Category: On Wine

The French Four: Vineyard Beauty

It’s Friday again! In a way, it feels as though the week has rushed by. I still expect to wake up in Duras, start my day with a coffee at Chez Regine and only worry about where to have lunch! But the reality is that I’m back to my usual workaholic mode, full speed ahead! The editing of a magazine is demanding my attention, I’m finishing up one recipe production and getting ready for a new one next week, and I’m polishing up articles for three clients. And that’s just the ‘career’ part of the deal. I would consider looking into a housekeeper to make life easier, but then I’d also need a nanny and a dogsitter! Haha! Only joking. I love playing Martha Stewart and June Cleaver too much. 🙂
But on to the order of the day — this Friday’s French Four! Vineyards! If there’s one thing I always miss terribly when I leave France, it’s the sight of the vineyards. No matter what the season, they are always a beautiful symbol of the hard work that goes into making a good glass of wine. I love them when they are full, lush and bulging with fat grapes in the summer, but  I also love them in the winter in all there bare glory, especially early in the morning when the mist and watery sun create fairytale-like panoramas.
For me, there’s no better way to experience the love and passion that goes into winemaking (besides the actual drinking!) than by revelling in the sight of a marvelously tended vineyard.
Bon week-end!
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Discovering the Wines of Duras

When it comes to great wines, there’s more to South West France than just Bordeaux. Located to the east, in the Lot-et-Garonne, is the Côtes de Duras – an appellation of fifteen communes that stretch out over roughly 1500 hectares and produce a variety of exceptional quality (and very affordable!) wines crafted by some two hundred passionate growers. There are reds (52%), whites (33%), rosés (13%) and sweet wines (2%). The reds and rosés consist of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec; the whites are mostly Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle; and the sweet wines are made of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
The vineyards of Duras have been producing wines since the 12th century and were one of the first to obtain the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée certification in 1937. Here are some of my favorite selections, plus some delectable tips.

The cave coopérative Berticot produces award winning wines and unites more than half of the region’s wine growers.
Try:  The honey-sweet Quintessence de Berticot Moelleux 2009. Delightful aromas of candied fruit and apricots.
Pair with: Heavenly with foie gras, ideal as a dessert wine.

Domaine Les Hauts de Riquêts
The fifteen-hectare vineyard  has been  producing organic wines since 2005 and is run by seventh generation growers Pierre and Marie-Jo Bieraud. Wine tastings and culinary workshops are available at the domaine.
Try: Le Mignon 2009, a silky blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Ripe blackberry flavors. Complex aromas with herbal notes and a hint of violets. Long finish. Aged in French oak for eight months.
Pair with: Autumnal dishes such as magret de canard, lentil stews and roast guinea fowl.

Domaine de Laulan
The thirty-five-hectare estate of Laulan was founded by Gilbert Geoffroy in 1974. Known to produce some of the region’s best whites, Geoffroy has been described as ‘L’artiste du Sauvignon’.
Try: The dry, minerally Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Crisp, clean palate with hints of gooseberry and grapefruit. A nose of freshly-cut grass. Elegant and refreshing.
Pair with: Fruits de mer!