Archive for the ‘wine’ Category

Neige – An Apple Ice Wine from Quebec

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
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Neige

Neige
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

In December, we were invited to attend a tasting of what I thought was going to be apple cider at Philovino, a wine shop operated by Bruno Quenioux. I blogged about tasting cider at Mr. Quenioux’s shop back in July of last year. This time, we were in for a big surprise because the “cider” that we came to taste was in reality an apple wine, or more specifically, an apple ice wine.

The concept of producing wine from frozen apples is confusing to the uninitiated. How, you might ask, does one get wine from this?

There are two ways* and both methods are used by La Face Cachée de la Pomme, the company that produces the wine that we tasted that evening.

Method 1 – Cryoconcentration
In autumn, very ripe apples are picked and kept in cool storage until winter. At the end of December, apples are then pressed and the freshly-extracted juice is placed outside in the extreme cold temperatures of January. Slowly, the water crystallizes and separates from the sugar. After a few days of intense cold, the concentrated apple nectar (called “must”) is drawn off and placed in stainless steel tanks where it ferments for a period of approximately eight months at low temperatures before being bottled.

Method 2 – Cryoextraction
In this method, apple ice wine is produced from varieties of apples that do not fall from the trees in autumn; they are picked in December and January when the temperatures are near –15°C. These apples have been dehydrated by the sun and literally cooked by the cold and the wind. Sugars have been concentrated through natural cryoextraction. The frozen apples are then pressed to extract the nectar. The must is then placed in stainless steel tanks where it ferments for a period of approximately eight months at low temperatures before being bottled.

More than 6kg of apples are required to produce 1L of apple ice wine.

We tasted this limpid, light-amber wine and were astounded by its intense apple aroma and rich apple-and-butterscotch flavor. In the mouth, it is soft, smooth, and very sweet, but not cloying. It makes a great after-dinner drink and can be served as an accompaniment with certain sharp cheeses, such as aged cheddar and blue-veined cheeses.

In searching the Internet to learn more about the apple ice wines that are produced by La Face Cachée, I was surprised to learn that the role that Mr. Quenioux played in their development has been overlooked. Quenioux was impressed by this wine when, as manager of the wine shop at Lafayette Gourmet (of the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris), he tasted it for the first time. Sometime later, François Pouliot, founder of La Face Cachée, contacted Quenioux for advice on how to improve the quality of what was already a good product. Quenioux suggested using a different variety of apple and provided guidance on the process of fermentation. Now, five years later, Quenioux says that Neige tastes even better than when he first enthused about it.

Bruno Qenioux and François Pouliot

Bruno Qenioux and François Pouliot in front of Philovino
Photograph courtesy of Philovino

Neige is sold in Bruno Quenioux’s wine shop:
Boutique Philovino
33, rue Claude Bernard
75005 PARIS
Open from Tuesday to Saturday
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

*Information about the production of apple ice wine was gleaned from La Face Cachée Web site.

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Champagne and Chocolate at Mococha

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
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Alexandre Billon and Marie-Hélène Gantoise

Alexandre Billon and Marie-Hélène Gantois
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

In December, I had the opportunity to attend a champagne and chocolate tasting at Mococha—our favorite chocolate shop on rue Mouffetard. Marie-Hélène Gantois, the proprietor of the shop, provided chocolates and Alexandre Billon, a wine merchant from the nearby wine shop La Fontaine aux Vins, supplied the champagne.

Marie declared that the purpose of the tasting was to challenge the idea that champagne doesn’t go well with chocolate.

Alexandre began by pouring a Ronseaux-Wanner Grand Cru 2005. He explained that the older a champagne is, the fewer bubbles it will have, because the carbonation slowly escapes through the champagne cork over time. Indeed, this grand cru did not have as much fizz as a younger champagne. I found its taste to be quite bitter.

While the participants enjoyed the champagne, Marie circulated with trays of different ganache (cream-filled) chocolates. We tried several with this wine, and I succeeded in determining that a fig-flavored ganache by Rémi Henry did indeed complement the champagne. However, this was not because of the chocolate, but because of the fig—the sweetness of the fruit offset the bitterness of the champagne.

