinction. Have you ever experienced the power of a Côte Rôtie or a Cornas? Have you had the good fortune to drink of the finesse of a St.-Joseph or the smoothness of a Condrieu? These are all definite entries on the Top Ten list of things to do when in France.
Did You Know?
Tavel is the only wholly rosé Cru and the first rosé in France that is classified in the category of “gastronomy.”
AOC Château Grillet: This is one of the “biggest” white wines from France that you’ll ever get to drink. Its terroir, a whole 3,5 hectares, is the smallest apellation designation in the entire Côtes du Rhône.
Further south is the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Displaying country humility, the Château du Mourre du Tendre attended the Salon Papilles en famille, meaning father, mother, son. They made the journey up to Paris from Courthézon, where the domaine is located.
Speaking with Mme. Paumel and her winemaker husband, is what buying wine in France is all about. Families like this represent the living history of the vine and the tradition. Nevermind that Parker gives them a 92 – consistently – on his yearly trips to the region. One sip and you know you are drinking wine in a class all its own.
When Mssr. and Mme. Paumel explained to me they do no barrel aging, I was surprised. “The wine is just right as it is. There’s no need to smooth it out with any oak,” is how they explained it to me. Their wine wisdom is a cumulative 4 generations, so it’s probably safe to say that they know how to make good wine.
It’s also an incredible buy: Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2002 Cuvée Tradition, 22 Euro. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 Cuvée Prestige, 33 Euro. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006 Cuvée Prestige 31 Euro. You won’t find them selling any newer vintages. They know that good wine is worth waiting for. www.chateaudumourredutendre.com Courthézon, France
by Paige Donner
Stephane Girard was the first non-American president of the Wharton School of Business Wine Club. He’s come a long leap across “the pond” from when he organized tastings for that 700-member club to opening up his first, and a first- of-its-kind, Wine Bar, Wine Shop and Tasting Room in Paris, just off the Place Vendôme. This all-in-one -on-tap -bar and shop is called Wine by One.
“We offer a 100 different kind of wines by the glass. We are the only wine bar in the world to have so many different wines on offer at any given time,” explained Girard at a recent wine tasting.
The key to his success – and the wine bar, if measured by the number of people sipping wine and nibbling on appetizers on any given evening, is certainly already a success! – is the wine pouring/preservation machine that he uses to automate the pouring of the wine tastings.
Girard, a Frenchman, refers to his machine as caves á vins, which houses 8 bottles of wine each and keeps each wine at its ideal temperature and conditions of service and preservation. He didn’t invent this machine. In fact he saw it used by an entrepreneurial sommelier when he was still back in the States getting his MBA. What he did pioneer for Paris is the business model that allows him to offer wines to people in ways that are accessible, affordable and appealing.
“At Wine by One, people have the chance to taste a Grand Wine without ruining the wine or having to buy the whole bottle.”
The wines are set up in their groups of eight in their respective caves á vins for pouring a Tasting (Impression, 3cl), a Tentation (half a glass, 6cl) and a Sensation (a whole glass, 12 cl). What’s great about this is that you can commit to the wine a little or a lot, depending on how much you like it. It’s also a great playground for training your wine palate where you have 100 different bottles from all the world’s regions on hand. They add 5-10 new wines each month, on a rotation method. The machines are set up as self-serve as well, so you almost have the feeling of it being a 7-11 set up – for top-notch wine!
Wine by One promotes itself as being a very affordable way to try new wines and also great wines. This is true, for the most part. Some of the wine tastings do start at about 2 Euro or even a little less. But it’s altogether too easy to want to try the 5 and 6 Euro tastings. Also, the tastings give you slightly more than one sip. So you are more likely to go for the half glass which is easily in the 4 to 8 Euro range for some of the names that you’ve only ever read about. And, of course, when I saw that Wine By One had Les Sorcières du Clos des Fées d’Hervé Bizeul…on tap!…well, of course I had to go for the glass, (11 Euros).
