Staying in Toronto I slipped off to wine country: The beautiful Niagara peninsula and in particular the picturesque historic town of Niagara on the lake .
More wineries than you can count and very visitor friendly and they have nothing to envy over other more famous wine areas as far as the welcome is concerned. Peller Estates has been established here since 1969 when they expanded from Okanagan BC. They not only have themed wine visits and tastings but am elegant restaurant with a terrace over-looking the vines which we enjoyed in this very hot weather for this time of year. Hard to imagine what this looks like under winter snow.
The tasting menu of 4 (and a bit) courses and 4 wines from the private reserve and signature series is a great shop window to the chef Jason Parsons and the wine maker Lawrence Buhler.
Four VQA varietal wines, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc 2008, 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and a surprising but delicious 2007 Cabernet Franc ice wine all paired with fresh regional produce.
I’m just sad that I’m not here at the weekend for the `Chicks and Chocolate` pairing!
After many years down town Bordeaux (yes there is a town down Bordeaux!) at Le Scopitone local chef Le Pascal Cholet has recently taken over the kitchens of Avenue Carnot. In the chic Cauderan suburbs of Bordeaux, close to the the edge of the Parc Bordelais you can sit and watch all the local office workers jog by on the their lunch time circuit of the park. If you prefer lunch to excercise you’re in luck Avenue Carnot has a great lunchtime offer of a 3 course menu at 18 euros and hence a busy crowd of mainly busmen – no ladies that lunch as the shops are too far away – sigh!
A la carte and a gourmet menu make the terrace a sophisticated dinning option in the covered courtyard now the weather is finally warming up.
2009 was a big year for Domaines Clarence Dillon; as I mentioned on my post ‘New Branding at Haut Brion’ on 3rd April, it was the 75th anniversary of the purchase of the property by the current owners’ great grandfather. Continuing in their objective to clarify the offer of the wines from the 2 properties they have now also revamped the presentation of their white wines.
Previously the white wine of la Mission Haut Brion was known as Laville Haut Brion taking the name of a separate estate, Clos Laville, purchased in the 20’s. As of the 2009 vintage this wine will now be labelled simply as Château La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and available as of spring 2011.
The two estates together, Haut Brion and la Mission produce a second white wine between them. Previously labelled as Les Plantiers du Haut Brion this will be presented under the label la Clarté de Haut Brion as of the 2009 vintage and also available next spring.
The new line at Château Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion
2 wonderful new ideas of where to stay in Saint Emilion.
Yes the Hostellerie de Plaisance is fabulous and no visit to Saint Emilion would be complete without trying the 2* Michelin cuisine of Philippe Etchebest and for a vineyard hotel Château Franc Mayne is a great boutique hotel with a wonderful ‘natural’ pool. However there are now some lovely bed and breakfast and self catering options.
Staying on a vineyard is always a favourite and the recently promoted 1er Grand Cru Classé Château Troplong Mondot has opened beautiful rooms for bed and breakfast as of this spring.
Under the name ‘Les belles Perdrix’ Troplong Mondot has a one bedroom cottage in the vines, a 2 bedroom apartment and a separate en-suite bedroom all in and around the beautiful château with fantastic views overlooking the medieval town of Saint Emilion all only a few minutes stroll away through the vines (take a torch for the return after dinner!). Beautifully renovated with the artistic influence of Xavier Pariente in evidence, Margaux Pariente will give you more details on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to be independent and sample the fare from local markets Sharon Harris of Wine Villas has an amazing property on the edge of the village. Fully modernised with a state of the art kitchen, 4 en-suite bedrooms and a pool. The open plan living is all designed around entertaining, it’s the perfect choice for foodies. Sharon whose experience in rentals started with her beautiful Calistoga home in Napa will even lay on a chef for you to prepare the local specialities if that 5 minute walk to the local restaurants is too much to bear!
An artist’s retreat : The Belle Perdrix Cottage in the Château Troplong Mondot Vineyard
It has been said that after the third or forth château visit some visitors may suffer from barrel fatigue – after the same description of wine making and barrel ageing in each Château – but do not despair properties in Bordeaux have caught on and are offering visits with a difference.
One of the first to cotton on were ’Les Medocaines’ four women wine makers who have joined forces to offer visitors a different insight to the châteaux. They organise joint visits between the four properties of Château Paloumey, Château La Tour Bessan, Château La Loudenne and Château du Taillan. Themes vary from blending to food and wine workshops and even participating in the harvest for a day.
Four more women wine makers from Margaux (are we picking up a theme here?) have also got together again to ensure that they all offer visitors a different experience. The themes at each vary from Château Prieuré Lichine where you explore the history of the 1855 classification, Château Rauzan Gassies understanding the Margaux terroir, Château La Tour de Bessan grape varieties and blending and Château Kirwan the commercial organisation of Bordeaux.
All these tours can de booked through the Bordeaux Tourist board who will lay on the transport too so you can taste in peace.
Château Gruaud Larose is another of the many classified growths of the Medoc open to visitors and they offer specific visits for this season, on certain days either the cellar master M. Carmagnac or the agricultural manger M. Frederique will accompany visitors each explaining their expertise and role at the property. For more information contact Maisa Mansion at email@example.com
Make sure you book ahead.
The View from Château du Taillan – a taste of visits to come.
In this years crop 2 of the 4 new stars awarded by Michelin in and around Bordeaux are in Pessac Leognan. La Grand Vigne at les Sources de Caudalie and la Table de Montesquieu both won their awarded their first star this year.
Could this be the start of something new – close enough to Bordeaux city for the locals but in the heart of the vines for visitors – perfect.
Les Sources de Caudalie needs no introduction, the hotel and Spa must be everyone‘s list by now. However La Table de Montesquieu needs a little more finding. In the centre of the village of Labrede in the old school house the ultra modern décor is reflected the very innovative take on local produce. See the original ‘duck architecture’ below.
Highly influenced by Asian cuisine, impressively presented, the menu works perfectly with wines from Pessac Leognan but also those famous sweet wines from down the road. The excellent and bilingual service and a very eclectic wine list with a good selection by the glass (of not only Bordeaux we drank both Corsican and Rhone whites by the glass before the house Graves) Not cheap at over € 50 a head for lunch with wine and coffee but worth every penny – a hidden treasure.
Spring is definitely allowing Bordeaux château to open up their doors
This weekend was the open door weekend in Saint Emilion, and next weekend is the turn of the Côtes de Bourg. Everything from treasure hunts to car rallies and tastings to fashion shows you name it to discover the vineyard on the other side of the estuary.
However do not despair if you’re not free on those dates – every Saturday in May Chateau Carbonnieux and Chateau Haut-Bailly, both classified growths of Pessac Leognan, will join forces for a ‘bicolore visit’ with the white wines of Château Carbonnieux, and the reds Château Haut-Bailly.
If you have time for lunch – call ahead and reserve a picnic hamper (including wine of course) prepared by local restaurant Le Pistou, and enjoy the lawns of the properties. Book ahead with on firstname.lastname@example.org
If the weather doesn’t hold or you don’t fancy a ‘déjeuner sur l’herbe’ Le Pistou is running a special bicolcore menu for the month.