A December Day

This particular December day was busier than most with endings as well as beginnings.       .

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland

December dayWe were travelling from London to return to our home in Haute Savoie and had broken our journey in Dijon staying at the Ibis Gare hotel. I remembered the breakfast waiter from my previous visit there the previous year; he greeted everyone with a cheery “Bonjour” on entering the attractive salle du petit déjeuner, a welcome that is rarely heard in many other hotels at this time of the day.December DayHowever Gilles’ bonhomie will be missed as he told me that he was retiring that day, having worked for more than 25 years at the hotel. One hopes his replacement will be as welcoming.

Dijon, Jura, Savoie-68We continued our journey back to Chinaillon with a stop for lunch in the Jura, at the brand new Brasserie, Aux Docks, slap bang in the middle of Arbois.

December DaySince the late summer, following the success of her award-winning Jura Wine Book, Wink had been involved as a consultant for this exciting and big project.

Isabelle Lassaygue and her daughter Camille have brought to fruition a brand new eating place in Arbois, the gastronomic centre of the Jura wine region, as a brasserie (erroneously automatically translated by Facebook as ‘brewery’!) offering a small, good menu with all the food prepared on the premises.

After lunch we left Arbois to travel two and half hours to Montmélian in the next wine region, Savoie.

December dayIn the heart of this historic town just south of Chambery we attended another beginning at the regional wine museum – the launch of a new book La vigne et le vin dans les Pays de Savoie.

December day

Christian Guilleré

A work of scholarship, Christian Guilleré, Emeritus Professor of the University of Savoie Mont-Blanc, writes in depth about the history of wine in Savoie from Roman times to the present day.

December day

Anthony Pinto

The other author, and publisher, Anthony Pinto, describes the geography and viticulture of this mountainous region of many parts as well as mentioning the involvement of several important vignerons.

Well endowed with many good photos and fine illustrations, this well designed book is a delight to look at as well as to read, albeit in French.

December dayThere were several Savoie wines to taste, one of which was another beginning, or should I say, a revival: a vin primeur (harvested just three months earlier), Bachelier-Gaultier Douce Noire. Attractively light and juicy it is made from Douce Noire, a regional grape variety which was banned locally in 1958 but re-established in 2008 following lobbying by a few local vignerons.

We arrived back in Chinaillon later that evening, tired but pleased to have enjoyed this December day of endings and beginnings.

Resolutions for 2016

Ah, New Year resolutions. I make a few every year at this time and, amazingly, I find I have kept some of them. Inspired by happy memories of our nine month stay in New Zealand I suggest some resolutions for 2016, in no particular order of importance.

Resolutions for 2016Travel and explore new paths

Resolutions for 2016Relax when you get there

Resolutions for 2016Enjoy the view

Resolutions for 2016Build something

Resolutions for 2016Read more

Resolutions for 2016Don’t be boringResolutions for 2016Be encouraged

Resolutions for 2016Share

Resolutions for 2016Be brave and you’ll get across

Resolutions for 2016Discover variety, and be charitable

Resolutions for 2016Ignore false blandishments

Resolutions for 2016Seek and ye shall find

Resolutions for 2016Keep looking

Resolutions for 2016Heed good advice

Resolutions for 2016Step gingerly

Resolutions for 2016Or just take the plunge

Resolutions for 2016Seize opportunities

Resolutions for 2016Go to the beach

Resolutions for 2016Splash in the sea

Resolutions for 2016Be busy

Resolutions for 2016Don’t quit

Resolutions for 2016Enjoy the company of good friends

Resolutions for 2016Make new friends in high places

Resolutions for 2016Get the best…

Resolutions for 2016Learn more

Resolutions for 2016Discover good food and wine

Resolutions for 2016Dine in style

Resolutions for 2016And relish the simple things

Resolutions for 2016Be healthy, spicy and fruity

Resolutions for 2016Discover nature in the city

Resolutions for 2016Be colourful

Resolutions for 2016Always cook with wine

Resolutions for 2016Love like bread

Resolutions for 2016Applaud the beauty of sunset

Resolutions for 2016I raise my glass to a Happy, Healthy New Year and its far horizons!

A Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerI’d arrived at St Pancras to find the Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower. I could see the proud clock tower on this handsome Victorian building which has always delighted me whenever I was on the Euston Road, London.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower I had been told that the entry was somewhat discreet so I walked into the station to search for the front door but was quickly distracted by the poet and writer, Sir John Betjeman, who was instrumental in saving St Pancras from demolition.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerBack outside I did find the correct entrance and was ushered up to the fifth floor and along a long, vaulted corridor to the east end of the building to the lofty room beneath the clock tower. Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerOriginally the winding room, when the building was refurbished at the turn of the century the clock was electrified releasing the grand, tall space which is now used as a party venue as well as a rather special suite to stay, known, unsurprisingly, as The Clock Tower.

The walls may have been stark but the welcome was warm from the Perfect Cellar team as well as colleagues from ThinkersPR. Principally an on-line wine merchant, The Perfect Cellar does have a shop in Clerkenwell, London.

There were just four wines on show, but what a show! Each of the wines was presented with an elegant display of fruit and spices indicative of the the aromas and flavours of each wine.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerTendil & Lombardi Champagne Brut Rosé
Mid rosé, red fruits, big red fruits, dry, good acidity, ascerbic acidity, weighty rich dark red fruit, chunky long. Pinot Noir

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerDecelle Villa Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay 2011
Pale greeny gold, gentle yellow fruits, dry, good acidity, stony minerality, biscuity with a crispness on the finish.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerTeso La Monja Victorino do Toro 2012
Deep ruby, dark black fruit, dry, maturing tannins, bags of red fruits, licorice, some toasty oak. Long, rich.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerMas Amiel Vintage Maury Rouge 2012
Deep ruby, with a bouquet of raspberries and cinnamon, lusciously sweet yet has sufficient acidity to not allow it to be cloying; as well as the red berry notes there are hints of ginger and candied peel.
A wine reminiscent of a good Port, it is a
real treat from Maury, Roussillon in the far south of France.

As we were tasting and talking we were offered small, plates of food, which complemented the wines well. They were prepared by a chef from La Belle Assiette, a specialist company who organise a service preparing meals in your home.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower

From the small selection of wines on show and chatting to everyone involved with this wine merchant I can see how keen they are to encourage wine drinkers to discover good wines from small producers and different regions of France and, now, other countries.

Indeed, when you search the wines on the Perfect Cellar website, hover over the bottle picture to discover another image of the fruits and spices that describe the wines. A novel idea –  a sort of visual scratch and sniff…

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerGood night, St Pancras.

Second Day in Nelson

Second Day in NelsonSuitably rested we were eager and ready for our second day in Nelson where I was visiting with a small group of New Zealand wine writers for a couple of days.

Second Day in Nelson

Nelson wine map ©Wine Nelson

Our first day was an eye opener for me and I was enjoying learning about this small New Zealand wine region.

Second Day in NelsonWhat a bright start to our second day in Nelson. When the Impressionist artist Claude Monet and his family settled in Giverny in 1883 the piece of land sloping gently down from the house to the road was planted with an orchard and enclosed by high stone walls.

When Darryl and Tranja Fry settled on their property, Fossil Ridge, in Nelson in 1997 the piece of land was nothing but scrub, but they had a similar vision of creating not only a vineyard but a garden which would embody the tranquillity and beauty of Monet’s garden in Giverny.

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Statues and Spanish Grapes film in London

Spanish Grapes Film in LondonThe day was appropriately hot and sunny to attend a special screening of Zev Robinson’s Spanish Grapes film as well as see some sights in the heart of London on my walk to the venue.

Spanish Grapes Film in LondonSt Paul’s was thronged with tourists with city workers and tourists enjoying the sunshine and the public statues which appear all over London.

Spanish Grapes Film in London

The Lovers by Georg Ehrlich

In the shadow of St Paul’s I found the young loversContinue reading