The long and the short of it, then, is that, yes, you can do tastings for a few Euros but likely you will be tempted by other wines. Expect to spend at least 25 to 30 Euro per head, and that’s not even including any food or bottles of wine purchased to take home with you.
Two of the additionally seductive factors of Wine by One are that you can order food and you can buy the bottle you just tasted to take with you and enjoy for later.
Not many wine shops in Paris have the permitting required to be able to sell food. Girard has a unique position for his wine shop, then, in that people can order small bites and nibbles as they’re tasting. You can also stop in midday for lunch which is the French style sandwich, tartine, toasted and with a generous amount of gourmet spread, then finished off with a specialty coffee and all for about 10 Euro.
The leather lounge seats by the window, and the rue des Capucines location just off of Place Vendôme make it a great choice, and one that is slightly updated from the regular Bistro, while still being very French.
Anyone who knows anything about opening up a shop in Paris will quickly recognize that this rue des Capucines real estate is prime and strategic. Girard’s only comment was that he had a good friend who was doing the real estate scouting for an unnamed American coffee franchise who dominates the market with their green goddess icon and storefronts on every U.S. corner. When her client didn’t take the shop that morning, Girard was there with his pot of gold and a pen ready to sign by that afternoon…
Another appealing characteristic of the Wine by One biz model is that Girard has engineered a way to make Wine by One feel like a club. When you arrive, you must sign up for a card that you use to purchase your wine and tastings. Think along the lines of a Kinko’s card. Except that here, they ask you for 2 Euro before they give you the card and you have the option of it being personalized with your name.
More good things: There’s a Water Bar or Bar á Eaux which offers a dozen different kinds of water from all over the world. And they offer complimentary WiFi.
Wine by One, 9 rue des Capucines, 75001 Paris, www.WinebyOne.com
When luxurious cuisine meets with luscious wine, you know it’s time for the return of the 7th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. This November join the wave of epicureans taking over America’s Finest City in a week-long experience your tastebuds will never forget. November 17 -21.
THE SAN DIEGO BAY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL
Chef Roy Yamaguchi, Chef Jon Sloan, Chef Celestino Drago, Chef Nico Chessa, Chef Katsuya Fukushima, Chef Kenny Gilbert, and Chef Ron Oliver design a six-course menu for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon
SAN DIEGO, CA (October 18, 2010) – The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is pleased to announce its line-up of celebrity chefs appearing at the November 21st Celebrity Chef Luncheon, Presented by Wine Spectator, which includes Chef Roy Yamaguchi and Chef Jon Sloan of Roy’s, Chef Celestino Drago of Drago Ristorante, Chef Nico Chessa of Valentino, Chef Katsuya Fukushima of José Andrés Catering by Ridgewell’s, Chef Kenny Gilbert of Bravo TV’s Top ChefSeason 7, and Chef Ron Oliver of The Marine Room La Jolla.
The luncheon is the culmination of a weeklong series of festivities, where nationally acclaimed chefs and legendary wineries come together to prepare a six-course meal paired with wines. Each table features a different winemaker or winery representative pouring a selection of fine wines from their portfolio. The prestigious list includes Domaine Serene, JUSTIN Vineyard & Winery, L’Aventure, Robert Biale Vineyards, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Laird Family Estates, Martinelli Winery, Wines of the Loire Valley, and others. Following the luncheon is the American Institute of Wine & Food’s Big Bottle Auction, a live auction that raises funds for the AIWF’s Culinary and Enology Scholarship Program.
“We’re very excited to have such a talented line-up of chefs for this year’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon,” said Michelle Metter, co-producer of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.
“The luncheon serves as a great platform for bringing together chefs from all over the U.S. to showcase their culinary skills at the food and wine festival. Most importantly, however, the chefs are helping support the education of future chefs and wine experts.” – Read More on Local Food And Wine
The Wine Spectator Celebrity Chef Luncheon & AIWF Big Bottle Auction takes place on Sunday, November 21 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Roy’s San Diego Waterfront. Celebrity Artist Christopher M. serves as host and emcee for the afternoon, while Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman will be on-hand to provide commentary during the live auction. Following the six-course food and wine pairing, the AIWF Big Bottle Auction begins, giving attendees the opportunity to bid on an array of items such as jet-setting vacation packages, large format bottles, and one-of-a-kind items that are perfect for the food and wine enthusiast.
