Food and wine in Cyprus – getting creative with Halloumi and Tomato marmelade with Xynisteri

A recent visit to Nicosia and dinner with friends at a favourite restaurant introduces us to a different way of serving halloumi cheese, which I really like and want to try making myself.      Attempting to replicate interesting dishes is a favourite kitchen pastime!!

Halloumi is a particular Cypriot cheese made from sheep and goat milk.  It has been produced by Cypriots for many centuries and is an important part of Cypriot culture and diet.   It is semi-hard with a rubbery texture and a distinct salty flavour.  It is a popular choice  for many dishes as an alternative to traditional cheese due to its high melting point.   As mentioned, it’s quite salty and usually served fried with slices of lemon.  Delicious in its own way, I am ready to try a different style of serving halloumi.

I buy fresh halloumi from a farmer in the Paphos fruit and vegetable market and am always happy with her cheese.

The Nicosian restaurant, Beba, serves halloumi in a different way:  halloumi baked on a tomate base.   The server told me the base was tomato marmelade;  tomatoes with various ingredients reduced to a marmelade consistency.

Part of the fun of my kitchen pastime is searching the internet for suitable, approximate recipes that I play with a bit, depending on the situation.   In this way,  I found a tomato marmelade recipe that I modified, particularly by reducing the sugar and replacing that ingredient with stevia.

Together with the tomatoes, the following ingredients of olive oil, onion, garlic, sweet red peppers, ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar all find their way into the pot.   During the one hour simmering phase, I add some water so it doesn’t get too think.   After cooling, this is puréed into a smooth marmelade consistency rather than a ‘chunky’ marmelade.

To replicate the baked halloumi dish we had enjoyed, I spread tomato marmelade onto a glass cooking plate and add the halloumi on top, sliced horizontally rather than the typical vertical slices.

 

This goes into a hot oven for 20 minutes and is served with a salad of lettuce and cucumbers.  Because of the high melting point of halloumi, it retains its shape and softens rather than melting.

Choosing an appropriate wine is part of the pleasure and definitely choosing a Cypriot wine is important to me for this quintessentially Cypriot dish.   Given the saltiness of the halloumi cheese, and following typical wine pairing convention,  a wine with some acidity seems right and so we open a chilled bottle of Xynisteri, a white wine from Andreas Tsalapatis, a wine maker in Polemi, a village in the hills about 30 minutes from Paphos.  It is a successful match with enough acidity to balance the saltiness in the halloumi but soft at the same time with flavours of citrus and stone fruit and a whisper  of nuttiness at the end.

Xynisteri is the main indigenous white-wine variety of Cyprus.  It is used to make light, refreshing white wines.   Xynisteri wine is typically produced as a single varietal wine and for sake of comparison is similar to  Sauvignon Blanc.

Applause at the dinner table is music to my ears as we enjoy the results of this kitchen experiment, inspired by the restaurant Beba in Nicosia.

References:    Tomato Marmelade  – myrecipes.com as inspiration
Wine:  Tsalapatis Winery, Rigena 100% 12.5 VOL Xynisteri

Inspired by Restaurant:                       Beba Restaurant,   ΜΠΕΜΠΑ, Nicosia

 

 

 

 

 

Want A Holiday Adventure in SW France this 24th July?

After so much time dreaming of holidays during lockdowns, here’s a wonderful opportunity to engage with the wine community in Sigoulès, near Bergerac in SW France by signing up for the summer event on July 24th of the Confrerie du Raisin D’Or de Sigoulès.  A parade, a lunch and much fellowship awaits when you step outside your comfort zone and into a wonderful traditional event.

Taste Vin – Confrerie du Raisin D’Or de Sigoulès, SW France  near Bergerac.

 

Check out the Confrerie website for all the details, menu and registration.

confrerieduraisindor.com

facebook: confrérie du raisin d’or

Enjoy!

Celebrations of Easter and mosaic artisan skills!

In a brief digression from my usual wine related writing, I would like to wish my readers a Happy Easter, a time to celebrate renewal, wherever you may live.

In line with celebrations, this is a good time to celebrate the wonderful mosaic art of our friend Sharen Taylor, whose studio is in Paphos, Cyprus, where I visited Sharen.  Apart from her professional background as a conservationist and the work she has done with respect to archeological projects in the area, Sharen is a talented mosaic artist who is passionate about introducing others, including children,  to this form of art and culture through her customized workshops and her commissioned work.

By participating in Sharen’s workshops, Its possible to can get a personal appreciation of the skills used by the Greek and Roman artisans who, over a thousand years ago, created the exquisite mosaics in the buildings and excavations at the Paphos Archeological Park.   I found my amateur mosaic making experience a walk in history, with admiration for the incredibly subtle work of those past artisans.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful Easter time,

elizabethsvines

References

Sharen Taylor:  sharentaylormosaics on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Learning about local Cyprus wines: Paphos Region wine event: 1st Wine & Zivania Exhibition

Nothing beats a local wine event for authenticity, comraderie and learning opportunities.

With good fortune, a friend told us about such an event in Koili, a village in the hills above Paphos, Cyprus, organized by the Koili Regional Educational Centre for Rural Professionals.

This centre in itself is an important initiative in support of the agricultural and viticultural nature of the area and the development and leverage of skills in the related workforce.

Once away from the increasing urbanization surrounding the towns, Cyprus is largely an agrarian community in which viticulture and wine making plays an important role.  Agrotourism is an important sector focussed on agricultural products, vineyards and the production of Zivania, a strong Cypriot spirit.

This particular event in Koili is the First Wine and Zivania Exhibition and it is held in the impressive and purpose built large hall of the educational centre.

When we arrive the winemakers are arranging their wine bottles and displays and the DJ is playing music, all to build the lively atmosphere for the event.

First things first, I go in search of wine glasses, which are nicely stamped with the name of the event, and I am given  a small pot of a traditional “amuse-bouche” for each person in our party.   This is like a rose water sorbet / mousse consistency and I believe it is known as Mahalebi, usually served as a summer dessert.

Visitors have the opportunity to taste wine and Zivania from wineries in the wider area, while they are informed about the correct way of serving wine and the indigenous grape varieties of Cyprus, one of my areas of interest

In her greeting, the Governor of Paphos states that the wine sector is considered as an important pillar of development that can lead to the full recovery of the wider agricultural sector.  The consistent quality of the wine produced in the Paphos District is also commented on as well as the production of Zivania..   

I have to admit that I am not familiar with Zivania and it’s interesting to me that it is highlighted in the event.   However, when I think about this, it makes sense, especially as we are informed that Zivania has been protected within the framework of EU Regulations as a unique product of Cyprus.

After visiting various wine displays, the main event starts.  This is about the right way to serve wine.

This is innovative and well done as instead of a lecture, there is a ‘show and tell’ demonstration of decanting a bottle of red wine and then pouring a tasting quantity in appropriate glasses for a couple of attendees seated at a properly laid table, as though in a restaurant!  and once the individuals taste the wine and indicate their approval, their glasses are refilled.   The Viticulturist/Oenologist, Dr Andrea Emmanuel talks us through the demonstration.

Following this, we visit more winemaker displays and I discover some indigenous varieties I am not aware of, discover a white wine at 10.5% ALC Vol and a winery producing small bottles of wine – all topics I am interested in!

More to come in my next blog post…

References:  Koili Regional Educational Centre for Rural Professionals

Cyprus-digest.com

 

 

February: Romance and Wine

In an uncertain world, I like to remember that February has long been the month to celebrate romance and love.

Since the Middle Ages and more particularly since Victorian times, St Valentine, Cupid and Aphrodite have been celebrated with romantic cards and images of hearts; like this wooden heart made by the Heart Man and placed on the beach in Vancouver.

Not only do we celebrate love and romance with hearts, roses and chocolates but also with champagne!

This year we celebrated with a half bottle of Billecart-Salmon Champagne.     This is in keeping with my interest in smaller bottles with high quality wines.    Billecart-Salmon is a small champagne house started in the 1880s, is still run by the family in Mareuil sur Ay and has a devoted following among champagne aficionados.   One quote is that…“Billecart Salmon is perhaps the best representative of a Champagne house that has chosen finesse over brute strength.”

We discovered Billecart-Salmon on a wine tour of the Champagne region in 2013.     Here are two photos from that visit including the line up of champagne bottles we sampled during a tasting.

And,…

here is our half bottle (375ml) of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne 12.0%alc./vol.

Champagne is so often the wine choice of romance.

Above all in today’s world,   let there be love.

elizabethsvines

Looking for Lower Alcohol Wines? Check the bottle label…

Looking at trends is key to effective marketing.   Being aware of wine trends is no exception.

Recently a few articles have appeared about low or lower alcohol  wines as consumers consider their alcohol intake for all sorts of health and safety related reasons.

This trend leads me to consider the importance of the label on all bottles of wine, which must identify the alcohol percentage by volume of the wine, described as …%alc./vol. or sometimes …%vol.

Interestingly, most articles giving advice on wine don’t give the % alc./vol. of wine they write about.    I too have neglected to do this in the past!!

The range of % alc./vol values in different wines is surprising.

I did a quick check on the wines in my “cellar” and purposefully selected wines with less than 14% alc./vol., which is quite a common figure for many red wines, in particular.

The 7 wines in the photo demonstrate an alcohol range from 10.5 % to 13.5% alc./vol   The scale of difference is worth considering as the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at 13.5% alc./vol. is 28% more alcoholic than the Riesling at 10.5% alc./vol.

The alcohol level in wines is not a static measure and will vary year by year as a factor of the terroir where the vines are grown: influenced by weather, sunlight, soil, latitude, altitude, vineyard management etc.   Alcohol production in wine is a natural fermentation process of the interaction of yeasts on the sugar in the must (pressed grapes and often stalks)  producing alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2).  The greater the sugar the higher the alcohol.

In general terms what this can translate to, if choosing wines with a lower alcoholic value, is choosing wines from cooler climates.

White wines from Northern Europe will likely have less alcoholic content:  consider a Riesling from Germany, a Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy or a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, the Bordeaux area or British Columbia.   Champagne is always a good choice for a lower alcoholic wine!

Red wines from Burgundy like a Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais are not only generally lower in alcohol but they are also a good flexible choice to pair with a number of dishes.   Pinot Noir from British Columbia also fits the bill.

The  list below itemizes the 7 wines in the photo and their alcoholic levels, for illustrative purposes only.

% alc./vol.

Wine

 

10.5

Riesling

Toni Jost:  Bacharacher Riesling, 2016 Kabinett Feinherb, Mittel Rhein, Germany

11.30

Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon

Lock and Worth Winery, 2019, Poplar Grove, Naramata, BC.  

12

Champagne

Champagne Veuve Clicquot,  Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Reims, France

12.5

Beaujolais

Beaujolais – Village 2016,  Joseph Drouin, Beaune, Burgundy, France

12.5

Sauvignon Blanc

Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve, 2020,  Okanagan Valley, B.C.

13.0

Pinot Noir

Black Hills Estate Winery, 2017

Okanagan Valley, B.C.

13.5

Chardonnay

Meyer Family Vineyards, Okanagan Valley 2018, Maclean Creek Rd Vineyard,  Okanagan Falls, B.C.

I’m not advocating only drinking wines lower than 14%.   Many of the beautiful Bordeaux wines that I wrote about in the last couple of blog posts as well as other wines I enjoy are in that range.

