Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wine Mecca to Cotes du Ventoux

My friend Lyndsey and I share the same love for a DDR ( daily drinking red) from the Mount Ventoux appellation called Cotes du Ventoux located in the southern part of the Rhone valley ( think Tour de France) In the age of designer wine labels and Robert Parker points, I find it refreshing that there is nothing remotely snobbish about this Cotes du Ventoux wine. It is an easy, young wine with low alcohol ( 13.5%) that explodes in the mouth with a tangy aftertaste all for 2.65 euro per bottle! The sommelier introduced us to their first organic wine that is a bit more balanced and round than our faithful DDR for only 5.50 euro per bottle. Seems like a bargain when in California most decent wines start at $20 and up per bottle. During the summer months, I like to put the bottle in the refrigerator for a good hour so that it remains fresh and not balmy. I hate warm wine. Nothing like heat to kill a wine's acidity and character. Yuck..better off saving it for your cooking wine!The wine cooperatives in France are spread out like Starbucks in USA. They represent each appellation and characteristics of the region. Part of the pleasure of hunting down a favorite wine with a friend is the adventure of finding the domaine and meeting the winemakers. Each wine appellation is different from the way they grow their vines to the way they mix the variety of their grapes. Terroir does make a big difference. I want my wine to taste like the earth it grows in and not pumped up with fake yeasts and added alcohol. Sometimes it is better to stay simple. Amen!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Arugula, oh my!

  I know..... I was a bit late in the game to start my vegetable garden this year ( end of May). At least, I will not have the formidable chance of a fluke hailstorm that pulverizes my baby tomato plants like last year into little lifeless green stubs sticking out of the dirt sans leaves..I bought three cucumber plants that I slowly realized when I saw the orange flowers sprout up were really zucchini plants. Working the earth is always the hard part especially where we live in the arid Provence. There is no dirt..only rock. I built my own planter boxes to house the  vegetable garden. This way I can mix my own dirt and create a healthy base for the plants.  Each year the climate is so different that one never knows which plants will produce.  We have two large cisterns on our property that takes it water from an internal water source somewhere from the mountain in back of our property.  During the summer we install a pump into a cistern to circulate the spring water to my vegetable garden. The rain water is much better for the plants than the harsh city water. Plus, it feels good doing my part to recycling mother nature.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Love that Savigny-Les-Beaune

Wanted: a full, easy drinking, Burgundy with character.....sounds like I am looking for a French young lover...well, kind of...True, I will be intimate with this wine. There will be occasions where I am sans my man, or any friend for that matter, overlooking a sunset in Provence and I will want to have a glass of a robust, earthy wine to accompany my fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms. At this point in my life, I want the good stuff. Period.  Not to say that one cannot find an enjoyable, pleasant wine for 6 euros. But, today we are in  Savigny-Les-Beaune and I want the good stuff.  So I take a gamble and follow the advise of the Innkeeper.  I find myself at Simon BIZE et FILS.. We  are shown the wine cave and it is like a museum, bottle after bottle of Savigny-les-Beaune labeled by year after year.  I loved meeting the Japanese wife of Patrick BIZE.  While tasting and spitting out this red fountain of youth, we talked about our experiences as expatriates married to French men.  Madame Bize lived in Tokyo and was a finance advisor until she met her future husband who suggested she come to Burgundy for the vendage wine picking period.  Well, Madame Bize fell in love and never looked back.  Good time to be out of the finance world, I suppose! When I arrived home in the south, I opened my COTE D'OR  by Clive Coates M.W. book on Burgundy wine. Discussing the Simon BIZE et FILS wine Coates  said, 'Patrick Bize is one of Burgundy's most sensitive and perfectionist wine-makers. This is in my view clearly Savigny's best domain' Well, that being said, goodnight and happy drinking!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stop in Savigny- les- Beaune

Every time I make the car exodus from Paris to Provence, I try to plan a stop over in Burgundy. One, because it cuts the eight hour drive into two reasonable four hour days. And two, because it gives me a chance to do a little wine hunting...I get a chance to pull out all those little wine tasting notes that I have been storing on my iPhone and try to find the secretive little wine domains in my favorite pinot noir country.  What better place to stop off than Savigny-les Beaune.  I did not have enough time nor energy to hit the northern Cote d'Or section so I settled tasting a local wine, a favorite of the inn keeper of Le Vieux Moulin, where we were spending the night.  One of the things I love about wine hunting is that I get a chance to actually meet the faces behind the wine label.  I love asking the winemakers questions about our mutual passion , wine.  I also learn a lot about the on going family feuds or regional politics. I am a big fan of Kermit Lynch, a  San Francisco wine lover who has a mind blowing wine store in Berkeley. Kermit was one of the first to introduce French wine to the American palate. His love for Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone and of course, Bandol  was really music to my ears.  I truly wish we had a Kermit Lynch wine store here in France. I know that sounds silly but not when you read his newsletters about his latest finds ...go to.....newsletters@kermitlynch.com. I highly recommend reading his "Adventures of the Wine Route" which was penned twenty years ago but reads like it was written last summer. He also has a  dry sense of humor and is a musician to boot. Plus I heard he resides not too far from my home in Provence.  We love you Kermit!!

"On the Road Again"

 It's that time of year again. Time to make the exodus from the north to the south, Provence to be exact.  Time to drive the dog and car full of belongings from other travels and adventures. Time to start all the home improvement plans. Time to buy more 2003-2005 Burgundy wine for my Provence wine cave. Time to start my vegetable garden before it gets too hot.