What’s better than eating your way through Paris…while taking in the requisite tourist sites and scenery? (Ummm…we’re waiting…!)
You can get it all in, it’s just knowing your choices. The following two restaurant cafe’s each sit on some of the most prized, beautiful, famous real estate the world over. And though it might seem that they would be good for nothing than to see and be seen, each offers solid culinary choices that are sure to satisfy after taking in an afternoon of sites and national treasures.
Of course everyone heads to the Louvre when they first visit Paris, but I’ve long found the Musée d’Orsay to be the star attraction and not just because the waiting time to get in is much shorter. The building itself is a masterwork of reclaimed urban heritage sites and shows French design aesthetic off to its best light.
But after partaking of a full repast of Van Gogh, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, it’s easy to work up an appetite.
Le Restaurant Musée d’Orsay offers a Le Temps d’une Pause mid-afternoon light menu that perfectly hits the spot. It’s often misleading to think that museum cafes and restaurants will be overpriced. In the case of Restaurant Eliance (Le Restaurant) at the Musée d’Orsay, this isn’t at all the case. My total bill for a cup of carrot cream soup with a hint of orange and coriander served with a piece of carrot cake came to a total of 7 Euros.
It was just perfect to take that “piqued” feeling away that can descend on you after you’ve overgorged on a few too many national-treasure-quality pieces of art in one sitting. Other choices on the menu included Marbled Terrine of Foie Gras and Chicken served with Fig Jam, a slice of aubergine and Tomato Confiture Garnish.
I’m always a salmon fan and their Smoked Salmon tartine is served, in fact, on a pita bread, a change from the ubiquitous baguette, with a side of aioli; Twelve Euros. Also on offer is a Tartine Pôilane, or cured ham “sandwich” though of course their tartines/ sandwiches are openfaced.
You have choices, too, if you want to go in the direction of sweet. They make an American-sized icecream sundae with whipped cream. You can also go for the Pastry selection and hot drink, which includes Max Havelaar – Fair Trade – coffee and teas. Their Spice Cake is a must try. It tastes especially delightful as you dine and take in the sweeping views of the Seine, of the Concorde, the portrait of Napoleon outdoors and the waving French Flag over the courtyard.
By Paige Donner
Confrérie des Vignerons des Côtes du Ventoux roughly translates to the Brotherhood of Ventoux Winemakers. Vignerons is one of those wonderful French words. The word itself sounds like Patron and Vine combined. It evokes the associative alliteration of “patron of the vines.” And what is a winemaker, a vigneron, if not a patron of the vines? Someone who cultivates, nurtures, tends and harvests fruits brought forth from deep-rooted vines.
And what is wine, if not an art?
AOC Ventoux is the wine region right next to the celebrated Châteauneuf du Pape. Not as famous as its neighbor, the area’s wineries nonetheless produce outstanding wines. “We just have to say that we’re next to Châteauneuf du Pape for people to recognize what we produce. It’s the same terroir. The same vines,” explained the proprietor and winemaker André Berthet-Rayne of Domaine Berthet-Rayne in Cairanne. He gestured to his fields of Bourboulenc, Grenache, Roussane and Clairette with the deeply tinted purple hands that are the tell-tale signs of the winemaker during crush.
He also produces AOC Côtes du Rhônes wines including a Domaine Berthet-Rayne Castel Mireio 2008 from old vines, approximately 40 years old. This red has top notes of mushrooms, offers a waft of musky and finishes with a balanced acid, fullness in the mouth. It also comes in a white. Vignerons-Cairanne.
The Confrérie was revived in 1982 and today is the ambassador for Côtes du Ventoux wines. It is made up of a small group of wine lovers who are expert on wine and the soils. Newly inducted members have to pass a tasting test, do some oath-taking and then they are allowed to receive the taste-vin engraved with the Poudadouïre, the symbol of the brotherhood.