I am advocating carefully checking the bottle labels to be better informed about the wines we select.

Happy Wine Selecting!

elizabethsvines

 

 

 

 

Bordeaux Wine Release in Vancouver BC., Merlot dominant Ste Emilion, Pomerol

What an invitation! To time travel to the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with these images of wine bottle labels from Bordeaux wines!

These labels and others, carefully removed from the bottles and kept over the years, are a wonderful and much appreciated gift.

The Bordeaux wine area consists of two main geographic areas on the banks of the Garonne, Dordogne and the Gironde, which is the estuary where the Dordogne and Garonne rivers meet:  left bank for Medoc and right bank for St Emilion and areas.

The world famous Bordeaux wines are a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot together with lesser amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.    What’s interesting about the Bordeaux area is that the percentages of the wines in the blend vary according to geography.    For example, the Medoc area wines generally feature more Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the St Emilion areas feature more Merlot.

The roles that these predominant varieties play in the wines is important in considering which type of wine to buy from personal preference and to pair with different dishes.  

Cabernet Sauvignon provides more structure to the blend, considering tannins and acidity.    It also provides dark-fruit flavours of blackcurrant and bell pepper.  

Merlot is usually juicier and adds some softness with more fruit flavours.   These two varieties complement each other and provide long term potential for ageing when made by skilled winemakers.

Given that winemakers create their own preferred ratios of Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot depending on soil, climate, and all the aspects of terroir, it is important to always look at the back label to see the percentages of the varieties in the Bordeaux wines one is buying, because this will give an indictation of the ambiance of the wine.     In addition to this, also factoring in the geographic area within the Bordeaux area that the wine is coming from is important.

The Bordeaux Medoc and left bank wines (those typically with a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon) were featured on my earlier December blog with a chart comparing the assessment of Jane Anson, Master of Wine and Decanter’s Bordeaux Correspondent with the wines available through the (British Columbia) BC Liquor Stores for the 2018 wine release available in September this year.  

As I highlighted in that earlier blog, Jane Anson wrote her En Primeur Report in the Decanter Magazine June 2019 issue, with not only an assessment of the 2018 vintage overall but she also assessed each individual château and identifies those châteaux she considered at the time to be Top Value, Producer to Watch or Potential 100 (i.e. possibility of being rated 100 points).

The chart below compares the Decanter Magazine assessment of the Bordeaux St Emilion and other right bank appellations (typically those wines with a higher percentage of Merlot) with the wines available through the BC Liquor Stores.

It’s interesting to note that 2018 was a year of high sugars and high tannins for the Bordeaux right bank wines.

The chart demonstrates where the opinions of Jane Anson MW coincide with the opinions of the BC Liquor Store Masters of Wine buyers.    Again, only the chateaux highlighted by Jane Anson as Top Value, Producer to Watch or Potential 100 points for the St Emilion right bank wines are included in the chart.  It’s a smaller list than the Medoc and Left Bank comparison list and none of Jane Anson’s Producer to Watch category made it to the BC Liquor Stores list.

For me, a second opinion from a valued source is always helpful.

 

2018 Bordeaux Right Bank

Jane Anson, MW

Decanter Magazine

June 2019, En Primeur Report for 2018

BC Liquor Stores

BC Price $C per bottle

Potential 100

 

 

 

St Emilion

Château Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse

Château Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse

97 points Wine Advocate

Drink: 2024 – 2044

$280

St Emilion

Château Cheval Blanc

Château Cheval Blanc

100 points Decanter

Drink: 2028 – 2042 Decades!

$1,800

Pomerol & Lalande de Pomerol

Vieux Château Certan Pomerol

Vieux Châteaux Certan Pomerol

99 points Wine Advocate,

Drink: 2027 – 2057

$675

Pomerol & Lalande de Pomerol

Château Trotanoy

Château Trotanoy

100 points Jeb Donnuck,

Drink: 2025 – 2065

$500

Top Value

 

 

 

St Emilion

Château La Serre

Château La Serre

94 points Jeb Dunnuck

Drink: 2026 – 2040

$125

Pomerol & Lalande

de Pomerol

Château Lafleur – Gazin

Château Lafleur-Gazin

94 points James Suckling

Drink: 2024 – 2038

$85

tes de Bordeaux & St Emilion Satellites

Château Joanin Bécot, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux

Château Joanin Bécot, Castillon

Côtes de Bordeaux

93 points Jeb Dunnuck

Drink: 2022 – 2036

$50

 

There are, of course, many more Bordeaux 2018 wines than those listed here available in the BC Liquor Stores.

The two charts of what was anticipated about the 2018 Bordeaux vintage in the En Primeur tastings in 2019 compared with the availability of wines in British Columbia Liquor Stores are helping me build an expanded list of possible wine producers to consider and watch for in future vintages.

Bordeaux wines are fascinating in their complexity and subtleties.  I applaud the magic of the winemakers in producing superb wines and appreciate the efforts of the highly skilled Masters of Wine in presenting these wines and relevant information to consumers.

Wishing all a happy and healthy 2022,

elizabethsvines

References:

Decanter Magazine June 2019

BC Liquor Stores  2018 Bordeaux Release Guide

Elizabethsvines December 2021 blog post: Bordeaux Release

Bordeaux Wine Release in Vancouver, BC

2018 Bordeaux Release, September 2021

The end of summer in Vancouver coincides with the annual Bordeaux wine release by the BC Liquor Stores.  September is the important month.

Excitement builds as aficionados wait for the online and print catalogues as well as notification of the prebooking opportunities. It looks like the 2018 vintage will be a very good year, like 2015 and 2016.

The Bordeaux Release is quite the show!  Especially when you see shopping carts loaded down with multiple cases of wine being wheeled out to nearby parked cars.

For me, the catalogue of wine is not just about the wine.   The catalogue is like a travel brochure as each name that I know conjures up the place:  the countryside, the beautiful chateaux themselves, and the rows of vines and the sense of history – the whole ambiance is like magic for me.

  I have visited the Bordeaux wine region – left bank, right bank – several times either on arranged tours or one-off visits to a particular chateau.    Seeing the names is like reading poetry that you know well, there’s a rhyme to the words:  Chateaux Margaux, Palmer, Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Leoville Barton, Lynch Bages, La Dominique,
Quintus…  

Some are chateaux I have visited for the first time in the last few years, often with my wine expert friend.   Yet others like Chateau Margaux and Chateau Palmer I first visited decades ago with my parents and have happy memories of those introductions to the world of Bordeaux wines !

Putting aside these fine memories, I got down to the business of modestly buying some of the 2018 Bordeaux Release!

When the wine is released in the ‘liquor stores’ run by BC Liquor Stores, there is a mad rush of people swooping in with determination written on their faces as they grab a copy of the catalogue, which is an excellent reference guide with helpful information, and decide what they will buy!   

I have to admit I probably had that same look of determination on my face as we decided what to buy.    I didn’t have time to do any research before buying.   I know from previous experience that if you dither, the choices you would like will have gone!

The wines in the 2018 Bordeaux Wine Release were selected at the en primeur tastings in Bordeaux in 2019, and are now released for sale in 2021.  

After we bought some wine at the release, I serendipitously rediscovered my Decanter magazine issue of June 2019, in which Jane Anson, Master of Wine and Decanter’s Bordeaux Correspondent gave her En Primeur Report for Bordeaux 2018.

Not only does she write about the vintage overall but she also assesses individual chateau and interestingly, identifies those chateaux she considers to be Top Value, Producer to Watch or Potential 100 (i.e. possibility of being rated 100 points).

I compared  this list with the wines available through the BC Liquor Stores and prepared the following chart of those wines which appear both on Jane Anson’s three criteria list from 2019 and the BC Liquor Store release in 2021 for left bank Bordeaux wines.  Here it is, rather a short but informative reference list.

2018 Bordeaux

Jane Anson MW  – Decanter Magazine

BC Liquor Stores

BC Price $Can

Top Value

 

 

 

Medoc-

Chateau d’Escurac

Chateau d’Escurac

$40

Haut Medoc

Chat. Belle-Vue

Chat. Belle-Vue

$45

Haut Medoc

Ch. Cambon La Pelouse

Ch . Cambon La Pelouse

$40

St. Estephe

Ch. Ormes de Pez

Ch. Ormes de Pez

$75

Pauillac

 

 Les Tourelles de Longueville

 

 

 Les Tourelles de Longueville

 

 

$90

 

 

St. Julien

Ch. du Glana

Ch. du Glana

$55

St. Julien

Ch. Leoville Poyferré

Ch. Leoville Poyferrê

$225

 

Producer to Watch

 

 

 

Pauillac

Ch. Clerc Milon

Ch. Clerc Milon

$210

Potential 100

 

 

 

Pauillac

Ch. Lafite Rothschild

Ch. Lafite Rothschild

$1,600

Pauillac

Ch. Mouton Rothschild

Ch. Mouton Rothschild

$1,500

Pauillac

Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalonde

Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalonde

$380

Margaux

Ch. Palmer

Ch. Palmer

$900

Needless to say, both the Decanter article and the BC Liquor Store catalogue list many more wine choices.

The above chart is a very short list of those Bordeaux left bank  red wines which were assessed as either Top Value, Producer to Watch or Potential 100 points of Left Bank Bordeaux 2018 red wines and were also available in the BC Liquor Stores 2018 Release. These were the criteria for inclusion.

The value to me of this comparison chart is that it fine tuned the information in the BC Liquor Store catalogue and has introduced us to some vineyards we didn’t know about at the lower end of these price points that we will keep an eye on for future purchases.

Enjoy the magic of Bordeaux!

References:   Jane Anson MW, Decanter Magazine June 2019, Vintage Preview: Bordeaux 2018

And

2018 Bordeaux Release – BC Liquor Stores.com

and with recognition to my wine expert friend who always encourages my interest in Bordeaux wines.

Quoi de neuf? Saussignac: a village of art and wine

Quoi de Neuf? What’s up in Saussignac?

Saussignac, a small village of approximately 420 people in SW France in the Dordogne area of Nouvelle Aquitaine, really is a village of wine.

Apart from being the name of the village, where the chateau dates from the 17th century and is on the site of a much older building, Saussignac is also the name of the Saussignac Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée.  The wines of this appellation are a late harvest botryrized wine made mainly from Sémillon grapes.  This is a  distinct category of the natural sweet wines produced from withered, shriveled  grapes;   a Vin Liqoreux, on the same honeyed  track as a Sauterne or a Monbazillac.   These wines of liquid gold can be savoured best with foie gras or a blue cheese, like Saint Augur or Roquefort, a dessert or even as a chilled aperitif.    Several wine makers in the Saussignac area make these delicious wines, which should definitely be savoured by anyone visiting the area.

Saussignac is home to several wine makers, many of whom are organic farmers.

One such innovative organic farmer, writer and educator is Caro Feely from Château Feely.     Caro is hosting a free zoom virtual presentation and discussion on the Climate Change Crisis on Friday, November 12 at 5.00 pm UK or 6 pm France.   To sign up, Caro can be reached at caro@carofeely.com      www.chateaufeely.com

An addition to the local community wine makers are Frank and Riki Campbell, new proprietors at Chateau de Fayolle in Saussignac.   Their goal is to promote the wines of the area on a global level.

