Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Summertime Oscars in Bordeaux

by Paige Donner

Move over MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), Bordeaux has once again rolled out its Oscar picks in time for summer. But in good Bordeaux taste, these Oscars have nothing to do with films, and everything to do with good wine.


In its 7th year now, each spring, 100 women in Bordeaux get together and blind taste hundreds of whites, rosés, clarets and sparkling wines from the Bordeaux region. Of these, the initial selection is pared down to 35 in each category and then those are whittled down to 6 winners.


This year's "Les Oscars de l'éte' of Bordeaux are:

Bordeaux Crémant

  • Perle de Tutiac
  • Les Cordeliers Grand Vintage
  • Lateyron
  • Celene <Saphir>
  • Louis Vallon
  • Perles de Garrineau


  • Château La Freynelle
  • Château la Bretonnière
  • Château Sainte Catherine
  • Clairet de Lisennes
  • Cuvée French Kiss
  • Le Clairet de Boutinet


  • La vie in Rosé du Château Landereau
  • Château du Barail
  • Château d'Haurets
  • Château Lauduc Classic
  • Château La Freynelle
  • Château La Rame

Bordeaux Blanc

  • Château La Freynelle
  • L'Instant Bordeaux
  • Cellier de Bordes
  • Château de Bonhoste
  • Château La France
  • Château Le Bonalgut

Spotlight on the bubbly rosé by the young Bordelaise, Celene <Saphir>


This is the first cuvée by Céline Lannouye, a young Bordeaux woman who chose to express her winemaking ability with a sparkling rosé wine.  This approachable, balanced and refreshing bubbly is assembled from grapes grown mostly in the Entre Deux Mers region of Bordeaux. Her first production is an impressive 70K bottles. And this cuvée is one of the winners from the annual Oscars de Bordeaux blind tasting. Her parents have a wine estate in St. Émilion, so perhaps it runs in the blood.  Runs you about 10Euros per bottle. More Info : 


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Monday, April 3, 2017

Episode 26: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris by Paris GOOD food + wine

by Paige Donner

In order to record these interviews for Episode 26 of Paris GOOD food + wine, on a lovely late spring afternoon recently, I took a quick bus ride over to the new Le Cordon Bleu Culinary and Cooking Institut.

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These new 4OOO sq Meter premises are located on the Quai across the river from the Radio France headquarters. The graceful self-contained building is within eyesight of the emblematic statue of liberty that graces the Ile des Cygnes in the middle of the Seine.

It's the very statue that was used as the model for the one gifted to the United States from France which famously resides in NY City's Harbor.

But, back to the Institute – Le Cordon Bleu has become, in the past century, the standard of cooking schools. The diplomas that the students receive after completing coursework here allow them to progress onto substantial careers anywhere in the world. This is, of course, where Julia Child famously began her mastery of the Art of French Cooking and it's also the school that was featured with Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina as well as more recently referenced in the movie Julie & Julia.


In recent decades, namely since the current president of the school, André Cointreau, took up the reigns, Le Cordon Bleu has focused on expanding internationally. It now has campuses all over the world.


In my interview with Mr. Cointreau, we'll be hearing more about this global expansion and export of the French culinary savoir-faire when it comes to pastry making, cooking and wine appreciation.

You'll also be hearing interviews from two of the senior chefs at Le Cordon Bleu, namely the head Chef Patissier, Fabrice Danniel and also Chef Marc Vaca who came to the Cordon Bleu after some years spent in Australia. To round things out, last but not least, we'll get some insight from Franck Ramage, wine expert and director of the wine program at Le Cordon Bleu, a program that has expanded significantly under his tutelage.

So, sit back and enjoy another episode of Paris GOODfood+wine as we retrace Julia Child's footsteps and esprit, in great culinary kinspirit.


If you'd like to visit Le Cordon Bleu Institute's Paris campus you're more than welcome to. It's about a 2 minute walk from the fashionable new Beaugrenelle Shopping Center in Paris' 15th arrondissement.

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On the premises you'll find a pastry shop where you can purchase pastries and enjoy them in the little café overlooking the Seine or you can purchase them for takeaway.

There's also a charming boutique on premise which offers their own honey made from honey produced from their rooftop beehives. The boutique also stocks wonderful souvenirs such as chef's aprons, cookbooks, jars of mustards and lots more delicious Le Cordon Bleu goodies.

