“A Unique Time Travel Experience in the 17th century French royal court” that, of course, I just had to experience while in the town of Versailles. In the beginning of its second (now third) year, the restaurant-theater is an asthetic and gastronomic delight: dining while actors in period costume perform a themed presentation* from the days of French court life.
The air-conditioned restaurant is an easy 10-minute walk from the Chateau de Versailles and was appropriately decorated and very customer service oriented, not to mention a delicious culinary experience.
An added delight to enhance your visit to Versailles
* In French with sessions also being offered in English, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese
Grape vines grow in all different varieties. Because of where they grow, how they are cared for, and processing factors these grapes all produce different (delicious) wines. Keep your wine rack filled with these nine common —and not quite as common—types of red wine:
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!
We have been so accustomed to look for the phrase appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) on a wine label, to signify that it comes from a recognized wine area, that we often overlook good wines without it. In fact, many growers who could use the AOC mark choose not to do so because the requirements can be burdensome. Winemakers in an AOC district are limited to the types of grapes than can be used, how much wine may be produced per hectare and so on. And then there are the good wines that come from outside the 300 or so AOC areas in France.
About a quarter of French wine production is listed as vin de pays and is entitled to carry the letters IGP on the label for Indication Géographique Protégée. There is yet another category below this, vin de France, which tends, with some exceptions, to be cheap plonk. We have several IGP wines in this region, including some from well-known vineyards that also produce AOC wines, like Château de la Jaubertie and Château Tirecul La Gravière, for each of whom I have a deep respect.
Tirecul’s Monbazillac was the first Bergerac wine to get the maximum 100 points in a Robert Parker tasting. And if you come across a wine called Le Haut Païs made by Vignerons de Sigoulès, it is very much worth trying. They make a red and a white, and I find them to be a cut above most bottles of generic Bordeaux or Bergerac, although much of this wine goes for export to Holland and Germany (where I came across it on a book tour).
Other winemakers are reviving vineyards that recall the centuries before the phylloxera plague struck in the 1860s, when the Périgord and Dordogne regions were major wine producers. Then came the new wonder crop of tobacco and the tradition of wine production was almost lost – almost, but not quite. Individual farmers continued to grow vines for their own household and the skills remained.
I have long enjoyed the wines of Domaine de la Vitrolle in the Vézère valley between Limeuil and Le Bugue. I was initially attracted by the château itself, the secret HQ of the Resistance in World War Two and for some crucial months around D-Day in 1944, it was the base of André Malraux and ‘Captain Jack’ Poirier. They have been making wine there for three decades and in recent years the English winemaker John Anderson has produced some fine sparkling wines and very drinkable reds and whites. For less than 5 euros a bottle, his Demoiselle de Limeuil are very good value. (They also grow excellent apples and have some stylish gîtes available for rental.)
The other day, a friend in Bordeaux served at dinner a bottle of a wine I had not known before, a Périgord wine called Le Petit Manoir. Once back in the Périgord, I made a beeline for the vineyard, between St-Cyprien and Le Bugue. It is close to the home at Péchalifour of my chum Edouard Ayrou, the legendary truffle expert, whose guided tours of his truffle lands are strongly recommended. On the D35 road from Le Bugue to St-Cyprien, just before the turn-off to Meyrals, look for the sign to Péchalifour and Domaine de la Voie Blanche and you come to the vineyard, where Natalie Dalbavie can arrange tastings (between October and April). She and her husband Marc are self-taught winemakers who were inspired by finding the remains of a 2,000-year-old winery on their land. They are great believers in organic wines and even tried using horses to work the vines. They also use giant terracotta jars to age their wine, just as their predecessors did in Roman times. Natalie reckons that one year in terracotta gives as much ageing as two years in oak barrels – but she loses 13% a year through evaporation. They make two wines at this vineyard, Les Joualles and Le Petit Manoir, where the terroir is clay and limestone. Les Joualles comes from an old Occitan term for the traditional practice of growing rows of vines amid apples and other fruit trees.
