Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Bordeaux Wines and Barbeques, Ravishing Reds

If you are looking for a red wine to go with your Barbeque don't make the mistake of choosing wines that are too heavily oaked, or the combination of oak, smoke and spice will overwhelm your battered tastebuds. What you want is a ravishing red burst of ripe juicy fruit.

Look out for wines made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Cabernet Franc makes a bright, shiny wine with aromas of strawberry and blackberry. Cabernet Sauvignon is strong in tannins and perfumed with blackcurrants, violets and green peppers. Merlot gives a richly coloured, soft wine with the aroma of blackcurrants and blackberries. Combine all 3 and you have the perfect red.

Les Graves de Barrau is crimson and has lovely aromas of cherry with a hint of vanilla. It offers big ripe fruits and has a silky finish. Chateau Toumalin would be ideal as its bouquet has a hint of roasted wood which would accompany your barbeque! It’s a ruby colour and has a hint of blueberry flavours. For those of you who are vegetarians this wine enhances aubergines, peppers and cheeses. Marquis de Perissac, with its bright colour and hints of blackberries also goes well with Nuts, Lentils and Beans.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Bordeaux Wines and Barbeques, Wild Whites

Spring has descended with a burst of blossom this year and everything is flowering at once. The weather is perfect for barbequing and Bordeaux is perfect for barbeques!

Subtlety goes out the window when it comes to barbecue wines. Instead you want bright, bold flavours that can cope with charred meats, punchy marinades, salsas and salad dressings. As a good rule of thumb when it comes to great barbecue wines, look to the great barbequers of the world – the alfresco European style of food comes second nature to the French and we can learn a lot from their example.

Wild Whites

White wines to go wild about are those that reflect the feast of fragrances around you. Sauvignon Blanc with its zingy fresh lemon flavours works well with barbecued seafood, especially with oily fish such as sardines and mackerel. Chateau Saint Thibeaud is a good choice and goes well with barbequed tuna. However if you want a more tropical fruit flavour then wines made from the Semillon grape add a whoosh of lychee, pineapple and peach.

Nick has found some excellent wines from the Entre Deux Mers region – not far away from Cadillac – south east of Bordeaux. These wines are made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and melt in the mouth with soft juicy fruits edged with the aromas of grapefruit, lemon and lime.

Chateau Sainte Marie has wonderful fragrance in which the citrus notes really stand out and Domaine de Ricaud smells of summer blossoms. Chateau Tours Capoux has the extra element of the Muscadelle grape which has the perfume of acacia. The wine is bright, light and subtle – perfect for a sunny afternoon.

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Monday, 28 April 2008

Bordeaux Aperitifs – Sauternes

The famous sweet wines of Château d'Yquem hail from Sauternes and although not every one can stretch to their prices there are other delicious wines from this area which make wonderful apéritifs – after all it does have 4,500 acres of vines to choose from!

Sauternes lies in the hollow where the river Garonne and its tributary the Ciron converge and its vineyards span 4,500 acres. The source of the Ciron is a spring which has cooler waters than the Garonne. In the autumn, when the climate is warm and dry, the different temperatures from the two river meet to produce mist that descends upon the vineyards from dusk till dawn. The mist helps the development of the botrytis cinerea fungus (known as noble rot). Noble Rot makes the the grape concentrate the flavours and sugars whilst keeping a high level of acidity. By mid day, the warm sun will help dissipate the mist and dry the grapes to keep them from developing less favourable rot.

The grapes grown in Sauternes are those which make White Bordeaux – Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Unlike White Bordeaux Sémillon,makes up most of the blend as it is easily infected with Noble Rot. Sauvignon Blanc provides acidity to counter balance the sweetness and Muscadelle contributes fragrance. Although these are dessert wines their sweetness is not cloying due to their zesty acidity. Flavours can include apricots, peaches, dried pineapple, nuts and honey and the finish lasts on the palate for a long time. Their colour is gold which darkens with time to a deep copper. The wine should be served chilled at around 11ºC. Wines from Barsac are lighter and have a fresher style.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiring ideas for taking some time out, watching the world go by and enjoying a drink before dinner!

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Sunday, 27 April 2008

Bordeaux Aperitifs – Banyuls

Banyuls is a fortified wine made from old vines cultivated in terraces on the slopes of the Pyrenees in the Roussillon wine region of Southern France which borders Southern Catalonia in Spain. The vines grow precariously on steep slopes and crags which means that everything has to be done by hand as no tractor would ever get up there! Most of the Banyuls wines are red but some whites are produced as well. The grapes used are Grenache Noir, Grenache gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeu, Muscat, Malvoise and Carignan.