All music used is free of rights and royalty-free courtesy This episode features Ilya Truhanov, Fantasy in EMajor. Show Intro/ Outro Jazzy Paris background courtesy of BenSound Music.
This episode has been generously brought to you by Paris Food And Wine @ParisFoodWine and also Bordeaux Food & Wine @bordeauxfoodvin 

For sponsorship and advertising, contact Paige. Also for hosting and speaking engagements and for media collaborations:

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More Info @ParisFoodWine
Instagram @PaigeFoodWine

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

2016 Right Bank Bordeaux's + Margaux Silky Tannins

by Paige Donner

The first question I asked Oenoteam's Stephane Toutoundji after tasting some 40 of his 2016's-  primarily from Pomerol and St. Emilion - was, Are these silky tannins yours and your enologists' influence or is it the signature of the 2016's?

His quick response to me was that it's 2016's signature for Right Bank Bordeaux. And Margaux.

En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017
En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017
En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017
En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017

His associates, Julien Belle and Thomas Duclos, who complete the Libourne-based Oenoteam, concurred. Of course as enologists who consult to the 45+ chateaus tasted on a sunny spring morning at Paris' elegant La Dame de Pic, their style is going to come through. But that style is not so much as forcing a wine to mimic the consulting enologist's personal tastes as it is allowing the wine to express itself in the most harmonious of  ways.


Wine Allowed To Express Itself

When it comes to allowing a wine's inherent expression to shine forth,  I have to admit that I am an adherent to this religion, too. Maybe it's because my female palate, as they say, is sensitive to tannins. That may be so as personally I have never had an easy time judging the merits of a young Bordeaux. I seem only to be able to "taste" them after they've nicely settled in their bottles a few years. But even though these 2016s are full of flavor and not shy in alcohol (most hovering around 14% and even a bit higher) these were fresh and gentle and, above all, silky wines.

This En Primeurs tasting of these 2016's from Pomerol, St. Emilion and also Margaux was something altogether different. Silky. Supple. Approachable.

2016 Bordeaux: Expressive tannins that are amazingly well-mannered given their young age. Silky. Smooth.

With promises that they will only get better. This is true of the Margaux's such as Chateau Tayac's Or Norme as well as for their range of Pomerols like Chateau La Cabanne, Chateau de Valois and Chateau Mazeyres. It also holds for St. Emilion wines that have never disappointed me such as Fonroque and Chateau Soutard, but also ones that I've never tasted young like Muse du Val, Chateau Grangey,  Chateau La Serre, Chateau Larmande and Chateau Haut-Sarpe. There were even two from Fronsac that qualify for this descriptive of tame tannins for their 2016s, namely Chateau Barrabaque and Chateau Tessendey; as well as a Cotes de Bourg by Chateau Fougas (organic wine) that exhibited these silky tame tannins and also, remarkably, was a sleeper hit with 90% of the diverse tasters (male, female; young, old; smoker, non-smoker).


Surprisingly there were even a few 2016s I wouldn't be shy to recommend drinking in the coming months.Though of course all of them, as good Bordeaux wines, can be cellared for 3 - 20 years and more. Especially the Pomerols and Margaux but also the St. Emilions and a few of the Fronsac wines, also Bordeaux Superieurs like Chateau L'Escart and Chateau Grand Français as well as Lussac Montagne St. Emilion's Chateau Le Claymore.

In addition to these superstar, world-class appellations from which this En Primeurs 2016 tasting drew, there were also a few uniques thrown into the mix, just to jazz things up even more. One of these was a wine made by Olivier Malrieu with consulting enologist Julien Belle that is an IGP Comte Tolosan (near Toulouse). This 2016 from Domaine du Moulin de Montlauzin is 100% Cab Franc, Cuvée Petits Grains. Its nose is perfumed, perhaps by the fact that the 5 ha. estate has no nearby neighbors; the mouth exhibited the subtlety of smooth silk, even as young as it is. This is a wine that offers good value and a refreshing discovery. 

La Dame de Pic (Michelin-starred)

After the tasting it was encouraged that we choose wines from these same chateaus and domains but from earlier vintages, such as 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 to accompany lunch. 

Kitchens at La Dame de Pic 1 Michelin Star Paris Restaurant   photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017


Kitchens (1) Signature Anne-Sophie Pic butter (2) at La Dame de Pic, Paris 1 Michelin Star  Restaurant  photos by Paige Donner © 2017

Anne-Sophie Pic, the Michelin-starred French chef, is one of France's culinary treasures and is, remarkably, self-taught. Her only guides she uses for inspiration in creating her inventive dishes are her highly-tuned olfactory sense and palate. When she speaks of her cuisine she often seasons her conversation with references to perfume, such is the delicacy of her alchemic offerings. 

