One of those moments…

Do you ever have those moments in life where you think to yourself… “Holy crap- how did I get here?”  or “When did I become so grown up, so responsible?”  or maybe “When did hangovers hurt so bad?”  This past couple weeks have been moments like these… I feel grown up- not broken and need someone to hold my hand- but decision making, tax paying, accomplished in life grown up.

I’m not gonna lie to you- I am kinda enjoying it…

So what was it?  Well, try not laugh, but it was the little things… my new website, a random Saturday night dinner with no recipe, and a tough workout.  It’s Sunday night and I am thinking to myself… “damn, it feels good to be grown up!”

photo 3This is really an accomplishment… if you know me and you know how RIDICULOUSLY bad I am at anything internet, social media, etc.  You know just how big a deal this is!  I managed (with the amazing platform Squarespace) to actually redesign From Vine to Wine’s website.  I have never wanted my own business and quite frankly never thought I had the personality to do it, but after this accomplishment- I am feeling good!  I can take on anything!  So I did!  I have a NEW booking platform as well that I was able to incorporate into my website with the MARVELOUS help of my new friends at Checkfront!  There are still some tweaks to be made here and there, but I am really proud of myself.

photo 2 Then came this dinner… I mean, it’s just a dinner, but I really enjoy finding recipes and making complex dinners and am completely unable to just ‘throw something together’.  My husband is great at looking in the cupboards and making great things from nothing- me not so much.  But lazy Saturday night came and all I wanted was a nice hot meal is this freezing Lyon weather and a bottle of wine to warm me up.  So, I attempted to throw together pork tenderloin in a herbs de provence, onion, garlic, carrot thing with chunky mashed potatoes and (what we like to call) an American salad.  And it was really tasty!

Paired it with a GREAT AOP Minervois Otonis from Les Celliers d’Onairac.  A small wine with a big heart comprised of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvedre.  It is balanced in tannin and fruit, creating a warm mix for a variety of flavors.  photo 1And… because I do have a tendency to eat and drink a bit… I have once again started Fitness Blender and MAN is it KICKING my BUTT!  My apologies for the photo… but I tell you it was just a good workout!  I couldn’t walk correctly for the entire week I was so SORE!

There are certain things in life that make up feel good.  For me, and I assume most people, when my life is together and well rounded I am doing well.  That means that work is moving forward and I am feeling accomplished in my tasks, my husband is well fed and I can sit down at the table with him to share a meal and good wine, and when my body is NOT expanding ;).  This week was a good week for all those things and I feel grown up.

Sometimes it is just good to dwell on the positive things.

Voila…

And on the 8th Day…. God created Poitiers…

When living in France you quickly learn that the French are attached to their roots.  That where each of them was born is the BEST place in France, the MOST beautiful place, and sometimes you get the feeling that if God where to flood the world again there is no way in hell he would take their hometown.   Ironically it is rare to find these people still living in those towns… oh, the French…

This weekend I had the chance to visit one of those amazing, majestic, even God wishes he lived their towns…

Poitiers.

Never heard of it?  What?  Never heard of Poitiers?  Well, if you have never heard of it you are clearly not living life to its fullest potential.  Bah ha ha.  You’ve probably never heard of Poitiers because you have probably never met Nico, Simon, Thierry or Momo.  These are the boys within my circle of friends that think Poitiers is God’s gift to everyone.  Really, Poitiers is just another small town with a lot of history about people dying and then monuments constructed to mark their death.  Ironically, not a lot of monuments marking people who lived…

What is in Poitiers however, is Nico’s father’s wine cave.  And IT is a thing of beauty!  An entire basement dedicated to wine.  Oh, mon rêve!  I had the pleasure of participating in a wine tasting with Patrick (Nico’s dad) last year and was SO impressed by his nose and ability to pull out all types of aromas from the glass.  I found myself by the end wanting to verify everything I smelled with him!  It was really fun!

Anyway, this weekend Patrick generously opened up his wine cave and gave us a tasting tour… Now, I don’t know about Poitiers as a town, but Poitiers as Patrick’s wine cave… Majestic.