Chateau de Fayolle, under the new ownership of the Campbells, is offering platters of cheese and charcuterie with wine tastings in a newly renovated and up to date wine tasting room, which has wonderful views over the rows of vines.   Great recommendations of the wines and ambience have been received from wine loving friends in the area and visitors from Bordeaux, so it’s well worth a visit.  Check out details on their website:  http://www.chateaufayolle.com

To complete the picture of Saussignac as a village of art and wine, I would be remiss not to mention the creative work of Mike and Lee McNeal Rumsby at Le 1500; the boutique hôtel, bistro and painting retreat in the middle of the village opposite  Château Saussignac.    Lee managed some of the world’s finest hotels and Mike’s paintings are sold internationally, so Le 1500 is definitely a place to visit and enjoy.   http://www.le1500.rocks

The village of Saussignac continues to live up to its reputation as a place of Art and Wine.

Quoi de Neuf? Confrérie du Raisin D’Or de Sigoulès

Quoi de Neuf?  What’s new?

This year in summer 2021,  the Confrérie du Raisin D’Or de Sigoulès in the Bergerac Wine Region in SW France was innovative in fulfilling its mandate of promoting local winemakers.

Instead of hosting its annual Confrerie wine event attended by Confrerie members from across France, it creatively switched to participating in the local Festival for Winemakers of Sigoulès-Flaugeac.   The Confrérie hosted a wine tasting event of local wines in which the public voted for the wines of their choice.  Great Idea!

Wine Fair in Sigoulès

Sigoulès

Awards were then given by the Commandeur Guy Bergeron, representing the Confrérie, to the winners in the 5 wine categories of  Red, Rose, Dry White, Sweet White, and Late Harvest Liquoreux.   All 19 winemakers who participated in the public tasting were thanked for their participation.

And the five winners were…

Rouge/Red wine:   Stephanie et Philippe Barré-Perier in Saint Pierre D’Eyraud

Rosé/ Pink:  Jean Philippe Cathal, Domaine Petit Marsalet, St. Laurent des Vignes

Blanc Sec/ Dry White:  Pascal Pomar, Domaine du Sarment Doré, Bergerac

Blanc Moelleur/Sweet White:  Durand Frères, Château Haut Lamouthe, Lamonzie St Martin

Blanc Liquoreux/ Late Harvest Liquoreux: Stéphane Dumoulin, Chateau le Cluzeau, Sigoulés-Flaugeac

Congratulations to the winners of the people’s votes!

All these community names are very familiar to me and I am so pleased to acknowledge the work and effort that went into this event.

Given the COVID restrictions in place, the Confrérie du Raisin D’Or de Sigoulès, under the leadership of the Commandeur and the support of the members, continues to be active in the community upholding its role as part of the UNESCO World Heritage recognition of Confréries in France as a fundamental aspect of French Gastronomie.

Bravo!

Hidden Culinary Gems of Cyprus: Anari Cheese

In the heat of the summer, who wants to do much cooking?  Its more about finding some shade and maybe jumping into a pool surrounded by flowers; like here at a friend’s garden.  I recently finished this semi abstract painting…

A Cypriot friend, a self confessed ‘foodie’,  suggests that I try a local Cypriot whey cheese renowned in the Paphos area.  At the next Paphos Saturday morning fruit and vegetable market I enquire about this cheese from my usual vendor and discover she makes both fresh halloumi and anari cheese!    Not only does she make this cheese but she and her daughter recommend how to serve it!   Perfect!

With the anari cheese and recipe in hand, off we go for a coffee and then I prepare the cheese for a salad lunch – perfect for hot summer days.

Anari is made in a large round – similar to how some soft goat cheese is made in France and elsewhere.  The idea is to slice the cheese into rounds for serving.   In the local presentation, the round of anari  is then covered with a combination of carob syrup and honey and served in this way.    We generally eat very few sweet things but I did have pomegranate syrup in the kitchen for cooking as well as honey.  So on went the pomegranate and honey covering for the slice of anari cheese.      The response!    Absolutely delicious and surprisingly not sweet.

if I were to recommend a wine, I would choose an unoaked Chardonnay or a Viognier to complement the creamy,  honeyed flavours of the Anari cheese prepared in this way.

Fresh anari will keep in the fridge for up to a week, so we enjoy a slice of cheese presented in this honeyed way several times!
Ricotta is a similar cheese so this will be an alternative when I can’t buy fresh anari and it will be interesting to make a comparison.

Simplifying meals is important on hot summer days!

Kali Orexi! / Bob Appétit!

Hidden culinary gems of Cyprus: Zucchini flowers

These edible Zucchini flowers now in season and for sale at the weekly Paphos market catch my eye a couple of weeks before I decide to experiment with stuffed Zucchini flowers.

I enjoy these delicacies in restaurants.   When you buy the flowers you realize how fragile they are.  The flowers need to be prepared and cooked quickly before they spoil.

Here is the approach I take,  based on looking at various preparation references and combining different recipe ideas..

First,  it’s important to remove the stamen or pistil from within the flowers. I also gently rinse each flower to check there are no insects hiding there!

Second, I make up a recipe from the fridge with bacon and mushrooms, chopped and sautéed.   Add this to a soft French goat cheese with lots of chopped mint.

Third,  I carefully stuff the flowers with the mixture and cook on a cookie sheet in a hot oven for about 15 minutes.

Fourth,  the great tasting!

Success!   The stuffed zucchini flowers taste good.   The cooked flowers add a subtle sweetness to the dish and the mint is delicious and typical of Cypriot food.       Only eat the flower petals not the stems or the green leaves.

For a wine pairing, I suggest a Tsangarides organic Chardonnay, which complements the creaminess of the stuffing well or perhaps a Viognier.

What would I do differently next time?   From the recommendation of a Cypriot friend who knows about local dishes,  instead of using a French goat cream cheese, (which is what I had in the fridge when I decided to make this dish!j or perhaps an Italian Ricotta as an alternative, I would use fresh Anari, which is a fresh mild whey cheese produced in Cyprus and made from goat or sheep milk.   The authentic recipe!

Kali Orexi! // Bon Appétit!

References:  Tsangarides Winery   Tsangarideswinery.com

Various on line references about the preparation of stuffed zucchini flowers

Sarah D’Oyly, 1725 – 1821 and her wine cellar

Let us raise a glass to commemorate the bicentenary of the deaths of both Napoleon Bonaparte and Mrs Sarah D’Oyly with a glass of Port, a fortified wine popular in their days.

Mrs. D’Oyly of Curzon Street, London and Twickenham died 200 years ago this year.   She might be surprised to know that she is being written about so long after her death and nearly 300 years after her birth in 1725.

Napoleon Bonaparte also died 200 years ago – it’s the bicentenary of his death this month of May and much will undoubtedly be commented upon regarding his considerable legacy.

Mrs. D’Oyly’s legacy, by virtue of the auction of her wine cellar contents in 1822, provides a window into a 19th century collection of Choice Old Wines – a gift to anyone interested in the history of wine and its context.

Sarah D’Oyly was a child of the Enlightenment Period in the 18th and 19th centuries, whose three principle concepts were: use of reason, scientific enquiry and progress.   It was a time of intellectual and scientific advancement to improve human life and a time of prominent thinkers like Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, Adam Smith and Kant.

I recall reading Candide by Voltaire in my A level French studies at school and enjoyed the debates between Candide and the philosopher Pangloss and Candide’s encouragement that, “we must cultivate our garden”.

We now talk about the great changes in our lifetime and yet so much change happened during Mrs. D’Oyly’s lifetime.  For starters, the American War of Independence 1775 – 1783, the French Revolution 1789 – 1799 and the Industrial Revolution 1760 – 1840.

So who was Sarah D’Oyly?    She was the widow of Christopher D’Oyly, a barrister and administrator.   They lived in Mayfair in London and also had a villa in Twickenham, 10.5 miles from their London home.   Twickenham was first recorded in AD 700 as Tuick Hom and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 following the Norman Conquest in 1066.   In fact, D’Oyly is an old Norman name.

Upon the death of her husband in 1795, Mrs D’Oyly remained both at Twickenham and their Curzon Street house in London until her own death in 1821 at the age of 96, a considerable age at any time and in particular 200 years ago.   She was buried at Walton on Thames beside her husband and her memorial reads:

“In memory of Mrs Sarah D’Oyly,
grand daughter of Sir Hans Sloane, Bart
and widow of the late Christopher D’Oyly, Esq
who departed this life on the eighth day of September 1821,
in the ninety seventh year of her life”

 Sarah D’Oyly was the granddaughter of Sir Hans Sloane, (1660 – 1753), an Ango-Irish physician, naturalist, collector and prominent figure in 18th century London.     Sir Hans Sloane’s collection of 71,000 objects from around the world were bequeathed by him to the British Nation on his death and were the foundation of the British Museum, the British Library and the Natural History Museum.     Currently, this and other collections are being evaluated in the context of how these significant collections from the Enlightenment Period contributed to the development of knowledge and understanding with an attempt to understand the world in which the collectors lived.

 

The collection of Choice Old Wines for auction by Mr. Christie in 1822 highlights the taste for sweet fortified wines in that era.   The practice of fortifying wines with grape spirit also reflects the long voyages required to bring the wines to England in a drinkable state.   Additionally, with fortified wines, there was the advantage that the wines kept longer once the bottles were opened.

A typical cellar of the period could also have included Claret from Bordeaux and Champagne, at that time usually a still red wine.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw considerable innovation in grape and wine production in various parts of Europe, permitting a number of distinctive wines such as Madeira, Port, Sherry, Claret and Champagne to be marketed.   However, there were high import duties so wine was a luxury.

The main market in Britain at that time for alcoholic beverages was beer and spirits and even by 1815, the annual consumption of wine was low due to the high cost.

Between 1816 and 1820, Portuguese wines were the highest percentage of available wines for home consumption in Britain, as in Madeira and Port, and Sherry and Port accounted for approximately ¾ of all British imports of wines before 1860.   Port became firmly established in the lifestyle and habits of a section of the British public.

Another 19th century wine cellar inventory that I am aware of corroborates that fortified wines were the mainstay of a wine cellar at that time.

Perhaps these differences in wine taste between then and now illustrate one measure of changes over the centuries.   A more significant difference between the lifetime of Mrs. D’Oyly and now, relates to transportation.       The railway reached Twickenham in 1848.   Throughout Sarah D’Oyly’s long life, she would have used horses and horse drawn vehicles to move between her homes in Mayfair and Twickenham. This contrast speaks volumes about the difference in lifestyle then and now.

Over the past few blog posts, I have reflected upon the Choice Old Wines in Mrs. D’Oyly’s wine cellar that were auctioned in 1822 and tried to put them in perspective from a historical viewpoint.   As a visual cue, the wines have been beautifully illustrated by a photo-montage of historic enamel wine labels from the collection of Dr. Richard Wells.

I like to think that Sarah D’Oyly, following her long life, would be amused by this interest in her wine cellar.

Reference:   Twickenham Museum  www.twickenham-museum.org

Addendum:

I’ve been asked if Mrs. D’Oyly was a relative of the D’Oyly Carte family of Gilbert and Sullivan musical fame.   My conclusion is probably not.   Apparently, the word D’Oyly was used by Richard D’Oyly Carte and his sons as a forename, not part of a double surname.   If anyone knows of a connection between the families, I would be interested to hear more.

18th and 19th Century wine labels tell a story…

Last month, the fascinating poster for the sale of choice old wines on February 7, 1822, together with the images of the Cyprus enamel labels sparked interest.