Ventoux AOC Terroir
There are several distinctive soil types in the Ventoux wine region, a region that has more wineries than all of New Zealand combined, according to Morgan Williams. Williams is a New Zealand native and winemaker who currently works at Château Unang, a 9th century château and vineyard in the village of Malemort du Comtat. He will tell you straight up that none of the locals buy Châteauneuf wines. Not when you can get a Ventoux wine that’s just as good and not nearly as expensive.
Altered Safre is one of the Ventoux soil types and exhibits a light, sandy texture combined with pebbles. Ochre sands, (red earth), and gypsum, (white rock), are also to be found on the natural steps that form the “Comtat Terraces,” the geological formation between the plains and the Mont Ventoux mountain from which the AOC region takes its name. At the base of Mont Ventoux, in Bedoin, home to many noted wineries, the alluvial fan presents a variety of soils – brown, red and white -which lend themselves to growing the highly characteristic wines.
Mazan is a choice starting point for a journey of discovery of Ventoux wines, and not just because the Marquis de Sade, in 1772, held the first theater festival in Provence in the village of Mazan. [Nearby Avignon now holds its annual, world renowned theater festival during the summer]. It is also a wine heritage site with archeological digs unearthing wine storage amphorae from ca. 40BC, the Augustan era.
But most importantly, Mazan offers a number of outstanding and easy to access wineries and wine paths. Domaine des Cambades is a bit off the beaten path but still close to Mazan. Proprietor/winemaker Hervé Vincent will graciously meet you at the crossroads if you call in advance and tell him that you are coming by. Domaine des Cambades’ vintage, Il Etait Une Fois makes a stop at the winery, every bit worthwhile and an absolute must.
For some oenogeek activity, an afternoon at the Château Pesquié is one to put on the list. The winery, located in Mormoiron, offers a path around the lovely 18th century château itself which is a beautiful specimen of Provencal architecture. The path offers sweeping views over Mont Ventoux and Mormoiron, a charming local village. Along the path you will see the AOC Ventoux grape varietals: Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache for the reds and rosés and Clairette and Roussanne for the whites. The path is about 1 km and takes approximately 45 minutes to walk. The cellar also shows cross-sections of the estate’s soils.
Carignan is a grape very present in the Côtes du Ventoux appellation. It is Spanish in origin and is cultivated to produce low yields. Winemakers expect to get qualities of robustness, color, power and liveliness from the juice.
For three generations the family has been making wine at Domaine du Bon Remède. Lucile and Frederic Delay say that 2010 will be a good year. They use 40-50 year old Grenache vines to blend with their 90% syrah, 10% Grenache Secret de Vincent vintage 2008. Their 2006 is all sold out and not even a wine cellar visit at the winery will get you a bottle, let alone a case. Their barrel and cask storehouse make the trek out to the winery still worthwhile.
Domaine de Fondrèche is another to mark down on your map. It’s at the intersection of two ancient Roman roads. And, of course, Domaine des Anges, at the top of Notre Dame des Anges hill, with its splendid views of Mont Ventoux, lend a Ventoux wine tasting trip its deep red, dark fruit flavor, perfect for crush and the Autumnal season.
*Editor’s Note: Truffle season, “Rabasse,” in Provencal, begins in November.
By Paige Donner
Châteauneuf du Pape Is White It’s like a natural reflex, certain wines, varietals, regions make us think automatically of a color of the wine. Red, White, Rosé. This is one of the most gratifying symptoms of entering more deeply into the world of wine, learning that, for example, a brilliant Châteauneuf du Pape comes in a white as well. We’ve recognized it before and we’ll say it again, good winemakers are always the first to say that wine starts in the vineyard, on the vines. After seeing and participating in several harvests and talking to dozens of winemakers and vineyard hands, I couldn’t agree more…with the caveat that the methods differ greatly from vineyard to vineyard with some focusing on vineyard farming as opposed to vine husbanding.
