Interesting article by Margo Letz
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
Description: Cabernet Sauvignon hails from all over the world, but first started its heavy growth in the Bordeaux region of France. As far as types of red wine go, Cab is generally a full bodied wine with bold tannins due to the higher concentration of alcohol.
Tasting Notes: Dark current, dark cherry, and other darker fruit flavors can be found in most young Cabernet Sauvignons as well as herbal hints or baking spices. If aged in cedar or oak barrels, this type of wine will hold the essence of that method as well.
Food Pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon is a great meat and cheese wine. Think lamb, steak (is your mouth watering yet?), and firm aged cheese.
Description: Types of red wine don’t get easier to drink than a Merlot. It’s the perfect beginners red with a smooth taste, medium level tannins, and deep fruity flavors. Merlot is also a very blend-able grape making for some delicious mixed wines worth picking up!
Tasting Notes: Merlot can have different flavor profiles depending on the climate it’s grown in. Hotter more humid climates will produce sweeter tannins and a black cherry mocha flavor. Where cooler climates will provide a full bodied tobacco, licorice, mineral Merlot.
Food Pairings: Whether your taste buds are craving roasted chicken, pork, or beef, Merlot will have your back. Avoid overwhelming spicy flavors, seafood, and green leafy vegetables.
Description: Not as common in the types of red wine is Barbera, similar in style to Merlot. Barbera is an Italian grape that is widely grown in California as well. It’s got a silky smooth consistency and high acidity.
Tasting Notes: Black cherry is the name of the game with this red, too. Hints of plum are also common in these types of red wine.
Food Pairings: Anything you would pair Merlot with, you can also pair Barbera wines with. Both are superb matches for tomato based dishes!
4. Pinot Noir
Description: Pinot Noir boasts softer tannins and higher acidity. First grown in France regions, this type of red wine is known for being lighter in body, and totally yummy.
Tasting Notes: Types of red wine like Pinot Noir have breathtaking floral aromas. Underneath, this wine brings red-fruit flavors like cranberry and cherry to life. Not to be left out are notes of rhubarb, beet, and even sometimes a hint of mushroom.
Food Pairings: Pair a glass of Pinot Noir with your favorite sushi and salmon dishes. Don’t forget about chicken and lamb for delicious alternative pairings as well!
Description: Malbec is a Bordeaux born wine, but Argentina took hold and really made it their own. It can also be found in Chili as well as cooler regions of California. Because of this, flavor profiles very, but it is still a favorite among types of red wine choices in many households (including my own).
Tasting Notes: Depending on where you source your Malbec, you can expect hints of sour cherry, plums, berries, and spice.
Food Pairings: Malbec wines are great to pair with any meat based meals —noticing a trend yet? If you purchase Argentine Malbec, pair with Mexican, or Indian dishes, this wine is perfect for a little heat!
6. Shiraz (or Syrah)
Description: Most commonly grown in Australia and parts of France, Shiraz (also known as Syrah) is one of the more full-bodied types of red wine. It’s in the middle of the tannin spectrum, and usually has bold fruit flavors.
Tasting Notes: Sipping on Shiraz leaves you with tastes of blueberry, tobacco, plum, meat, and black pepper.
Food Pairings: Pair Shiraz with cheeses from the Mediterranean, smoked meats, or even some wild game. Moose, anyone?
7. Petit Sirah
Description: A rare —yet popular— grape, Petit Sirah largely grows in California and has a full-bodied flavor. It’s a medium acidity wine with high tannins, and high alcohol content. Petit Sirah is a wine made to blossom in a decanter. Pour it early and let it sit for two to four long awaited hours.
Tasting Notes: Black pepper, dark chocolate, blueberry, black tea and sugar plum are some of the delicious tastes you will find in a Petit Sirah.
Food Pairings: Love cheese? This wine will support your aged cheese affection. Start with some camembert or aged Gouda. For meat lovers, serve up some burgers or roasted pork, and try some barbeque! This wine doesn’t forget vegetarians either! It pairs with eggplant, mushrooms, black beans, and so much more. Yum!
Description: Sangiovese is primarily a Tuscan wine. Its color is lighter, and the high acidity level is no joke. This grape is a proud Chianti ingredient, and medium bodied.
Tasting Notes: Berry and plum flavors, pie cherry, anise, and tobacco can all be found tickling your taste buds with this wine!