The wine I had tasted in Bordeaux was a 2012 Petit Manoir made of Merlot, which is now sold out. So I tried the 2014, which because of the vagaries of that year’s weather is made entirely from Cabernet Franc. It is very good indeed, and at 23 euros it is worth laying down for three years or more. They have a second vineyard about twenty miles to the north-west at La Bachellerie, further up the Vézère valley, with a mineralrich terroir terraced with river pebbles where they make red and white wines named La Source. These are serious wines, between 12 and 16 euros a bottle, and I bought several of a very remarkable red that was made without sulfites.
There is a pleasing sense of history about drinking these wines made in a vineyard that dates back to Roman times, and where the wine is grown and made in the age-old way. And there could be no better proof that the AOC label need not be a pre-requisite for making very good and distinctive wines..
■ Credit/Source: Martin Walker, The Bugle
Martin Walker is a Grand Consul de la Vinée de Bergerac. He and his wife have had a home in the Périgord since 1999 and one of his great hobbies is visiting the vineyards of Bergerac.
At midnight – No, at one past midnight on the third Thursday of November, Les Beaujolais Nouveaux sont arrives! A recent lunch was at a small cafe/restaurant, “Mets Vins Chics,” in Eze Bord de Mer (not the village of Eze) to try out this year’s harvest – a surprising delight full or body and taste. We enjoyed an apero and a leisurely lunch, basking under the sunshine and warm temperature, and enjoying a sea view – not bad for mid-November on the French Riviera.
The arrival of the first wine of the season – the Beaujolais Nouveau – is a celebration of the country’s most popular, iconic and valuable drink. Bottled less than two months after harvesting, the wine is lighter in colour than other typical reds given its’ extremely young age and is produced to be drunk straight away as opposed to be laid down for drinking at a later date.
Each year the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau conforms to a similar format. The first bottles of are released on the third Thursday in November, which this year means that in wine producing regions the opening will take place at midnight on the 18/19th. Forty years ago the popularity of this special event in the French calendar grew significantly which culminated in races to Paris carrying the fruits of the year’s harvest as well many other festivities. Although the occasion now competes with many other marketing activities of its’ kind internationally – and perhaps is more low key – in local communities the Beaujolais Nouveau remains hugely popular with tastings (of course), a plentiful supply of good food and live music and fanfares to accompany the arrival of this prestigious drink.
Where does the Beaujolais Nouveau actually come from? The wine is made from the Gamay noir à Jus blanc grape: Gamay to you and me. The law requires that all grapes are harvested by hand in the region and furthermore they must originate from the Beaujolais Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC).
In 2013, France exported wine to the value of €7.7 billion, but in the case of the Beaujolais Nouveau the wine is generally produced for domestic consumption, although bottles can be brought in the UK, US and other countries.
The Beaujolais Nouveau is not without its’ critics. For some people, the Beaujolais Nouveau is a marketing gimmick and as a drink should be avoided at all costs due to its’ insipid taste, when compared to other aged wines – but what do you think? Santé!
SOURCE/CREDIT: photo and article reblogged from Rootstock Ads Newsletter
One of the perks of blogging is that you meet some interesting and fun people!
I had met a great Canadian couple in Nice last year via Facebook, and they invited us to visit them this summer while they were staying in Goult. I had previously visited Lacoste, Bonnieux, and Lourmarin, but so it was that we drove to the Luberon and had a long weekend visit and sightseeing stay with Teresa of French Provençal Touch with a Twist and her husband, Adam. Gordes, Menerbes, Isle-sur-la Sorgue, Goult, and the Château de la Canorgue (the setting in the film “A Good Year,” which was based on the book, “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle) were our target areas. Browsing through Goult’s annual brocante market and antique stalls in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, enjoying the regional foods and rosé wines, getting to know our hosts, and even dancing salsa & bachata with the hostess in the courtyard (did I mention enjoying the rosé wines?) made for a wonderful and memorable stay. We can’t wait to make this an annual friendship event and look forward to visiting the Luberon again next summer with them – I should take my dance shoes next time, although they wouldn’t do well in the gravel!