After a mere 5 years in the heart of Provence’s Châteauneuf du Pape AOC, Patrick Coste, with wife Karine, has proven just what can be accomplished with vineyards and a cellar when good strong methods of vine husbanding are carried through from the vineyard to the fermentation tanks to the barrels and, finally, to the bottles.
It was only in 2004 that the first harvest of Domaine le Pointu went into their vats. “Le Pointu is the name of one of our vineyard plots planted with white grapes; it is located on a hillside near the wood of Château Rayas,” explained Mssr. Coste, the younger. Patrick’s father, Maurice, is the former President of the Courthézon Cooperative Cellar. Courthézon is where the winery of the 27- hectare, 5 year old Domaine is located. Six hectares of vineyards are in the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation, 11 in the Côtes du Rhône appellation and 10 in Vin de Pays.
Le Pointu vines from that plateau butt up against the the renowned vines of Beaucastel, signaling the same terroir. Still, it does come down to technique. And there’s quite a difference between farming and harvesting and husbanding and tending. The signature terroir of these vines are large rocks that transmit the heat from the sunshine they absorb in the warm Provenςal days to the vines at night, thus aiding in the slow maturation and warm ripening of the grapes. The French term for this terroir is galets roulés.
Land of The Rising Sun
Success has come quickly for the husband and wife team who named two of their best vintages so far after their first two sons, Clément and Mathieu.
With a combination of marketing and good, solid, French countryside people skills, Patrick was able, straight out of the gate, to get the attention of Japan’s President of the Association of International Sommeliers, Kazuyoshi Kogai at Japan’s Foodex Salon 2007. A contract with a leading Japanese cosmetics company has fallen into place since then which has Domaine Le Pointu supplying gift boxes of wines for the company during holidays.
Domaine Le Pointu will also be the wine supplier for Paris-Dakar for this year’s races. Good vineyard practices, solid people skills and knowing when and who, to ask for advice seems to be the Coste’s winning recipe here. The reputed Bordeaux wine consultant, Christian Prud’Homme, has been advising Patrick Coste on the vinification process, notably the barrels he uses at Le Pointu, which are all Bordeaux barrels.
And the wines themselves? Well, they’ve already earned the attention of Bettane & Desseauve, Robert Parker, Andréas Larsson and Jancis Robinson. Personally I would recommend anything from their 2007 run, whether it’s their Côtes du Rhône – especially Cuvée Le Vieux Chêne – or Châteauneuf du Pape, particularly Cuvée Clément and Mathieu, both made from vines 90-105 years old with a production of 10000 and 8000 bottles respectively. Each are Grenache noir and Cinsault noir made from different vintage years.
But the wine that got me excited was Domaine le Pointu’s Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Spéciale Feuilles d’Or (label pictured above). It is made with organically cultivated grapes, indeed the Domaine will be certified organic in 2011, from 90-year-old vines. This wine is made from the famous terroir of galets roulés. White Châteauneuf du Pape wines represent only 4% of the total production of the appellation. It has a delicate bouquet, floral with a touch of fruit, citrus. It makes a nice aperitif when young but you can keep it 2-5 years and pair it with herb-encrusted fish, veal and fresh cheeses. Total of 2000 (two thousand) bottles.
Domaine Le Pointu, 255 Chemin de la Grande Allee, 84350 Courthezon, France. www.domaine-le-pointu.com
By Paige Donner
Corsica, off the French south coast, produces delicious dry white and subtle rosé wines that are best drunk chilled, young and fresh as an aperitif or to accompany light meals of seafood, salads, tapas.
Wine of Corsica is the common appellation to all the wines of Corsica, with the following AOC classifications related to either the soils or the villages in which the vineyards are grown: Ajaccio, Calvi, Coteaux du Cap Corse et Muscat du Cap Corse, Figari Patrimonio, Porto-Vecchio, Sartène.
While Corsica is definitely “south of France,” it does not fall under the newly minted branding of “Sud de France,” a term that is being used by the region of Languedoc-Roussillon as they voyage forth once again onto the world export stage with their wines and other agricultural products.