Food Pairings: Naturally, this wine pairs well with Italian fair. All hail pizza, pasta, and red wine! Mediterranean food also works well with Sangiovese. It’s just one of those types of red wine that has you dreaming of a Tuscan vacation.
Description: California is the main grower of these types of wine, but Zinfandel vines originated from Croatia. Zinfandel ranges in color from light blush wines to deep rich red wines making them a fit for many wine lovers. Zinfandel has a higher alcohol percentage, and flavors can range as much as the color!
Tasting Notes: Depending on the bottle, you can taste a variety of flavors in Zinfandel from overripe nectarine, to raspberries and blueberries. Asian spices are no stranger to some and tobacco flavors to others.
Food Pairings: Grab a bottle of Zin if you’re in the market for takeout! Chinese, Thai, and Indian cuisine all pair well with this wine. As does cheddar cheese, and many meat options. You really can’t go wrong!
Not only will you impress your guests having these types of red wine on hand, but you’ll always have the perfect bottle for pairing with your next delicious meal. Keep in mind that it is considered best practice to always use an aerator when pouring your glass of wine!
Inspired by the U.S. group Sister’s on the Fly’s video (below), I have started a group “a la francaise”!
Please visit our Sisters Go French Facebook page; join the group page in order to view event details: our first event being a Sisters Wine-ing Weekend” in October.
In the same spirt as the U.S. ladies, the only rule for Sisters Go French is:
“no men, no kids, be kind, and open to having ‘me time’ fun!”
(After all, girls just wanna have fun, n’est-ce pas?)
Sarlat Dordogne, a time warp town you can’t help but fall in love with. Beautiful buildings, one of the best markets in France and delicious restaurants.
France looks on course to reach its ambitious target of 100 million visitors per year by 2020 after figures released by the UN show that a record 89 million tourists visited these shores in 2017 – an increase of six million on 2016.
Visitor numbers had suffered in recent years follow in a series of terror attacks in Paris and elsewhere across France in 2015 and 2016, but holidaymakers are now returning in their droves. The report from the UN’s World Tourism Organisation shows that global tourism jumped 7% last year with France well ahead of second-placed Spain. With 82.3 million tourists in 2017, Spain overtook the USA as the world’s second most popular destination, despite terror attacks of its own and independence demonstrations in Catalonia. In 2016, America welcomed 75.6 million visitors – 300,000 more than Spain. Currently, tourism generates 7% of France’s GDP although the government hopes to increase that figure to 10%.
In further good news, British magazine The Economist has voted France as its “country of the year” for 2017. The centre-left leaning political magazine gave particular praise to France for the voting in of Macron and his party La République en marche. They judged that the president, despite coming from a “party full of political novices”, had “crushed the old guard”, “swept aside the ancien régime” and “transformed the national political debate”.
According to The Economist’s website: “Rogue nations are not eligible, no matter how much they frighten people. (Sorry, North Korea). Nor do we plump for the places that exert the most influence through sheer size or economic muscle – otherwise China and America would be hard to beat. Rather, we look for a country, of any size, that has changed notably for the better in the past 12 months, or made the world brighter.” ■
Article source: The Bugle, Feb. 2017
The French Riviera is a garden-lover’s paradise, a sun-soaked horticultural heaven lined on its southern edge by the twinkling Mediterranean. From Antibes to Cagnes-sur-Mer, Gourdon to Grasse and Nice to Beaulieu there are some 80 gardens and parks open to the public, with enough diversity in styles and floral content to satisfy the most exacting nature-lover.
Many gardens are inextricably linked to their location’s heritage – and put them on the map in some cases – or showcase certain species, such as mimosas in Mandelieu and sun-sapping succulents in Èze’s vertiginous, cliff-top botanical garden. Others, such as the jaw-droppingly beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild go one step further and present an array of garden styles in one dazzling location. Wander around this Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat marvel, and one minute you’ll be immersed in Provençal lavender fields, the next achieving Zen-like calm in the Japanese garden. There are nine unique gardens here, each of them authentic in form, all immaculately planned and tended. Especially enchanting is the rose garden at the upper tip of the grounds – a feast for all the senses provided by 100 varieties of scented blooms. And the views out onto the yacht-dotted bay are simply stunning.
Plenty of the Côte d’Azur’s gardens provide the chance to explore adjoining historic private houses. Ephrussi is an obvious one, while other unmissables include Renoir’s former home and studio in Cagnes-sur-Mer – the painter fell under the spell of the olive trees of the Domaine des Collettes and moved there in 1907 – and the garden of Château de la Napoule, an often unheralded gem that clings to the shore in Mandelieu. Bought in 1918 by the American Henry Clews, its garden alternates English and French styles, with a soupçon of Venetian, Roman and even Moorish influence thrown in for good measure.
