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09 October 2007


You say, I should drink some sans souffre wine?  Well my VdP Mondeuse may not be a beaujo Cru, but it was au naturel, intensely zippy and tasted like a basket-full-o-forest berries.


And of course, one must accompany such a low maintenance wine with some natural, simply prepared lamb + mashed potatoes & roasted garlic or roasted duck and potatoes au gratin.

The wine: Cote Pelee Mondeuse Vin de Pays d'Allobrogie 2004 by Jean-Yves Peron.

The food:
Autour d’ un Verre

Organic, delicious and inexpensive. A must stop for any wine lover curious about natural wines.
21, rue de Trévise, Paris 9
Tel: 01 48 24 43 74
Metro Stop: Cadet
Lunch: 12:30 to 15:00 Dinner: 20:00 to 22:30 (except Monday). Closed Sunday.
-- Thanks Steve for the recommendation!
More information en Francais here.

Additional, random gay Paree photos


Folies Bergere


Drive-by Eiffel


Mmmm AOKI.

Continue reading "Mondeuse!" »

02 October 2007

Things to do in Paris when you're in Louvre


Attend a show.


Discover slightly shocking facts about French cuisine


Admire mundane details in an urban park


Visit the man with the original complex


Ponder Le Penseur


Sip wine, eat


Sip wine, eat tartare


Drink a little more


Brave a crowd, meet some old folks


Drink, eat more

17 September 2007

Garcon! A Little Help.

Waiter Attention Francophiles and those who love them: 

I need a little help on the Paris gastronomie front.  Earn some good karma and share a few Parisian dining secrets avec moi.  Where are your favorite places to dine in the city 'o lights and feel all Parisian and whatnot?  Merci!

13 July 2007

(Almost)Love at First Sight

Prose Have you ever had a wine visually knock your socks/stockings/l'eggs off? 

It's rare that the mere sight of vino hanging out in a clear glass/crystal tub causes oenoinfatuation.  Sure, bubbly looks enticing and can capture one's imagination.  But still wine?  It typically doesn't dazzle the visual senses.

Until now.  I poured a glass of Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol Rose and was immediately mesmerized.  This pink wine, isn't really pink.  It's a lovely copper-salmon-caramel color.  How does wine evolve such a sublime color?  Who wouldn't love it?

Alas, my visual affair with Domaine du Gros was short lived.  Gros Nore is exceedingly subtle on the scent front.  Fine tune your sniffer, and you'll uncover earthy-herby aromas along with a bit o' berry.  In the mouth, G.N. is also restrained.  It's hefty @ around 15% alcohol, but still manages to maintain a zesty dimension.  Sad to say, the flavors are buried underneath the wine's rather stout body.  Overall, the wine is pleasant, but at nearly $20, I might find it difficult to spring for a second time.  Of course, that visual peepshow of ultra-unique color is worth at least one trip to the wine shop.  Give it a try, or at least, a gander.

Nore2005 The Skinny: Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol Rose 2005 ($19-$20)

  • From the oft overlooked Southern France Appellation of Bandol.
  • A blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault & Grenache.
  • Imported by Kermit Lynch
  • Lest you overwhelm its delicate flavors, serve this wine with light/subtle fare such as grilled chicken breast or pasta prima vera.

22 June 2007

Memo to Marquis

Memo_1 Memo

To: Rémy Pannier 

From: Basic Juice 

cc:  Growers (from the 500 of you viticulturing in 63 different appellations) who contribute grapeage to Marquis de la Tour's Rosé Sparkling Wine 

Date: 22 Jun 07

Marquisdelatouri Re: Future branding/marketing of Marquis de la Tour Rosé (NV, $9) sparkling wine


Dear Sirs/Madames:

Seeing as how Rémy Pannier is the Loire Valley's largest wine producer, I'm sure your company employs a number of smart, aspiring marketing wizkidz.  No doubt, one of them has already pitched the idea of rebranding Marquis de la Tour bubbly in order to make it more appealing to the US consumer.  I can picture the pitch in my mind....."look, we'll use those Budweiser frogs.  And instead of 'bud-weis-err' the amphibs can ribbit, "De-La-Tour!" 

Allow me to be the first to nip the aforementioned idea in the proverbial bud.  I'm sure the folks at Arrogant Frog are joyed to the max with their decision to leap into cute, crittery labeling.  However, your A+-value-priced, sparkling Rosé needs no such gimmicky hoo-ha.  I am happy to recommend a couple label modifications, free of charge:

  1. On the front label, include these two succinct, highly descriptive adjectives in large, bold font (in English, as I and my fellow citizens no parlay much francais, if you catch my drift): DRY, SPARKLING WINE
  2. On the back label, feel free to indulge the creativity of your marketeers.  Let them craft a nifty taste description (e.g. Marquis de la Tour Rosé is a lovely salmon-colored bubbly full of straw- and rasp-berry scents.  De la Tour's taste is divine with creamy texture, apple cider notes and a pleasant floral-berry finish) or pairing suggestions (e.g. Marquis de la Tour is the perfect accompaniment to summertime produce-enhanced dishes such as grilled tomato, basil and goat cheese sandwiches or lamb chops & farm fresh veggies)

I guarantee that five years down the road, you won't look back in shame at a label sporting pink frogs gussied up to look like something of a cross between Zoro and the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Rather, team Marquis will stand tall with pride at its simple, classy and info-rich label.  Heed me now; thank me later.