I was intrigued to see how I could pair big, bold Pomerols, Margaux and St. Emilions with such delicate dishes as L'Oeuf de Poule, a poached egg served with green anise butter, verveine-infused oil and delicately grilled finely sliced green asparagus from Mallemort. Luckily I didn't have to because Stephane Toutoundji of Oenoteam suggested we sip the Chateau K white from Bergerac to start things off. This young fruity-nosed white that finishes on dry notes of its Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris blend served only to highlight the delicate balance of this dish. 


 La Dame de Pic Paris,  1 Michelin Star  Restaurant  photos by Paige Donner © 2017

Next up was pigeon which, we were reassured, would be served rare unless we really had a problem with that?  No one did. For this course the bold and knowledgeable at the table were given the task of finding a suitable wine to pair from our embarrassingly abundant selection. Chosen: Fonroque 2014,  Chateau Mazeyres 2010, Chateau Soutard 2009, Chateau Tayac 2010, giving us a comparison between classic vintage Right Bank St. Emilion and Pomerol and also a Margaux.

The pigeon had first been marinated in Geranium root and Cubébe pepper. It was served with red rhubarb puree, roasted celery that was then chilled and a dollop of puréed boudin noir (blood sausage) with Zacapa rum added. Testament to Chef Pic's delicate hand, it was the very first time I had been able to enjoy boudin noir. With the perfectly cooked pigeon and in such a small dose, perfumed with that hint of rum, it all paired perfectly with....well, for me, my top picks were Fonroque 2014, Chateau Le Caillou 2009,  and Chateau Tayac 2010 with the topper of Chateau Mazeyres 2010. But that was just my personal taste influences. Not everyone at the table agreed with me. 


Though I would say that wine tasting is, of course, all about that. A rose is  rose by any other name, but, the smell of a rose will evoke different sense memories in each of us. Hence different palate responses. I quite understand that the wine business is a business. Though I do appreciate the fact that it is a business that bottles earth, land, sunshine, a moment in time and the people who author all of that. In this sense, each bottle and each expression is deserving of the utmost respect. It's for each one of us to decide which we appreciate the most individually. 

Or as Anne-Sophie Pic would say:  "En toute chose, je recherche l'équilibre, la note juste, la précision...mon travail de création me donne l'impression d'etre toujours sur le fil."

(Transl. "In all things I look for balance, just the right note, creativity in my work gives me the sense that I am perpetually searching/walking a tightrope."


This team of three oenologists is based in Bordeaux's right bank Libourne where they have their own "laboratoire." They offer a variety of services, including: enological advice and consulting, detailed analyses, expertise in the cellar, vinification process and vineyards and more. "Each of our wines are unique, and each of our clients, too." 

The team's M.O. is that each wine be allowed to find its best expression with as little external influence as possible. There is a phrase that great wine consultants like to use in French that roughly translates to, "I elaborate wines, I don't 'make' wines." This is a phrase by which you can describe the Oenoteam. 


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Saturday, March 11, 2017

La Comtesse of Chateau St. Martin

by Paige Donner

Wines by the Comtesse Adeline de Barry of Chateau de St. Martin in France's Var, Provence.


  • Bubbly:  Bulles de Rosé - the color of pink raspberries you'll find this sparkling to have fine and regular bubbles with notes of red fruit on the mouth

  • White: Grande Reserve Blanc 2016 - pineapple, tilleul (linden blossoms) and exotic fruits 

  • Rose: Eternelle Favorite 2016 - color of wild peaches, notes of mango-passion in the mouth, very refined

  •            Grande Reserve Rosé 2016 - pink gold in a glass; notes of peony, complex and creamy 

  • White: Comtesse Blanc 2015 - elegant and complex with aromas of fleur de lys; on the mouth expressions of white fruits like pear and apple, silky

  • Red: Grande Reserve Rouge 2014 - licorice and pink pepper bouquet; continued on the mouth with sweet spice hints

  •           Comtesse Rouge 2014 - fine and molten in the mouth, this bold red tantalizes with its bouquet of black fruit and hints of spice 

  • Dessert Wine: Vin Cuit de Provence -  cooked for 10 hours in the traditional artisanal Provençal method, this is a dessert or aperitif wine that pairs nicely with foie gras or any chocolate/caramel dessert; smoky notes with quince accents

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In 1740 a French family from the nobility became the owners of Chateau de Saint-Martin in the idyllic setting not far from St. Tropez in the South of France. The same family still owns this beautiful winemaking estate and runs its vineyards, producing exquisite Grand Crus Classés  rosés, whites and reds. Wine production on this site dates back all the way to the 2nd c. AD.