Alexandre then poured a Robert Desbrosse 2006. I found it to be only mildly bitter, which to my mind gave it a better chance at harmonizing with chocolate. I thought that it went well with a peach-flavored ganache called Péché by Fabrice Gillotte, again because the chocolate was flavored with fruit. But it also went well with a bitter-sweet praline chocolate called Muscovado by the same producer. Together in the mouth, the Desbrosse and the Muscovado tasted like sweet, liquid chocolate.

The third champagne was a Drappier Brut Nature, produced from 100% Pinot Noir grape. Its label indicated that it was zéro dosage, meaning that it did not receive a liqueur de dosage (a small quantity of cane sugar mixed with champagne) during its production. Dry and refreshing, it went well with Amandes “turbinées” (milk-chocolate coated almonds) by Fabrice Gillotte.  I attributed this harmony to the flavor of the almonds, not to the flavor of the chocolate in which they were enrobed.

By the end of the event, although I had enjoyed some fine champagne and chocolate, I remained unconvinced that they actually complemented each other.  The production of champagne and chocolate is a complex process and, in my mind, they emerge as finished products that should be enjoyed on their own merits.  However, if one feels compelled to drink wine with chocolate, I recommend Banyuls, a fortified red wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.

Marie Pours Ronseaux-Wanner Grand Cru 2005

Marie Pours Ronseaux-Wanner Grand Cru 2005
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Marie hosts numerous events of this type in her shop, introducing new chocolate producers or paring chocolate with other beverages. Join her Facebook page to keep abreast of her activities!

Mococha
89, Rue Mouffetard
75005 Paris
Tel.: 01.47.07.13.66

La Fontaine aux Vins
107, Rue Mouffetard
75005 Paris
Tel.: 01.43.31.41.03

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Tasting Gentilini (a Greek Wine) at Mavrommatis

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
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La Cave Mavrammotis

La Cave Mavrammotis
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

On the evening of November 29, Monique and I attended a wine tasting organized by Mavrommatis at its wine shop at 49, rue Censier in the 5th arrondissement. I arrived thinking that I would taste the resinated wine (wine flavored with pine resin) that I have heard is popular in Greece. To my surprise, I learned that the wine produced by the winemakers whom I met there, Marianna and Petros Markantonatos, is not flavored with resin. Rather, their goal is to produce wines that don’t use resin, which can hide imperfections. They want their wines to compete on the European and American markets with the best.

Marianna and Petros Markantonatos

Marianna and Petros Markantonatos
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Marianna and Petros’ estate, called Gentilini, is located on the island of Cephalonia. They say that the soil there, which is chalky and shallow and lies above a limestone bedrock, is the best type of terroir for fine wine production. Some of their vineyards are on gradients so steep that it requires the agility of a goat to harvest the grapes.

Presently, Marianna and Petro farm over ten hectares of vineyards that are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Moschofilero (white grape of Greek origins with a pink/purple skin), Syrah, Muscat, and Mavrodaphne (black wine grape indigenous to the Achaea region). They also manage two vineyards planted with Robola and Tsaoussi, two grape varieties indigenous to the island.

Marianna’s father founded the Gentilini winery forty years ago. She and her husband took it over in 2002. Their vineyards are located around the winery, and all vinification and bottling is done there. The wine is aged in stainless-steel vats or oak barrels that come from the best cooperage houses of Europe.

Robola 2011

Robola 2011
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We tasted a number of white wines at Mavrommatis, including a 2011 vintage of Robola. Pale yellow with a hint of green, it had a fresh, light citrus aroma and flavor. It was dry, crisp, and slightly peppery at the finish.

Genitlini Eclipse 2011

Genitlini Eclipse 2011
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We also tasted the Gentilini Eclipse, made from the Mavrodaphine grape variety. With a clear, dark-purple color, it was medium-bodied with a fruity aroma, cherry flavor, and peppery aftertaste.

We were quite impressed with the quality of the wines that we sampled that evening. We found them to be as good as any French wines that we have tasted in their price range.

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Wine Tasting aboard a Boat on the Seine

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
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Wine Tasting in Paris - French Wine Tour

About two weeks ago we had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting hosted by Thierry Givone of Wine Tasting In Paris. It was held at the Mellow Bar located on a boat on the Seine River.

