6 Days of Bliss- Day 5

Day 5 of bliss was dedicated to my husband and it comes in the form of raclette.
Raclette and Apremont
We choose not to do any hiking today because our feet needed the break- badly needed the break!  Instead we had a relaxing morning, reading, writing, and hanging out.  By the end of the afternoon, however, a storm had rolled in and the temperature dropped.  What else can you do, but have a traditional Savoyard mountain meal!

And the wine to accompany it also traditional Savoie wines…Chignin-BergeronApremont and Chignin-Bergeron.

Little bit of background on Savoie wines- in general they are meant to be drunk with big mountain meals.  Cheese, meat and potatoes.  In a  sense, they are never truly the best representations of themselves until you had the food.  They are not stand alone and are not drunk to be remembered.  With that said, we like to drink them with our raclette and other mountain meals.

Last night, we compared two different types of Savoie wines.  Apremont is made from 100% of the white varietal jacquère.  Jacquère makes up roughly half of all Savoie wines because it buds late in the season and therefore reduces its risk of spring frost.  As a varietal it is acidic with not a lot of depth- making it good for the fats in cheese.  Chignin-Bergeron is made from 100% roussanne- not like that found in the Cote du Rhone.  This one is acidic and floral, not a lot of sweet notes.  By far the more structured of the two wines.  It is the acidity levels with the food that really help everything come together.

However, by the end of the meal (and two bottles of wine) we were pretty done with Savoie and decided the night cap would be ‘Savoie piscine’ or ice in our wine.  Don’t judge.  It was bliss…

6 Days of Bliss- Day 4

Morzine ValleyToday’s bliss came in three different parts… Well, three parts in terms of wine and three parts in scenery.  We have come to Avoriaz, France to hike, break in our new hiking boots, and be together!  After three days, two hikes (one that was 3 hours longer than expected), and about 10 miles later… our feet are killing us!  Today’s hike= short, cheese in the middle, and flat.Day 4.2Thank goodness for the flat.  I mean really, thank goodness for the flat!  Part one of the scenery bliss= flatness.

After our little, flat hike with cheese was lunch.  Part one of wine bliss was lunch.  Saucisson canard, fresh Abondance cheese, the Chateauneuf-du-Pape that was left, and a fresh baguette.Day 4.4Saucisson, cheese, wine.  Really, need I say more?  The spice of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the fat of the saucisson canard and the abondance… all comes together.  Makes your feet stop hurting and your heart happy :).

After lunch, we took a small walk to digest and found this…Day 4.3Green.  Mountains.  Green.  Scenery bliss part two.

Part two of wine bliss- the celebration of From Vine to Wine!!!From Vine to Wine CelebrationAfter 2.5 months From Vine to Wine has officially being TAXED!  Yes, that sucks- but it does mean I am a REAL business!  Clients are low and taxes are high- I must be in France 🙂

Tasting notes:  Bubbles, holy snap, bubbles.  Cava Meritum Brut Nature Grand Reserva Freixenet 2007… bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.  On the nose it was soft with green apple and citrus, but on palate is was bubbles.  Really amazing.  It was like liquid pop rocks in my mouth!  Really the cava for a celebration!

So, what could possibly make this blissful day better?  How about a summer storm and bottle of Pauillac?Day 4.5The storm rolled in mid-afternoon and was an explosion of lightening and CrAzY thunder!  We sat on the terrace all night long watching the storm.  I don’t know about you all, but I LOVE summer storms!  Moreso, when I can sit on the terrace and enjoy it!  Part three of scenery bliss was this storm.

And what could be better (for me) than to share this moment with my wonderful husband and Pauillac, my second love.photoExcuse me for the photo quality.  The sunset after the storm was wonderful.

Tasting notes: Chateau la Fon du Berger Pauillac 2009 was Pauillac.  A mixture of fruit and oak with some gentle tannins to add structure.  It was simple, yet complex.  Big nose with butter, vanilla, and notes of strawberry while at the same time gentle on alcohol.  The palate was refined and finished long.  Perfect for those summer terrace nights of talking, people watching, and sunsets.  Wine bliss part three- Pauillac.

Bliss.

