Friday, 14 August 2015

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Don't want to be a richer woman)

It has been almost a year since I wrote a post on this blog, the reason being that it has been a full-on year in my life, with plenty of changes and (of course) delicious wines.
After leaving London and moving to France with my (drinking) partner in crime, we have decided to pursue our dream to leave the big cities and our office jobs and find our little corner of quiet in the countryside. So we bought a big house with a big garden to set up our B&B business. You may say we are just part of a global trend where people decide to return to the countryside in search for a life of higher quality and simpler things such as growing your own vegetables and being as much independent as possible from this fast society which is mainly focused on career and making money. Well, yes, this is exactly the plan: we are not rich nor trying to get there, we are just looking for quality rather than quantity.

Obviously this process has taken lots of our energies, especially in refurbishing an old house and decorating it but we finally succeeded and opened our B&B Le Casse-Noix in Sarlat La Caneda at the end of May.

Le Casse-Noix B&B Sarlat

Now you may ask what has this to do with wine...Well, nothing in particular, other that I am now living in one of the largest wine producing countries, less than 2 hours drive from one of the most (if not the most) popular wine regions of the world (i.e. Bordeaux) and have access to an immense choice of wines (often from smaller and lesser-known appellations) for very reasonable prices. Besides, the Dordogne  is deservedly considered one of the most interesting gastronomic destinations in France, with plenty of local productions and an ancient culinary tradition.

Sarlat on a winter afternoon
And now that I kind of feel that the pressure is slightly over and the activity is under control, the journey to my new food and wine experiences is just about to start. I will try to take you around in my exploration of the French regional cuisine and wine production and will carry on with my little posts on Italian wines and food.

Please `stand by the closing doors` and enjoy the ride!

PS: Don't forget.."You must be the change you wish to see in the world!" Mahatma Ghandi

Monday, 15 September 2014

Wine in a can? Thanks, but no, thanks!

I was browsing on the web a few days ago, when I found this amusing spot taking the piss of all wine snobs.
I couldn't help but like it because I deeply hate wine snobs. You know what I'm talking about....that people (often too influenced by the label than by the liquid behind it) with an unbearable posh and pretentious attitude thinking they own a superior knowledge so that they are not interested in knowing your opinions because THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES able to understand wine! And, please do not confuse them with wine geeks, those are a totally different and much funnier category (of which I do, occasionally, feel part of).

Anyway, let's not go off topic..the video is actually advertising a company selling wine in a can...and as I got that, I grimaced...with a bit of a snob attitude. So, that really scared me: I don't want to become one of those wine snobs, so I have either to overcome my mental tabu that makes me feel sick at the idea of wine in a can or find a real reason for my skepticism.

Here is where the subject becomes difficult! The problem is that actually there is no scientific reason to believe that aluminum cans can affect wine in any way. Certainly cans are not the best package if your wine needs to age but young easy drinking wines aren't apparently influenced at all by aluminum cans. It's a bit like tetrapak, a more sustainable packaging that can actually make wineries save quite a bit of money.

Plus (someone may say) a few years ago we had similar doubts on the stelvin closures, that were considered outrageous; and it took a while to get them to be accepted by consumers and producers (and the debate is actually still quite open, to be honest). But in that specific case, the innovation was introduced as a solution to corked wines, a real problem affecting approximately 5% of the world wine production.

While, on the other hand, the use of cans to store and sell wine sounds much more like a commercial and marketing move. The idea is always the same: re-branding the wine drinking experience and make wine consumption 'pop' in the category of potential customers who prefers the convenience and speed of cans and ends up choosing beer above wine for this reason.

Nothing wrong about it: in a democratic wine world, anyone can drink whatever they want in any kind of package, but, I believe that a great wine is made of dreams and traditions: a big Barolo or a Bordeaux first growth cannot be put in a'd be a murder!

So it is clear that there is a quite important psychological factor that influence my approach to wine in a can, but it isn't a just a snob attitude. I see wine in its whole complexity: the land where it is coming from, the people who made it, its history and of course its aromas and flavors. I'm not saying I am investigating every bottle of wine I am drinking, or that I only drink top quality wines, but I enjoy drinking wine on its own or with a meal for its specificity and the pleasure it can offer me (even if it's the simplest wine produced by the local farmer) not as I could drink anything commercially standardized such as coke or any industrial beer!   

So I am afraid, my conclusion is that I am not ready yet for wine in a can.
Forgive me but, I'll stick to glass, at least for a while!


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Clos Montmartre, the oldest vineyard in Paris

When I moved to France a few months ago I knew my life would have been filled with wine, and it has been exactly like that: I am fully absorbed by French wine production and I am tasting and learning every day more.

But I was not expecting to find in a big modern metropolis such as Paris a beautiful and functioning vineyard.
Yes, a proper vineyard in the middle of the city and more precisely in one of the most touristy areas! 
To be honest, I also found out that there is actually more than one vineyard in Paris, but the oldest one (and the one I have randomly bumped into) is on the `Butte Montmartre`.

Here there's a long story: vines were present on this popular hill since the the X century. The monks of a Benedictine abbey were making wine at the time. When the abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution the vineyards continued to be used by the locals but they were later abandoned and completely disappeared in the XIX century when the wine trade in Paris was mainly dominated by the Loire and Burgundy wines and the urbanization expansion in Montmartre had invaded all the space.

A restoration project led by a group of independent artists has made the replanting possible in 1932. Now the vineyard is property of the city of Paris and it is taken care by the capable hands of the city gardeners.

It covers around 1500 square meters, producing around 500 liters of wine from  approximately 2000 plants of various grape varieties. The wine is labelled as Clos Montmartre and the labels are designed by local artists.

As I have never tasted it, I cannot express an opinion on the quality of this I am planning to attend the annual Fête des Vendanges, taking place from the 8th to the 14th of October this year...and will let you know!