Boat Batostar/Mellow Bar

Batostar/Mellow Bar
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Table Set for the Wine Tasting

Table Set for the Wine Tasting
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We took the metro (Line 7) to Pont Marie, crossed the street (Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville), and walked along the sidewalk next to the embankment until we found the stairway leading down to the river. Arriving at the waterfront highway (Voie Pompidou) we crossed at the light, and then doubled back to the boat (Batostar/Mellow Bar). We crossed the gangplank and entered the boat, where we saw that everything was ready for the event.

Thierry Givone Giving Presentation

Thierry Givone Giving Presentation
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Thierry gave a well-structured talk with the support of visuals on a large computer screen. I liked his presentation about the wine regions of France, including an explanation about climatic differences. During the presentation we tasted six different wines, beginning with a champagne. Thierry explained how taste is perceived through the nose and in the mouth. He also talked about the different aromas that develop in wine and how best to capture these fragrances during the tasting process.

Thierry Givone Pouring Wine

Thierry Givone Pouring Wine
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

In addition to champagne, we tasted two white wines from the Loire Valley and from Burgundy and three reds from Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Côtes du Rhône.

Thierry Givone next to Aroma Chart

Thierry Givone next to Aroma Chart
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Thierry told us that he plans to hold one wine-tasting session a week at the Mellow Bar. His demeanor is earnest and it was evident to me that he has good command of the subject. Take a look at his Facebook page for more information about Wine Tasting In Paris.

I think that Americans who travel to Paris will enjoy Thierry’s introduction to French wines held on-board the spacious Batostar on the Seine. It is a great way to learn about wine and to experience this important aspect of French culture with other travelers from around the world.

Our Intrepid Blogger Sniffs out those Animal Notes

Our Intrepid Blogger Sniffs out those Animal Notes
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

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Meet Thierry Poincin – Owner of En Vrac

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
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Thierry Poincin

Thierry Poincin, Owner of En Vrac
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Thierry Poincin operates En Vrac, a cave à vin in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. In this month’s Le Bon Goût, learn why travelers who seek an authentic French dining experience will find it here, far off the bustling tourist circuit of central Paris.

Le Bon Goût is a monthly feature of our newsletter, Paris Insights. To view a preview of the newsletter, click here.

Paris Insights is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne lecture!

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Monique’s Wine Adventure

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
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Nice bouquet

A Nice Bouquet
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

On Saturday, August 10, the Seine-Saint-Denis Tourism Office organized a wine adventure on the Ourcq Canal. Monique was there!

Monique Preparing to Embark

Monique Preparing to Embark on Her Adventure
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

At 7:30 p.m., she showed up at the Bassin de la Vilette (in northern Paris) and waited for her boat to come in.

Wine Vats

Wine Vats
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

When she got on board, she saw the wine vats. The one on the left held Gamay, the one in the middle held Syrah, and the one on the right held Grenache. It was a lot of wine!

Fabrice Explains the Fine Points of Wine Production

Fabrice Explains the Fine Points of Wine Production
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Fabrice of En Vrac, a wine shop in the 18th arrondissement, explained how the participants would blend their own wine from the three vats and have a private bottle to take home. What fun!

Monique Takes a Sip

Monique Takes a Sip
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Before the blending began, everyone had a chance to taste each wine.

Drawing Gamay from the Vat

Drawing Gamay from the Vat
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Then each person went from vat to vat with a beaker, drawing the proportions that would suit that person’s taste when the wine was blended.

One Part Syrah

One Part Syrah
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Monique checked her proportions carefully. She took chemistry in college, so she knew what she was doing!

Monique Corks Her Wine

Monique Corks Her Wine
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

After pouring two wines (Syrah and Grenache) in their proper proportions into a bottle (a funnel was used), Monique corked it. Fabrice told her to wait two weeks for the wine to “settle” before she opened it to drink.

Thierry Sealing the Cork with Wax

Thierry Sealing the Cork with Wax
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Thierry (manager of En Vrac) sealed the cork with wax and applied a label.

Syrah-Grenache Blend

Monique’s Syrah-Grenache Blend
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Et voila! Monique’s personalized blend of wine was ready!