Banyuls is made in a method similar to that of Port but in France it is known as mutage. Arnau de Villanova, a doctor of medicine at the University of Montpellier, discovered the principle of mutage – adding spirits to stabilise sweet wines in the 13th century. This technique made it possible to keep some of the sweetness contained in the grapes.

Alcohol is added to the must to halt fermentation while sugar levels are still high, preserving the natural sugar of the grape. The wines are then matured in oak barrels, or outside in glass bottles exposed to the sun, allowing the wine to maderise. The maturation period is a minimum of 10 months for Banyuls AOC, and 30 months for Banyuls Grand Crus.

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Saturday, 26 April 2008

Bordeaux Aperitifs – Suze

Suze is an aperitif made from the roots of the Yellow Gentian which grows in the Auvergne and is a bitter sweet drink with a subtle flavour. It was invented by the Parisian distiller Fernand Moureaux in 1889. It was in 1889 that he took the roots of Gentiana lutea for his new drink.

Gentian has been used as a tonic since ancient times - according to Pliny the Elder, Gentian takes its name from Gentius, the King of Illyria (180-168 BC) who said to have discovered its healing properties.

There are quite a few Gentian based apéritifs in France – Salers is another popular variety. This was also invented in the 19th century by Alfred Labounoux. It is made using only wild gentian roots from the volcanic slopes of the Auvernian mountains. The roots are sorted, ground and left to infuse. It is then aged in great casks made of oak from the Massif Central.

The roots of the Gentian are dug up by the inhabitants of the Auvergne mountains using a two-pronged tool nicknamed "the devil's fork". The work is long and difficult, and there are no modern processes which have made it any easier. The plant takes around 20 years to reach its adult size, and only flowers every other year. The roots are pulled from June to September, then sorted, washed, and ground while still fresh.

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Friday, 25 April 2008

Bordeaux Aperitifs – Pastis – Pernod and Ricard

Pastis is an anise flavoured apéritif from France and is usually about 40% proof. Pastis is normally diluted with water before drinking (generally 5 parts water for 1 part of pastis). The resulting decrease in alcohol percentage causes some of the constituents to become insoluble, which changes the liqueur's appearance from dark transparent yellow to milky soft yellow. The drink is consumed cold, with ice, and is considered a refreshment for hot days. Ice cubes can be added after the water to avoid crystallization of the anethol in the pastis. However, many pastis drinkers refuse to add ice, preferring to drink the beverage with cool spring water.

Although it is consumed throughout France, especially in the summer, pastis is generally associated with southeastern France, especially with the city of Marseille, and with the cliches of the Provencal lifestyle, like petanque (boules). You may have come across some of the well known cocktails which use pastis and syrups:

The perroquet (parrot) with green mint syrup
The tomate (tomato) with greandine syrup
The mauresque (moorish) with orgeat syrup

Pernod is an aniseed based drink and it is claimed that it was prescribed 7000 years ago in the Book of Genesis as a remedy for plague and cholera. For centuries after this various aniseed concoctions were used to cure everything from toothache to digestive problems.

At the end of the 18th century a Major Dubied began distilling the elixir professionally. In 1805 his son-in-law, Henri-Louis Pernod opened a distillery in France where Pernod would later become known as the national beverage. When Absinthe was banned in France in 1915, the major absinthe producers (then Pernod Fils and Ricard, who have since merged as Pernod Ricard) reformulated their drink without the banned wormwood component. To replace the wormwood they used more star anise, sugar and a lower alcohol content creating pastis, which remains popular in France today.

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Thursday, 24 April 2008

Bordeaux Aperitifs – Lillet

Lillet is an aperitif from the village of Podensac, near Bordeaux which nearly vanished into the mists of time until Bruno Borie (of Château Ducru Beaucaillou) purchased the Lillet Company company in 1985. Lillet was created by brothers Paul and Raymond Lillet. It's original name was Kina Lillet due to the content of quinine (the bark from the Peruvian Kina Kina tree). It's a bitter white-wine-based apéritif and is typically served over ice, either on its own or with soda water. Drinks made with Lillet are traditionally garnished with a twist of orange. Lillet is made with White Bordeaux (usually Sauvignon Blanc) mixed with fruit brandy (mainly orange). The fruit brandy is made with sweet oranges from the south of Spain, bitter oranges from Haiti and green oranges from Morocco and Tunisia.

