Beyond Champagne: French Sparkling Wine for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with Champagne?

Champagne has long been the go-to wine for celebrations, but it can be pricey. Luckily, there are other French sparkling wines to consider, called crémants, that are also delicious … and easier on the budget.

What is a crémant and what are the different kinds? Learn more in France Today!

How to Drink Like a Roman

Near the town of Beaucaire is something unique in the world. Built on the site of a Roman villa, it is a faithful reconstruction of a Roman winery. Visitors learn how winemaking was done back in the days when Rome ruled the world, and sample wines made using ancient recipes—fenugreek, anyone?

Fine wine has been made on the site of Mas des Tourelles for millennia. They have been praised by Rabelais and served by French kings. Such fine wines are still made at the Mas des Tourelles, but one day owner Hervé Durand decided to try something new.

Working with archaeologists, he recreated a Roman vineyard and wine cellar and decided to try Roman winemaking. Today the Mas showcases Roman winemaking techniques, along with those “interesting” samples. There are Roman games to play and grape juice for the kids, so it’s a place the whole family can enjoy.

Learn more about it at Perfectly Provence!

Wine Tasting in Provence

Provence is a wine lover’s paradise, and wines have been produced here for thousands of years. Val and I live part of the year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, near many excellent wineries.

I’ve written an article about some of my favorites (all with English-speaking staff.) Would you like to sip some wine near a medieval Court of Love, where noble ladies once ruled on “questions of gallantry”? Or perhaps at a winery that the famous seer Nostradamus said would be the edge of the earth when the seas rose to great heights. And then there’s the place where you can drink like an ancient Roman! (toga not included)

Read about my favorite wineries in France Today!

Gigondas: Wine Village with a View

Are you looking for a place with beautiful views, excellent food, and fabulous wines? Then consider Gigondas in the southern Rhône Valley.

This region has been producing excellent wines for over 2,000 years, from when it was part of the Roman Empire. The Romans liked the wines from Gigondas so much that they named it Jocunditas, or “delight,” and the name evolved into the modern Gigondas. Gigondas wines are similar to those of its famous neighbor, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but much more affordable.

Perched on a mountainside, the village overlooks its famous vineyards. Above it are the jagged, rocky crests of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a small mountain range. Even in a region known for its natural beauty, Gigondas stands out. There is a walking trail above the  town, with a viewing platform, and the views from it are spectacular.

The town hosts special artworks every summer, and has excellent restaurants and one of the best wine-tasting centers anywhere. Find out what to see and do, and where to eat and drink, at Perfectly Provence!

This article is taken from my upcoming book An Insider’s Guide to Provence, available for pre-order on Amazon.

 

 

The Queen of Wine

If you look at a list of the most expensive wines in the world you’ll see it stuffed with beauties from France. Look closer and you’ll see one name pop up over and over—Leroy. You think to yourself, I don’t know who this Monsieur Leroy is but he must be quite the winemaker.

Surprise! It’s not Monsieur Leroy, it’s Madame: Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy. Another surprise: she’s in her 9th decade and still at the top of her game. You might not have heard of her but she’s famous among the cognoscenti, and for good reason.

Lalou Bize-Leroy is the fourth generation of her family to run Maison Leroy, founded by her great-grandfather in 1868. She was perhaps destined for a life in wine after her father Henri placed a few drops of Burgundy on the lips of his newborn daughter.

Read all about this fascinating lady in The Good Life France!

Celebrity Rosé Wines of Provence

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, John Legend, and Jon Bon Jovi are just a few of the celebrities who have fallen in love with the delicious rosé wines of Provence. And not only do they love them, they make them! (well, maybe they hire someone to do the actual work…)

Who are these famous vignerons and, more important, are their wines any good? I decided to do deep research on this vital subject and am happy to share what I learned.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

My Provençal Summer Menu

Summer is a wonderful time of year in Provence, with blue skies everywhere and brilliant sunflowers and lavender in bloom. My favorite time of day is the early evening when the heat of the day is past and you can look forward to a long, lazy meal.

Even if you are not in Provence right now, here’s a menu that will bring the flavors of the region to you. We start with a refreshing aperitif, move on to an appetizer and a main dish, and finish with a cool and refreshing dessert. I’ve chosen some of my favorite dishes, all very Provençal, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

Take-Out Food…From a Michelin-Starred Restaurant?

When most of us order take-out food, it’s pizza or chicken chow mien or something like that: tasty but not what you’d call elegant.

By contrast, restaurants with Michelin stars serve food that is the epitome of elegance—Duck à l’Orange presented on fine china, that sort of thing. Not what you would imagine being sold “to go.” Until now.

With the coronavirus forcing restaurants to close their doors, even those with Michelin stars have had to get creative to pay the bills. Some are now offering takeaway food for prices well below what they usually charge. Instead of meals costing hundreds of euros, these restaurants are offering dishes for as little as 8 euros! Prepared by the great chef himself! (or herself, bien sûr)

Let’s take a tour around France and see what’s cooking.

Read all about it in France Today!

France Bans UFOs!

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, just north of where I live in Provence, is famous for its wines. The town’s name means “the pope’s new château” because many centuries ago a summer papal palace was built here. Popes need good wine to drink, so vines were planted, barrels were crafted, and the town’s fame for great wine began.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is known for more than its wines, though. It’s also known for a law that bans UFOs from taking off, landing, or even flying over the town. How did this strange law come to be? It’s an interesting story of a famous movie, some invaders from outer space (or mass delusion, take your pick) plus a clever mayor with a nose for publicity.

Read all about it in The Good Life France!

Discover Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wines at a Fun Spring Event

How would you like to taste some of the world’s greatest wines for a mere 10 euros? If that sounds appealing, then come to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine fair, the Salon des Vins. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a charming village in northern Provence, famous both for its wines and for its law banning flying saucers (more on this later).

To attend the Salon, you can a buy ticket ahead of time or just show up at the door. You pay 10 euros and receive an engraved glass which entitles you to unlimited tasting. This lets you wander from winemaker to winemaker, holding out your glass for a pour, and buying bottles of anything that strikes your fancy. Doesn’t that sound like a pleasant way to spend the day?

When you get hungry, there is a large outdoor food court with specialties from all over France. Would you like some foie gras from the Gers? Truffles from Ventoux? Or maybe oysters from Brittany? They are all there, along with plenty of simpler (but still delicious) fare.

Read all about it at France Today!