Dr Richard Wells, my collaborator in identifying enamel wine labels, has kindly created this montage of labels from his collection, that represent the wines listed on the sale poster.

Most of the wines represented by these labels, with the exception of Rum,  are no longer consumed or popular, as they once were, so it’s interesting to know a bit more about them.   Apart from knowing more about the wines, the shapes and designs of the individual labels are really worth further examination for the colours, the floral motifs and in some cases grapes! and the shapes:  beautiful craftsmanship from another era.

All these wines were sweetish, a style of wine popular in Paris and London in the 18th and 19th Centuries.   Some of the labels and the wines are described below, more will be noted in the next blog.

Frontiniac label:  this is an English late 18th/early 19th century enamel label.    Frontiniac is a sweet muscadine wine made in Frontignac, France.      A reference to this wine in a collection of old plays refers to Frontiniac in this way:  ” One more Frontiniac and then a walk”.  With difficulty perhaps!

Sack label:  this is an English late 18th /early 19th century enamel label.  Sack is an antiquated wine term referring to white fortified wine imported from mainland Spain or the Canary Islands.  Most Sack was predominantly sweet.  Sack is commonly but not quite correctly quoted as an old synonym for sherry.  In modern terms, typical sack may have resembled cheaper versions of medium Oloroso sherry.  As a literary reference,  William Shakespeare’s character Sir John Falstaff, introduced in 1597, was fond of sack, and the Falstaff character said, “If I had a thousand sons, the first humane principle I would teach them should be, to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack”.

Calcavella label: this is probably an English label, again late 18th/early 19th century and unusually made from Mother of Pearl.    Calcavella is a Portuguese sweet wine that was noted in a wine sale in 1769.   Calcavella was noticed by Thomas Jefferson ( 1743 – 1826 and 3rd US President) when he was the US Ambassador to France from 1784 – 1789, right at the time of the French Revolution.  Later on, he would order Calcavella several times while living in the United States. When writing about wine, Thomas Jefferson said, ” I would prefer good Lisbon; next to that Sherry, next to that Calcavallo: but still a good quality of the latter would be preferable to an indifferent quality of the former”.

The remaining labels will be commented on in my next blog, together with an insight into the life and times of Mrs. D’Oyly, the widow highlighted in the sale poster and the late owner of these wines.

More to come…

Reference:   Dr. Richard Wells  www.drrwells.com

Various references to the wines and to Thomas Jefferson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyprus’ Commanderia wine and social history

Last month’s blog featuring the beautiful 18th Century Cyprus enamel wine labels generated more fascinating information.   It is so interesting when wine intersects with social history!

Dr. Richard Wells, whose labels I included in my last post, kindly forwarded a photograph of this La Comenderie enamel label from his collection.  This is a late 18th Century English label, made possibly for the French market or to use the French translation of the word.  This label demonstrates how broadly the Cyprus fortified wine Commanderia was exported over the centuries and in this case in the late 1700’s.

Following the publication of my last blog post, a friend kindly sent me a photo of this fascinating poster that they have had for many years, of a wine auction to be held on Thursday, February 7th, 1822  to be conducted by Mr. Christie in Pall Mall, London.   Yes! 199 years ago next week!   Careful review of the list of,  “excellent and well-flavoured Old Port” to be auctioned, identifies Cyprus among the 125 dozens to be sold, even though Commanderia isn’t technically a Port, but a fortified wine.     It’s also worth noting that the wines are sold in Pint quantities, as that was the measure for wine at the time.   A pint is 0.5 litres.   The decanters used to serve these wines in the 19th Century would have been much smaller than those made today.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Port was a very popular drink.  This was influenced by the Treaty of Methuen in 1703, which was a military and commercial agreement between Portugal and England, resulting in the import of various wines from Portugal including several listed on the auction poster, for example: Madeira, Lisbon, Calcavella.

During this period, Port became known as a drink with medicinal virtues, in particular for gout.    Presumably, similar fortified wine was swept up in this popularity and Cyprus’s Commanderia wine benefitted from this fashion.

It was common at the time to drink these wines heavily every day and people became known as a ‘Three Bottle Man’ or a ‘Four Bottle Man’.  A bottle contained 350 millilitres.  Therefore, a Three Bottle Man drank slightly less than 2 pints of Port a day, or just over 1 litre in today’s terms.

An example of a Three Bottle Man in British history is William Pitt the Younger, who was the youngest Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1783.   He suffered from poor health and to address this problem, his physician recommended that he drink three bottles of Port a day!

Commanderia has been recognized as a popular wine since mediaeval times.   Today, sadly,the market for Cyprus’ Commandaria wine has diminished, whereas Port continues to be widely enjoyed, even if far less than in the days of Three Bottle Men!

The beautiful La Comenderie enamel label together with the intriguing wine auction poster provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.

References:    Thanks to Dr. R. Wells,  drrwells.com  Enamel Wine Labels

With thanks to Suekatunda for permission to include the photo of the Christie’s poster.

Beautiful enamel wine labels link wine history with the present and future: Happy New Year!

These beautiful late 18th Century enamel labels for Cyprus wine illustrate that the wine industry has a long and elegant history.

The four enamel labels most likely are for Commandaria wine, which is a Cyprus sweet dessert wine, sometimes fortified but always with a high alcohol level.    The label marked Malvoisie de Chipre refers to ancient grape varieties, known as malvoisie, used for dessert wines.    Commandaria wine dates back to approximately 800 BC and was popular during the time of the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries and subsequently exported widely within Europe.  

I wrote about Commandaria wine in a 2013 blog and described it as follows:

‘As a fortified wine, Commandaria travelled well and was exported throughout Europe.    It was popular in England, for example, not only in the 13th century but later and was a favourite of the Tudor Kings including King Henry V111.

Commandaria is made only in a defined region of 14 wine producing villages in the Troodos foothills about 20 miles north of Limassol. The wine production for Commandaria has remained true to traditional methods.   The production is small and it maintains its ranking among the world’s classic wines.  In 1993, the European Union registered     Commandaria as a protected name and geographic origin.

Commandaria is regarded as an eastern mediterranean equivalent of its western mediterranean cousins, Port and Sherry.   We found it had both similar and different characteristics and was more refreshing and lighter with higher acidity. ‘

For a fuller description of this fortified wine please look at my earlier blog post:

https://elizabethsvines.com/2013/02/04/cyprus-wine-maki…century-part-two/

The various spellings of Cyprus on the four enamels in the photograph suggest a robust export of Cyprus wines in the late 18th and 19th centuries.   Chypre is the french spelling for Cyprus and this label is early French in origin and the Chipre and Malvoisie de Chipre are early English.  The Cyprus label is more recent.   

2020 will surely be remembered as an extraordinarily difficult year for wine makers.  From my conversations with several over the years, including members of Confrèries, I realize that they are used to overcoming a variety of challenges including weather, soil and pest conditions as well as market changes.   This year they have again demonstrated their ability to tackle a new challenge with innovation and creativity.

These exquisite and historic Cyprus enamel labels, shown courtesy of Dr. Richard Wells, help to remind us of the longevity and resilience of the wine making industry and the pleasure it brings to so many people: past, present and future.

I wish all wine makers and their families everywhere a successful year in 2021.

Happy New Year!

elizabethsvines

 

Reference:   http://www.drrwells.com   Enamel Wine Labels:  refer to Dr Well’s blog for a full description of enamel labels.

Christmas Clementines send Season’s Greetings!

There’s something about oranges, clementines, and mandarins that always me think of winter and the Christmas holidays.

Perhaps it’s remembering mediterranean holidays and city streets lined with fruit trees covered with oranges that resemble vibrant holiday decorations.    Sweet memories in lockdown times.

All these thoughts of clementines inspire me to consider an orange cake to start the holiday celebrations.   When a friend sends a recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake the culinary decision is easy!  It’s a great recipe for anyone watching their gluten intake, as it calls for almond flour.    I limit the amount of sugar in any cooking I do and so substitute stevia for the sugar in the recipe.    (A quick google check suggests the ratio of 8:1 sugar to stevia.)       Another adjustment is to make mini cakes rather than a loaf cake.   This makes it so easy to have a just a small taste of something sweet to finish a meal.

These mini cakes are moist and have the flavour of orange.   I still want more orange flavour and decide an orange syrup is essential!    I combine a couple of recipes to make this syrup which is essentially:  juice of 4 oranges and 1 lemon,  Agave syrup to taste instead of sugar.   I simmer that combination and allow it to reduce in volume and add a tablespoon of Grand Marnier –  the aromatic cognac and orange liqueur combination – and some candied orange peel.  Result: yummy combination of mini clementine cake and orange syrup!

In wine and food pairing terms, a glass of Sauternes or another late harvest wine would be excellent or to start the celebrations, maybe continue with the taste of Grand Marnier Liqueur!

Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings to all.

elizabethsvines

References:   Clementine Cake – Nigella Lawson   http://www.nigella.com

Elizabethsvines blogpost #101! Celebrating with photos

Where does the time go? I have been writing Elizabethsvines since 2012 and have now written 100 posts! A big Thank You to everyone who has ever read my blogs and encouraged me in this endeavour! I appreciate the support!

Floral love art by the Heartman, West Vancouver

In particular, I would like to dedicate this post to my wine friend and mentor, CC, who is bravely recovering from a stroke earlier this year. Bon Courage et Bon Rétablissement!

Here follows a selection of photos from blog post # 01 to #100!

Snowman in PINEUILH parking lot. December 2012. Blog #1!
Château Margaux, Medoc
Line drawing of Château Monestier La Tour with the Rodin quote
Line drawing of Château Monestier La Tour with the Rodin quote
This caroon says: drinking directly from the barrel, I’m reducing the impact of packaging on the environment!
This cartoon says: drinking directly from the barrel, I’m reducing the impact of packaging on the environment!
Victoria International Wine Festival 2018
Route to Saussignac village
Chateau Haut-Brion, looking out to the vines, Pessac, Bordeaux
Quintus Dragon
The Quintus Dragon, Château Quintus, Saint-Emilion.
Burrowing Owl Winery, Oliver, BC
La Cité du Vin
La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux
Apple tart in Sigoulès
The flag of the Confrérie du Raisin d’Or de Sigoulès
Late 2nd/early 3rd century A.D. This panel represents the story of Icarios. Dionysos and Acme are depicted to the left of the panel. In the centre, Icarios is seen holding the reins of an ox-driven double wheeled cart, filled with sacks of wine. Further to the right, there are two shepherds in a state of inebriation. A sign identifies them as, ” The First Wine Drinkers.”
Mini-meze with pâté of sardines, anchovies and almonds Blog #100!

Now starting the next 100 posts! More wine stories and pairings to come!

elizabethsvines

Mini-meze and wine: entertaining friends and supporting wine-growers

Entertaining friends, one or two at a time in a responsible social distancing way, is still something we enjoy hosting on the patio.   Offering what I call a mini-meze feels like an easy, no fuss option.

A meze in eastern Mediterranean countries involves quite a few different and delicious dishes.   I prepare an abbreviated version with roasted vegetables, slices of local feta with olive oil drizzled over and chopped herbs, either oregano or fresh basil from the garden, sliced tomatoes and various cheeses including the greek cheese, Kefalotyri. I add some form of protein, sometimes smoked salmon, or as in the photo above, a paté of sardines, anchovies and almonds – quite delicious with toasted black bread or crackers.