Lillet was founded in 1872 and became fashionable after the Second World War, thanks largely to the late Duchess of Windsor. The wife of the exiled former Edward VIII travelled with Kina Lillet and demanded it in Paris restaurants. The James Bond film Casino Royale has raised Lillet's profile as it is part of the recipe for Bond's famous Martini “shaken not stirred”. Lillet has also appeared in The Sopranos, the television drama about the New Jersey Mafia and in The Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal Lecter invites his victim to share a glass of Lillet before he eats his brain.

The Lillet Company makes a blanc and a rouge version – the blanc is a golden colour, with flavours of candied orange, honey, pine resin, lime and fresh mint aromas. It's full bodied, rich and is aged for 8 months in oak. The rouge is a deep ruby red with powerful aromas of fresh oranges, ripe red berries, plums, vanilla and a hint of spices. Both are full bodied, rich and is aged for 8 months in oak.

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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Bordeaux Apéritifs

The French certainly know how to enjoy a meal – they begin slowly with an apéritif. Images of people relaxing and unwinding, sipping at some chilled concoction in their hands whilst the street slowly loses its bustle and the sun sinks down towards the rooftops spring to mind. The French don't just prepare dinner – they prepare themselves as well. The apéritifs are known as apéros and are usually stronger than 18%. They are designed to arouse the appetite and are refreshing.

Traditional wine-based apéritifs include vins doux naturels (fortified wines) such as Muscat de Rivesaltes, Banyuls, Port and Sherry; vins de liqueurs such as Pineau des Charentes and Floc de Gascogne; vermouths such as Noilly Prat, Martini & Rossi and Cinzano; and quinquinas (so-called because of their high content of quinquina, French for "quinine") such as Dubonnet, Lillet, Byrrh and St. Raphaèl. All are fortified wines: wine to which a spirit has been added to stop the fermentation, leaving it sweet and more alcoholic than table wine.

There are spirit-based apéros which include anises such as the ever-popular pastis (including Ricard, Pastis 51 and Pernod), bitters such as Campari and Fernet Branca, and gentianes (flavoured with the bitter root of wild gentian flower) such as Suze, Salers and Bonal.

And then there are the famous sweet wines from the Sauternes which are the best of all . . .

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Monday, 21 April 2008

The Fête de Printemps de la Jurade, Saint Emilion

Nick and I had stayed at Chateau Senailhac so that we could attend the Induction Ceremony held by the Jurade in Saint Emilion. The atmosphere was amazing. The Jurade dates back to the 12th Century and the Medieval surroundings of the Monolithic Church in which it was held took you back in time. Part of the church is an underground cathedral and the other is the spire which reaches up and out of the rock and into the heavens.

The whole occasion had an ancient almost regal feel to it which gave you the eerie feeling of taking part in a pageant that had been performed unchangingly down the centuries. The lady attendants all wore chique red dresses to match the red robes of the Jurat, adorned by a single string of pearls. There was no dusty pomp and circumstance just a stately gathering of people from all walks of life who cared passionately about their wine and their city which they are sworn to protect.

The Reception was held in the gardens and we had Champagne and Canapes. The Canapes were served on spoons – which had a wide bowl with a small twist to make a handle. I have never seen these sort of spoons before and they were an ingenious way to serve the scrumptious snacks. After the Ceremony we sat down to eat the most delicious meal. The menu was:

Cannelloni de langoustine (Crawfish Cannelloni)
Croustillant de thon mariné au gingembre (Crusty Tuna with Ginger)
Homard au navet (Lobster with turnips)
Vichyssoise de petitis pois à l’églefin (Vichyssoise of Peas and Haddock)
Et râpé de truffes noires (Grated Black Truffles)
Poire moelleuse de joue de bœuf liée au vin de Saint-Émilion (Cheek of Beef in wine with pears)
Petit pot d’antan aux légumes de printemps (Casserole of Spring Vegetables)
Craquelin au chocolat
Sorbet au basilic et huile d’olive (Basil and Olive Sorbet)
Macaron à la rose (Rose Water Macaroons)
Plaisirs autour du chocolat
Crumble poire au thym (Pear and Thyme Crumble)

Nick’s favourite was the Macaron à la rose – which I am going to have to try and recreate as they were delicious! Saint Emilion is famous for its Macaroons, the recipe for which was brought to the town by Ursuline nuns in 1620.