Here’s what we drank day one

Chateau Phelan Segur 1994Chateau Phélan Ségur 1994 Saint-Estèphe

Drank for the aperitif with charcuterie and smoked duck.

 Tasting Notes:   Unfortunately, this gem was a little past its time.  The color a brick ruby red.  The nose still very vibrant with hints of fresh red fruits and vanilla, a little bit of tobacco, but not as much as one would expect to find from a 1994.  The palate soft with little expression of Saint-Estèphe on the back of the throat.  Still pleasant and light of an aperitif, but definitely not the expression of what it was, or what it could have been.

Corton-Charlemagne 2009Domaine d’Ardhuy Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009

Now, my love for Chardonnay is limited, I’m not gonna lie to you I would actually rather eat my foot.  BUT when given a Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne for lunch, my love for Chardonnay increases 10-fold.

Tasting Notes:  This little gem was creamy and smooth, but not aggressive.  These days Chardonnay is being so over chapatilized that the grape is dying and creamy, buttery, sugar bombs are whats left. This was in NO WAY like that.  It was complex on the palate.  Round and finished for a long time.  Very agreeable for a non-Chardonnay drinker.  Now, if I could only get my husband to buy some…

Oh- and for lunch we had rabbit.. LIKE the ENTIRE rabbit.  I like to think that I do well with French food and their sometimes funny and stomach turning combinations… BUT, nothing prepared me for what part of the rabbit Nico’s mother liked best…. Corton-Charlemagne 2009 and Rabbit Head I did try it.  I had some of the poor guys cheek (delicious by the way), but oh man… that’s a rabbit head.

Moment to pause while you stare at the picture contemplating how someone would go about eating that… and right, we aren’t done yet…

Pommard Tete de CuveeJacques Girardin Pommard Tête de Cuvée 2008

The wine with cheese… the cheese was green.  Literally.  Green.

Tasting Notes:  Pommard and I have an amazing relationship.  I love it and it loves me.  Something about the velvet cherry of Pinot Noir with the strong tastes of goat cheese make for a harmony on the palate.  The nose slightly hidden, strawberries and cherries with a hint of herbs behind.  Smooth on the palate.  Coating the entire mouth in harmony while presenting with a complexity that begs for another glass.  In general, Pommard is a stronger Pinot that needs time in the bottle to settle and round out.  Only 6 years old, this wine is just going to become more and more developed.  Yummy!

That was just day one too… Sunday lunch to come… I can still taste some of these wines as I write this.

Putain, c’était bon.  Merci Poitiers.

Some success…

Last Wednesday I wrote a rather depressing post about not feeling so great about my success at the moment.  Well, I am happy to report that by Friday things had turned around a bit.  I had two tasting in one day and a handful of email requests!!!!!

I welcomed my first group to a bubbles tasting- three guys super interested in wine and more specifically the sparkling wines of the Rhone Alps region.

Champagne Glass Bubbles Flight – From Vine to Wine

We drank together a Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé Demi-Sec, a Crémant de Bourgogne Brut, and a Clairette de Die.  I was somewhat nervous at the beginning because Clairette de Die is not a part of my daily drinking spectrum.  But in the end it was the favorite in the group.  Surprising was how the sparkling wines changed with food.  The group had an overwhelming dislike for the  Crémant de Bourgogne Brut, but when we added cheese to it and retasted… wow.  It is so fun to watch how perceptions of wine and the taste of wine can change so drastically with food.

Later that evening I welcomed two more people to a What the French Tasting

Glasses with CheeseWhat the French? Tasting – From Vine to Wine

We went to Alsace and the Loire Valley for our whites and then to Bourgogne, Northern Rhone and Bordeaux for the red.  This tastings is always fun in terms of the broad spectrum of wines used, but to explain all the regions of France and how they operate… it is sometimes a daunting task and I can watch peoples brain turn to mush before my eyes.  I had a small amount of fear when I started talking to these two- hoping that their confusion would be settled in the end I served some larger tastes than maybe I normally would have- for educational reasons of course!  Good thing too, because at the end of two hours we had not only gone through the five regions and the french system, but we sent one of them home with a homework assignment and a blind tasting list.