Rosaura Martinez from Los Cabos BCS

Rosaura Martinez from Los Cabos Mexico BCS
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Rosaura Martinez from Los Cabos Mexico BCS selected a blend of 15% Gamay, 75% Syrah, and 10% Grenache. She was there with her sister, who was celebrating her quinceañera.

Bagged and Ready to go

Bagged and Ready to Go
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

As the boat pulled into dock, Monique shows off her prize!

A good time was had by all!

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The World of Wine According to Marco Parusso

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
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Marco Parusso

Marco Parusso

Monique and I had the pleasure of receiving an invitation to a tasting and presentation of wines produced in the Barolo district of the Piedmont region of Italy by Marco Parusso. The tasting took place at I Golosi restaurant in Paris, an Italian restaurant for which we later wrote a review.

While we sipped nine different wines (two whites, and seven reds), Mr. Parusso talked about his technique of wine production.

We learned that he works very hard at quality control during each step of wine production—from harvesting the grapes to bottling—and that some of his methods are rather unusual. During the harvest, bunches of Nebbiolo grapes are placed in containers and then carried to an atmospheric-conditioned storage room where they “rest” for three to nine days. During this time, at least three things happen: the grapes continue to ripen, the tannins become more mature, and the grape stalks absorb oxygen. It is this absorption of oxygen that Mr. Parusso desires because he believes that oxygenation of the grape juice is an important part of the wine-producing process (unlike many wine producers, who try to protect the grape juice from oxygen).

After this stage, the grape bunches are placed in a roto-fermenter, a tank that macerates the grape skins, juice, stalks, and pulp during the stage of fermentation and maceration. During the first days of the process, the temperature is kept at 8°-10°C. In the final stages, the temperature is elevated to 30°C and then reduced to 21°-25°C to control fermentation. Mr. Parusso only uses indigenous yeasts.

After maceration, the wine is transferred to barriques (wine barrels) made out of new and old French oak. There it ages for up to 24 months. During this process, a technique called bâtonnage is applied, in which the lie of the wine that falls to the bottom of the barrique is stirred.

Finally, the wine is decanted, clarified, and transferred to bottles.

During the presentation we enjoyed tasting a number of Parusso’s wines. The following are notes that we took on two of the wines, one white, the other red:

Langhe Bianco DOC Bricco Rovella 2010 (made from white Sauvignon grapes) – suave bouquet of soft, sweet pineapple, smooth body, long finish with burnt sugar as the final taste sensation

Barolo DOCG Bussia 2004 (made from Nebbiolo grapes) – animal notes, dried fruits (prunes and raisins), quite soft

It is notable that even though Mr. Parusso’s wines are aged in oak barrels, we did not taste the presence of oak during the tasting.

Marco Parusso is intensely passionate about his wines. One of the things that might distinguish his production techniques from those of other wine makers is that he treats oxygen as an ally, rather than as an enemy. According to him, his wines are ready for drinking much more quickly than wines produced by traditional techniques. (Historically, Barolo wines had to be aged for many years to soften the wine.) Because Mr. Parusso’s wine has been exposed to oxygen during the winemaking process, a newly opened bottle will keep for several days.

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An Evening Spent Tasting Champagne and Tapas at the Champs-Elysée Plaza Hotel

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
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Last Thursday morning I received a telephone call from the director of Le Keller restaurant at the posh Champs-Elysées Plaza hotel. Would I like to attend a champagne tasting? he asked. Each month the hotel features a different brand of champagne (see Le Keller’s Web site for details), and the tasting this month would be held that very evening in the bar of the hotel. I quickly consulted my agenda and found that, indeed, I was free that evening. So I accepted the invitation.

We wrote about Le Keller a year ago for our Paris Insights restaurant review and had a fabulous (though expensive) meal there. This was my opportunity to do some more gastronomic research—and this time, as a guest of the hotel!

Juli Dermit and Fred Duport

Juli Dermit and Fred Duport
New Cosy

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I arrived at 6:30 p.m., somewhat early. The jazz duo, New Cosy, had already set up and was performing. The singer, Julie Dermit, sang in such impeccable English that I thought that she was American!