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21 March 2007

Alsatian Simplification

In the early days of my budding wine fascination, I approached the 'French aisle' in a wine shop.  After failing miserably to decipher the labels from several bottles, I felt frustrated and downright dim.  I migrated back towards the more accessible labels of Australia, South Africa and California.  For some time thereafter, I hung with English-labeled wine.

Would that I had begun my French foray with Alsace. The Alsace label, while still French, is straightforward.  You see, Alsatian regulations permit wine to be labeled by grape variety.  So even if you have no idea what 'mis en bouteille par..' means, you can still identify wine as being Riesling or Gewurztraminer (no 'ü' in Alsace).  Most Alsatian wine is made from Riesling, Gewurz, Pinot Gris (AKA Tokay Pinot Gris, AKA Pinot Grigio), Muscat (AKA Muscat d'Alsace) or Pinot Blanc.

For non-French speakers and wine newbies, Alsace is a good place to begin French wine exploration.  What you read is what you get.  Except when you don't.  Occasionally, the grape's name is missing from the label.  In its place, you may encounter the term, 'Edelzwicker' (~ noble-blend).  This term is indicative of wine comprised of a blend of Alsace's varieties (e.g. Riesling, Gewurz, Pinot Gris, etc.).  Many of these blended wines are inexpensive introductions to the flavors of Alsace.  Recently, I've noticed a that some producers are offering such blends in the $10-$15 range.  A few are scrapping the Edelzwicker moniker and replacing it with a branded name.  Two examples are Pierre Sparr's "Alsace One" and Zind-Humbrecht's "Zind."

Then there are the minimalist folks at Kuentz-Bas.  K-B's Edelzwicker offering is nameless - sort of.  The bottle is simply labeled, "Alsace."  Confusing?  Perhaps.  However for around ten dollars, 'Alsace' from Alsace introduces you to the surprisingly exotic style of Alsatian wine.

Kbframed The Skinny
Kuentz-Bas Alsace 2005 ($9-$12) [imported by Kermit Lynch]

  • Light straw-yellow in color
  • Scents of lychee/litchi/lytchi, lemon, honey and grape (! - I suspect the grapeyness comes from Muscat)
  • This wine behaved quite differently in the mouth over the course of two evenings: Night 1 - a rich, almost sticky mouthfeel with slightly sweet, or seemingly sweet flavors of honey, mandarin orange and ripe pear; Night 2 - the stickyness faded and I was struck by a greater balance of richness and crispness.  For the record, I prefer night #2's performance

Kuentz-Bas is an ideal candidate for a wine solo on Friday afternoon.  It also would be fine as a duet with sweet & sour pork, honey glazed chicken or a green salad & fresh fruit.

26 February 2007

Rivertrivia + Vacqueyras

Vangstarrynight Q:  What European river originates from a glacier, flows North-South through Switzerland and France, and empties into the Mediterranean Sea?

A: The Rhône River

More Rivertrivia:

The word "Rhône" comes from Latin Rhodanus, which in turn comes, via the Greeks, from  the Celtic word Rodo ("that which runs").  Thanks to the runnin, carvin Rhône we have the French valley of the same name.  The Rhône Valley inspired artists and winemakers. 

Thanks to Rhône vintners, we have a whole gaggle of intriguing wine appellations.  The Northern Rhone is dominated by Syrah for reds and Viognier for white wine.  However, blending a little Viognier into a red isn't uncommon (see: Cote-Rotie).  The Southern portion of the valley sees a more diverse set of red grapes (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignane, Cinsault) and white grapes (Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Rousanne, Marsanne).

How about a round of taste-one-Rhone-appellation-per-week?

This week's appellation is Vacqueyras.  Vacqueyras is a village in the southern Rhone.  It began life in 1937 as a Cotes du Rhone.  Then in 1990 it could add its little old name to the bottle, thus becoming a Cotes du Rhone Villages.  Finally in 1995 it was awarded the equivalent of a Rhone Cru.  Vacqueyras sets itself apart from other Rhonies with its telltale fullness and smoothness.

Try Perrin's 'Les Christins' 2004 Vacqueyras or, go for a cedarsawdust + cherry liqueur combo with Domaine La Garrigue 2004 Vacqueyras (~$20).