Corsican wines are one of those “well-kept secrets.” The island, which the French call “L’île de Beauté,” produces some great wines but they aren’t exported much overseas…yet. Set in the Mediterranean Sea, many of the island’s wines originate from Italy. The sun’s reflection on both white rocks and the Mediterranean brings even more energy to the vine which, combined with low yields, will eventually produce a very concentrated grape.
- Cap Corse Wine This white wine is pretty rare and much appreciated by winelovers. Many agree that it is the best white wine in Corsica.
- Sartene Wine This is an excellent wine, and the red San Michele is definitely a must-taste. These are fruity and warm Corsican wines.
- Patrimonio This wine is as famous as the classic Corsican appellation and its quality is constantly growing. Corsican reds and whites are increasingly famous even out of the island. Patrimonio rosé wines are also fine wines. Patrimonio wines have a pretty strong character that originate from the soil, which is composed mostly of clay and limestone. This Corsican wine is full-bodied but still light and fruity.
- Ajaccio The Ajaccio French wine boasts the distinction of being the most elevated wine region in France. Most of its vineyards are located 500 m and above. This Corsica wine benefits from the warm weather, and the sea air provides it with a very particular flavor too. This French wine fully benefits from the Corsican environment thus it is light coloured, fruity and has a pronounced pepper flavor in the mouth. The Ajaccio soil is mostly granite.
They also have excellent beaches in Corsica!
by Paige Donner
Pinot noir is a very fickle grape, requiring the utmost attention and respect in every phase of the winemaking process. Winemakers are the first to testify to this, claiming that grapes that have been handled too much can end up making wines that lack flavor and harmony.
Clearly, Pinot noir is a risky (and more expensive) proposition for the winegrower, the winemaker, and the wine drinker. But it is precisely this high-stakes gamble that makes pinot noir all the more alluring and rewarding.
There is much debate as to the origins of the variety, although one currently popular theory is that the Pinot noir grape is an offspring of Pinot meunier and Gewurztraminer. This union helps explain the characteristics behind the beloved Pinot noir. As author Stuart Pigot notes in Planet Wine, “Pinot meunier gave Pinot noir its bright, berry aromas and initial charm, while Gewurztraminer its silkiness, extravagance, nobility, and fickleness.”
The name Pinot Noir is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” in reference to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple cone-shaped bunches of grapes. Therefore, Pinot noir refers both to the grape varietal as well as the wine that it produces. The skin of the Pinot noir grape is relatively thin, making it a tricky, albeit rewarding, candidate for wine production.
As mentioned by Karen MacNeil in The Wine Bible, “Winemakers adopt a minimalist approach, and often a percentage of the grapes is not crushed. Instead, whole grapes are put directly into the fermenting tanks, which also helps maximize fruity flavors in the wine. To keep those fruit flavors dominant, many wine-makers are also extremely careful and sparing in their use of new oak for aging.”
Oregon, inspired by the similar climate characteristics of Burgundy, staked its reputation on Pinot noir with much success. Thanks to ocean fog, California has shown that it too has no shortage of spots cool enough to keep Pinot grapes on the vine as they develop fine fruity flavors and texture. Notable Pinot regions in California include Los Carneros, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Maria north of Santa Barbara.
Pinot noir is what put Oregon on the map internationally, and is the most planted in the state by far. Wineries in Oregon tend to be small family affairs. Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot gris follow. Oregon has no such thing as cheap, bulk wine. The climate is distinctly cloudy and cool, especially in the Willamette Valley where most of the wineries are clustered. This gentle climate, which highly resembles that of Burgundy, allows for wines of good acidity and balance, moderate alcohol, and an ideal degree of flavor.
Summer Wine Reads: Johnson, Hugh. The World Atlas of Wine, Ed. 4. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994; MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing, 2001; Pigott, Stuart. Planet Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley, 2004; Robinson, Jancis. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course. London: BBC Books, 1995.