If you can't go to France, France will come to you. 

Discover the wine & food news, fresh from France and waiting for you to taste.

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Jean-Christophe in France – January 2018

Day Seven

Back to serious work today! The day commenced with our first meeting/tasting at 9.30am with another newish Domaine for us, Domaine Lavanteureux. The two young brothers David and Arnaud have now firmly taking over the family business, in a little village next to Chablis called Lignorelles. Most of their Chablis are aged in barrels, which give the wines some roundness and complexity, yet they are still managing to keep the minerality of a typical Chablis wine. Their wines are outstanding but unfortunately, like a lot of Chablis producers, the volumes are extremely small due to the last complicated years of frost and hail. For example in 2017, Lavanteureux family lost more than 85% of their crop, very sad!

From there we tasted at one of the biggest names in Chablis, Domaine Raveneau. Isabelle, the daughter, showed us the 2016 range of wines straight from the barrels and a few of the 2017 out of the vats. As usual the superb wines of this Domaine have an extra “je ne sais quoi”, with its extra texture and mouthful. At Raveneau, unlike Laventeureux, the crop was lower in 2016 than 2017, meaning volumes are right down.

After lunch we visited the other big name of the village, Domaine Vincent Dauvissat. Again this is the new generation, the daughter Etiennette, who took us to the wonderful old cellar, where I have been trying wines for over 25 years. It is always an amazing experience, going down to the very old cellars and tasting Chablis with a unique character and feel. Like Raveneau, these wines are sought after and after you have tried them you will understand why.

With that we were finished with our little stay in Chablis and had to drive down (1.5 hours) to the town of Beaune. We still had some time in our day so we were able to visit another Domaine, Domaine Camille Giroux. Winemaker Carel took us down to the enormous underground cellars, where we tasted, out of the barrel, a lot of the 2016 red wines (red wine being their main style). I was even more so convinced that 2016 red burgundy have the perfect expression of Pinot Noir- pure, transparent, delicate and balanced. Carel gave us the opportunity of trying some of the 2017 vintage, and while they might not have the stuffing of ’16, they are still extremely pure, clean and balanced- watch this space! As a treat, Carel brought out a wine bottle covered in dust and gave us a taste. The wine was a Volnay Premier Cru of the year 1966!! What an experience! The wine was still alive, and showing leathery, truffle and mushroom characters, and the palate was silky, hugely complex and still holding.

For dinner we went to a cute little bistro-like restaurant, La Buissonnière, which used traditional ingredient in a modern, fun and delicious way! We ate frogs legs, marrow toast and even sweet bread – A first for Charlotte!

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Jean-Christophe in France – January 2018

Day Six

Back to serious work today! The day commenced with our first meeting/tasting at 9.30am with another newish Domaine for us, Domaine Lavanteureux. The two young brothers David and Arnaud have now firmly taking over the family business, in a little village next to Chablis called Lignorelles. Most of their Chablis are aged in barrels, which give the wines some roundness and complexity, yet they are still managing to keep the minerality of a typical Chablis wine. Their wines are outstanding but unfortunately, like a lot of Chablis producers, the volumes are extremely small due to the last complicated years of frost and hail. For example in 2017, Lavanteureux family lost more than 85% of their crop, very sad!

From there we tasted at one of the biggest names in Chablis, Domaine Raveneau. Isabelle, the daughter, showed us the 2016 range of wines straight from the barrels and a few of the 2017 out of the vats. As usual the superb wines of this Domaine have an extra “je ne sais quoi”, with its extra texture and mouthful. At Raveneau, unlike Laventeureux, the crop was lower in 2016 than 2017, meaning volumes are right down.

After lunch we visited the other big name of the village, Domaine Vincent Dauvissat. Again this is the new generation, the daughter Etiennette, who took us to the wonderful old cellar, where I have been trying wines for over 25 years. It is always an amazing experience, going down to the very old cellars and tasting Chablis with a unique character and feel. Like Raveneau, these wines are sought after and after you have tried them you will understand why.

