Just 30 minutes from the center of Nice is one of the oldest wine regions in France, dating back to the arrival of the Phocean Greek traders from Marseille. Some vines are over 1000 years old and the wines of Bellet were awarded the coveted AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controllée) accreditation status in 1941.
Twice a year, the 10 AOC Bellet vineyards in the hills behind Nice open their doors and start popping corks – ‘Portes Ouvertes’ is a perfect opportunity to get tasting the local wines – free of charge!
Interactive domain map HERE (Organic wines are made at the Domaine de la Source.)
Portes ouvertes : Samedi 24 et dimanche 25 mai 2014
Samedi 29 et dimanche 30 novembre 2014
Visitors welcome between 10am and 6pm on both days.
Enjoy a wine lover’s escape from the hustle and bustle of the city!
(Public bus transportation access or by car – Don’t forget to have a designated driver)
See my previous post for the Chateau de Cremat in Bellet HERE
PARIS — A French startup is looking to let consumers sample the country’s best vintages at home with single servings, doing for wine what Nespresso did for coffee.
PARIS — Put the capsule in the machine, push the button, and out comes your beverage at the perfect temperature as if poured by a professional. But it’s not your Nespresso machine serving up a shot of coffee. A French startup, 10-vins (Ten Wines) is launching a new home appliance that’s reshaping the way we consume wine while giving corkscrews a rest.
While still a top producer and consumer of all vintages, France is slowly faltering on the wine market. Nationwide wine consumption over the past decades has steadily declined, with fewer than 17% of citizens consuming wine on a daily basis, compared to 50% in 1980, according to one study by France AgriMer, which follows agricultural trends. Other reports look to the fact that red wine consumption in China has surpassed that of France, even though per capita, the French still vie with Italians for top ranking.Called the “D-Vine” (pronounced divine), the machine decants individual glasses of wine, serving them at the perfect temperature by reading a microchip on the vial. Like Nespresso machines that have seduced the French, who make up 25% of the business’s profits, the D-Vine could be a way to revitalize the French market, allowing for more upscale experimentation with less risk, and without having to go to a wine specialist. It will debut at the end of this year in France, retailing for around $250 or so, and the business is eyeing the United States not long after.
But while the frequency of wine drinking declines, one study shows that French households spend around 25 euros more on alcohol than five years ago. The authors suggest the French are buying less but higher-quality bottles.
Looking to this increased spending, Nantes-based startup 10-vins is re-marketing higher-end wines known as grand cru. The company is looking at individualized portions, allowing for more experimentation and sampling for those who aren’t willing to invest immediately in more expensive bottles.
Cultural shifts are leading younger generations toward other drinks, according to private chef and culinary consultant Didier Quémener. Wine, he said, was traditionally the drink that French grandparents had with every meal, poured from bottles decorated with chateaux and flowing script.
But with a more cosmopolitan generation traveling further and experiencing more of the world, vodka and Red Bull or a rum and Coke are replacing Bordeaux and Beaujolais. Binge drinking is increasingly prevalent among students and wine is finding its way to the dinner table less and less frequently.
“France was a golden place where every wine was good – but the quality suffered because they did not have to produce good wine,” Quémener said. It seems that the industry has finally bounced off its laurels, taking steps to maintain the superior image of French wine.
Vineyards are hiring younger protégés to help attract those their own age, and fashionable trends have been bringing newer generations back to vintages. Design-heavy labels, organic varieties and new packaging are changing, or at least refreshing, the face of the French wine industry. “We adapt and we listen to the customers. If the wine is the same in the bottle but the label changes, who cares?” Quénemer said. Not least among the tactics is the new gadget by 10-vins.
The company, founded in 2012, currently offers 10cL vials of wine, allowing consumers to sample several varieties in the comfort of their own home, without having to purchase a whole bottle. Combined with online tutorials and advice via web chats and Twitter, the team of young, passionate wine enthusiasts is bringing French wine into the 21st century.
Thibault Jacousse, 10-vins cofounder alongside Jérôme Pasquet and Luis da Silva, said that the concept is a way to test more expensive wines without investing too much. “When you are at home alone or in a couple, it’s not always the right occasion to open a whole bottle,” he said, “especially if we don’t have the same tastes, like me and my wife.”
Vials are currently sold for as little as 1.90 euros ($2.64 USD) per 10cL, roughly one glass, with higher-end vintages retailing at 7 euros ($9.71 USD), all available through the company’s website. While more expensive than buying a whole bottle, it’s cheaper than investing in a 60-euro ($83 USD) bottle that might disappoint.
“Today’s younger generations don’t have a wine cellar or buy bottles in bulk. They drink less wine but they are looking for the better ones,” Jacousse said. Single servings allow them to stock and taste different varieties on a smaller scale.