The ownership of the estate has passed from mother to daughter throughout the centuries with the exception of Count de Rohan Chabot who was the man who successfully championed the estate to be classified as a Grand Cru Classé in 1955. 

The estate famously celebrates the wine lifestyle several times a year: Notably at Christmastime in the grand tradition of Provençal Christmas festivities. And also in the summer during their Rires dans les Vignes or "Comedy in the Vineyards" festival which will take place again this year in late July. 

The Wines: 

  • Bubbly:  Bulles de Rose
  • White: Grande Reserve Blanc 2016
  • Rose: Eternelle Favorite 2016
  •            Grande Reserve Rose 2016
  • White: Comtesse Blanc 2015
  • Red: Grande Reserve Rouge 2014 
  •           Comtesse Rouge 2014
  • Dessert Wine: Vin Cuit de Provence

 Route des Arcs – 83460 TARADEAU Tél : 04 94 99 76 76 – Fax : 04 94 99 76 77 Coordonnées GPS : 43°26'40''N 06°26'05''E


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Domaine de RocheVille, Loire, France

by Paige Donner

Le Page, Le Prince, Le Roi, La Dame et La Favorite - names that evoke pages from French history, a past steeped in aristocracy - Princes, Kings, and favored ladies from the nobility. The Loire Valley was for centuries the preferred leisurely resting place for France's aristocracy. The many chateaus that the region is famous for is testament to this.

Hence Domaine de RocheVille's estate owner Philippe Porché's naming of his wines after the royalty that once inhabited his region is not at all farfetched though indeed it is whimsical. His wines are made either with chenin blanc or cabernet sauvignon. According to Porché the chenin blanc varietal is one of the most versatile and expresive wine grapes yet still underappreciated. The region around Anjou is the only one in the world where over 9000 hectares of chenin blanc are planted in both shale (schist) and limestone. To achieve the varied expressions of his mono-varietal wines, he vinifies from select parcels on his 16 hectares of vineyards with help from his wife Agnes.




La Favorite - bubbly and very low sugar dosage, anywhere from 0 - 6 grams, Saumur Brut cremant noir

Le Troubadour - a rosé with notes of wild peach, some apricot and touch of ocean salinity; Saumur Rosé is now its own appellation

La Jouvencelle - Saumur dry white; fresh and full of youth, full of citrus and tropical notes

Le Clos de la Thibaudiere - delicate nose of citrus and white fruit, a pleasantly complex dry white

La Dame - Saumur dry white, white flowers and tropical fruit with a hint of vanilla; a wine to savor during the accompaniment of a meal

Le Page 2014 - its smooth and slightly astringent tannins make this a lively wine; ripe cherry aromas; fresh and fruity this is a good wine for shared meals with friends;  100% cab franc from the foot of Parnay's mediaeval church

Le Prince 2014 - Saumur Champigny 100% cab franc, notes of spice, velvety mouth

Le Roi 2010 - Harmonious and with notable power the mouth finishes with notes of oak and woodiness which contrast elegantly with the first tastes of dark red fruit; a long finish

Le Fou du roi 2011 - black fruits and toasty on the nose, this expressive wine finishes strong and velvety, nicely structured

The wine estate Domaine de RocheVille in Parnay, Loire region of France welcomes visitors.  DOMAINE DE ROCHEVILLE
Les Hauts de Valbrun 49730 Parnay
Phone 02 4138 1000


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Patisserie Sebastien Gaudard, Tuileries, Paris

by Paige Donner

Paris Food And Wine's pick of the week. This delightful patisserie and Salon de Tea just next to the Tuileries and across from the Louvre is the perfect place for tea, hot chocolate, a light lunch and, of course, the most delicate of French pastries. 

(all photos © Paige Donner 2017)



Sebastien Gaudard Patisserie & Salon de Thé

This Loire native has carried on the tradition of his father's pastry-making that he remembers so fondly from his childhood. Sebastien's first Paris patisserie on rue des Martyrs in the 9th arrondissement was a huge success, allowing him to follow with this one, situated on rue des Pyramides in Paris' 1st arrondissement. 

The pastries are some of the best in town - delicate and full of lightness. They are crafted by a true master's hand. And the location couldn't be more charming or more convenient. It's the perfect choice after a visit to the Louvre, just before or after catching the shuttle to Vallee Village shopping center or a taking a walk through the gorgeous Tuileries gardens. There are plenty of treats to tempt you on your way out too - chocolates and even jars of Baba au Rhum that you can just add Chantilly to and a fresh dollop of rum when you get home and - Voila! 

1 Rue des Pyramides, 75001 Paris


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