Archive for the ‘France’ Category

2011 Bordeaux Fails to Impress – France

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The 2011 Bordeaux falls short of the two previous excellent vintages and is not going to compete in terms of quality, and prices need to reflect this.  Last year, Chateau Lafite en primeur, or still in the barrel,  hit £ 10,000 a case and appreciation is not expected, say merchants.

Consumers in China and other areas of Asia continue paying inflated prices for wine, cognac and Scotch whisky, more as a status symbol than for enjoyment.

Byrrh, An Apéritif From The South of France

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Byrrh (pronounced “beer”) is made from the bark of South American Quinquina and other plants and spices, from the original late 19th century recipe. It is sweetened with Muscat mistelles and created by two brothers Pallade and Simon Violoet in a small town called Thuir in the south of France. It is a vermouth with alcohol of 18%, now produced by Pernod Ricard.

Bordeaux Wine Sales Dropping – France

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

French wines are being hurt, due in some part to U.S. wine critic, Robert Parker and his thirst for boosting huge, fruity, high-alcohol and non-French style wines. It has made it difficult for French wines to succeed in America, and of late many fine, small estates may be going out of business. New drunk-driving laws around the world have not helped wine sales as well.
It is necessary to aggressively promote France’s good value regional wines from the Midi, Rhône, Alsace, Beaujolais, Corsica and Bordeaux that fortunately are being met with great enthusiasm in Tokyo, Seoul, Warsaw, New York and Moscow.

France is hindered by too many rules and regulations, whereas new world wines are free to do what they want including using any name for brand building. It is the beginning of the end of the négociant system in France, it’s crumbling rapidly.
The real killer is that grapes today cost too much to grow.

French Schools Ban Ketchup – France

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The French government has stated that as of this week, ketchup will be banned from school cafeterias to promote healthy eating and to teach a respect for French culinary tradition.
We have to be able to limit children serving those type of sauces to themselves to mask the flavor of whatever they are eating. Children must become familiar with French recipes so that they may hand them down to the next generation. They must realize that in France food has a meaning beyond just “filling up the tank”, it represents sharing a good time and conviviality, at the table.

Once a week ketchup will be allowed to be served, as an accompaniment to an order of French fries, but only once a week mind you, and that goes for the French fries as well!

Editor’s note: I read this post to my daughter, who is an eight-year-old now, and she mainly took offense to it, as she is a staunch ketchup supporter along with most of her classmates. To take the edge off of it, I promised that we would make a homemade ketchup this weekend to compare the difference, and she thought that would be great fun.

Martinique Rhum, Among the Finest in the World – France

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Rhum Martinique

Martinquaise Rhum is by far my favorite, after comparing it to scores of rums that I have tasted from all over the world. The Martinique chili pepper is also my number one choice of fiery chili peppers I have consumed, besides being very hot, which it has in common with many other peppers, it has a lovely floral aroma and flavor that other hot peppers do not. Trois Rivières I recall as being especially good although, you cannot complain about any of the rums produced on Martinique or to a lesser extent on the nearby island of Guadeloupe.

Rhum Blanc
While seated in the back seat of a car on my way to a party in the north of the island, I was surprised by a sudden attack without provocation by a centipede or “millepied” as they are called in French, which jumped out of a jacket pocket hanging on a window on the other side of my seat, it bit me and immediately disappeared under the seat. My longtime friend Gaetan de Lucy de Fossarieu, whose family have been in the rum business on the island for years, pulled the car alongside the entrance to a pharmacy at the next small village and they gave me some medicine for the bite, but Gaetan affirmed, “The best medicine is waiting at the party”. After drinking a couple of “petit punch”,  a drink made from local rum agricole, sugar cane syrup, with a twist of lime squeezed to release the oil from the skin, and finally an ice cube or two;  I almost forgot I was bitten!
Rhum agricole, which comes mostly from the French Caribbean island of Martinique, is made from fresh sugarcane juice. It has a lovely, lively flavor with a lingering mineral aftertaste provided by Martinique’s volcanic soil. Newly cut cane will begin to ferment within hours of being harvested, so the distillery is better to be as close as possible to the cane fields.



French Chateau Wine Makers: War on Bogus Bottles – France

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Mouton_1982.jpgNew technology has supplied methods to deter criminals from selling fake wine bottles, especially through auctions and the internet. The following security measures are now, or will be in place soon, at many of the wineries that produce Grand Cru and expensive bottles of wine; this will help to stop or at least deter criminals from trying to pass off bogus bottles as genuine:

(1) a trace mineral hidden in capsule covering the cork that can be read by a testing device
(2) stamps & reference number laser etched into the glass bottles
(3) bubble tags in plastic film to seal bottle, to show that the bottle has never been opened before.
(4) testing age of old bottles by measuring radioactivity, especially with bottles predating atomic testing, without even opening them.