A photo of the rapidly growing Basil and Cilantro (Coriander) is included.   The planter is covered to protect it from a neighbourhood cat!

This mini-meze Is served in the context of enjoying a chilled white wine, usually an indigenous Cyprus white grape called Xinisteri, which is similar to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris – in that continuum of freshness but not too acidic.   As mentioned previously, a favourite of ours is the Zambartas Xynisteri.

I read in a French wine publication that a gloomy autumn, ‘ un automne morose’ is anticipated, in which bad news about the financial health of organizations is starting to become a reality and could affect the whole wine sector including sales for the upcoming festive season.  It’s probably a time to look out for great prices of choice still and sparkling wines.

Offering a mini-meze with wine is one way to continue to support our local/and or favourite winegrowers during these challenging times.

Reference:  Zambartas Wineries. http://www.zambartaswineries.com

More Covid culinary moments: salsa and rosé!

My favourite culinary endeavour right now is making salsa, in particular mango salsa.  

Just the name feels festive and so does the taste with the combination of sweet and contrasting flavours from the spring onion, red pepper, lemon juice and cilantro together with the mango.   Chopping all the ingredients up into small pieces and mixing with the lemon or lime juice makes this a really easy summer garnish.

There are many recipes on the internet but this is the combination I have been making with success and I really like it.   In consideration of friends who may not like cilantro, I serve that separately so people can add it to their taste.   We enjoy this salsa with prosciutto, cheeses, smoked salmon, roasted vegetables and the list goes on.   I have tried making the salsa with nectarines as that fruit has less natural sugar than mangoes but it didn’t really measure up from my perspective.

Rosé seems to be the perfect wine match and we have recently tried two that are new to us:    Zambartas Wineries 2018 Rosé from Lefkada, a Greek grape and Cabernet Franc, and Vouni Panayia Winery 2019 Rosé from local grapes, Mavro and Xinisteri.  

The Zambartas Rosé won a gold medal in the 2019 International Rosé Championship and is a darker rosé colour from the Cabernet Franc grape, similar in colour to the rosés from South West France.  13% ALC by volume.

The Vouni Panayia Rosé from the local grapes of Mavro (black) and Xinisteri is paler, more similar to the rosés from the South of France.  13.5 % ALC by volume.

Both wines offer red fruit flavours including pomegranate and are refreshing, good as a summer aperitif as well as with seafood or Asian style food.  We enjoy them both but in balance my favourite is the paler rosé from local grapes.

It’s time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, with socially distanced outdoor eating and fresh and refreshing flavours.

Covid Culinary Moments: meat loaf with a difference and wine!

Lamb and feta cheese seems an unusual combination when I first hear of this a few years ago from Swiss/Austrian friends who serve us delicious lamb and feta burgers.

In a Covid culinary moment, I decide to see if I can replicate this combination and search for a recipe for a meatloaf with lamb and feta.   To my amazement, I discover a January 1997 recipe for Lamb Meat Loaf with Feta Cheese on the Southern Living website, a magazine I haven’t seen for many years in Vancouver but I see is still very active and interesting.

I made this meatloaf twice, the second time with great success. The first time, it does a belly flop when I turn it out of the pan.

Here’s how I modify the recipe to my taste: replace the green bell pepper with red pepper, added more fresh herbs, particularly rosemary, add chopped black olives and make a fresh tomato sauce, ‘Classic Tomato Sauce’ from the Epicurious site, rather than a bought sauce as suggested.   Additionally, to avoid the belly-flop routine, I make the full recipe, which is for 8 servings and put all the ingredients including the toasted pine nuts but not the feta cheese and olives, in the food processor for two spins to fully integrate all the ingredients before I layer the pan with the mixture and the feta cheese and olives.     A big bonus with this recipe is that it freezes really well, so I slice the meatloaf and individually pack slices for the freezer.

The big decision, of course, is what wine to serve with it.

My thoughts turn to a Nebbiolo wine from Greece that we enjoy in Nicosia, Cyprus earlier in the year. This delicious Nebbiolo from the organic vineyards of Ktima Karipidis in Thessalia, Greece with its full body tannins, high acidity and distinctive scent of fruit and liquorice would be a good match with the lamb and feta meatloaf with its tomato sauce. In my mind’s eye, I see myself enjoying this Greek Nebbiolo with my newly discovered meatloaf!.  Fantastic!

I have not been to the Thessaly area of Greece but I read that the area is bordered by Greek Macedonia and the Aegean Sea and has a thriving viticulture industry.   The wine waiter at Beba Restaurant, Nicosia, recommends this wine to us. It was a good recommendation, which we thoroughly enjoy.     The Nebbiolo grape is usually associated with high quality wines from the Piedmont area of Italy.

Closer to home here on the West Coast, we enjoy the meatloaf with our house Pinot Noir, which is from the Meyer Family Vineyard in Okanagan Falls, B.C:   also a good choice with the lamb and feta.

Taking time to discover new recipes and imagining wine pairings is enjoyable and creative in these unusual times and brings a smile to my face.

Perhaps the Heartman says it best with his inspiring ♥️ heart creations.

References:

Southern Living magazine: www.southernliving.com

(Search their recipes: Lamb Meat Loaf with Feta Cheese).

Classic Tomato Sauce   www.epicurious.com

Beba Restaurant, Nicosia, Cyprus.   bebarestaurant@gmail.com

Ktima Karipidis   www.karipidi.gr

Meyer Family Vineyards       www.mfvwines.com

Winery visits in the Time of Covid

Today, I saw the Heartman as I was walking along the seawall in Vancouver.

The Heartman, as we call him, creates beautiful arrangements of flower petals on the earth or grass, always in the shape of a heart.     He radiates calm and peace and his delightful work inevitably brings a smile or a photo opportunity moment to passers-by.

This heart symbol seems particularly appropriate as we all do our best to: “Be Kind, Be Calm and Be Safe”; the affirmation that British Columbians have taken to heart, literally, coined by Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia.

The focus on compassion and safety is reflected in the approaches to winery visits this summer where social distancing and safety are paramount for visitors to be encouraged to venture into winery tastings.

The key message for people planning to visit wineries during their summer holidays, whether here in BC or in other wine growing areas, is to anticipate the need to make an appointment for a wine tasting.     For now, drop in wine tastings are a thing of the past.       Additionally, the numbers of people tasting at any one time is sharply reduced, so check out how many people can be in the tasting party.   And, ask about the guidelines on spitting wine at the tasting area: some wineries provide a disposable spit cup, so a good idea to clarify this before the tasting begins!

Each winery creates their own wine tasting procedures as long as they keep to the guidelines around social distancing and sanitation.   This affects where the wine tastings take place, indoors or increasingly in outdoor spaces.  A point of enquiry is the definition of social distancing.   Here in British Columbia, we are operating with a 2 metre social distance.   In France, the social distance is 1 metre.   Figure out what that distance looks like, so you can conform to the expectation or leave more space.   Its important everywhere to know the guidelines, so you can: “respecter la distance de 1 mètre” or 2 metres, whichever is relevant.

Winery visitors can expect highly professional levels of sanitation for everything from counter tops to wine stemware to pour spouts on wine bottles with visitors being discouraged from touching bottles of wine for sale, unless buying them!

I visited the websites of two award wining wineries I know well in SW France to see what is on offer in these Covid times.   Both these wineries have 5 stars with Trip Advisor for their winery visits.

Chateau Lestevenie has clear instructions on their home page about phoning to arrange wine tastings.   They indicate that wine tastings are strictly by appointment to one household group per time in order to maintain social distancing.   Chateau Lestevenie is a beautiful countryside winery offering a wonderful visit and opportunity to learn with Humphrey and Sue Temperley and admire the work they have also done to promote the flora and fauna on their property.

Website: chateau-lestevenie.com         email: temperley@gmail.com

These comments above assume that the winery visit will be in person.   A growing element in wine tourism now is the advent of the virtual wine tour and tasting.

Another local winery in the Dordogne is Chateau Feely where Caro Feely has been busy launching a range of virtual experiences to enable people to experience Chateau Feely from anywhere.

Caro says: “We have been working flat out days, nights, weekends to get these new products developed and the response has been great.   We had started developing ideas for online courses as part of our wine school the last couple of years and the coronavirus offered the push and the ‘time space’ we needed to get the first products done.”

Caro has produced several videos on their website describing the biodynamic vineyard of Caro and her husband, Sean, including a one minute video produced about their new Virtual Discovery Wine Course.

Website: chateaufeely.com      email: caro.feely@chateaufeely.com

‘Down the road’ from these country wineries, in Ste Emilion and the areas around Bordeaux another approach to wine tasting takes place.   This year, many of the most famous chateaux in the wine world are conducting their wine tastings with merchants using video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft teams etc.   Samples of wines are shipped to the merchants in advance and then the tastings take place virtually with the chateaux technical directors discussing the wines and answering enquires from the merchants.   This is how the 2019 en primeur wine sale to merchants is taking place for many chateaux.  The good news is that it appears 2019 was a year producing a high quality vintage.

Economically speaking 2020 looks like a tough year for winemakers. At the en primeur level of wine sales, many chateaux are discounting their 2019 vintage prices to encourage sales. Inevitably, this price challenge will ripple down through the industry and affect all the wine-makers.

In the time of Covid, let’s be kind to our wine-makers and support them through an unforgettable year, which is bringing many challenges as well as opportunities for change.

Food and Wine Pairing: testing and tasting the theory

Tasting the aromatic wines of Riesling and Gewürztraminer with spicy foods in the comfort of home has been a plan for some time.  It’s a follow-up to my wine and food pairing comments in the April elizabethsvines.

Selecting wine for a wine tasting and especially a wine and food pairing is an adventure! Somewhat constrained by availability of choice yet an enjoyable shopping expedition!

It’s fun in the BC Liquor Store checking out the choices and having sidebar conversations with other customers about our individual wine selections!  People are curious about the idea of the food and wine tasting!

Two objectives are at the root of this food and wine pairing: to confirm the pairing of Chardonnay with a rich, creamy food choice and then to evaluate Rieslings and Gewurztraminers with spicy food.   With the aromatic wines, I also want to consider   different wine regions.    The Rieslings and Gewürztraminers  include wines from Alsace and Germany; I also include a British Columbia wine.   For the Chardonnay, I include one from my current go-to local Chardonnay wine maker, Meyer Family Vineyards in B.C.

Here’s the list of wines to be tested and tasted in the order of tasting.

 1. Chardonnay: Meyer Family Vineyards, Chardonnay Okanagan Valley 2017, McLean Creek Road Vineyard, Okanagan Falls, B.C. Canada. 13.5% alc./Vol $28.80

2.Riesling: Schloss Reinhartshausen, Riesling 2017, Rheingau, Germany.   11.5% alc./VOL $23.99

3.  Riesling: Trimbach Riesling 2017, Ribeauville, Alsace. France  12.5% alc./VOL $33.99

4.   Gewürztraminer: Pfaff Gewürztraminer 2016, Pfaffenheim, Alsace, France 13.5% alc./VOL   $21.99                                                                                                                                             

5.  Gewürztraminer: Tinhorn Creek, Gewürztraminer 2018, Oliver,(Golden Mile sub region) B.C. Canada 13.5% alc./VOL $17.88

 

In my April blog, I quote the famous American cook, Julia Child and her advice to be fearless, try new recipes and above all to have fun. I take this to heart in planning this whole food and wine pairing exercise.   Her comments influence my menu selection too.