Villages in Bloom
Other places, meanwhile, can lead you nicely up the garden path to a fully rounded village visit, such as in Gourdon, perched 500m above the Gorges du Loup a few miles from Grasse. It was André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s gardener, who prepared the imposing château’s initial jardin designs, before the lord of the castle, wealthy Grasse lawyer Louis Le Lombard, oversaw further aesthetic flourishes. Spot box and ancient limes plus Judas trees adorning the main terrace, set off beautifully by pools, before strolling around the medicinal garden and Italian terrace to complete the noblesse experience. (Eagle-eyed film fans may recognise the perched village from afar – early in Hitchcock’s 1955 classic To Catch a Thief, the police are seen heading towards it before Cary Grant’s John Robie gives them the slip.)
In and around Menton, the characterful coastal town reputed for its flowered-up outlook (there are bloom-bedecked edifices everywhere, plus an annual lemon homage that sees the streets come alive with all manner of citrus-centric wonders), there is an array of great private gardens to see, including Val Rahmeh. This tiered, exotic botanical beauty was created by Lord Percy Radcliffe, former Governor of Malta in 1905, and now under the care of the French Museum of Natural History. It features 700 species of plants and trees, including kiwi and banana trees, Japanese and South American varieties – and you might also spy the rare sacred tree of Easter Island, Sophora Toromiro…
Perhaps more mesmerising, however, is the Serre de la Madone, a ‘greenhouse garden’ created around an extended farmhouse in the Gorbio Valley by Paris-born American plantsman Lawrence Johnston. He boasted serious form – he also designed the garden at Hidcote Manor in England, where he lived as a naturalised Briton with his mother – before spending the 30 years until 1954 acclimatising exotic plants to the Riviera climate. The shaded, maze-like trail around the garden follows the contour of the landscape and is organized in themed terraces punctuated with statues and fountains. On a sweltering Riviera day, the cool trickles punctuate the still silence to tranquil effect.
Finally, while it’s not strictly just a home but also a place of calling (monks have been here since 1645), the Gardens of the Monastery of Cimiez in Nice are a treat for a spiritual saunter. Restored to their former monastic glory in the 1920s by Auguste-Louis Giuglaris and sited near the ever-popular Matisse Museum, there’s a wide path dividing a broad esplanade, bordered by a bower of rambling roses.
The Art of Gardening
Some of the region’s many prestigious museums offer a handy excuse to enjoy a lovely garden experience, like a bonus cultural aside. The garden at Fernand Léger Museum in Biot was designed and laid out by Henri Fish, in close collaboration with the architect André Svetchine. Set in an expansive, rolling meadow, it’s sprinkled with cypress trees and framed by olive trees, providing ample viewpoints from which to admire the multi-coloured mosaics adorning the building’s façades.
Art, garden and building (the latter being the work of Spanish architect Josep Lluís Sert) have been combined equally harmoniously at Fondation Maeght, set high on Colline des Gardettes in the celebrated artist magnet of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Ponder the contemporary sculptures dotted around the green hideaway by the likes of Barbara Hepworth and Fabrice Hybert, as well as a remarkable garden-labyrinth with ceramics and sculptures by Joan Miró.
Finally, for a museum garden with specifications given by the very artist whose name is above the door, head back to the elegant suburb of Cimiez in Nice. It was Fish again who heeded Marc Chagall’s creative input to fashion a fine outdoor space. Visitors on 7 July, the artist’s birthday, are guaranteed flowering agapanthuses, while picnic fans can take their place any day on the lawn and admire the pool that reflects one of artist’s vibrant mosaics.
It’s not just private gardens that will appeal to plant lovers on the Côte d’Azur. Local authorities take immense pride in their public spaces and treat their parks as havens for residents and visitors alike. In Nice, for example, the 12-hectare breathing space Promenade du Paillon, conceived by Michel Péna and inaugurated in 2013, has brought both beauty and function to the former site of the aesthetically challenging bus station. Among the 128 jet fountains and adeptly created beds, locals can enjoy a picnic or snooze at lunchtime or, as the name implies, promenade with friends and family away from the bustle of nearby Vieux Nice or Place Masséna.