Tony Miellot - Bartender

Tony Miellot – Bartender
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I sat down in the bar, a pleasant place, at a tall table. Even though other customers had not yet arrived, the bartender, Tony Miellot, began serving me. The tasting proceeded in the following manner: for 51€ you receive three champagnes, each paired with a different plate of tapas. The champagne house featured this month is Gosset, the oldest in the Champagne region (it was founded in 1584). The tapas are served according to their category—froids (cold), chauds (warm), and sucrées (sugary). Theoretically, the champagne that accompanies each group of tapas should be a taste match for that particular group.

Gosset Grande Reserve with Plate of Cold Tapas

Gosset Grande Reserve with Plate of Cold Tapas
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

As Tony poured the first glass, a Grande Reserve, he remarked about the color and fine bubbles of the champagne. I readily agreed with his assessment. The champagne had a light color of straw and the bubbles were very fine. I enjoyed the mineral-like, slightly yeasty taste of the beverage.

Along with the first champagne, I received a tray containing four tapas. These were not your ordinary deep-fried tapas that you would get in a tapas bar—they were all delicate, like the amuse-bouches that you get in a fine-dining restaurant. I particularly liked the Vélouté de potimarron. Served warm in a cup on the platter of cold tapas, the pumpkin soup tasted wonderfully rich as though it had been flavored with foie gras. I thought that the Grande Reserve harmonized very well with this first round of tapas.

Gosset Grand Rosé with Plate of Warm Tapas

Gosset Grand Rosé
with Plate of Warm Tapas

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The second champagne was a Grand Rosé served with a plate of three warm tapas. The rosé was pale pink and tasted softer and more fruity than the Grand Reserve. In my mind, it didn’t particularly harmonize with two of the cold tapas, but did go well with the third, a Dé de bœuf mariné aux épices douces, a small cube of beef prepared in sweet spices.

Gosset Celebris Vintage 1998 and Plate of Sweet Tapas

Gosset Celebris Vintage 1998
with Plate of Sweet Tapas

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The third champagne was a vintage 1998. It had a surprising taste that one does not usually associate with champagne, a taste of sous-bois, as the French would say. It evoked memories of the scent of the forest after a rain—not unpleasant, mind you, just surprising. In my mind, this is a champagne that should be enjoyed without food accompaniment, as its taste did not complement the sweet tapas with which it was served. As for the tapas, I especially liked the Sablé chocolat, a chocolate cream in crunchy shortbread crust.

Following the tasting, I left on a high note. It had been a fabulous gastronomic experience!

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Paris Insights Monthly Newsletter – The Man Who Put Paris in a Bottle

Saturday, December 1st, 2012
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Francis Gourdin, Oenologist

Francis Gourdin, Oenologist
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

When oenologist Francis Gourdin began working for the city of Paris, his mission was to improve the quality of the wine produced in a vineyard that lies on the slope of Montmartre. It was once a plonk that “made the Japanese tourists wince,” but today, he can proudly affirm that it is a “true red wine.” Mission accomplished! Read his story in this month’s Paris Insights newsletter.

To view a preview of our newsletter, click here.

Paris Insights is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne lecture!

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Drinking Beaujolais Nouveau with Chef Nabil Yacoub

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
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Chef Nabil Yacoub with Beaujolais Nouveau

Chef Nabil Yacoub with Beaujolais Nouveau
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Today I interviewed Chef Nabil Yacoub of Le Triomphe restaurant for the “Le Bon Goût” feature of our monthly Paris Insights newsletter. It turns out that today is the release date of Beaujolais Nouveau, so after the interview he invited me to have a glass.

Today also happens to be the birthday of his oldest daughter, who was born on the same day that Beaujolais Nouveau was released 24 years ago. Whenever the family celebrates her birthday, it is with a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau, not champagne!

Read my review of Chef Yacoub’s restaurant in the December 1st issue of Paris Insights newsletter. And look for another picture of him on Pinterest on that day!

Le Triomphe
5, boulevard de Port-Royal
75013 Paris
Tel.: 09.52.88 01.40
Open Mon to Sat noon – 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 – 10:30 p.m.
Reservations advised

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