With that we were finished with our little stay in Chablis and had to drive down (1.5 hours) to the town of Beaune. We still had some time in our day so we were able to visit another Domaine, Domaine Camille Giroux. Winemaker Carel took us down to the enormous underground cellars, where we tasted, out of the barrel, a lot of the 2016 red wines (red wine being their main style). I was even more so convinced that 2016 red burgundy have the perfect expression of Pinot Noir- pure, transparent, delicate and balanced. Carel gave us the opportunity of trying some of the 2017 vintage, and while they might not have the stuffing of ’16, they are still extremely pure, clean and balanced- watch this space! As a treat, Carel brought out a wine bottle covered in dust and gave us a taste. The wine was a Volnay Premier Cru of the year 1966!! What an experience! The wine was still alive, and showing leathery, truffle and mushroom characters, and the palate was silky, hugely complex and still holding.

For dinner we went to a cute little bistro-like restaurant, La Buissonnière, which used traditional ingredient in a modern, fun and delicious way! We ate frogs legs, marrow toast and even sweet bread – A first for Charlotte!

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Jean-Christophe in France – January 2018

Day Five

As we had a day off, we started our morning visiting the Chablis Sunday market. After we toured the different vineyards and drove to the small town of Joigny, where I started my apprenticeship at three star Michelin ‘La Cote St Jacques’ 38 years ago.

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Jean-Christophe in France – January 2018

Day Four

We had an early start this morning, on the road by 7.30am for our 3.5 hour drive to Saint Bris le Vineux (South of the Chablis Appellation). As the sun rose, it uncovered a beautiful clear blue sky but the temperature is down to 0.

Our first tasting of the day was with Domaine Goisot. Here Guilhem Goisot took us through to his wonderful wine range of the still unknown appellation of Cotes d’Auxerre. The style of wines here is very much similar to the neighbouring appellation of Chablis - very precise, mineral and linear. We tried the 2015 vintage, which was a very good year for this top domaine. Guilhem was warm and informative and took the time to explain ‘terroir’ and the impact it has on the different wines to Charlotte. If you like Chardonnays with crystalline fruit characters, this is definitely for you! Goisot 2015s will be instore in the next few weeks.

After a quick lunch in Chablis, we had our second visit at a new supplier - Domaine de Chantemerle. This domaine only produces three wines in the Chablis Appellation. This is a very small domaine with very sought-after wines, especially their 1er Cru ‘Fourchaume’ and ‘l’Homme Mort’. Their 2016 are powerful and rich, and show another side of Chablis. Their wines are also due in NZ at the end of January.

Another highlight of the day was, and always is, a visit to the Domaine Seguinot. What an amazing family! A father and his two daughters, producing very honest and classic Chablis wines. We will now get their newly produced Petit Chablis. We ended the tasting with a bottle of the Chablis ‘Fourchaume’ from the 1997 vintage (Charlotte’s birth year). A 20-year-old wine still showing the potential of aged Chablis- unbelievable!

We travelled to the town of Auxerre for dinner, where we ate meters away from the outstanding and towering Cathedral, overlooking the Yonne River.

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Jean-Christophe in France – January 2018

Day Three

We had a little time this morning before our first meeting, so we took this opportunity to explore the village we were staying in, Eguisheim. Eguisheim has won prettiest village in France, and the further we walked into the village, the more it was proven. While walking I spotted two large nests high up on the village’s church, and in the nests there were two large storks, which are almost like mascots of the area. This morning the sky is low, and the air has more of a cold bite but much to Charlotte’s disappointment there is still no snow predicted.

Our first tasting is with Bott Geyl and we are greeted by the ever so passionate Jean-Christophe, who insisted we try over a dozen wines. The wines are aged in the cellar until Jean Christophe is happy with the taste and the drinkability of them, which impacts, as you can imagine, hugely on the Domaine’s stock levels. The wines are so unique, precise and have a good reflection of each individual ‘terroir’.