The D-Vine isn’t the first innovation for the wine industry. Canned wine, by Winestar, hit the French market in 2013. Flavored wines have also been placed predominantly on supermarket shelves, with grapefruit-flavored rosé making headlines in the same year.
While such changes, upmarket or other, may seem offensive to traditionalists (like these guys), for Quénemer, any way to sell wine is a win for the French market, which can’t afford to turn a nose up at technology or other innovations like the D-Vine. “Maybe it’s a gimmick, but consumers have wine in their hands, and maybe it’ll encourage them one day to a new level and taste something more expensive,” he said.
Provence & Côte d’Azur: Actor reveals love for his new wine venture in the Var
Brad Pitt approaches winemaking like a Hollywood film
Move over Côte de Provence rosés, Brad Pitt is planning to make a revolutionary Provence red at his Miravel vineyard in the Var … just give him seven years. The Hollywood actor recently revealed that winemaking has reshaped his very identity, and he now considers himself a Provencal farmer – capable of producing that elusive, fine local red just like the Tuscans.
The cover of the June edition of Wine Spectator
Speaking to the US magazineWine Spectator, Brad Pitt, who bought the Miraval Estate winery with fiancée Angelina Jolie in 2012, explained that he approached this venture with the same determination as a Hollywood flick.
“For better or worse, given my compulsive nature, if we are going to be in the wine business, let’s make the best wine we can,’ the 50-year-old said. “I asked the question, ‘Why can’t we make world-class wine in Provence?’ Let’s approach it like a film, and let’s make something we can be proud of and all people can enjoy.”
Of course, Provence rosés are already world-class. But with fifth-generation winemaker Marc Perrin on their team, the Pitt-Jolie dynamic duo were definitely off to a good start. Their first 6,000 bottles, officially known as Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Côte de Provence Rosé Miraval, sold out within five hours of being offered online in France last March – a response which no-doubt fuelled Pitt’s new-found passion.
“I’m a farmer now. I love learning about the land and which field is most suitable for which grape, the drama of September and October: Are we picking today?
“Where are the sugar levels? How is the acidity? Is it going to rain? It’s been a schooling for me. In the off months, I enjoy cleaning the forest and walking the land.”
The sprawling Château Miraval estate, featuring 35-bedrooms and an adjoining 1,200 acre vineyard, was purchased for $60 million. It is situated in a valley at an altitude of 350 metres, where the vines “enjoy warm sunny days and cool nights, natural clay and chalk soils, plenty of water and organic farming practices,” according to the estate.
Clearly, these are great conditions for rosé, but do they suit red wine? Pitt seems to think so. He plans to ignore the strict guidelines of the AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) and go out on a limb…
“What really interests me now are the reds. … It’s generally believed that Provence is not capable of producing a fine red. … I, with Marc and Pierre [Perrin], would like to create a wine which utilises the best attributes of our terroir, and outside the restrictions of the AOC, like what the Italians have achieved with their super Tuscans. We envision a superb Provence red. Give us seven years.”
It’s hardly a secret that I am a less-than-enthusiastic cook, but I do try to keep learning and even took a cooking class with a Michelin-star chef.
If you would like to try your hand at hands-on cooking in a luxurious environment, classes are offered at both the Hotel de Paris and at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco.
One cooking class starts in the afternoon (link in English) and the other begins in the morning (link in English), providing schedules that should delight everyone’s ‘taste’!
After the class, you will enjoy a gastronomic meal from the fruits of your labor – bien sûr, created by top notch chefs. Time spent in their kitchens would indeed be a gourmet “authentic cooking experience”!
Photos courtesy of official Hôtel de Paris website
Oddly enough, I happened to be in Paris for the November 15, 2012 release of “Beaujolais Nouveau” & was again in Paris this year on the legally regulated release day/time: the third Thursday of November at midnight. The event is a world-wide celebration of a red wine from Beaujolais, located in the Burgundy region of France. By law, the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau is on the third Thursday of November at 12:01 AM.
Reportedly, in the 1950s the makers of the wine were keen to increase the sales of this young vintage – there wasn’t a huge demand due to ageing process of wines.
Beaujolais Nouveau wine isn’t really nouveau/new, since it’s been around since the 19th century. Targeting Paris to carry the first bottles released in cafés and restaurants, as a marketing tactic, made this event an annual success since then, with the largest importers being Japan, Germany and the U.S.
Similar to the Salon des Vignerons, this annual exposition was equally impressive, with winemakers, artisans, and culinary specialists all enticing visitors to taste and sample their wares. Held over a five-day period at the l’Hippodrome/racetrack in Cagnes-sur-Mer, the event hosts regional productors from all over France.
Of course, my first stop was at one of the champagne stands, where I sampled their Brut Rosé – it was miam-miam! Foie gras, super-size cheeses, meats and sausages of every kind, olives, nougat, macaroons, oysters, and cassoulet were on display in the pavillon – a feast for the eyes, as well as for the tastebuds – Bon Appétit!