Monthly Archives: January 2010

So what does a Bordeaux Blonde do when she’s in California ?

She becomes a Californian Blonde!

Marilyn Munroe look alike Paula transformed me in her discreet Healdsburg salon ready to attack the Northern Californian food and wine scene.

Northern California seems to be the pantry of America. Healdsburg is like a food wonderland: one specialty food store, market, restaurants coffee shop and wine lounge next to another.

First stop Ralph’s bistro on the Plaza and then Zin for their famous burgers and deep fried French beans – French fries, French beans – they must think the French deep fry everything !!!

Wine Entre Femmes – Sneak preview

There is always an advantage to arriving early. 2 days ahead of the beginning of the Wine Entre Femme conference in Napa means a few sneak preview visits of the Valley.
The first visit to Schramsberg winery was a lesson in history, one of the oldest vineyards in Napa created in the 1860’s by the Schrams family who dug deep into the mountain side to create the cellars needed for ageing their wines. These cellars are now used by the Davies family for the bottle ageing of their famous traditional method sparkling wine: 7 brands showing different blends or single varietal with different bottle ageing on the lees that go to make up a production of 70 000 cases – their unique technique? The hand riddling is all done to the rhythm of Mexican music!
Second stop the CIA , the Californian branch of the Culinary Institute of America, another historical building just North of down town St Helena. The school is in the old Christian Brothers mission winery, one of the few that survived through the prohibition by producing due to the fact they had Communion wine to keep producing. Classes here are mainly reserved professionals on a 2 year training programme, but now some specialty classes are available for foodie enthusiasts and if you haven’t got time for a class you can sample the chef skills at the Wine Spectator sponsored restaurant. What was most interesting for me however were the wine programmes run at the Greystone building, both professional and general from one day to one month. I had already visited with the chairman of professional wine studies (and all round wine personality) Karen MacNeil a few years ago. Now the range of classes has increased including some special food and wine matching afternoon classes with chefs from the culinary institute.

Guzzling at the Greedy Goose

Restaurants are always looking at ways to make their wine lists more user friendly, well the more enlightened ones anyway, especially in the absence of a well informed sommelier.

Price point is of course one of the main factors influencing our choice – however much we claim to be choosing based on as origin, tasting profile, vintage, etc.

Lunching at the Greedy Goose in the Cotswolds this weekend presented an original way of taking this element out of the choice by pricing all their wines at the same price – well almost – 12 wines, red, white and 2 roses were all offered at 15.5 pounds sterling a bottle as there ‘One Price Wonders’ the same choice was also available by the glass at 4 pounds. They also took the vintage element out of the equation by not mentioning it at all.
No Bordeaux in this section of the list sadly, the one Bordeaux was in the ‘Truly Sensational’ list at 65 pounds for Les Tourelles de Longueville!

Barrel Sampling at l’Envers

Visiting Saint Emilion but don’t have time for a château visit? Stop by l’Envers du Decor for a cellar experience.
This Saint Emilion wine bistro is famous as the canteen for most of the right bank winemakers. Keen to allow his clients the experience of a barrel tasting, usually only available for visitors to a producers cellar, François de Lineris has brought in a barrel of his 2009 red wine. Made from vines in the Entre Deux Mers, under conversion to organic agriculture, but sold under a table wine appellation, François offers diners the possibility of trying a glass of the new vintage in the restaurant so they can experience an infant wine. The wine list also offers a wide range of wined by the glass from the region for those who have a less adventurous palate.

François de Lineris, owner of l’Envers du Décor in Saint Emilion, serves from the barrel.

An Epiphany

Just when you have made all your new resolutions to eat and drink wisely after the festive season’s excess the French have another excuse for over indulgence : La Galette des Rois. Celebrating Epiphany with a choice of delicious cakes, either a Galette Parisenne (butter puff pastry filled with almond cream) or a brioche ring decorated with sugar and candied fruit to celebrate 12th night.
But what to drink which such a delight? To find out we spent the afternoon tasting a range of Bordeaux wines from the ‘by the glass list’ at the Bordeaux Wine Bar with our Galette Parisienne.
Our 3 best were : Clos du Château de Cadillac AOC Cadillac 2005, Château Cantelys Pessac Léognan 2003 and the Lateyron Paulian Crémant de Bordeaux NV.
The Crémant de Bordeaux was voted best match – one of Bordeaux’s best kept secrets, but the Château Cantelys, from the Smith Haut Lafitte stable, was a close contender and voted the best wine.






Round three of Wine Entre Femmes

2010 is the third year of the collaboration between women wine makers and marketers in Bordeaux and Napa. 2008 saw the Bordelaises invited to Napa to discover their wine making and marketing secrets of success. 2009 was the return match hosted in Bordeaux and this year Bordeaux is going back. However things have changed : women wine makers from around the world will be joining us from Argentina, South Africa, Japan, Switzerland and Turkey.
Members of the trade and the press are invited to sample these wines from over 45 different women wine makers want to know more contact

A glass of Barsac with dinner ?

The Grand Hôtel in Bordeaux are continuing with their themed wine dinners in the Pressoir d’Argent restaurant. End January (28th) it is the turn of Château Climens.
A 5 course dinner will give guests the opportunity to taste 4 vintages of the 1er Grand Cru Classé of Barsac and 2 vintages of their second wine Les Cyprés de Climens with the owner and wine maker Berenice Lurton