We had a great lunch at ‘Auberge le Bouc Bleu’ in Bott Geyl’s village, Beblenheim. This semi-gastronomic restaurant was recently opened by two young men, one chef and one sommelier. As a main we had trout from a local fish farmer, Mr Guiba who is famous amongst the villagers. The meal was light and delicious, and was a perfect match with Bott Geyl’s Riesling Grafenreben.

After lunch we headed to a potential new supplier- the ‘cooperative’ Hunawhir. A group of 150 producers who collectively grow and supply the grapes, and employ a winemaker to produce the wines. This was our first tasting here and time will tell if these wines will eventually be offered on the shelves at Maison Vauron.

On our way back towards Colmar, we stopped into the famous villages- Ribeauville and Riquewhir. As well as checking out the vineyards situated in the prime areas of Alsace.

We finished the day visiting the medieval town of Colmar, where Charlotte was impressed with the classical architecture and the beauty of the small town itself, which felt like the setting of a Hollywood movie. As it was our last night in Alsace I had to have the local specialty - Choucroute which is made up of marinated cabbage and all things pork. The meal was almost as good as our chef Gilles (born in the region)!!!

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Jean-Christophe in France – January 2018

Day Two

Straight to work this morning, with a small drive heading towards the Vosges mountains, in the village of Marlenheim and the home of Arthur Metz. We had there a complete visit and tasting. The 2016 Anne Laure range is looking and tasting extremely good. This vintage is very good for this Appellation.

Our next stop was to an ever so interesting and thought provoking meeting with the Deiss family. This family and Domaine give a completely unique view of wine and the elements that go into its process, with their focus being exclusively on the ‘terroir’. They explained to us the three types of ‘terroir’ and how this affects the taste, the touch and the emotions of the wine. We had lunch at the highly recommended, ‘Maximilien’ restaurant, amidst the vineyards of the village of Zellenberg.

After lunch we headed back the Deiss’ headquarters and were lucky enough to try a range of their wines, finishing with a taste of one of their Grand Cru ‘Altengerg’. All the wines we’ve tried were classy, extremely well-made and as they had said reflecting the ‘terroir’ in which the grapes had grown on. One piece of good news from Deiss – you will be seeing some new wines in the range in NZ as they have managed to purchase 10 hectares of new ‘terroirs’. This will entitle us to access more volume from this wonderful domaine.

Another highlight of the day was at one of our ever so favourite domaine - Albert Mann. We were greeted by the hugely friendly and talented Barthelme family. We had a full on tasting as usual followed by a happy and entertaining dinner at Colmar’s 'Brasserie de la Gare'. We tried the full 2016 range, and no surprises…. the wines are as good as ever and their reputation of being the best Alsace Pinot Noir producers are fully justified. Unfortunately the volumes are very limited.

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Jean-Christophe in France – January 2018

Day One

After 30 hours of travel, we finally arrived early evening in Strasbourg, our first destination. A town that Charlotte has never heard of before this trip but the city and its lights blew us both away. I couldn’t help myself when I saw boudin noir (black pudding) on the menu, in a cute and quaint tavern in the very center of Strasbourg. Walking around the city you can feel the cold (8 degrees) but it was not as cold as we expected.

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Available in our cheese shop L'Atelier du Fromage

Limited Edition 'Le Rustique' with black Truffles from Perigord

14 Décembre 2017

The truffle history. We know and love truffles since the antiquity. For the Greeks and Romans, this famous mushroom had aphrodisiac and therapeutic virtues. During the Middle Age, truffles were associated with the devil. Crossing a truffle field during the night was even suppose to bring bad luck! It is Louis XIV that re-establish the prestige of this product and made it an essential ingredient of the french gastronomy! This highly regarded product is so rare and expensive that we call it black diamond !

The truffle season. Truffles are harvested from November to March with the aid of female pigs or truffle dogs, which are able to detect the strong smell of mature truffles underneath the surface of the ground. The use of pigs is risky, though, because of their natural tendency to eat any remotely edible thing. For this reason, dogs have been trained to dig into the ground wherever they find these odors, and they willingly exchange their truffle for a piece of bread and a pat on the head. Not a bad trade for the truffle hunter!