The tables were glistening with ranks of glasses ready to sample the wines. I was surprised to see that everyone was nearly as passionate about the glasses as they were about the wine. Each glass had to be the right shape and have exactly the right dimensions with which you could fully enjoy the variety of wine for which it was made.

In fact, whilst shopping earlier in the week, Nick and I had watched a lady buying a set of wine glasses in the town. The shopkeeper examined each glass meticulously before he boxed it up to make the set. Each glass was struck with his finger to see if it rang true and also to see if it matched the tone of the others he had selected. Any glass that rang out of tune was rejected immediately. It was fascinating to watch.

The entertainment provided for us whilst we dined was spectacular – a dancer was suspended from the vaulted ceiling and gracefully twirled above our heads. She too was dressed in the red of the Jurade. It was quite ethereal to watch and added to the spell binding aura of the ancient surroundings.

It was an event that we shall never forget and an honour to be part of Saint Emilion’s heritage. The nearest equivalent I can think of in the UK is the old tradition of the guilds which were formed to protect the time honoured crafts and traditions of the artisans hundreds of years ago. I am so proud that Nick’s work with wine – his one great passion – has enabled him to become part of such an honourable fellowship that holds this great love close to their hearts as well.

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Friday, 18 April 2008

Bordeaux Toile de Jouy

Château Sénailhac was beautifully decorated, each room displaying a different theme and motif. The windows all had their original shutters and we had breakfast in our own little salon. It was wonderful. The designers had used fabrics to cover the walls printed with the classic Toile de Jouy in many of the rooms and it was like stepping back in time.

Toile de Jouy, sometimes abbreviated to simply "toile", is a type of decorating pattern consisting of a white or off-white background on which a repeated pattern depicting a fairly complex scene, generally of a French pastoral scenes of shepherdesses, farm animals, trees, etc. The pattern portion consists of a single colour, most often black, dark red, or blue. Greens and magenta toile patterns are less common but not unheard of.

Toile de Jouy originated in France in the 1800s. It became a great vogue and was the height of fashion but its origins came about after the magnificent, extravagant reign of Louis XIV, when France went through a period of great financial distress. Even the nobility were obliged to "cut corners." The floral, lace, and ribbon motifs that had been designed for the rich silk brocades were used, toward the middle and end of the eighteenth century, for hand blocked prints on fine cottons and linens in the best of homes.

In the French language, the phrase literally means "cloth from Jouy-en-Josas”, a town of north-central France. Although it has been continuously produced since then, it has now come full circle and is once again being used in clothing as designers have cottoned on to its popularity.

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Thursday, 17 April 2008

Magnolias at Château Sénailhac

In the grounds of Château Sénailhac stands a Magnolia Grandiflora and its fragrance was stunning. It drifted across the vines and I had to take some photos of it! Strangely enough the Magnolia takes it name from a French doctor and professor of biology – Pierre Magnol (1638 – 1715). He was physician to Louis XIV and is famous for being one of the first innovators of the current botanical scheme of classifying plants.

Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating back to 95 million years ago.

The first Magnolias from China arrived to Britain about 1780 and you can often seem them adorning the walls of stately homes.

I loved the scent so much that I have bought one to grow up the side of our house - apparently they can take up to 7 years to flower when they are young so I may have a long wait to see and smell the blooms!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Château Sénailhac - Holidays in Bordeaux

Nick was in Bordeaux recently for the 2007 tastings and I am hoping to go out there with him later in the year. Last year we managed to snatch a few days there for Nick to be received in to the Jurade of Saint Emilion as a pru d’homme (Counsellor). The Jurade is an ancient brotherhood of wine and if you’d like to know more check out Nick’s Blog: The Jurade of Saint Emilion.

We stayed at the Château Sénailhac in the Gironde which is owned by the Grands Vins de Gironde ( It’s a lovely country house dating back to 1845 and is 10km east of Bordeaux. It is surrounded by vineyards planted out on the slopes overlooking the estate’s four buildings which are grouped round a central courtyard overlooked by a large dovecote. The 103 hectare plot has 55 hectares of vines. The wine the Château produces is a classic round, well-balanced Bordeaux Supérieur. It is a gorgeous deep red and has a rich, spicy bouquet.