21 February 2007

Syrah, Quit Your Whining

Syrah, you're in quite the whiny mood.  On one hand, I empathize with you.  Indeed, it is certainly frustrating to be overshadowed by an overly chatty sibling.  But at least your sibling has a different name.  Yes, I know, "Shiraz," is very similar to "Syrah."  On the other hand, my new world counterpart carries the exact same name as I.  You at least have the benefit of slightly different letters.  I, Grenache, am constantly overshadowed by "Grenache."

Vacqueyras_1 Sadly, most Grenache lovers enjoy my simpleton sibling's style.  That easy-going, fruity character is easy to like.  But it's also easy to forget.  Few wine drinkers are even aware of my classic, more earthy expression.  Hey!, Hi-C-drinking Grenache lovers.  Do you know I can do meat, dried rosemary, tart cherry and anise?  Yup, I got mad depth as the kids say.  I'm not asking you to give up the happy-happy Grenache, rather, I implore you to get serious about your Grenache for once.  I promise you won't regret it.

Perrin Vacqueyras 'Les Christins' 2004 ($20) - With a little help from some Syrah (25% in the blend), this 75%-Grenache wine reveals an entirely new dimension for this easy-to-overlook grape.  Perrins "V" (I couldn't possible type that word again) is replete with meaty, herby scents accented with tangy cherry notes.  The wine is hefty by Rhone Valley standards.  However, by Aussie/Nuevo-Spain/Cali/Washington standards, it is svelte.  In the mouth V is rich, with a slightly raspy, tannic kick.  Try it with something roasted like wabbit or chicken.

19 February 2007

Remember me?

Hello there.  Remember me?  I was once considered a star in the wine world.  I could wow you with fresh redcurrant and raspberry scents, whilst I simultaneously worked the black pepper mill and opened a jar of potpourri.  I always carried a square of subtly-rough sandpaper in one hand and my silk vest kerchief in the other.  In short, I was everything you could ever possible want in a glass of red wine.

Alas, my loudmouth cousin has been stealing the spotlight of late.  He's a likable bloke; but let's just say he doesn't do nuance (nor does he know how to make pleasant dinner conversation).  At every party, he unscrews the berry preserves, whips out the pepper shaker and then performs this annoying party trick, which involves asphalt.  It's beyond me, but people seem to like it.

Honestly, though - isn't it time to return to the original; a classic?  Call me sometime..

Guigalch E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2003 ($20-$30) - 100% Syrah (not Shiraz - technically the same grape, but stylistically, a completely different wine), which by the way, seems like something else entirely when compared to Shiraz.  From the Northern Rhone Valley.  Deep ruby red in color with a wide, rusty rim.  This C-H is entirely elegant with scents of just-ripe red raspberry, a dash of black pepper and a touch of purple flowers (no idea what kind, but in my mind these blossoms be purple).  Crisp, silky and subtle in the mouth.  The perfect wine with hearty risotto or petit filet.

14 February 2007

How Do You Like It?

Greetings and happy greeting card industry-generated-remember the chocolate hearts-and-roses day.  Hopefully you and your beloved will enjoy an evening of passion in Eros' honor.

The question is, how do you like your lovin'?  Are you a squeaky clean, polite kanoodler, or  nasty, no-holds-barred kind of Don/Maria Juan?

Nicev For those who like it clean..

Pascal Jolivet 'Attitude' Sauvignon Blanc 2005 ($15) - Despite using the cred-enhancing term, "Attitude," Jolivet's Sauvi is the epitome of E. Post politeness (and, as an added bonus, the wine is classified as Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France.  Basically this means Mssr. Jolivet can scrawl the grape variety's name on the label, thus making it tres easy for customers to understand what kind of wine they are getting).  This Sauvignon Blanc is pale yellow-gold with hints of meadow green hues.  It pleasantly presents itself with scents of lime, grassy-field-freshness and a titch of gooseberry.  In the mouth, The 'Tude, proves just how even-handed Sauvignon Blanc can be.  It tingles with fresh acidity, then turns slightly smooth and citrusy on the finish.  Put on your blue blazer/cable knit & pearls, and enjoy this wine with a classic Caesar or Cobb salad.  Then close your eyes tightly and smooch your snookums/teddy bear/precious.

Naughtyv For those who like it naughty..

Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000 ($40 [375ml]) - Pull out your whips, chains, ass-chaps, fishnets, etc. before you enjoy this decidedly 'dirty' wine.  Classico is a, uh, grape-threesome, of Corvina (75%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (5%).  The result of some compressed aging in its half-bottle home is a dusty-red wine with scents of ruby Port, dates, violets and cedar-funk (i.e. damp/burned/chopped wood).    In the mouth, this Valpolicella from Italy's Northeast is surprisingly agile - with some cripsness, a mix of dried & fresh berry flavor and slightly chewy finish, courtesy softened up tannins.  Sample it with some nastyfunk playing in the background and git bizee.

Happy St. V.!  Enjoy the convo candy hearts.

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