In France, truffles are a typical ingredient of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Serving suggestions. A red wine from Bourgogne and bread : the aroma of the truffle is so strong that nothing else is needed to enjoy it. Therefore, prefer a classic white bread to enjoy your Camembert Le Rustique with black truffles.

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Caviar Sturia Recipe with white and green asparagus

11 Décembre 2017

A simple yet beautiful recipe to try the amazing Sturia Caviar 'Vintage'

Ingredients for 4 persons:

30g of Sturia caviar

• 2 bunches of green asparagus

• 1 bunch of white asparagus

• 0.5 l of balsamic vinegar

• 1 bouquet of pansies flowers

• 1 bunch of chervil

Preparation:

  1. Peel and cook green and white asparagus separately in salted boiling water. Cool quickly and cut the ends and sections. Reserve.
  2. Reduce the balsamic to a syrupy state. Reserve.
  3. Remove the chervil and pansies stalks.

Dressing:

When serving, arrange the asparagus in a nice serving plate and add a few reduced balsamic points, the herbs and finish by placing small spoons of caviar on the pieces.

Et Voilà!

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Domaine de la Chabonnière, a family story

30 Novembre 2017

It was in 1912 that Eugene Maret bought Domaine la Charbonnière to please his wife, who was Châteauneuvoise born and winemaker’s daughter. Fernand Maret, their son, inherits a part of the estate and enlarges it at the birth of Michel. Passionate winemaker, the latter takes in charge the familial estate.

Since 2004, the Domaine came under the name of “EARL Michel Maret et Filles” to facilitate the implementation by Caroline and Véronique, Michel’s two daughters. Meanwhile, Caroline joined the structure to support the administrative part and to prepare orders... End 2009, Véronique came back to develop the winemaking and commercial side.

Domaine de la Charbonnière spreads over 19.52 hectares of Châteauneuf du Pape; 5.79 ha of Vacqueyras and 1.51 ha of Côtes du Rhône.

Today, all wines are vinified and ageing by Véronique; even if her father is still around during Vinification season. Each vintage is unique because soils and climate conditions determinate wines’ character.

They produce wonderfully well balanced wines that combine intensity and depth of fruit with finesse and elegance. Their wines have been distinguished repeatedly by the most prestigious journalists of the World (Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Bettane & Desseauve, Decanter, Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, John Livingstone ...).

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Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

15 Novembre 2017

This is what people all over France announce as the third Thursday of November comes around every year. Millions of cases of Beaujolais Nouveau are shipped all over the world for us to join in on one of the most celebrated rituals in the wine world. It has become a race to serve this new wine of the harvest – and we in New Zealand are lucky enough to be the first!

Beaujolais is a sub region located just north of Lyon. Beaujolais, the wine itself is a light red wine made with Gamay Noir grapes. It is a wine made fast, with a rapid fermentation and speedy bottling. Due to its production the wine isn’t left with astringent tannins (normally found in red wines), which makes it an easy to drink, fruity wine. The fact that it’s as close to white wine as red wine can get and that it’s best enjoyed when chilled, makes for a very popular drop for even non wine drinkers. The Beaujolais Nouveau was officially recognised in 1951, the local tradition had gained so much popularity that word spread to Paris. Not long after that did countries far and wide join in on the ritual. There was however one of many strict rules put in place, the wine would not be sold before midnight on the third Thursday of November.

With the triumph of marketing and promotion around the event, what used to be 1 million bottles produced is now more than 70 million. The uniqueness of this day is knowing that on the same night all around the world, millions of people will be raising a glass in celebration of the Beaujolais Nouveau.

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The Merlot Grape

7 Novembre 2017

International Merlot Day is here and we are raising a glass to this versatile grape.