I really love teaching people about French wines.  It gives me a natural high.  These two tastings were completely different- the people, the wine, the conversation.   Sometimes the people coming to taste with me are new to wine, or returning to wine.  Others are so passionate about wine even I get intimidated.  But that is the beauty of it.  Like the terroir changes the wine ever so slightly sometimes, the people and where they come from can also change the way the wine is perceived… sometimes it changes how even I perceive the wine.  An amazing way to end my rather down week.  I look forward to this week and where the wine will take me!

photo 2 photo 4 photo 5

Here is the new tasting room!  Just missing the maps, but I love it!

Top 10 Failures before Success

This whole facebook craze where everyone and their mom is posting “Top 10 Ways to blah blah”, “Top 7 Ways to blah blah something else”, and my personal favorites “Top 14 Ways you are more pathetic than others” or “Top 3 Ways to be less pathetic”.  It’s starting to drive me crazy, but I read it anyway…  The other day I read a couple of them about being a small business owner- Top things small business owners do before noon, top things mentally strong people do, top things that make people succeed in business, etc. I figured maybe it wouldn’t hurt, maybe I would get something out of it, maybe it would jumpstart something.  Boy was I wrong!  I went through a couple of them and the only thing I felt at the end was shitty.  I came to the conclusion that I do not do the right things before noon, I am not mentally strong, and I will never succeed as a small business owner (and my husband wonders why I have a bottle open before he gets home…).

But then I got to thinking a little more and there is just this one tiny little thing I forgot to factor in before my depression into a bottle…. I actually AM doing the right things before noon, I actually AM mentally strong, and I actually AM a small business owner.  What I struggle with is not feeling successful.  What I would like to know, is how many times to I have to feel like I have failed (not brought home a paycheck, not had a client all week, not even a contact)… How many of these kinds of failures must I go through before I start calling it success???  Before I start feeling the success of what I have done…

I haven’t blogged in a LONG time, like 3 months I think… why?  What do I have to blog about?  The truth is that these days I count the failures more than the successes.  Yes, this is my small pity party / rant on life at the moment… but I had to start back somewhere.  I would just really like a

“TOP 10 Ways Failures become Success”

Sunday Dinner – Grenache Noir

Man what a day… I mean seriously, an entire day of sitting on the couch watching House of Cards.  If that doesn’t merit a good dinner and a beautiful bottle of wine than I don’t know what does ;).  Yes, thats right… ALL DAY, ALL DAY watching House of Cards.  Lyon has turned from cold to freezing… this California girl is FREEZING.  So we stayed indoors all day, caught up on our good American TV series, and then rewarded ourselves with a wonderful meal.  What was our wonderful meal… Sunday dinnerPorterhouse Steak with a smoked paprika mayonnaise accompanied by Domaine Ogier Côtes du Rhône Le Temps est Venu.  This wine is a base of grenache noir and syrah.  Let’s talk grenache noir a little bit…

Grenache Noir is a grape with a sugar content… HIGH sugar contact equals HIGH alcohol content.  Therefore it often ends up having high alcohol content and less fruit taste.  The winemaker has a difficult job of keeping the alcohol level down, while simultaneously converting all the sugar to alcohol.  Not easy.  Most often it is blended with other grapes of a lower sugar content and therefore a lower alcohol content.  When made as a single varietal, often times, because of the high sugar content it is a wine that works very well as a late harvest or sweet wine.

Le Temps est Venu is a bright fruit, strawberries and tart cherries with higher alcohol and mild tannins.  For me it is difficult to drink all by itself, but explodes with the right food.  For Sunday dinner, I choose to pair this wine with a very flavorful piece of steak as well as a mild fat sauce in the smoked paprika mayonnaise.  What I did, was cut a little bit the hot alcohol of the grenache noir and made it mild with the addition of the fat.  Together, they made for a wonderful winter dinner!!