6 Days of Bliss- Day 3

SuisseOh, and what a blissful day it was! Waking up early after my codeine induced sleep, we got the morning started with a hike over to the Swiss / France border. My husband likes to laugh at me because while I have gone to Swiss many a time, it is never more than 5km inside. Today’s hike took us to a waterfall, two different lakes, up a chairlift, down to a valley floor, then a thunderstorm caused us to have to walk up from the valley floor (we were hoping to chairlift back up, especially after taking a beer to wait out the storm… raté there)!Lac VertBut still incredibly beautiful views the entire hike. We were laughing because the clouds were ominous and looming, but we tried to walk a little in the sunlight. We even stopped to have lunch by Lac Vert- the other side of this lake is a deep valley and gorgeous! We have hiked in the Alpes many times, but this Swiss / French Alpes hike took my breath away. Unfortunately, by the time we finished eating the clouds had caught up with us.G, me, and a waterfallOur hike ended up lasting us a little longer than expected due to the storm that rolled in towards the end. It was cool to be able to take the chairlift to different parts of the mountain for hiking, but with thunder and lighting the chairlifts stop- that means a LONG walk home…

We decided on the walk back up from the valley floor that we had earned a good dinner and some good wine to go with it. So we set out to find everything and create our most wonderful meal! My husband had brought with him our friends homemade foie gras, so we had toasted(ish- all we had was a microwave) foie gras with a Vouvray 2003 Moelleux or sweet wine. I have talked about this wine before from our trip to the Loire Valley, but it was in a tasting. Here we paired it with the toasted foie gras… Vouvray Moelleux 2003Tasting notes: In general, I am not a fan of sweet wine. The residual sugar that is left on my palate just doesn’t seem to be my thing. But, when you take the saltiness and the fat of the foie gras in conjunction with the sweetness, the sugar is cut through and creates a refreshing blend. The Vouvray showed notes of honeysuckle, elderflower and mild citrus with a long finish and harmony with the foie gras. Excellent!

Next came the duck! A little background: I have had the great pleasure of finding a mentor in France who has opened a cooking kitchen in Lyon called PLUM Lyon and is constantly helping me as I get From Vine to Wine up and running. She has been amazing and is where I was introduced this amazing duck recipe (she has a TON on her blog if you need some good French recipes). Anyway, this recipe came from a class I attended at Plum and thought my husband would adore- and oh, how I was right!

So, here is the making process. Step one- de-quill the skin of the duck, cut into the fat in a checkerboard manner, then rub it with a salt, paprika, and herb rub. Step two- slowly render the fat out, leaving the duck to cook slowly fat side down for a good 20-30mins. Step three- while the duck is cooking take some of the fat that has been rendered to cook your potatoes (yes, sooo healthy) and I even added some of the salt rub that was left over to the potatoes making them nice and crispy. Step four- when the duck is finished rendering, broil it for 3-5 minutes while simultaneously making the sauce (pic 3). The sauce is a sweet sauce made with white wine, maple syrup and that all important butter! Yes, this is not, I repeat not a healthy, diet friendly meal. This is home cooking, we deserved it after our LONG day of hiking, meal! Step five- cut the duck up, serve, and enjoy!

So what wine to go with it? Hmm… duck that is tender and slow cooked, with a spicy rub, yet a sweeter sauce and potatoes cooked in duck fat (ps. every time I say that, the fat girl inside me starts drooling). Hmm… we went with an older wine, not yet completely aged, but a nice balance of fruit and spice with a finish that would hold up to the sweet sauce. What do you think of our choice….Guigal Chateauneuf-de-Pape 2005Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005

Tasting notes: It was a contrasting bottle of wine and I thought at a basic level the two were so good alone, nothing could go wrong. And while that was true- there was also an aspect of competition in the pairing. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape was complex, fruit forward and spicy on the finish, lingering on my tongue, but never really blending with the duck. Ironically, amazing with the potatoes! So, a little disappointing, but at the same time the two were SO good alone it was okay. We even took the bottle outside after the meal to digest a little and watch the sun go down…Day 3.12Bliss. Simply bliss.

6 Days of Bliss- Day 2

A little background on me, with all things considered- I have the back of a 75 year old man.  So, when it comes to exercise I often find that I get ‘beat up’ rather quickly.  Yesterday’s hike was up and down and on all over the place leading to some severe pain and inability to walk… My Day 2 of Bliss didn’t involve wine, but some heavy painkillers and a lot of sleep…

Still blissful, but not really the same :(.  Thank goodness for codeine! Bliss Day 2Hopefully tonight will be better…

6 Days of Bliss…

BLISS= 6 days, 8 bottles of wine and just my husband and I.  Bliss.  Simply BLISS!