Elsewhere, in Menton, a gentle stroll around town with tour guide and plant expert Christophe Canlers reveals some wonderful sights, notably the splendid banana trees framing the entrance to the mairie (do pop in to see the Cocteau Salle des Mariages). They perfectly complement the palm trees – so prominent and joy-giving all over the region – in the square in front. “Everything grows in Menton” says Christophe joyfully as he gleefully points out an aloe vera plant here or cactus plants there. There’s also a ‘killer plant’ that destroys all around it – be afraid!
There are countless other Riviera strolls in public places that offer horticultural rewards with a unique ambience. Hugging the lapping shore of Théoule-sur-Mer (on the westernmost side of the Côte d’Azur, where the Corniche d’Or begins), Promenade Pradayrol is a botanic discovery walk that snakes for 750 metres. As well as the 39 species on show, it also happens to be the only way to get to the Plage d’Aiguille, a stunning secluded beach with a brilliant little restaurant nestling nearby.
A Fest of the Best
The good news for visitors to the region in 2017 is that the inaugural Côte d’Azur Gardens Festival begins – and it also invites a cross-border sojourn to Italy. Taking place throughout April, Jardival is being led by the Alpes-Maritimes department and aims to create “high-profile initiatives designed to improve tourist facilities, boost innovation and protect the environment in an illustration of the deep, long-standing ties that exist between France and Italy”.
Villa Rothschild in Cannes, Menton’s Villa Maria Serena, Grasse’s Jardin des Plantes, as well as San Remo’s Villa Ormond and the very grandly titled Province of Imperia’s Villa Grock, have all undergone renovation and improvements in time for the festival.
Among the highlights will be ten pop-up gardens 20m2 in size (with a prestigious ‘best in show’ prize on offer) and five photo-ready locations – Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, Menton and Nice – getting involved with flower arranging workshops, gardening technique advice, tasting sessions, culinary events, professional stands and plant markets. In Nice, the Promenade de Paillon will be transformed by the addition of a new 1,400m2 garden.
It’s about time the region’s magnificent gardening heritage was celebrated in such public fashion. If you love flowers and plants, and you’re keen for a hit of spring sunshine, there’s nowhere like it.
PLANNING YOUR GARDEN VISITS
We’ve only mentioned a small selection of the wonderful gardens and parks available to visitors on the Riviera – for a map, plus details of flower and fruit festivals, visit www.cotedazur-tourisme.com/a-voir/parcs-et-jardins-06_1737.html. Here you’ll also find details of the Jardival events and contacts. For short-break planning, head to www.cotedazur-sejours.com.
Menton Tourist Office: www.tourisme-menton.fr
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Tourist Officce: www.saintjeancapferrattourisme.fr
Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau: en.nicetourisme.com
Èze Tourist Office: www.eze-tourisme.com/en
Théoule-sur-Mer Tourist Office: www.theoule-sur-mer.org
Biot Tourist Office: www.visit-biot.com
Saint-Paul de Vence Tourist Office: www.saint-pauldevence.com
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild: www.villa-ephrussi.com/en/home
Château de la Napoule: www.chateau-lanapoule.com/en
Jardin Serre de la Madone: www.serredelamadone.com
From France Today magazine
(Article from The Bugle Dordogne)
We’ve all been there… deciding what we fancy for dinner and opening the fridge door only to find that one crucial ingredient is missing. The concept of the 24-hour supermarket has yet to reach these shores and French trading laws mean that not much is open on a Sunday, so there is often very little we can do. Technology is often the answer to these first world problems, and hot on the heels of the 24/7 baguette dispenser comes the automatic egg vending machine. Those with concerns for animal welfare should not worry, the hens are not stuffed in the back and forced to lay on request. Rather, the eggs in the vending machines around Gevrey-Chambertin, near Dijon, come from free-range hens on a local farm. The machines, which have been installed in five nearby communes, sell two boxes of six eggs for just €2.50, and are coin operate meaning that locals can drive or walk up to them at any time of the day or night, put in their change, and take away fresh eggs. The machines
are reloaded every two days meaning no more frustration if you fancy a last-minute Yorkshire pudding with your Sunday roast!
The innovative idea is supported by the mayor of the nearby commune of SaintPhilibert, who was frustrated by the loss of local shops. “In our commune of just over 500 people, we lost our last shop seven years ago. We had been hoping to find someone to take it over, but that has not been the case.” The mayor hopes that schemes such as these will bring back some life to small rural villages.
Source/Credit: The Bugle Dordogne / Photo: Facebook