A bright start in Crest

Bright start in CrestLast month we visited a couple of particular wine regions well to the south of Savoie, regions that are part of the southern French Alps. The first of these was Clairette de Die, where we made a bright start in Crest

Bright start in CrestClairette de Die is one of France’s more geographically isolated wine districts, lying 48km east of (and a few hundred metres higher than) the main Rhône valley vineyard area. The landscape here is characterized by craggy outcrops of glacial rock formations, and high, steep Alpine cliffs. The river Drôme, a tributary of the Rhône is the spine of the region.

Bright start in CrestWe started our few days’ visit in Crest, a town just the west of the region but in spirit very much part of Clairette de Die, in time for a look around before lunch. Unlike the toothpaste this town is pronounced cray.

Here a few memories of our visit to this little town. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Bright start in CrestThe tourist office building has the style of the south of France…

… as does the colourful produce in the market.

 Bright start in CrestThis foxy lady was outside one of the old shops.

Some shops still welcome customers, others just a glimpse of their former glory.

Bright start in CrestRelaxing in the sun.

Bright start in CrestTime to amble through the narrow streets…

…enjoying the views of old houses and through alleyways.

Bright start in CrestBright start in CrestEnjoying an apero.

 Bright start in CrestWhen we saw this bowler-hatted city gent arriving at the local bistro we realised it was time for lunch.

160607.193 Crest, Die_blog

 Lunch at La Part des Anges, owner-run with just 20 seats and a small but delicious menu. All the food is fait maison, cooked on the premises.

Bright start in CrestWe couldn’t linger longer in Crest, time was pressing so we continued our journey into the Diois vineyards after our bright start in Crest.

Randall’s Seasonal Delights

Randall's Seasonal DelightsThe entrance to Theo Randall’s restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel, bang in the centre of London, may be discreet but within we discovered good food matched with lovely wine, which celebrates Randall’s seasonal delights.

Theo Randall was head chef at the River Cafe before opening Theo Randall at the InterContinental ten years ago. He had also spent a year working with the legendary Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. His aim is to produce ‘simple’ Italian food, but with style and panache.

Randall's Seasonal DelightsEvery so often the charming and gracious head sommelier Vittorio Gentile hosts a small dinner at the sommelier table. Tucked in one side of the restaurant amid the wine fridges, the high table accomodates just six people making for an intimate event. The raised table also means that the sommelier is not talking down to you…

Randall's Seasonal DelightsEntitled Sommelier Table Experience the menu and the wines were matched to celebrate the unique style of the predominantly Italian wine list, which is arranged not by region nor type but by season. Continue reading

RAW Wine Fair 2016

Enjoyed the RAW Wine Fair at the Old Truman Brewery Spitalfields, London with all sorts of natural wines to taste and discover as well as lots of people to see.

Here a few photos from the two days – producers and tasters. Click on photos to enlarge.

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A walk in the vineyards of Chignin

walk in the vineyards

Mont Granier seen from the Chignin vineyards

The weather was bright and warm, the vines were budding, the views were magnificent and, of course, the wines were delicious! We had been invited to Savoie to learn more about the walk in the vineyards of Chignin, La Balade Gourmande de Chignin, which will be held over the weekend of 23rd and 24th July 2016.

Three years ago, on a glorious sunny day, we enjoyed the Balade Gourmande in Abymes on the other side of the valley in the lee of Mont Granier.

walk in the vineyardsSt-Anselme tower, one of several ruined towers which are a dramatic feature in the Chignin vineyards

Walk in the vineyardsAnother tower and a handsome house in the vineyards with a backdrop of the  Belledonne mountain range in the south west. In July the vineyards will be verdant green but there may just be some snow on the mountain tops in the distance.

Now in its eighth year this event has always been popular and this year will be held over two days. Each day there will be an eight kilometre walk in the vineyards, punctuated by stops where the hikers can enjoy the local wine as well as Savoie food. It is a lovely way to explore wine country and get the feel of a particular region. Continue reading

The Wines of India

Wines of IndiaOn 19th April there was an interesting event at Vintners Hall, London –  a tasting of Indian wines, celebrating the book launch of The Wines of India, a Concise Guide, written by Peter Csizmadia-Honigh MW, winner of the 2014 Geoffrey Roberts Award.

The Geoffrey Roberts Award is an international wine-related bursary of £4,000, given each year to someone who can demonstrate to the judging panel a genuine commitment to New World wines. Peter Csizmadia-Honigh was a worthy winner of the award in 2014, enabling him to publish this interesting book about a country that has started to produce wine as recently as the early 1980s.

Named ‘A Concise Guide’, it is actually a lengthy, but worthy tome, of 452 pages which starts with detailed information about the history of contemporary Indian wine, subtropical winegrowing, grape varieties and wine styles. Modern winemaking began with Indians who had enjoyed wine on their travels abroad, in particular successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. There were already established vineyards in India, but for table grapes, so some realised growing grapes for wine wouldn’t present a problem. Continue reading