Remembering Rememberance Day on November 11

Rows of headstones in a soldiers cemetery in France

This past summer, I visited WWI and WWII memorial sites in France and Belgium.  It was a very moving experience to read about the trials that each soldier went through on a daily basis.  Living in the trenches, above and below ground, was not very pleasant.  Seeing the display of gas masks that soldiers used to protect themselves from mustard and other gasses was very haunting.  And seeing the rows and rows of headstones in all the graves, and thinking about everything they gave up for us.  Visiting them was the least I could do. I will be at a cenotaph this Friday as well, remembering those brave souls.

I wrote a few articles about the memorials as I travelled in France and Belgium and I thought I’d repost the links to them here for you to read.

Chateau de Chenonceau

On part of my trip I visited the Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley in France.  This famous castle spans the Cher River. During WWII, one side was on the allied side and the other on the German occupied territory.  The owners of the castle would help the French underground send people across from one side to the other, risking the castle.  I had read that the German soldiers had guns aimed at the castle and if the word was given, the castle would have been destroyed.  I’m glad the order was never given.  If you have a chance to visit the Loire Valley, visit Chenonceau castle.  It is very beautiful.  Maybe you would like to raise a glass of Loire Valley wine, a Vouvray or other Chenin Blanc on November 11 and toast our fallen soldiers, and those people who helped them, and those that survived.  Lest we forget.

In Flanders Fields

A field of poppies in Belgium

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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Want to try Charcuterie and Wines at Bistro Pastis?

Do you like Charcuterie? In case you are not familiar with this word, Wikipedia defines it as “…the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork“. Charcuterie is found in France, particularly in the Alsace region.  Some of my most memorable dinners in France have been in Alsace, sipping a nice white Alsatian wine with mixed charcuterie and vegetables (cabbage quite common).

You can live the Alsatian meal dream, like me, through Bistro Pastis here in Vancouver.  Here is a new meal menu from them that makes me hungry!  To the menu below, you may want to consider pairing these wines from Bistro Pastis’ wine list:

  • Chamdeville Brut Blanc de Blancs (sparkling)
  • Gentil Hugel 2007 (white)
  • Gewurztraminer Steiner Grand Cru Pfaffenheim 2004 (white)
  • Vouvray, Chenin Blanc, Chateau Gaudrelle 2007 (white)
  • Pinot Noir Latour 2007 (red)
  • Pinot Noir Blue Mountain Reserve 2006 (red)
  • Château Pesquié Quintessence 2006 (red)

Bonne appetit!

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Fall Flavour Fete

Bistro Pastis

From November 1 through 13th, please join us for the last menu in our Fall Flavour Fete series – this one features Charcuterie. The word ‘charcuterie’ originates from the French term ‘cuiseur de chair’ or ‘cooker of meat.’ In France, it has been considered a high culinary art for more than 600 years and involves meat products that have been preserved in some way – by curing, brining, drying, smoking, in a terrine etc. For the next two weeks, come by and savour these rich fall flavours in Chef Tobias Grignon’s interpretations of duck prosciutto, boudin blanc, rillettes, blood sausage, terrine and even bacon ice cream.

Reservations are always a good idea 604-731-5020 or on-line at www.bistropastis.com.

Charcuterie Menu

Smoked Duck Salad, House Made Duck Prosciutto, Poached Pear, Hazelnut Vinaigrette

– or –

Wild Boar Tourtière, Parsnip Purée, Pickled Chanterelles, Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette

– or –

Rillette Trio, Duck, Pork and Rabbit

*****

Choucroute Garnie, Smoked Pork Loin, Bacon, Hock and Sausage, Sauerkraut

– or –

Chicken Leg Stuffed with Blood Sausage, Pomme Purée, Celeriac and Apple Remoulade, Sage Jus

– or –

Scallop and Prawn Boudin Blanc, Smoked Bacon Chowder, Fine Herbs Salad

*****

Brioche French Toast, Caramalized Apple and Thyme Strusel Maple Bacon Ice Cream

– or –

Dark Chocolate Terrine, Quince Compote, Candied Bacon

$45.00

Bistro Pastis
2153 W 4th Ave. Vancouver, BC V6K 1N7 | Tel: (604) 731.5020 | Fax: (604) 731.5039
www.bistropastis.com

My Latest IVSA Wine Highlights and Recommendations

Today was the first Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) Product Salon since before summer. I was looking forward to see what range of new wines have come in over the summer, and I can tell you about, so you can enjoy some great wines with the fall and winter coming upon us. As usual there was too many wines to try in too little time, so hopefully I found a few gems to pass along to you.

Overall Gems

Dante Robino Bonarda 2009

These two wines have a great price point, and taste great too.  One is from Italy and the other from Argentina.

  • Bodega Dante Robino Bonarda, 2009, Argentina ($17.99). Bonarda is an Italian grape. It was brought to Argentina where it flourishes,but it is not so well known to the North American palate.  This wine was very deep ruby in the glass.  Wow, a very interesting nose with cloves up front and black fruit supporting from behind. Medium plus in body with a round mouthfeel.  Cloves, vanilla and black fruit with a spicy finish.  Long length. This wine has the backbone and fruit to stand up to a heavy meal.
  • Tenuta Maggiore Amphorae, 2009, Italy ($14.95). This Italian red is made from Croatina, Barbera and Shiraz grapes. Lighter ruby red in the glass. Some violets, blackberries on the nose.  Light mouthfeel, bright flavours of cherries and violets.  Quite dry.  A really different, and really nice wine!

A Tale of Two Chenins

The Winery of Good Hope and Domaine de Vaugondy Chenin Blancs

Have you heard of Vouvray, or the Loire Valley in France?  This is classic Chenin Blanc. Have you heard of Steen?  That’s the name of Chenin Blanc from South Africa.  I enjoyed a comparison of these 2 Chenins, which are both sub $20.