It's a beautiful place to visit so I thought it would be fun to post about it this week as people are starting to think about booking their summer holidays! If you'd like to know more about Saint Emilion check out Nick's Blog: Saint Emilion – Mushrooms, Troglodytes and Great Wine!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Red Wine For Spring and Chicken and Grape Salad

There are plenty of fruit driven red wines that drink well with cold dishes and salads. Prince de Prieur (£3.25) is a red table wine from Bordeaux and if this wine was from any other region or country it would come with a higher Classification. It has a very pronounced nose with lots of good ripe fruit. Prince de Prieur is a soft, supple wine which is low in tannins and acidity so it makes pleasant easy drinking.

It's lower in alcohol than most wines as it is 11.5% which makes it great with food as there is no competition going on. It has the flavour of blackberries and blackcurrants and has a smooth, round mouth feel. If you would like to know more about this wine click here.

Chicken and Grape Salad

4 small melons
4 chicken breasts, poached
25g sliced blanched almonds, toasted
bunch of spring onions, chopped
225g grapes
250 ml mayonnaise
salt and pepper
mint, chopped

Cut the tops off the melons and scoop out the flesh and cut it into chunks. Cut the chicken into pieces and mix with all the other ingredients in a bowl. You can either fill the melon shells with the mixture or serve on a plate, garnished with sprigs of mint. Chill thoroughly.

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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon (Sauvignon Blanc being the other parent). It is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Bordeaux to make claret. Château Cheval Blanc is the one wine in Bordeaux which uses up to 2/3rds of Cabernet Franc in its blend. It's a dark blue colour and has overtones of spice and pepper. Cabernet Franc has the aroma of strawberries, plums, raspberries and violets. It is a lighter style of grape than it's heavier Cabernet Sauvignon parent and a wine made from it is a bright, pale red.

There are records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux going back to the end of the 18th century but it could have originated in Brittany as the grape is called Breton in the Loire. This would be consistent with its preference for cooler temperatures. The grapes are thin skinned and early ripening with lower acidity than the Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Saturday, 12 April 2008

Rosé Wine For Spring and Grape Jelly

Rosé is a lovely wine to drink in the Spring time – it reflects all the fragrances and flowers bursting into bud. Château Roques Mauriac Rosé (£5.49) is an absolute delight – it's from the quaint village of Mauriac in the Entre Deux Mers and won a Silver Medal at the 2006 Concours Général Agricole de Paris. It is flawlessly crisp, brilliant and light with fresh fruity aromas of strawberries and raspberries. It is mouth-wateringly refreshing, slightly dry and has a long after taste. It's made from a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. This Rosé is a wine for the epicurean – and you can indulge your taste buds as well as your guests! You can pair Château Roques Mauriac Rosé with an array of dishes including shellfish, white fish, white meats and salads.

To make the Rosé the red grapes are collected very early to avoid too high temperatures of harvest, pressed and vinified like a white (in the manner of rosés of Provence). Château Roques Mauriac uses this to technique to obtain a wine with the colour of rose petals and the aromatic smoothness near to a white wine. It’s delicious and is well worth discovering some for yourselves! If you would like to know more about this wine click here.

The wine is a glorious colour and looks stunning with the recipe below. Savoury jellies were popular in Victorian times but are well worth making as they are easy to prepare and are great on crusty bread and crackers as a snack.

Grape and Cucumber Jelly

600ml white grape juice
25g gelatine
sprigs of mint
1 ½ cucumbers
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
225g white grapes
salt and pepper

Dissolve the gelatine with a few tablespoons over a low heat. Chop the mint and add it to the gelatine. Grate the cucumbers, squeeze out all the excess liquid, add the vinegar and the rest of the grape juice. Halve the grapes and add to the mixture. Add the salt and pepper and pour into a bowl and chill until it is set.

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Friday, 11 April 2008

Sumptuous Sémillon

Sémillon is an early ripening grape which is a rich yellow colour but can attain a pinkish amber hue in warmer climates. It's low in acidity and has a sweet, rich, full body that makes it a good blending partner with Sauvignon Blanc. It's soft and fruity with flavours of fig, lemon and pear. It is used as one of the 3 grapes to make White Bordeaux and gives flavours of quince, apricot, crystallised fruits and honey to the dessert wines of Sauternes.

The skin of the Sémillon grape is thin and it can suffer from sunburn but inside it is very juicy and it has the ability to age for a very long time when made into a wine.

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Thursday, 10 April 2008

Mellow Muscadelle

The Muscadelle grape is one of the 3 authorised grapes used in the making of White Bordeaux – the others being Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. It's a yellow gold coloured grape which is used for its perfumes of acacia blossom, flowers, raisins and its honied sweet flavour. As it matures quickly it is susceptible to Noble Rot (Botrytis) and is used to make the great sweet dessert wines of the Sauternes and Barsac. It is also used to make Australian Tokay.