  • Merlot is a grape that originates from the Bordeaux wine region. France has more acreage than any other country and it is the most widely planted grape in France.
  • In French, Merlot is translated to “little blackbird”. Its DNA shows it is the offspring of Cabernet Franc (father) and Magdeleine Noire des Charentes (mother and now an extinct varietal).
  • Cabernet sauvignon and merlot are great blending partners and complement each other very well. This is because merlot ripens earlier than cabernet sauvignon and on average, is much lower in tannin. Their respective tannin levels balance each other.
  • Merlot is a common blending grape because it’s high in sugar and low in acidity. It is classed as a ‘red noble grape’, commanding the highest respect in the wine world, next to Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • It pairs well with a wide variety of foods due to its position in the middle of the red wine spectrum. Chicken, light meats and some dark meats pair well with Merlot.

 

A couple of our favourite Merlot blends are:

Chateau Villefranche Graves

Vieux Chevrol Lalande de Pomerol

 

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A Kiwi Sommelier in France

27 Octobre 2017

We had the pleasure of speaking with sommelier at Orphans Kitchen, Vanessa Pritchard. Read what she has to say about working a harvest on Domaine Gilles Robin, and all things wine!

When and how did you first get into wine?

I was working at a restaurant in California where my manager noticed I had a special interest in wine. He encouraged me to pursue the sommelier route and told me to work a harvest. That was 4 harvests ago now.

What is your favourite wine?

I really don’t have one, I drink everything. If you were to say what do you want to drink right now, I would say pour up some Champagne. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.

What is your favourite wine from Gilles Robin?

Les Marelles, the white blend, it’s easy drinking, you can have it anywhere any time. Stylistically it’s slightly different from the other wines around that region because it’s not as ripe and honeyed, it’s a bit dryer. It’s hard to choose when you participate in the making of them all, because they’re all your favourites. The one I fell in love with before I worked there was the Alberic Bouvet.

What is the most popular wine people ask after at Orphans Kitchen?

With our New Zealand customers we get a lot of requests for Pinot Gris. A lot of people are after the fleshy, textural aromatic whites. Travellers to New Zealand want to taste wine from New Zealand so that’s what our focus is on.

What other regions did you visit while in France?

We did venture around Savoie on the way to Italy, drinking some fabulous  Roussannes, Jacquères, and Persans. We also went to Voiron, to visit the distillery of Chartreuse. I didn’t actually visit any other wine regions in France but we did drive the 5 hours over to Italy and spent the weekend travelling around Piedmont, drinking a lot of Nebbiolo.

What was the favourite meal from your trip?

There was a gentleman who cooked for us on the Domaine most days during harvest. His cooking was fabulous! One day I recall particularly well, he’d made braised beef with a cauliflower gratin, a tomato salad with herbs and shallots from his garden and braised carrots with olives.

What was the most influential thing you gained from your trip to the vineyard?

Pride in your work. That was the one thing that shone brightly for me working with the very small team. Nothing but excellence. That’s what is expected. Watching people work at that level of professionalism was hugely influential to me.

Did you have a good time with the team at Domaine Gilles Robin?

It was unforgettable. We got along very well, I was very lucky.

What souvenir did you bring back?

Many. Gilles was very generous. He took me into their stock room and said what do you want. So I got sent home with 2 magnums! I had to leave stuff behind to fit them in my luggage! I got the St Joseph 2015 and the Les Marelles.

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The origin of Champagne

24 Octobre 2017

Friday the 20th of October is global Champagne day and all over the world bottles will be popped in acknowledgement of this fabulous wine. Here are some things you may not have known about Champagne:

The creation of Champagne was a shocking sight for winemakers, and everything was tried to rid the wine of bubbles. The cold Champagne winters cease the initial fermentation and when summer arrives there is a second fermentation, this is the cause of the bubbles. It was around the early 1600’s that people started developing a taste for this sparkling wine and it became very popular among the wealthy and royal.

In the early days of Champagne, the pressure in the wine was too much for the weak bottles. This resulted in the majority of bottles exploding – from then on iron face masks were worn in the cellars.

The region of Champagne is an interesting one when it comes to wine production. Being the northern most wine region in France, the colder climate plays a massive role in the winemaking. Due to inconsistent harvests, the supply of wine from a better year is saved so it can be blended with wine from the poorer seasons.

The most common grape used in making Champagne is Pinot Noir, it likes the cool climate and grows well in the limestone conditions. It is mixed with the Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grape as they offer fruity aromas and freshness.

Discover our Champagne range.

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Château Berliquet – A new beginning

24 Octobre 2017

The owner of Château Canon and Rauzan-Ségla in Saint-Emillion, is acquiring their neighbouring vineyard, Château Berliquet. They have long enjoyed excellent relations with their neighbours, the Lesquen family, sharing a special bond with the Saint-Emilion limestone plateau. When the future of their property was discussed, Chateau Canon was naturally a first port of call. Château Berliquet is a gem of a property set in the heart of Saint-Emilion. Totally surrounded by the Canon vineyards, its terroir flourishes on the plateau’s heights. There is a lot of excitement about this new adventure, with much to be achieved and lived up to.

 

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Armagnac - How to read a label

5 Octobre 2017

Armagnac is distilled from white wine grapes, specifically the Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc and Colombard varieties, not surprisingly it must be produced in the Armagnac region, located in South West France. Typically, the older the Armagnac the better. Here is how to read a label:

3 Stars / VS Very Special – Minimum 1 year aging

If you enjoy a fruity and fiery Eaux-de-Vie, a 3 star is for you. It comes with fruitiness and heat, perfect for that burst of character. Try Bas Armagnac Folle Blanche VS.

VSOP Very Special Old Pale – Minimum 4 years aging

This has wood and spice notes but balanced out by candied cooked fruit aromas. It is fairly light in the mouth, mellowed and lengthened by the wood. This is great for using in cocktails. Try Bas Armagnac VSOP.

XO Extra Old – Minimum 6 years aging

XO is not so common in France but popular abroad. It has elegance, those looking for something rich and smooth will be suited to an Extra Old Armagnac. Try Bas Armagnac XO.

Hors d’Age - Minimum 10 years aging

This blend truly represents an Armagnac – aromas of prune, apricot and orange peel with mellow wood notes. Dried fruits echo the maturity of the bottle. It is well balanced, with great length and heat. Try Bas Armagnac 12 year old.

 

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Spring Recipe: Baked Chèvre

4 Octobre 2017

This is a delicious and easy recipe to throw together, and it would definitely impress any guest. Simple ingredients come together to create beautiful flavours. Use Crottin de Chavignol as the preferred cheese.

How should Crottin de Chavignol be enjoyed? It pairs well with a floral white wine that’s sweet and clean. A Sancerre from the Loire Valley would be our preferred match.

Try it with Bourgeois Sancerre Baronnes 15

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 4 slices of Crottin de Chavignol
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • Ground black pepper
  • Sourdough loaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • Green leaf salad or microgreens
  • Walnuts, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Put the slices of goat’s cheese onto a tray lined with baking paper.
  3. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and the thyme leaves and season with pepper.
  4. Put into oven for 10-12 minutes until just starting to ooze.
  5. Meanwhile, toast the sourdough in slices in the oven for a few minutes and then rub with the cut side of the garlic.
  6. Bring the cheese out of the oven when ready and serve on the sourdough with the greens and walnuts.

Bon Appétit!

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Charles Orban Champagne wins Silver medal

28 Septembre 2017

We love seeing outstanding producers get acknowledged for their wines. Charles Orban is an example of this – receiving a silver medal in the New Zealand International wine show for their Champagne Blanc de Noirs Brut NV.

With over 2,000 entries this year and renowned wine critic Bob Campbell on the judging panel, this is an exceptional effort from Charles Orban!

