The brutal frost that hit France last April 6th and 7th (more to the north, in Burgundy, than to the south in Bordeaux) hit again last night. The consequences of that latest swipe have yet to be determined.
However, as a result of the past cold snap, the Haut Gironde newspaper estimated a 25% loss of vine production in Bordeaux, while wine reviewer Jean-Marc Quarin mentioned in his newsletter the following: losses are less generalized than in 2017—with graves and Sauternes Barsac severely impacted (south of Bordeaux city), while the Médoc banks of the Gironde estuary were hardly touched. On the right bank, Saint-Émilion was impacted most along the Dordogne plain.
Here in the Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux wine appellation region, impacts have varied: neighbors have lost 60% or more of their crop, while others (including our own Etalon Rouge vines) have had less than a 10% impact. The results of this morning’s additional frost, however, are still to be reckoned.
Spring, summer and fall (autumn) are picnic season in France. Now, amid this 3rd set of French Covid-19 restrictions in place—restaurants, bars and cafés are still closed (and have been so since late last October) while traveling further than six miles (10 kilometers) from home requires filling out an attestation for that lists a specific reason for your journey.
As spring weather blossoms (despite early morning frost), the desire to get outside for a sunny picnic or porch-side lunch is more popular than ever.
A few days ago I took a work trip north to the historically, strategic and contemporarily beautiful Atlantic coastline city of La Rochelle.
During free hours, I walked south on the coast past various beaches—such as Plage de Bessélue and Plage D’Aytré.
I packed a light lunch, and carried it in a daypack.
The picnic was simple.
Bread—This was purchased from organic producers near my home town of Blaye. They, and other producers, arrive each week for a one hour delivery period. They call this custom made bread L’Ithaque, and it includes chunks of goat cheese, as well as honey. Extraordinary!
Cheese—Saint Nectaire cheese, purchased from a stall in the open-air market of La Rochelle on a Saturday afternoon. This semi-soft, creamy cheese comes from the central Auvergne region of France, and is produced from Salers cows that feed on grass pastures over volcanic soils.
The Picnic—Lunch included bread, cheese, a sliced apple and cookies made from chocolate chips as well as fleur de sel—salt that forms as a crust on seawater when it evaporates.
For this oceanside lunch I drank a local wine—a 13% alcohol red called a Mareuil after the vineyard from where the grapes are picked. The Mareuil includes about 750 acres (300 hectares) of vines and forms one of five regions that comprise the Fiefs Vendéens appellation. This is part of the westernmost, or ‘lower’ Loire valley, known as ‘Pay Nantais’ — or countryside that surrounds the city of Nantes.
From this appellation, I drank a Christian Jard 2019 Le Vieux Mouliin (‘the old mill’). This blend of Pinot Noir and Cabernets (both Franc and Sauvignon) includes red plum and black pepper aromas and a spicy, juicy kick in the mouth—reminiscent of a Carménère—with good acidity, subdued tannins and a hint of raspberries on the finish.
WINDS OF WINE—NEWS ABOUT VINTAGES / TRAVEL / LIFESTYLE
From April 10th until May 2nd, enjoy 20% off Côtes de Bourg wines—from an internationally little known, but incredible appellation within Bordeaux!
Follow several Bordeaux wine related stories here with Lynn and Mark from Savor the Harvest (Bonjour from Bordeaux).
Syrah Queen (Rupal Shankar) will tell you here about 6 Grenache wines from around the globe.
Tune in EVERY DAY for world wine news from Vitabella Luxury & Lifestyle in Paris; I know the owner Guillaume well, and trust me—he can suggest the most offbeat, best quality wine bars and restaurants in Paris (and throughout France). He is a polite and intelligent wine/lifestyle wizard!
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Very soon, I’ll review here on this Vino Voices blog (or in Forbes) the following:
- Klein Constantia wines from South Africa.
- Cantine Settesoli wines from Sicily.
- Dozens of En Primeurs (vintage 2020) wines from Bordeaux in France.
- Wines from Robin Lail of Napa Valley, California (we met last March before Wine Spectator published a cover article about her).
- Mysteriously elegant wines made from the Nielluccio grape, from Clos de Bernardi, Patrimonio, on Corsica island, France.
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