Muscadelle has a fresh fruitiness to its taste and has a concentrated essence of grape in its bouquet. It can have a musky aroma to it but don't confuse it with the Muscat grape as Muscadelle is more subtle.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

White Wine For Spring With Baked Salmon

At last the evenings are drawing out and the hedges are flushing with green as Spring pushes Winter away. Some evenings have been so mild I have almost been tempted to eat outside but the snow and frost haven't quite been banished yet. There is a lovely white wine for Spring – Château Tour Chapoux (£5.25) which breathes a sense of sunshine and unfurling leaves towards you even before you open it, as it has a painting of a vine leaf curling up the label. However it's what's inside the bottle that counts and the wine is deliciously refreshing and vibrant.

Château Tour Chapoux is made from 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle and its a pale yellow crisp white wine from the heart of the Entre Deux Mers, from Saint Antoine du Queyret. Being made predominantly with the Sauvignon Blanc grape this wine is perfumed with the scents of grassy meadows , citrus, acacia flowers and gorse. The Semillon offers notes of spring blossoms, pears and peaches which brings a roundness in the mouth. The Muscadelle is floral and fruity too and contributes to the aromatic complexity of the wine. The Entre Deux Mers wines are often drunk young and as aperitifs they refresh the palate and open the appetite.
If you'd like to know more about the wine click here.

Château Tour Chapoux goes very well with seafood, oysters and fish so I have paired it with a salmon recipe – it's easy to make and is great hot or cold. Enjoy!

Baked Salmon and Hollandaise Sauce

1 salmon
2 oz butter
¼ pint dry white wine
bay leaf
dill sprigs
tarragon sprigs
salt and pepper

Line a baking tray with some foil and dot the butter around. Lay the salmon in the foil and curl the edges to make a bowl shape. Pour in the wine and sprinkle the herbs, salt and pepper over the salmon and then wrap it up. Bake at 160ºC/325ºF for around 1 ½ hours. Garnish with herbs and hollandaise sauce.

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Friday, 4 April 2008

Cork Houses, Boats and Chairs

Bill and Jodi Butterworth from South Carolina have constructed a 4 foot house made from wine corks inside their living room. A balcony is made of Yellow Tail corks. A wall is constructed from Barefoot corks. The yellow, plastic sofa in front of the fire place? It’s made of cork. So is the hot tub. And the pool table, minus the felt and matchstick cues.

However John Pollack and Garth Goldstein went one step further and created a boat from corks in 2002. The two-ton, 27-foot craft was made of 165,321 corks and the pair set sail from the northern Portuguese city of Barca d'Alva, near the Spanish border, where hundreds of Portuguese gathered to watch them embark upon an improbable, 17-day journey on the Douro River.

Luxist has spotted a Champagne Cork and Cage set from Michael Chiarello's home furnishings company Napa Style. The cork stool in bright orange is not made of cork but of polyethylene and the stool is made of chromed steel. The fun part is that the two pieces can function as one unit or a separate stool and a table.

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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

What Kind of Wine Are You?

I spotted this over at Cream's blog and couldn't resist taking the test. I thought I might be a velvety Claret but it turns out I am a Chardonnay! Try it for yourselves and see!

Here are my results:

You Are Chardonnay
Fresh, spirited, and classic - you have many facets to your personality.
You can be sweet and light. Or deep and complex.
You have a little bit of something to offer everyone... no wonder you're so popular.
Approachable and never smug, you are easy to get to know (and love!).
Deep down you are: Dependable and modest
Your partying style: Understated and polite
Your company is enjoyed best with: Cold or wild meat

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Wine Flavoured Salt?

Salt is salt isn't it? Not necessarily so – apparently you can buy salt that has been smoked over wood chips from aged oak Chardonnay barrels. Williams-Sonoma also offer customers salt harvested from the island of Ré, off France’s Atlantic coast, since the seventh century” and a 4-ounce lump from the foothills of the Himalayas that you grate yourself. The New York Times has spotted that we may soon be able to buy the most exotic salt of all – salt from Mars. Mars appears to be covered in salt crystals from ancient dried-up lakes, new evidence suggests. A Nasa probe has found signs that the southern hemisphere is dusted with chloride mineral, perhaps “table salt”. I wonder how much THAT would cost?

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