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Outstanding Achievements for Henri Bourgeois & Clos Henri

28 Septembre 2017

A great achievement for Henri Bourgeois and Clos Henri as they make an appearance more than once in La Revue du Vin de France. These accolades acknowledge the quality and excellence of their wines, whether it’s from New Zealand or France.

The mentions include:

  • Clos Henri on the cover "Sauvignons - 50 exceptional whites"
  • TOP 3/50: Côte des Monts Damnés - 16,75 / 20
  • TOP 6/50: Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - 16,37 / 20
  • Focus Families Bourgeois very laudatory "From the Loire to the New World a same success"

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Tariquet - Producer of the year

20 Septembre 2017

Château du Tariquet was awarded 'Producer of the year 2017' for its range of Bas-Armagnacs at the ISW International Spirits Award by Meiningers in Germany.

At the same time, a Gold Medal was awarded to 5 Bas-Armagnacs from Château du Tariquet:

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What you might not know about Grenache…

14 Septembre 2017

September 15th also known as International Grenache Day, is celebrated all over the world. Take a look at these interesting facts about this red wine grape.

  • Grenache is the most widely planted red wine grape variety in the southern Rhône (comprising of 70% of the appellations acreage), and the second most widely planted varietal in the world.
  • It features predominantly in the famous trio, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (GSM), which is a classic blend for the southern Rhône’s best red wines. In the Spanish wine region Rioja, Grenache is often blended with Tempranillo.
  • Grenache appears to have originated in Spain in the northern province of Aragon, spreading through the vineyards of Spain and the Mediterranean. By the early 1700’s the grape had spread to Provence and Languedoc and almost 200 years later was the grape brought to California.
  • It brings body and fruitiness to the blends without added tannins and is rarely used on its own. Some say it’s best kept for 20 years to fully express notes of spice and black fruits.
  • A longer growing season for the grapes to fully ripen gives higher levels of sugar, therefore higher levels of alcohol. Often 15% or more!

 

Discover our Grenache range

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The true caviar pioneers

7 Septembre 2017

Caviar, one of the world’s oldest delicacies, even before the time of Champagne, has exceptional qualities that have formed the products high reputation. Coveted by kings and tsars, its prestige has not shifted in centuries – people today still spend a lofty amount to get their hands on this delicious and iconic product.

Sturia is the flagship brand of Sturgeon, the leading French caviar producer. They have pioneered sturgeon farming in France for 20 years. Having years of expertise in not only the production of caviar but the preparation and food pairings, means Sturia know how to best enjoy it. Caviar is a subtle, complex food. It can be firm, crisp, fresh, delicate or powerful, reflecting iodine and fresh hazelnut notes. It allows chefs to be creative with their dishes and enhance the qualities of each style of caviar.

As caviar evolves it develops different flavours, textures and palate persistence as the months go by. Sturia Vintage caviar is their signature, associated with a rounded firmness and explosion in the mouth of fruity, iodized flavours. It is recommended to place the tin on ice and simply serve on a pearl spoon. The Vintage is one of the top ambassadors of Sturia and its flavour and texture put it amongst the best.

Watch Sturia's Behind the scenes little documentary 

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Spring Recipe: Beetroot, Rocket and Walnut Salad with Goat cheese

Spring is upon us and it’s time to get back into those light and flavour packed salads. This one is a textural hit and incredibly easy to throw together.

The taste of Buchette Chevre Merci goat’s cheese has a unique creamy tang, with a melt in your mouth sensation. Together with the peppery rocket, sweet beetroot and crunchy walnuts ensures it’s a crowd pleaser.

How should Buchette Chevre be enjoyed? It pairs well with a white wine that’s young, fresh, unoaked and lightly chilled. A Sancerre from the Loire Valley would be our preferred match.

Try it with Bourgeois Sancerre Baronnes 15

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 250g baby beetroots, peeled and chopped into halves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 120g baby rocket (arugula)
  • Buchette Chevre Merci Chef 110g
  • A handful walnuts, lightly crushed
  • Balsamic, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Toss the baby beetroot in olive oil in a baking tray and roast for 45 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Place the rocket in a serving bowl and scatter over beetroot.
  4. Crumble the goats cheese and sprinkle the walnuts on top.
  5. Drizzle lightly with balsamic and serve alongside fresh baguette and your favourite red meat.