To accompany the Chardonnay tasting, I make one of my personal recipes of chicken breasts poached in white wine and chicken stock with sautéed shallots.   The sauce is made by adding cream with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the reduced wine and chicken stock broth.   I always slice the chicken breasts when cooked and serve on a heated platter with the sauce poured over the top of the chicken slices. This is a favourite dish, simple to make and always delicious.

The challenge is in choosing a chicken dish that would be spicy and also manageable to prepare and keep warm while the first chicken dish is being enjoyed with the Chardonnay.

After a nostalgic and interesting time reviewing various recipe books in my collection, I rediscover the SoBo Cookbook my husband bought me after a visit some time ago to the SoBo Restaurant in Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

To my delight,  I find a recipe that I feel is appropriate: Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce.   The chicken thighs are marinated for 24 hours in a special sauce from the recipe and then the cooked dish is served with a Peanut Sauce also included in the recipe.   This Peanut Sauce is amazing, lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge and I continue to enjoy it with items like avocado long after the Thai Chicken is finished!     This Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce dish seems to have to right amount of spiciness to taste with the aromatic wines without being “over the top”.   I enjoy making the recipe and encourage checking out The SoBo Cookbook.

Something to cleanse the palate between the two chicken dishes seems like a good idea and a salad is selected as an entremets.   As it turns out, the salad is eaten after the two chicken dishes rather than in between and is perfect  – oh well! one has to go with the flow!

Here’s how the menu lines up:

  1. Sliced, poached chicken breast with cream and white wine sauce. (Personal recipe).

Entremets: Arugula with Parmesan Reggiano Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, which includes lemon juice, lemon zest, Dijon mustard, olive oil, mayonnaise, Parmesan Reggiano, salt and pepper.

  1. Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce (The SOBO Cookbook – Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the end of the Canadian Road: Lisa Ahier with Andrew Morrison and photography by Jeremy Koreski, Random House 2014).

Vegetables for both dishes: small roasted potatoes with sea salt and fresh rosemary from the garden, steamed asparagus.

Raspberries and Blueberries with a dash of Grand Marnier and cream.   Lindt Chocolate (90% and Sea Salt)

Manchego Cheese

In terms of process, we taste all the wines first and then taste them again with the food.

The Chardonnay is in a class of its own as it is chosen for the creamy chicken dish.   It is enjoyed for dryness, citrus, biscuity notes and really comes into its own and is very good with the chicken and cream sauce and demonstrates that this grape is well suited to rich and cream based dishes.       The Alsace Gewürztraminer is also enjoyed with this chicken dish.

In the tasting of the four aromatics, the Rheingau Riesling is a stand out with its acidity, floral style and characteristic slightly petrol aroma.   It is the most popular of the aromatics and is very well suited to the Thai Chicken and also with the Manchego cheese.

The Alsace Riesling is less defined than the Rheingau but good with the fine fruit characteristics of pears and apricot.   It is also well suited to the Thai Chicken and the Manchego.

The Alsace Gewürztraminer is considered a versatile wine. The characteristic nose of lychees, violets, mango, slight curry, ginger is delightful. This is also enjoyed with the Thai Chicken and the Manchego cheese.

The B.C. Gewürztraminer from Tinhorn Creek is a bit of a puzzle to begin with as it took some time to open up to its full Gewürztraminer characteristics.     Its honeyed, fruit forward spiciness made it a particularly good selection with the salad.  We also wonder if we could taste a hint of sage brush, as this is a characteristic herb in the area.   This suitability with the salad was quite a revelation as salads are typically difficult to pair with wine but there is enough sweetness in the vinaigrette that it worked.

All the aromatic whites were enjoyed with the fruit salad and chocolate.

In terms of a popular vote for the four aromatics, the German Riesling and the Alsace Gewürztraminer were the most popular and the others two were enjoyed also.

The geographic areas of the wine growing areas is interesting to note and the impact on the individual terroirs, that magical mix of climate, soil, drainage, sunshine, and aspect that makes such a profound difference to the expression of the grapes in difficult locations.

Alsace is in the N E corner of France, in a valley between the Vosges Mountains and the  Rhine River, which is the boundary with Germany.   Alsace was part of the German Empire for a period of time after the Franco Prussian War but returned to France at the end of the First World War in November 1918.   The area is known primarily for Riesling and Gewürztraminer.   The Vosges Mountains cast a rain shadow over the wine growing area which results in low rainfall and a continental climate.  The soils range from sandstone in the foothills to clay rich limestone on the plains.

The Rheingau area of Germany is near Frankfurt.  At 50’N it is at the northern edge of Europe’s wine belt.  The climate is cool and continental and the soil type differs throughout the area so there is great diversity within the region.  Over 80% of the grapes grown are Riesling.

The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is between the Columbia Mountains and the Cascade Mountains, which together protect the valley from both the maritime influence of the Pacific and the frozen Arctic winds.  It has a continental climate and mainly sand and clay glacial soils which are well drained. It is a semi-arid area with some areas experiencing very high temperatures in the summer. The vineyards are typically on the hillside of the valley.  There is great diversity of terroir, especially with respect to mesoclimates represented in 5 subregions:  Black Sage/Osoyoos,  Golden Mile, Kelowna, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Falls.  This diversity of terroir results in a wide range of wine styles being produced.

The great diversity in wine growing environments highlights the  skill and knowledge needed by wine makers to maximize the wine growing potential of their individual wine regions.

As a result of the tasting and wine and food pairing, I now feel that I will be more inclined to select either a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer in a restaurant if choosing a spicy meal and it confirms my inclination to choose a Chardonnay to balance a rich creamy sauce as in the example of the Chicken with White Wine Sauce selection.

The benefit of a wine and food tasting event, however small, is that it expands wine tasting horizons and encourages us to be curious and try different wines and foods.   It’s also fun!.

Julia Child would be proud of us!

References:   Alsace and German wine area maps from the WSET course material.

Supporting the wine industry with wine and food pairing

We’re all spending so much more time at home these days.   It’s inevitable that someone will ask, “How are you spending your time?”     That is, in addition to whatever work one might be doing at home and/or looking after children.

 

 

 

For myself, in addition to observing all the social distancing rules here in British Columbia and usual responsibilities at home, I am painting, gardening and growing lettuce and chives, walking in nature and cooking!

Cooking seems to be the main preoccupation for people I talk to. Not just the every day stuff but getting creative.   As a friend said to me, “…after years of not bothering much with cooking, I’ve got all my old recipe books out and I am enjoying making good meals.   It fills some time and I eat well!”

Other friends have said they are enjoying watching reruns of the charismatic American cook, Julia Child (1912 – 2004) and her cooking shows; great entertainment!   Julia Child is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public with her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.   Her television programs were and clearly are, very popular.

One way that we can support the wine industry is through buying more wine! How about exploring new combinations of wine and food or selecting great wine by itself that we haven’t tried before?.

If we live in wine growing areas, we have the opportunity to support our local wineries through their wine-clubs and/or buying local wines at our local wine stores.   It all helps the industry that has been through tough times for a few years.

Here in British Columbia, the wine growers in the Okanagan Valley struggled with fierce wild fires two years ago and now are facing loss of wine tourism and loss of sales to restaurants and bars.

Wherever we live, whether in North America or Europe, or elsewhere, it’s important that we support the local agricultural wine-growing sector if they are to survive.

In the spirit of practicing more wine and food pairing, here are some tips:

  • Think about the component parts of both the dish and the wine. When considering the food dish, consider whether or not there is a sauce with the food.   This can make a big difference as to which wine is chosen.   For example, chicken prepared with a creamy sauce would pair well with a chardonnay, which fuses with the creaminess of the cream sauce.   Chicken prepared with a spicy sauce would pair better with a Gewurztraminer.
  • Balance the power of the food dish and power of the wine.   Be careful not to kill the wine or dish with too powerful a wine or dish.    If big red wines appeal, then drink with roast meats or stews.
  • Consider the complexity of the food, i.e. the number of ingredients – this can make selecting an appropriate wine more challenging. Considerations would be the level of acidity, the spices/herbs in the dish, whether there is saltiness or sweetness.   Having considered these elements, decide which aspect of a multi ingredient dish is to be “activated’ with the wine choice.
  • Consider that specific regional menus often pair well with corresponding regional wines.   After all, they’ve grown up together! For example, Italian dishes often contain tomatoes and olive oil.   Tomatoes are very acidic. A characteristic of Italian wine is noticeable acidity. If you are preparing an Italian dish, select a wine with acidity.  If you choose a regional dish from another area, see if you can find a suitable wine to complement that particular regional food.
  • If some old sweet wines appear in your wine storage area, enjoy with aged, strong cheeses.

The idea is to experiment and keep good notes, so the successful and not so successful pairings can be noted!

The most important objective for wine and food pairing in these challenging times is to bring enjoyment to the table.   Sometimes, a really good bottle of wine is best enjoyed on its own before or after the meal, if an obvious pairing doesn’t come to mind.

Let’s do what we can to support our local wine industry, our local wine growers and local wine shops!

Finally, to quote Julia Child:

This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes,

BE FEARLESS,

And above all have fun”.

 This sounds like perfect advice for experimenting with wine and food pairing.

Bon Appétit et Bonne Continuation!

____________________

Reference:   Julia Child 1912-2004. Lots of information and YouTube material on the web.

Wines for Self-Isolation in challenging times…

This is day 14 of the 14-day self-quarantine period in Vancouver, British Columbia following our return here earlier in the month.     We now continue with the self-isolation and social distancing practices in place here in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada.

Other people we know are in various stages of their mandatory self–quarantine following their return to Canada from travels overseas and it’s interesting how we are all dealing with this time on our hands.

The pursuits are across the spectrum from creative activities like painting, playing piano or other instruments, sewing/needlework, gardening, baking, which seems very popular!, and exercising; to stimulating the little grey cells with language learning, reading, studying, writing; plus catching up on all those projects and chores we have put off for as long as possible; and to communicating with family, friends, colleagues past and present, members of groups and clubs.   This adds up to lots of communicating and especially face-to-face talking going on via various media, which is wonderful and comforting.

Perhaps this ‘reaching out to others’ may well be the biggest communication trend as we support friends, family, neighbours and strangers stay safe and healthy.

So where does wine fit into this equation?

For wine-lovers, having a glass of wine in hand when connecting with people over the airwaves to say hello and exchange news is a great way to salute and toast each other.

Imagine my delight last week when my quarterly supply of wine from Meyer Family Vineyards, Okanagan Falls in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia was delivered as part of my wine club membership.   After carefully sanitizing the box, removing the wine bottles and wiping them down, they were safely stored away (and the box sorted for recycling).   In addition, Meyer Family Vineyards gave us a gift of two Riedel Pinot Noir glasses in gratitude for our 3-year wine club membership.  (Meyer Family Vineyards are now offering various delivery/curbside pick up options identified on their website)

Perfect gift, perfect timing!

For a Zoom call with friends, I opened a bottle of Meyer 2018 Pinot Noir Okanagan Valley and enjoyed a glass in my new Pinot Noir Riedel while chatting with friends.

Small pleasures in difficult times help lift our heart and spirits!