  • The Winery of Good Hope, Chenin Blanc, 2010, South Africa ($13.99). Fairly deep lemon coloured. Light lemony nose.  High acid right up front.  Citrus and pairs on the palate with a vanilla finish and long length.  Medium body.  Something a bit different from a chardonnay if you like a little more acidity.
  • Domaine de Vaugondy, Vouvray, 2010, France ($19.99). Pale lemon with a green tinge. A nice flowery, stone fruit nose. Really high acidity with green flavours. Really needs to be sipped along with food, or let this one age a few years and then try again.  Chenin Blancs can stand aging and get better with time.

A Few Nice French Reds

These next 3 wines range across from the West, South, and East parts of France.  All different grapes with one sure to please you.

  • Henry Fessy “St. Amour”, 2009, France ($24.99). This is a Beaujolais from the eastern part of France (south of Burgundy), made from the Gamay grape.  Pale ruby in colour.  Cherry bon bon nose. Light body and lower tannins.  Cherry flavour. Lighter in body than a Bordeaux, similar in weight to a lighter Pinot Noir. Chilled a bit and served with a cornish hen, a light curry, or some Camembert cheese.
  • Chateau Belles-Graves, 2004, Bordeaux, France ($46.58). If you want to splurge on a red wine, this one would fit the bill. Very elegant, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, coming from the right bank, in the Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC. Pale garnet in colour. Nice aromas of flowers and cherries. Light body with cherry and apple flavours up front, violets showing up mid-palate, and a bit of spice on the finish. Medium tannins with a soft finish.
  • Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres Rouge, 2007, France ($22.31). This is a blended wine from southern France.  Corbieres being straight east of Carcassone. The blend of grapes are Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah. Medium garnet in the glass. Stony, smoky, strawberries on the nose. Medium body, dry with cherries, raspberries and some smokiness/flintiness mid-palate. Medium acidity with softer tanning.  Long length some some black pepper on the finish.  A very well-structured wine.

Anything But Chardonnay

Neudorf Pinot Gris 2010

I know that some people really do not like Chardonnay. So if you belong in this club, OR if you want to try some exciting white wines, try these out.

Domaine Gayda Three Winds Viognier, 2010, France ($13.99). Viognier is an aromatic grape coming out of the Rhone Valley. This wine had nice flowers and peach aromas in the glass.  Spicy cinnamon and peach flavours.  Round with medium acidity. Very enjoyable with a herbal finish.

Neudorf Moutere Pinot Gris, 2010, New Zealand ($29.99). Pale lemon in colour.  Stone fruit along with a nutty/oaky nose. Light bodied, off dry with medium acidity.  Citrus and a bit of spiciness and honey flavours. Elegant.

Canepa Novisimo Sauvignon Blanc, 2o10, Chile ($11.99). This is an unreal price. The Canepa winery was named the Chilean Producer of the Year at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2010. New to the Vancouver market. This wine has a nice nose of kiwi fruit, citrus, and a hint of oranges. Medium acidity with herbal and asparagus flavours. Light body. Make it your fun to drink, house white wine.

Juicy Red Wines

To finish off this blog article, here are 2 full fruited red wines.

Lange Twins Winery, Zinfandel, 2009, California ($23.99). The zinfandel grapes for this wine come from certified sustainable Lodi Rules, in Lodi, California. Light ruby in colour.  Ripe raspberry aromas. Lots of vanilla, raspberries and cassis on the palate. Medium body, round mouthfeel, with medium acidity makes this jammy zin easy and ready to drink now.

Santa Julia Magna, 2009, Argentina ($15.99). This wine is made by the Zuccardi family.  I’ve spoken about their “Q” series many times.  Their Santa Julia Magna is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Malbec, and 10% Syrah. Almost opaque budy in colour. Really ripe black fruit, plums, cherries and vanilla aromas. Smooth, full body with cherries and vanilla. Drink now.

Try out one or more of these wines, and comment on this post.  Let me know what you think.  And I’ll keep you posted on the next IVSA. Enjoy!

A Traditional French Dinner in the Loire Valley

Upon arriving in Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France, it was near dinner time. The hotel owner asked me if he can book a restaurant, as Chenonceau is very small, all the restaurants book fast. He gave me a few choices, one of which was “traditional” Loire Valley food. I love to taste the food of a region, so picked the “traditional” option.

Two hours later, I am seated in a restaurant, with mounted heads of animals on the wall. The best deal at any French restaurant is the Formula, which typically comes with an appetizer, main course, and dessert.  My choice was the scalloped potatoes with cream, egg, bacon, and cheese for appetizer; grilled pork chop with salad and French fries for main course; and lemon tart for dessert.  To the appetizer and main course, I paired with two Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley.

With the very rich and creamy, bacon scalloped potatoes appetizer, I went with a sparkling Vouvray sec (dry).  No winery was listed on the menu, but the wine went perfectly.  The bubble and high acidity of this sparkling wine cut through the creaminess of the scalloped potatoes.  It was a work of art on the plate.

The pork chop was grilled perfectly. Just a tiny hint of pinkness in the meat.  Very tender.  To this I paired a Bel Air Chenin Blanc.  This wine is heavier in body than the sparkling Vouvray, but also had the high acidity which was a perfect foil for the pork chop.  It also went well with the salad that have a mustard dressing.

The lemon tart had no wine to pair with, but was sublime on it’s own.  Full of lemony flavour and enhanced with the raspberry sauce.  There was also some chopped nuts to accompany this dish.  A great way to end the meal.

A truly memorable dinner. Stay tuned for my lunch in Blere.  Cheers!