Bon Appétit!

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Drone on Champagne vineyard

6 Septembre 2017

In Champagne, a drone circles the vineyard of Champagne Fallet-Dart scanning for any anomalies on the vines. The current testing grounds - on the slopes of the Marne Valley - are thanks to Paul Fallet, who believes that this drone technology will allow him to better his job on the 20 hectares of land, "We cannot be everywhere, I can be helped by machines". He keeps a reasoned view on the use of phytosanitary products (fertilisers and pesticides) but believes only as little as needed on the vines.

The drone was created by two engineers, who designed it with an algorithm that alerts the winemaker of anomalies in the vines. The drone takes thousands of photos using a multispectral camera. The algorithm then dissects the images and through this detects symptoms of mildew.

Despite the growth of organic winemaking (which consists of 9% of French vineyards), viticulture remains very eager for the use of phytosanitary products, which is harmful to vine health and the environment. This drone presents a way to enable growers to use less phytosanitary without being a detriment to the condition of the vines.

Drones in the vineyard are on the rise as the industry embraces precision viticulture, efficiency and data-based decision making. This technology could be the next big step in winemaking and allow winemakers to use fewer pesticides. The vine growers see this as an opportunity to "evolve practices" and a "better respect of the environment". The end goal is to produce better quality grapes, therefore better quality wine. To some however, wine making is an age-old craft that holds tradition, not something that should be modified by technology.

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Romain Guiberteau - A new age for Saumur?

When you are told by some of France’s greatest producers, “you need to try the wines of Guiberteau”, this is a recommendation you don’t take lightly.

The Loire valley has become a hotbed of young vignerons pushing the boundaries and creating some of France’s most exhilarating wines. Even allowing for this, Romain Guiberteau is a true epiphany, and the groundswell, or now I should say tidal wave of praise has quickly pushed him to superstar status. Mentored by Nady Foucault of Clos Rougeard, and inspired by Thierry Germain of Roches Neuves the whites are some of the most refined, pure and mineral Chenins that you will taste while the reds take Cabernet Franc to a rare level of elegance and texture.

We love what Becky Wasserman says - “Romain Guiberteau owns some of the best land in Brézé, and makes dry chenins of punk rock violence, yet of Bach-like logic and profoundness. He is creating quite a stir.”

We’re incredibly lucky to have obtained a small allocation from Romain, if you’re a fan of either Chenin or Cabernet Franc don’t hesitate these will be gone in a flash.

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Thierry Germain – The guru of Cabernet Franc

This is our second vintage from what is arguably France’s best producer of Cabernet Franc and one we only secured due to his good friendship with another of our suppliers. Like Guiberteau he was also mentored by Nady Foucault of Clos Rougeard, and there can be no greater testament than Nady is often found in Thierry’s cellar not just consuming a glass but more than likely a bottle.

Domaine Roches Neuves is farmed organically and biodynamically, and with minimal if any use of sulphur. It has become one of the pinup boys of the natural wine movement. Beautifully pure and focused wines that simply sing Cabernet Franc and their terroir, exquisite.

Visit their website!

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Gratin dauphinois Traditional recipe

Gratin dauphinois is THE traditional regional French dish based on potatoes and crème fraîche, from the historic Dauphiné region in south-east France.

Discover this Classic from the French gastronomy served with a green salad and a glass of fresh white wine.

The perfect rich and unctuous treat for winter!

 

Discover our Cheese & Food page with more recipes here 

Ingredients for 5 people

  • 1Kg all-purpose potatoes
  • 1L single cream
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes into thin slices (0.5cm thick).
  3. Crush the garlic.
  4. Cover the bottom of a gratin dish with some cream
  5. Alternate one layer of potatoes, cream, garlic, salt, pepper. Repe