French wine and food… a match made in heaven!

Often times the dinner I make is based SOLEY on the bottle of wine I want to drink… Last nights dinner was exactly that.  Here was the wine…Domaine Coste-CaumartinDomaine Coste-Caumartin 2009 Pommard 1er Cru Le Clos des Boucherottes

This is a wine that my husband and I bought about 2 years ago and you can see that since being in our cave, the ticket has started to mold off.  Fortunately, however, the wine had not spoiled at all!  It smelled like a barnyard in my glass- and I LOVE THAT (like really love that)!  The nose was dirty, dirty, dirty!  After about 5 minutes with my nose in dirt- I moved past that dirt- hints of violet, cherry, black cherry, even blueberry.  Again I have to mention my nose is being worked on.  Like everything else, if you don’t practice it fades.   My apologies- I’ll keep on practicing!  On palate it was round, light tannins, tickled my throat, but finished a little short :(.  Unfortunately… we drank it too soon.  It needed another year in the cellar before really being amazing.  But its okay- we have another bottle for next year.

So, what did we eat with it?  Well, I wanted something basic, easy to make, and wintery.  It is currently SNOWING in Lyon, so warm plates are a MUST these days.  I decided to go with my favorite food of the moment- butternut squash.  I know what you are thinking… NO!  not with a Pinot, but let me finish…Butternut Squash PastaButternut squash and sage pasta with grilled chicken.  Now, with the Pommard- you all are right… not the match made in heaven as I had expected, but there was a little something that made it quite interesting.  With the acidity level in the wine and the sage in the pasta the match was in competition, yet brought out the flavors of each.  I actually really enjoyed the pairing.  It was untraditional and you had to give it a sip or two to confirm it worked, but it worked!  I was very happy :).

Sometimes we focus to much on the HAVE TO and SHOULD DO and loose the ideas of just TRYING.  I live of life where I try and I fail, I get back up, I try again and succeed, then try something new.  IF you can’t branch out and try something new or risk something… You’re never really going to GAIN anything.  Am I right?

Also.. I bought a fish to keep me company during the day.  Meet Maximus.  He is named by my husband after the film Gladiator because he is a warrior and will fight for what he wants- and wins! Maximus Welcome to the family Maximus!

New French Word Today- angine blanche

aka. strep throat, aka. what?!?, aka. seriously France can I just be normal please, hashtag SUCK, sidenote- not a twitter fan, my life takes more than 140 characters…

I mean seriously?!? I have my share of medical quirks, but normally big stuff, life altering stuff- not this piddly ass stuff. For that stuff I married someone with allergies. At least I don’t have THAT. So today I woke up, well last night really, but this morning I noticed these white dots on my tonsils. So I went online with coffee and juice in hand to research it. What I found was that it was just a really bad sore throat- hashtag never using that website again. Called my mom and my mother-in-law because it was getting pretty painful and they both have the same diagnosis- strep / angine blanche. So I called the doctor and found out that I can’t actually understand my doctor on the phone, but I needed a rendez vous fast.

Oh- did I mention that the glass of juice this morning also spilled onto my computer? Right. That also happened this morning. F.

So my computer spent the day like this….

20131105-225846.jpg

Then my husband came home and started doing this….20131105-225931.jpg

Finishing like this….20131105-230001.jpg

Thank goodness he has magic powers!

Yet the best part of my day- talking to a group of MBA students about my business and how I got to be a small business owner is France! Made me feel fancy… and after a day like today I NEEDED that- hashtag ego boost!!

Tonights drink after all that…. Beer.

Community….

Where would we be without it and holy hell can it get annoying!

Tomorrow starts a wine tasting series with the French Wine Society– where I am currently studying for my French Wine Scholar- and I am looking at buying six bottles of wine to drink all alone.  Now, I LOVE the concept of doing a tasting through the Wine Society, but I am having this deep sadness due to the absence of a community.  Today I went to a tasting at Sofitel near Bellecour in Lyon and met an American girl working in the marketing department as well as getting her WSET training.  She and I talked for almost an hour about wine, French wine, American wine, all wines!  It was an hour that I loved because I was simply in community- sharing, exchanging, learning from each other.  I am sorta bummed to sit tomorrow behind my computer all alone for this tasting :(.  I hope tomorrow, being the first one, will be something of a surprise and hopefully create opportunities to come into community with fellow students.

