France

Food and drink, lifestyle, review, travel, wine

Christmas Sparkle


No Comments

When it comes to any type of celebration, we adore the indulgence of champagne. This sparkling wine from the chalk slopes east of Paris is France’s best answer to a global brand. It is the drink of celebration, of success,  and, unlike the still French wines, which have been successfully copied around the world, Champagne remains inimitable, despite thousands of attempts.

The combination of cool climate, chalk soil and — there’s no other word for it — terroir are just so special. Like virtually every part of France, the Champagne wine region is subdivided into smaller parts, but unlike in other parts of France, those subregions rarely appear on the bottle. Although there are exceptions, like Blanc de Blancs and vintage Champagnes, most Champagnes are blends from different areas and even different vintages, using the three Champagne grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

Lets talk bubbles

There’s no denying it, Champagne sparkles with life as it is poured. The bubbles may be described as fine or medium-sized; steady, streaming or moving in groups; light and tiny; fast and furious, or slow and shy. Some whizz through the liquid like shooting stars, whirling and spiralling upwards. Others are more enduring and generous, settling in a delicate cordon round the edge of the glass. Others still are more discreet and dispersed or on the contrary very evenly distributed.

Wine critics often talk about tiny, silvery bubbles or bubbles that shatter into fragments of gold. What better way to celebrate Christmas?

Adjectives used to describe the mousse might be creamy, white, fine, enduring, lively, elegant, graceful, pale or frothy. The cordon formed by the mousse may be compared to a delicate string of pearls. How beautifully decadent!

What should you look for on the palate?

We agree with Louis Bohre, an early 20th century Champagne ‘explorer’ who advised “The palate should be surprisingly but pleasantly sparkling, instantly seductive and velvety. The taste should have an underlying fruitiness, with a lingering fragrance that causes you to meditate silently and at length on the wine’s aromatic qualities – long after you put down your glass”. . So whatever your tastes and your budget, Louis’s advice on Champagne holds true.

The drink of kings

Champagne first gained international attention for its association with the crowning of French kings in Reims (in the Champagne region of France), and champagne wine was served as part of coronation festivities.

At a time when France was one of the dominant world powers and a major cultural force throughout Europe, news about the bubbly wine from the Champagne region of France quickly spread and the drink became wildly popular. And because French nobility represented the epitome of power, luxury and class, champagne automatically was associated with luxury and power. Seizing on this opportunity, the leading manufacturers of champagne devoted considerable energy to creating a history and identity for their wine–associating it, and themselves, with nobility, royalty, luxury and power.

The strategy paid off. Today, champagne has become synonymous with celebrations, luxury, opulence and thanks to Cubby Broccoli the drink of international secret agents. Visit our page @gourmetfoodguide on Instagram to see more of our video champagne reviews where we compare Krug with Dom Perignon and will definitely be filming and celebrating Christmas and New Year with a glass or two of this delicious and indulgent wine. Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Food, Food and drink, lifestyle, review, travel, wine

Best Wines of the World


No Comments

“The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars.” Benjamin Franklin

As you may have seen from our Explore page, we’re scouring the globe to check out the best places to eat, drink, stay and play for our Gourmet Food Guide 2019. Lately our focus has turned to wine, and we are inviting you to give your input. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an amateur wine buff, a sommelier, a producer, brand ambassador or a wine connoisseur. We want you to let us know who and what we should check out.

Italian Reds

fixedw_large_4x
Montalcino, Tuscany  the home of Brunello

For example, we adore Italian wines but when looking for nominations of a great Italian red,  it’s so hard to choose between those well known delights like Barolo, Amarone and Brunello di Montalcino; and lets not forget Chianti. Are there other unsung heroes and artisan producers out there that we should know about? And, what exactly is it that makes these particular wines so deliciously special?

Bordeaux vs Burgundy?

For countless generations the world’s most bitter wine war has raged between France’s two most illustrious wine regions, Burgundy and Bordeaux. It’s a battle which divides wine critics, pits wine lovers against each other and leaves most consumers bemused.
So which is the best French wine? At International Gourmet Food Guide we’d really appreciate your thoughts on these legendary rivals and your nominations for who and where we should go check out, film and interview for our 2019 Awards. To get the conversation started, here are some previously published thoughts on this hot topic:

 “Burgundy is for those who want to be intrigued by wine, not offered certainty in a glass” (Jasper Morris in his 2010 book Inside Burgundy).

“For me, the superiority of Bordeaux comes from its naturalness: it is born of my earth, of my sun, and of the attentive love that my people devote to it. The primary virtue of Bordeaux is honesty” (French novelist François Mauriac).

New World Wines

Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon v’s Penfold’s Grange Hermitage? When it comes to new world wines and traditional verses modern methods, the battle also rages.

Wines and the winemakers in the New World embody the entrepreneurial spirit you’d expect from descendants of immigrants that struck out searching for a new and better life in another place. In these regions the winemaking practices vary dramatically, and there is much experimentation. The New World generally places less emphasis on making wine the same way it has been made for centuries, and more emphasis on making wine that takes advantage of modern advances.

Among our own personal new world favourites are Penfold’s Grange which we featured recently on our Instagram page @gourmetfoodguide but then again we’re looking for nominations great South African, New Zealand and South Americans too.

Champagne Anyone?

Krug v’s Dom Perignon, Ruinart v’s Moet and more.

Actually we’re really interested in checking out the claim that a good grower-cooperative (producers who are owned and run jointly by its members, who are growers), can produce outstanding quality Champagne. Although Champagnes made by cooperatives are often believed to be of lesser quality,  such producers can apparently achieve outstanding results, and even make superior cuvées than the famous Grandes Marques.

For those who know the Champagne region well, however, such an outcome may not surprise, with cooperatives being major suppliers of grapes and wine to many well-known names in the region, who own few vineyards themselves.

Not only that, but, unlike grower-Champagnes, who make delicious fizz from just their own holdings, the cooperatives can source from a large area, and tend to select the best grapes and wines for producing their own branded Champagnes. This gives them the chance to blend wines from across vast swathes of Champagne, vital in the strive to create something consistent in style, and complex in character.

Get on Board

The call is out. Nominations for 2019 are open to everyone, so nominate your personal favourites and recommendations for our international wine selection and join us as we film and share the exquisite experiences and places nominated by you for inclusion in the International Gourmet Food Guide Awards 2019.