Spare a thought for wine makers and vineyard owners around the world. Many of them are small family owned businesses and will acutely feel the economic uncertainty of the current situation.   Most of them are also adapting to getting the wine to the consumer even if the consumer can’t get to them.

An example of this came into my email today from Chateau Lestevenie, a small family owned vineyard in the community of Gageac et Rouillac in the Dordogne in SW France. Sue and Humphrey Temperley, who I have written about before, identify the delivery arrangements they are able to make under the current lock down business rules for both their clients in France and also in the UK.   All the details are on their website.

We can help our favourite wineries, wherever we live, get through these challenging times by checking out their wine delivery options and purchasing on-line where we can.

People are amazing at demonstrating their resilience and adaptability in times of crisis.   I have great respect for First Responders, medical staff, and people working in many sectors and industries to help find solutions and to those people supporting the vulnerable among our communities.   A big thank you!

In closing, here’s an encouraging last comment from Sue and Humphrey at Chateau Lestevenie:

We wish all our customers the very best at this stressful time.  It is hard being separated from family and friends. Despite all the human trauma, of course; the vines are in bud, the birds are nesting and the hares are dashing about. It does give hope. “

Stay safe and healthy…and reach out!

elizabethsvines

References:    Meyer Family Vineyards    www.mfvwines.com

Chateau Lestevenie   http://www.chateau-lestevenie.com

 

Bergerac Wine Region, SW France: Lessons in Wine Tourism

Caro Feely walks through the Marche de Noel in Saussignac with her usual friendly and confident air.

We smile and greet each other.  I congratulate Caro on her recent important win in the world of wine tourism.   Chateau Feely, of which she is Co-Proprietor with her husband Sean, is one of the 9 Gold Trophy winners in the first French National Wine Tourism Awards: Trophées de l’Oenotourisme.  Chateau Feely won Gold for the Category: Education and Valorization/Recognition and Valuing the Environment.

This trophy award is significant as it puts the achievements of Caro and Sean at Chateau Feely on the national scene.   With their January 2020 inclusion in the Forbes Travel Magazine list of 5 best places to learn about wine, they are now on the international map.    This is tremendous recognition for their hard work and commitment.

In addition to the sale of their organic and now biodynamic wines, Chateau Feely situated in the village of Saussignac, part of the Bergerac Wine Region, offers the visitor a broad repertoire of activities and events.   Wine and Spirit Education Trust wine courses, the organic/biodynamic learning and education trail through the vineyard, ecologically built holiday accommodation are available.   Wine tours and events such as wine harvesting days, the wine club and recently added yoga lessons taught by Caro, a qualified yoga teacher, round out the vacation experiences.   There are also Caro’s three books providing a personal and entertaining insight into their experiences at Chateau Feely over the years.

I ask Caro if I can take her photo and write about what Chateau Feely has achieved in my blog.   She is happy with both suggestions.

I’ve known Caro since about 2007.   When we first met Caro and Sean, with their two young daughters, they were starting to make their way in the wine world in this beautiful part of SW France with their wine farm on the edge of the small village of Saussignac, about 20 mins from Bergerac.

Sean focuses on the farming side of the enterprise and Caro, with her background in marketing in the world of technology, moved the business forward in terms of visibility.   Her leadership skills of focus, strategic thinking, perseverance, entrepreneurship and commitment to action have all contributed to where they are today.

Saussignac, this small village of about 420 residents, resting in the shadow of the 17th Century Chateau with 12th Century and earlier roots, is very much a part of the local wine community, having its own Saussignac Appellation for a late harvest delicious wine made by various wine makers in the area.

The village of Saussignac plays a leading role in wine tourism in the area and highlights the importance of community engagement and collaboration.   Led by a dynamic group of local people, the village hosts weekly wine tastings on Monday evenings in July and August presented by a different wine chateau each week. The Confrérie du Raison d’Or de Sigoulès organizes weekly walks in the surrounding countryside during July and August.   The village supports periodic Art Shows, theatre and music productions.   A new restaurant in the village, Le 1500, with its welcoming courtyard, offers delicious and interesting meals.   Le 1500 and Chateau Le Tap, an organic winery adjoining Chateau Feely offer excellent accommodation.

The Bergerac Wine Region has seen a steady growth in organic and biodynamic wineries, certified or following organic farming principles.   I have written about several of them in the past: Chateau Le Tap, Chateau Lestevenie, Chateau Court les Muts, Chateau Monestier La Tour, Chateau Grinou, Chateau Hauts de Caillevel, Chateau Moulin Caresse, Chateau Les Plaguettes, Chateau Tour des Gendres, Vignobles des Verdots and Chateau Feely.

So what does wine tourism mean?   In France, it is interpreted to encompass the countryside, heritage, history, culture, wine of course and all the people involved. It’s a broad perspective.

The objective of the Trophées de l’Oenotourisme is to shed light on initiatives taken by these winning wine chateaux and their proprietors, who like everyone in the wine industry, work hard every day to put in place strong and attractive wine tourism offerings to suit the changing demands of clients and to encourage others through these examples.

The opportunity to share wine tourism ideas is particularly important as the market for wine changes due to various issues including a gradual change in consumption, the effects of climate change on the grape varieties grown in wine growing areas and the positive focus on quality not quantity.  It’s a sector under pressure and the sands of the wine industry are shifting.

This first national award scheme of Trophées de l’Oenotourisme for wine tourism is a collaborative initiative of the French wine and lifestyle magazine, Terre de Vins and Atout France, France’s national tourism development agency.

The list of the 9 Gold Trophy winners is noted at the end of this article.   I have looked at the websites of each of the winning chateaux and found that exercise interesting and informative.  In addition to these 9 chateaux, there are many others throughout France pushing the envelope on wine tourism.

When considering how people choose to spend their discretionary money, it is interesting to look at the world of retail.   It appears people are buying fewer ‘things’ and spending their money on experiences.   This seems to be a trend in vacation planning.   As Caro says: “Our clients are looking for more, that extra something, when they go on vacation, and we provide that through our educational and environmental approach”.

We live in an age of increasing stress with the many diverse demands place on individuals and families.   Mental health is a significant workplace safety and wellness consideration for individuals and organizations.   A vacation in the countryside where one can have enjoyable experiences learning about nature, the environment, benefit from exercise, fresh air, good fresh food and excellent wine sounds like a healing proposition.

What are the lessons one can take away from observing what is happening in the world of wine tourism?   These include:

  • Keeping up to date on trends, particularly about the evolution of the mature wine market.
  •  Learning new skills and expanding knowledge of relevant topics
  • Using technology effectively to communicate with potential visitors
  •  Investing time, energy and money (sourcing development funds where possible) to remain current
  •  Adaptability. **
  • Collaboration and networking
  • Community engagement

To benefit from this awards initiative, one way of looking at these Wine Tourism Trophies and their 9 categories is to see them as case studies of success and adaptability.   In this way, they offer value to students and observers of wine tourism. One new idea can have far reaching results.  In an era of change in the wine industry, these learning opportunities take on greater significance.

Congratulations, Caro!

References:

Here’s the list of the 9 Gold Trophy winners:

Les lauréats des premiers Trophées de l’Œnotourisme:

Catégorie Architecture & paysages –Château de Pennautier (11610 Pennautier), 
Catégorie Art & culture – Maison Ackerman (49400 Saumur), 
 Catégorie Initiatives créatives & originalités – Château Vénus (33720 Illats)
, Catégorie Œnotourisme d’affaires & événements privés – Champagne Pannier (02400 Château-Thierry)
, Catégorie Pédagogie & valorisation de l’environnement – Château Feely (24240 Saussignac)
, Catégorie Restauration dans le Vignoble –Château Guiraud (32210 Sauternes)
, Catégorie Séjour à la propriété – Château de Mercuès (46000 Cahors)
, Catégorie Valorisation des appellations & institutions – Cité du Champagne Collet (51160 Aÿ-Champagne)
, Catégorie Le vignoble en famille – La Chablisienne (89800 Chablis). I googled the chateau names to look at the websites.

 

Chateau Feely                                              www.chateaufeely.com

Chateau Le Tap                                           www.chateauletap.fr

Chateau Lestevenie                                               www.chateau-lestevenie.com

Chateau Courts les Muts                           www.court-les-muts.com

Chateau Monestier La Tour                      www.chateaumonestierlatour.com

Chateau Moulin Caresse                          www.moulincaresse.com

Chateau Hauts de Caillevel                      www.chateauleshautsdecaillevel.com

Chateau Tour des Gendres                      www.chateautourdesgendres.com

Vignobles des Verdots                               www.verdots.com

Le 1500                     https://www.le1500.rocks     (restaurant and accommodation)

Terre de Vins   www.terredevins.com

Atout France     www.atout-france.fr

Forbes Travel Magazine                             stories.forbestravelguide.com

Magnums and Jeroboams: what’s in a name?

Walking in central London, I see the sign for Hedonism Wines. I’ve read the name of this shop in a magazine article and decide to drop in to have a look.   I am greeted with a cornucopia of wines and spirits in a modern, dynamic environment. It’s a great find for anyone interested in wine.

The large format wine bottles really attract my attention!

The bottle with the gold coloured label  (bottom left) contains 15000 milliliters of Chateau Palmer 2010, Margaux, Bordeaux.   It’s the equivalent of 20 bottles, called a Nebuchadnezzar.

The use of large format wine bottles interests me for several reasons: the names given to these outsize bottles, the impact of large format bottles on the wine ageing process, and the trends in their use.

To help remember the names and dimensions, here’s a chart I prepared.

With the exception of Magnum, the names used for these large format bottles all refer to kings in the Bible’s Old Testament.   After some research into this, it seems the reason that biblical names are used has been lost in the mists of time, other than that the names relate to powerful kings. For example, Nebuchadnezzar is the Babylonian king famous for the hanging gardens of Babylon, who lived approximately between 605 BC and 562 BC.

It is thought that the use of these biblical names originates in the 1700s.   I don’t know if the use of these names originated in France or elsewhere.   Assuming the use may have originated in France, a link to the notion of powerful kings is that the early years of the 1700s were the latter years of the reign of an absolute monarch, Louise X1V.     French historians generally regard the Age of Enlightenment (think Voltaire and Rousseau with their revolutionary ideas) as commencing with the death of Louise X1V in 1715 and ending with the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. This ended the Ancien Regime, however, the biblical names have stuck!

The wine ageing process is complex based on a variety of chemical reactions in the wine as it ages.   It is also somewhat controversial.

Wine ageing pays tribute to the skills of the vine grower and the wine maker.   The vine grower’s responsibilities in the vineyard with respect to managing the terroir, soils, weather and grape varieties form the platform for the wine maker’s approaches to producing quality wine.   The appellation rules apply by region in terms of blends of allowable varieties and length of time for winemaking processes.

The value of ageing wine beyond the typical period of 12 – 24 months for red wines is often a factor of the grape varieties in the wine.   For example, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah red grape varieties, which have high levels of flavour compounds or phenolics such as tannins, can benefit from further bottle ageing.  Various grape varieties have recognized ageing potential.   For example, Cabernet Sauvignon has from 4 – 20 years, Merlot 2 – 10 years.

So, if some wines can benefit from further bottle ageing, what is the advantage of using large format bottles, such as Magnums or Jeroboams or even Nebuchadnezzars?