My husband and I are in Morzine, more specifically Avoriaz in the Alpes.  We are spending a week vacation hiking, hanging out, cooking and drinking :).  Best kind of vacation in my humble opinion. We arrived today and for the next 6 days we will be cooking and pairing and hopefully blogging.  But before we get into that… here is the view from where we will be drinking all week- our balcony.  Thats right, morning coffee and evening aperitif… man, life is hard. MorzineSo, we have an array of wines- California, Spanish, French, Sparkling, and Sweet wines.  Tonight’s dinner was a bit of a pate and charcuterie for the aperitif, followed by an artichoke, and finished with a basic steak cooked rare with a mild BBQ sauce and salad.  We choose to pair this dinner with Ridge Geyserville 2007 because a.) my husband has never drank a Zinfandel based wine and b.) it is a spicy, full bodied wine that could help with the fact that I forgot to prepare fully the meal and it was our ‘lazy’ meal. Ridge Geyserville 2007Verdict / Tasting notes: Super spicy and robust.  Really grabs your attention right away, stand alone wine and not French.  Thank goodness.  It was bright fruit, cherries, maybe cranberries with that sense of acidity in the wine.  Cracked pepper all over the back of the palate and long lasting. Not something to drink with artichokes, but the steaks and pate / charcuterie combination was really good.  The spices and the meat complimented each other, while the fruitiness stayed on the palate.

All in all not a bad start to 6 days of bliss.  See you tomorrow for more drinking :).

Nothing like some morning drinking!

A little midmorning drinking is just what the doctor ordered!  Yesterday, some American friends and I started our day off at Domaine Ogier in the Côte Rôtie.  Domaine Ogier is a family run winery with 15 different parcels of land within the AOC Côte Rôtie region.  They also produce some wines in St. Joseph, Condrieu and the Collines Rhodaniennes.  We started with an amazing barrel tastings of the 2012 vintage.  Barrel tastings are fun because you can get a hint of what the next years vintage will look like, but at the same time experience the ‘before’ aspect of wine as it develops.

In barrel number one, we tasted a 100% syrah from a non-AOC of Côte du Rhône called La Rosine.  This small single vineyard wine comes from a the southern tip of the Côte Rôtie area, outside the border of the AOC Côte Rôtie- unfortunately.  We then tasted beside it the 2011 vintage La Rosine that had been in bottle just 6 months.  What a contrast!  Barrel TastingTasting notes:  La Rosine 2012 from the barrel was bright fruits and cherries, light tannins with a stark finish mid-palate, but at the same time feminine and great potential for age.  La Rosine 2011 from the bottle was mature and floral, with the same bright fruits, but this time the finish was longer.

In barrel number two, the winemaker gave us a preview of the Côte Blonde single vineyard wines…  Followed by barrel number three tasting of a Côte Brune single vineyard wine.  Now, a little background…  Côte Rôtie is split into two sides- the northern part generally referred to as the Côte Brune and the southern part generally as the Côte Blonde.  As the stories goes, these were the two hair colors of the founder of Côte Rôtie’s daughters.  The blonde being young, feminine and for early drinking.  The brune being firmer, long lasting, head strong.  Now, as a brune myself… that is a pretty good description :).

Tasting notes:  Côte Blonde was full of floral notes, roses most of all- ironically smelled a lot like my wedding bouquet, it was fruity and pleasant, easy going.  The Côte Brune was robust, full of spices and tannins (just like us brunes of the world)!

After that the wine flowed…

 Beginning of the vertical photo (9)Normal Wednesday MorningThe winemaker took us through all the blends of Côte Rôtie, St. Joseph and some outside the AOC near Vienne wines he produced.  By the end we had tasted 6 different red wines ALL the same varietal- 100% syrah, yet no two bottles were alike.  It is an amazing tribute to the notion of terroir in France.

However, the winner of the tastings was…

La Belle HeleneThe Côte Rôtie single vineyard, La Belle Hélène 2009.  This domaine has 15 different parcels of Côte Rôtie that normally are blended to create their Côte Rôtie bottle, however in an exceptional year the wine maker will choose to do a single vineyard bottle.  And thank goodness he did!  She was rounded, full bodied, fruit forward with spices that just tickled the back of my throat.  It was almost a shame to drink it so young.  It needs another 6-10 years before it is really shining!

Oh, what a wonderful morning… 🙂

WOW! Four years…. WOW!

 I woke up yesterday and realized it was July 1, 2013…

HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY FRANCE! 

LyonFour years ago I took this crazy trip to Paris to get a break from life- turns out I actually came out here to start a new CRAZY life.  So, four years later- I am married to a wonderful Frenchman, living in Lyon- a place I LOVE, speaking French more than English, and have opened my own wine tasting business.  I mean, crazy right?!  I am constantly in awe, and sometimes shocked, but how fast and filling these last four years have gone by…

And what was my birthday present here in France… The French Wine Scholar study manual was delivered to my apartment yesterday!!  I am officially back in school and loving it (yes, I know it has only been 2 days)! FWS manualLife has taken so many turns, but I feel like I am finally getting back ‘into the swing of things’ and balanced again…

So, what wine to celebrate with….???