Now, there is this concept of TOO much community, I mean too much of people’s opinions and statements.  I do not think wine should be shared with people in order to get them to understand what is good and bad.  Wine is an art.  And everchanging art at that!  It takes education and community to help people find their personal palates and preferences.  We don’t taste wines to say they are wrong or bad, we taste wines for the pleasure of it.  Equally today I was tasting with my friend’s father who had an amazing nose- I mean really spectacular!!  It was in that moment I wanted him to tell me everything and I mean everything he was smelling.  I wanted to attach words the way he did to the smells I was smelling.  He and I didn’t share the same palate or preference for wine, but could equally learn from each other.  He didn’t force his opinion on me or mine on him, we just shared.

I want, I hope to, build a community with From Vine to Wine… Talk about a dream come true!Burgundy Vines

Did you know?!?!

Did you know that if you don’t write a blog post no one else will?!  I mean crazy right?  Okay, not really… but I am looking for some great excuse as to why I have not blogged in two months- all I have come up with is that it has to be someone else’s fault.  Maybe I am becoming too French.  It is my fault.  I have lacked the motivation and the self-discipline to get my act together.  BUT not to worry- I have still been drinking!  Some things I am HIGHLY motivated in and need NO self-discipline!

So what have I been doing?  Well, I have the idea to change the blog up a bit.  I am an expat living, breathing, AND drinking in France.  Sometimes the life takes over the drinking and sometimes the drinking overtakes real life.  For those of you living abroad or have aspirations to live abroad one day I think you should know it is horribly wonderful and amazingly bad all at the same time.  Since this blog was about creating conversations about wine and daily life, I have to add some daily life to the mix.  Quite frankly- french wine comes with stories, history and roots.  Since I am starting to create roots here, why not tell you all some of my stories and how my roots are being grounded?  And since I am in France and becoming more and more French… you can take it or leave it, but I’m still gonna do it.

So, here is some of my life through a wine glass…

Wine glass

On y va.

Never going back…

sunset front of boatFour weeks…  4 weeks…  once you go for 4 weeks you never go back!  What am I talking about?  French vacation of course!!!  Minimum 4 weeks, well 5 actually.  Once you take a month off somewhere it is hard to come back.  I never really took a 2 week vacation when working in the states so 4 weeks is super-lux!  Also, it is the reason I have been absent from blogging… not absent from drinking mind you… just from blogging!

I’m back though.  Four weeks of wines tasted all ready for the writing.  My husband and I have a deal that when we travel outside of France we never drink French wines- now I did move to France on a whim because the wine is amazing, but what I realized is that there are no imports (well, a little, but not enough).  So we made the agreement that we drink whatever country we are in and if we are in a non wine growing country we get to mix it up a bit.  I have a lot of fun going to wine stores trying to pick wines that represent the California or Washington or Oregon… sorry east coasters haven’t drank much from you all recently, but I’ll get there.  I try to find monocepages that represent something of the terroir.   My husband, being French, hasn’t drunk a whole lot outside France and it is really fun to get to open his palate to be more international.

So, 4 weeks= over 15,000km flying (10,000miles), over 1,500km driving (900miles), over 2,800km in a boat (1,740miles) to cover 3 different states over 65km hiked (40miles) with 2,300m in elevation change (7,500ft) and enough beer and wine to make us come home the happiest of people!  We spent 5 days in San Francisco, 5 days in Seattle and the rest in Alaska splitting time between land and a cruise through the inner passage- it was our honeymoon!  We splurged (and have the added kilos to prove it)!!sunset back of boatSo be prepared for the next couples weeks of wine, wine, wine and none of it French 😉

Welcome to la rentrée in France!