It’s about the rate of ageing.   In all large format wine bottles, wine ages more slowly than in a smaller-size container.   The wine generally retains fresher aromas for a longer period of time as less oxygen enters the bottle through the cork relative to the volume of wine in the bottle.   Oxidization, light and temperature can all degrade a wine if not managed carefully.     It also means that if you buy a half bottle of wine, enjoy it and don’t keep it for a rainy day!

The controversy around wine ageing is that some authorities suggest that wine is consumed older than is preferable.   Ageing changes wine but whether it improves it or worsens it varies.    Certainly, ageing will not improve a poor quality wine.

An economic factor that impacts the winemaking choices around ageing wine is the cost of storage. It certainly is only economical to age quality wine and many varieties of wine do not appreciably benefit from ageing regardless of quality.

Personally, as a general practice, we don’t keep white wine longer than two years beyond the vintage and drink it within one year by preference.   We buy red wine that we can cellar for another 2 – 5 years and that is as far out time-wise as we select.   All this affects our purchasing approach, as we have learnt from experience that buying beyond one’s capacity to enjoy the wine is not a good idea!

Factoring in the economics means that the current trend is to make wine that can be enjoyed in the shorter term.     Added to this is the fact that less wine is consumed these days due to health considerations including driving restrictions.

When discussing large format bottles recently with a wine maker in the Pécharmant area of the Bergerac Wine Region, I was told that the demand for large format bottles is declining.   Apart from the decline in consumption, people live in smaller homes and entertain differently. The benefit of having that large Jeroboam or Nebuchadnezzar on hand is less evident!   Today, these large format bottles are used more commonly for celebrations and gifts.   Magnums of champagne are commonly bought for weddings and other celebrations.   Magnums, Jeroboams, Salamanzars and even Nebuchadnezzars of fine wine are used as gifts and are generally specially ordered from the relevant chateau or winery.

A friend recently sent me this photo of a Jeroboam of Merlot 2014 from Burrowing Owl winery in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. This was a gift from a client.   Another great example of a fine wine in a large format bottle.

Its good to see old traditions continue in the spirit of generosity. I like to think that those old kings would be amused.

Best wishes for 2020.

 

References:  various sources,
Hedonism Wines:  hedonism.co.uk

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 2019

My Twelve images for Christmas and the Holidays!

Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays with good cheer, wonderful wines and delicious food to bring warmth and happiness to you at this special time of year, and to share peace and goodwill with others.

Elizabethsvines

Lest We Forget: The Fallen of Canada

By chance, I am at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday, November 9th around noon, meeting some school friends.     We come across all the small cross memorials for the individual fallen service men and women from British, Commonwealth and Allied forces.   We follow the long line of people  and hear many languages spoken softly as everyone quietly absorbs the reality of loss of life and reads the names and messages on the crosses.   In particular, I look for the Fallen of Canada.

An open air service takes place and when it ends, I notice the number of young men and women wearing their service medals.  Overhearing snippets of conversation, I hear people remember their colleagues who died in service and how they will soon go and raise a glass in their honour and memory.

Words feel inadequate.   It’s a solemn and important occasion that touches the heart.

References:  Lest we forget   Phrase used in an 1897 poem by Rudyard Kipling called “Recessional”.

 

It’s a small world where wine and art connect: Bergerac wine region

Thinking about small worlds reminds me of the time my late mother met Long John Silver.

Mum had a great sense of fun and enjoyed every moment of this encounter.

It’s 1980 and we’re in Disneyland.   Aside from meeting Long John Silver and other characters, we go on the rides including the one where we all end up singing,  ‘It’s a small, small, small, small world’.

This is the refrain I remember every time I experience a small world story!

A small world story happened this summer, which seems like a long time ago now.    We had the opportunity to attend Masterpiece, the art event held in London in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the same area where the Chelsea Flower Show is held.

We heard about Masterpiece during a serendipitous visit to the Kallos Gallery in Mayfair on the recommendation of a friend, who knows of our interest in the classical history and mosaics of Cyprus.   The Kallos Gallery specializes in classical antiquities and is a supporter of archeological research.

We decide to visit Masterpiece and discover a treasure trove of paintings, antiques, jewellery, sculpture and much more.

We are interested to discover that the watchmaker and jeweller, Chopard, is   sponsoring the educational program at this event.   Interested not only to know that Chopard is supporting the learning and development of knowledge and appreciation of art for collectors at all levels but also to see that this approach is consistent with the ownership philosophy at Château Monestier La Tour in the Dordogne, where the family is engaged in organic wine making.    I wrote about my visit to Château Monestier La Tour earlier this year.  See:

http://elizabethsvines.com/2019/01/31/philosopher-watchmaker-winemaker-chateau-monestier-la-tour-monestier-bergerac-wine-region/

That Disneyland famous refrain about small worlds written by Robert B and Richard M Sherman for Walt Disney in the 1960’s never seems to go out of date!  It gave my mother a great deal of pleasure all those years ago in Disneyland.    I’ll hum the tune the next time I enjoy a glass of wine from Château Monestier La Tour in the Bergerac wine region.

References:

Walt Disney Music Company

Chopard    Chopard.com

Kallos Gallery   kallosgallery.com

Chateau Monestier La Tour, Dordogne, France.
chateaumonestierlatour.com

 

Beautiful British Columbia and my summer sipping picks

The summer on the coast of British Columbia (BC) has been great this year.  Lots of sunshine and temperatures in the mid to high 20s.

It’s hot but not too hot with refreshing periods of rain for the gardens and forests to cool off.  Perfect weather for enjoying the sea, beaches and mountains around Vancouver.

There is a collective sigh of relief and appreciation expressed by residents here that this year BC hasn’t suffered the forest fires of the last couple of years.

We enjoy picnic suppers on the beach nearby and watch the marine life from commercial shipping and pleasure boats going in and out of the port to individual stand up paddle boarders confidently navigating the busy waters, as well as birds and seals going about their business.

My menu for beach picnics consists of different ways of preparing chicken thighs, which then get placed in individual foil parcels and taken to the beach together with individual parcels of roasted vegetables.  Easy to empty onto a plate and easy to clean up; important considerations for beach picnics!

A really easy preparation is to roll chunks of Greek feta cheese in dried oregano and stuff them under the skin of the chicken thighs, which I then bake til cooked in the oven.  Sometimes, I add some fruit to bake as well, and on this occasion, fresh peach sections from the Okanagan Valley.

A delicious combination.

A variation is to combine Prosciutto di Parma with the feta in stuffing the chicken thighs.   Also popular!

My summer sipping picks for patio entertaining this year are a Rosé from British Columbia and an Italian White.

My rosé choice is from Quails Gate Winery in the Okanagan Valley here in BC.  Quails Gate have a reputation for reliable quality and they don’t disappoint with their 2018 Rosé: a blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  Herbal, dry. refreshing wine at 14% Alc./Vol. and reasonably priced at C$17.99.

My white wine choice is Italian:  Ruffino Orvieto Classico.   For me, the blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia and Verdelho from the Umbria area of Italy is excellent value at C$13.99 and 12%Alc./Vol.   This dry, crisp light bodied wine with tones of citrus and green apple is perfect on a hot day.

September is here already, the summer holidays are over, children go back to school this week and the days of beach picnics are almost over…but not quite!!

 

Wine walks and tastings in the Dordogne, SW France with the Confrérie du Raisin D’Or de Sigoules

Stop Press!

Do you have vacation plans in the Dordogne this summer?   If you have your sun hat, comfortable walking shoes and a bottle or two of water, then the above agenda of walks in the Dordogne has your name on it!

Each summer, the Confrérie du Raisin D’Or de Sigoulès organizes walks through the bee-buzzing, bird-singing rolling countryside of the Dordogne, always ending with a wine tasting.  The starting point is the village of Sigoulès.

Other local opportunities to enjoy casual, friendly wine tasting events take place each Monday evening in the nearby village of Saussignac.   Apéro Vigneron offers wine tasting and al fresco food in the village main square.

These are memorable vacation opportunities to meet local wine makers and taste their selections of Bergerac Region wines in casual, village environments, far from work-a-day city crowds.

Enjoy!

Exploring the Isle of Wight, UK and enjoying Rosé wine!

The Isle of Wight (IOW) s one of my favourite places in Great Britain.  I love being by the sea and there’s lots of opportunity for that on this island off the south coast of England.

We arrive by ferry from Lymington.  After a 40 minute mini cruise during which we meander past the Lymington Yatch Haven with the many sailboat masts gently swaying in the breeze, we cross the strait and reach the Isle of Wight.

We dock at Yarmouth, where we visit the 16th Century Yarmouth Castle, one of King Henry V111’s defensive castles built to protect England from invasions from the Continent (!)

We’ve come to spend a few restful days on the Island and have no expectations other than chilling out in the relaxed atmosphere of a place that seems moored to an earlier, less frenetic era.  Part of the chilling out process is to enjoy seafood at The Hut at Colwell Bay and also to explore Isle of Wight history by visiting Queen Victoria’s seaside home at Osborne House in East Cowes.

The Hut at Colwell Bay is our gastronomic beachside destination located right on the edge of the sea.  We visit several times!   Sitting out on the deck enjoying the view is all part of the pleasure of the place.    Lobster, sea bass, crayfish, prawn, hake: it’s all freshly available.

The Hut features rosé wine, which they like to offer in large bottles such as magnums and jeroboams!

If Miraval Rosé Côtés de Provence rings a bell, it may be because it is owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in partnership with the Perrin family.  It’s not clear if this ownership structure is still the case.   It’s a crisp and dry wine with a good rating among the top 10 rosés from the area.    Côtes de Provence is the largest appellation of Provence wine in south-eastern France.    80% of Côtés de Provence wine is rosé and the relevant grapes are Grenache and Cinsaut, standard for the area.

Domaine de Saint Mitre Rosé Côteaux Varois is highly rated as a dry rosé and is a blend of Syrah which gives the wine structure and colour with Grenache and Cinsaut which add the aromatics.  This is a classic Provençal blend of grape varieties that work well together.  Côteaux Varois is a key Provençal appellation in the far south eastern area of France.

Rosé is now such a cool and crisp characteristic of summer gatherings of families and friends and seems more popular than ever.

To follow up on our interest in local history, one day we drive to East Cowes to explore Island royal history.

Queen Victoria, on the British throne from 1837 to 1901, made Osborne House in East Cowes her seaside home with Prince Albert and their children.   Prince Albert died in 1861 and Queen Victoria continued to visit Osborne for the rest of her reign and died there in 1901.

Osborne House was built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert between 1845 and 1851 by the famous British builder Thomas Cubitt, whose company also built the main façade of Buckingham Palace in 1847.    The grand design of the house in the style of an Italian Renaissance Palazzo was the brainchild of Prince Albert.

Visitors can tour the house, walled garden and other parts of the property.    I enjoy seeing the private sitting room which the Queen shared with Prince Albert with adjoining desks and from where she wrote her diary and much of her voluminous correspondence.    The walled garden also celebrates their relationship with entwined initials part of the garden trellis.  

There’s a lot to explore! 

We leave the Isle of Wight after a few days feeling refreshed by the sea air and slower pace of life.  Perfect for a summer pause.

References:    The Hut at Colwell Bay  reservations@thehutcolwell.co.uk

Osborne House, East Cowes, IOW   Managed as a tourist venue by English Heritage:      english-heritage.org.uk/osborne