Chinese Buyer of Bordeaux Château Disregards Wine Making Protocol; Infuriates Former French Owner – France

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Ch. de la Salle

The former owner of Château de la Salle, Blaye charges his Chinese buyers Zhongai, a company based in Dalian, China with bad business dealings. The Chinese company has infuriated the French owner by doing little since buying the wine estate, including not keeping up the vineyards or getting ready for the approaching harvest. Two months after the deal closed, the house remains shuttered and no manager has been hired. The two employees of the winery turn up but there is no money to put diesel in the tractor. “No one from Zhongai have ever visited the property,”  said Patrick Etineau. “I put my heart into making a good wine and I never would have sold them the Château had I known they would act like this.” They also had the audacity to threaten to expand into neighboring vineyards and dump all the production into the vats without any selection for quality, diluting any notion of terroir.

Atlantic/France: Juvenile Oysters Succomb to Killer Virus, Once Again – France

Sunday, January 30th, 2011


Oyster Forecast for 2011

The mortality of juvenile oysters has impacted the entire European coast and production this year will fall by more than 40 percent compared to 2009 and 2010. This decline is expected to continue over the next  year or more depending on how fast they can control this current virus.

Ninety-five percent of farmed oysters hail from the same species, Crassostrea gigas, which occurs naturally in Japan and Southeast Asia. There are currently three scientific programs underway to study oyster juveniles, with the initial larvae sourced from Japan. In the 1970s and ‘80s we brought in larvae from Japan, and it seemed to work, but we don’t know if it will function this time. The key difference is that in the 1970s there were no more larvae. Now there are some still surviving. While the species is the same, larvae have different characteristics, with each acclimated to their environment.

The aim is to identify the larvae with characteristics best suited to our climate. The quality of water due to man’s activities is also a constant battle for the industry

The price rise may not be that significant because there is quite a bit of margin at the distributor/supermarket level. While producers were paid about EUR 2 or 2.10 a kilo for oysters four years ago, last year they received EUR 1.80. By contrast, the consumer can pay between EUR 8 and EUR 10 a kilo. Traditionally, there has always been this big a margin between producer and retailer.

France consumes 95 percent of the French production. The remaining 5 percent is mopped up by Belgium, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, plus about 7,000 metric tons exported to Asia. The United States and Asia are not allowed to enter the European market for sanitary reasons.

France does import about 3,300 metric tons of “plate” oysters from other European countries and about 2,200 of “creuse” oysters. Sold between EUR 6 and 30 a kilo, the rarer plate, or round and flat, oysters are three times more expensive than the more common creuse oyster.

Up until the 1980s, there were not creuse oysters in Britanny and Normandy, only the sweeter and firmer plate oysters. This has totally reversed now, and France barely produces 2,000 metric tons of plate oysters at this time.

Oyster production in France runs along the coast, from northern Normandy, through Britanny, the Loire, the Poitou Charentes to the southwestern Arcachon basin. We know that the potential for the at-home oyster market is enormous. Ten years ago, France produced 180,000 mertric tons of oysters, and we sold the lot. And today, foreign markets also hold growing potential.

In terms of creuse oysters, nothing has changed for years. A third is sold at the retail level, a third in restaurants or at the fishmonger, and a third via direct sales, such as markets. By contrast, a hefty 75 percent of mussels are sold at the retail level. The buying pattern differs for the two different shellfish. A spontaneous purchase, shoppers tend to buy oysters on the spur of the moment. But mussels are bought to make a dish, so the purchase is planned.

French Alcool Adverts from the Past

Monday, January 10th, 2011







Bienfaits du Vin4

Death of a Chef, Bernard Loiseau of La Côte d’Or – France

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

The changing landscape of French cooking.
Published in The New Yorker
by William Echikson May 12, 2003

2003_05_12_v256© The New Yorker

Poularde Alexandre Dumaine, a two-hundred-and-sixty-seven-dollar chicken offered at La Côte d’Or, Bernard Loiseau’s gastronomic temple in Burgundy, is filled with julienned leeks and carrots, lightly basted and seasoned with salt and pepper, and baked in an earthenware pot. Truffles inserted under the skin give the bird an earthy flavor, and the meat is tender and pungent. Early on the afternoon of February 24th, Loiseau watched his team of a dozen chefs prepare the poularde for two American chefs who were completing internships in France. After the dish was served, he went home for a siesta. Sometime later that day, he shot himself in the mouth with a hunting rifle. He was fifty-two.

This is an older article well worth a read.

Below is the link to the complete article in The New Yorker: