Tuesday, August 16

Cap Ferret - Sand Dunes, Oyster Beds and The Untamed Atlantic Ocean

Far from the snooty reputation it has garnered in the past decade, since celebrities like Marion Cotillard and Philippe Starck have snapped up houses in this sequestered and chic enclave on the French Atlantic Coast, Cap Ferret is natural, rugged and oozing with a shabby chic unpretentiousness. 

ALL photos by Paige Donner ©2016

If you're packing for a weekend, week or month-long getaway, don't bother with more than a pair of flip-flops, your boyfriend's old board shorts and a beach umbrella.  And of course, a swimsuit.

One more great thing about Cap Ferret - the oysters harvested right out of the oyster beds out in front of the any of the little water-front oyster shacks are good all year round. Fresh and served with crusty bread, some French paté, quartered lemons and a chilled bottle of Bordeaux white. It's heaven on Earth. 

 If you're packing for a weekend, week or month-long getaway, don't bother with more than a pair of flip-flops, your boyfriend's old board shorts and a beach umbrella.  And of course, a swimsuit.One more great thing about Cap Ferret - the oysters harvested right out of the oyster beds out in front of the any of the little water-front oyster shacks are good all year round. Fresh and served with crusty bread, some French paté, quartered lemons and a chilled bottle of Bordeaux white. It's heaven on Earth. 

After your meal: The fine white sand beaches on either the Bassin or Ocean sides of the peninsula offer a relaxing cocoon upon which to indulge in that lazy summertime afternoon nap. 

Cap Ferret Tourism Office

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Sunday, June 26

The Côte du Rhône's Cabaret Burlesque Wine Tasting

by Paige Donner

Côte du Rhône Wine Tasting in Paris on La Nouvelle Seine

The French wine region that is home to Châteauneuf du Pape really knows how to host a wine tasting in Paris. Chosen for this range of 22 wines was the charming and exceedingly festive La Nouvelle Seine.

La Nouvelle Seine is a very large boat/barge ("peniche" in French) parked just in front of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. It's large enough in fact to be able to host 80+ people on the top deck for a stellar wine tasting and then put on a burlesque show in its lower decks, replete with a dozen and more costume changes.

Inter Rhône, the regional wine board, is who organized the event and provided the wines for tasting.  The Rhône valley has many famous wine appellations of course, such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Hermitage and Vacqueyras but for this evening's tasting we had the privilege of discovering many outstanding gems with the Côte du Rhône Villages label.

La nouvelle Seine photo by Paige Donner IMG_2419La nouvelle Seine wine tasting photo by Paige Donner  IMG_2420La nouvelle Seine wine tasting photo by Paige Donner IMG_2418

It's a good thing the wines were so memorable given the spectacular distractions of the magnificent cathedral as backdrop and then the over the top and barrels of fun Burlesque show we were treated to.

Wines poured included:


Maison Chapouter - Roc Folassière, Côte du Rhône Blanc 2015

Domaine de la Presidente - Côte du Rhône Villages Cairanne 2014

Domaine Pique Basse  L'Atout Pique  Côte du Rhône Villages Roaix 2015


Domaine Les Grands Bois  Philippine  Côte du Rhône 2014

Domaine du Val des Rois  Signature Côte du Rhône Villages Valréas 2012

Domaine Clavel Cordélia  Côte du Rhône Chusclan  2014

Domaine Corinne Depeyre Les Phacélies Côte du Rhône 2012

Domaine Montirius Serine Côte du Rhône 2011

Maison Gabriel Meffre 1936  Côte du Rhône 2015

Domaine des Pasquiers Côte du Rhône Plan de Dieu 2014

Domaine de Cabasse Garnacho Côte du Rhône Séguret 2012

And the video that Inter Rhône made about the evening is here: 




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Saturday, June 25

Wine School In Burgundy

by Paige Donner

Just the mention of Burgundy wines gets most wine lovers' taste buds salivating and their minds conjuring up those exquisite moments when they've tasted these delightful wines. 

burgundy wines unnamed

Burgundy wines are most certainly beloved around the world but the complexity of the region, a self-described mosaic of patchwork "climats" or micro-terroirs, can leave even the most devoted connoisseur feeling a bit, well, swallowed up. 

Thank goodness then for the willingness of the region's wine board, and its affiliate Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne (wine school), to educate those who express a sincere interest in learning more about these wines and the often painstaking effort that goes into making them what they are. 

atelier professional bourgogne unnamed

This most recent Atelier hosted by the Burgundy Wine School had a focus on Burgundy wine and food pairings. Participating with a group of mostly French wine trade connoisseurs it was fascinating to see the diversity of opinion among a group that one might imagine would all fall into line in terms of taste. But, no! While there were commonalities among the group, the big take away from the lessons was that while there are wine and food pairing guidelines to follow, in Burgundy there will always be exceptions to those. 

Take for example the wine pairing with foie gras. In France foie gras is often paired with a sweet wine. However we were asked to savor the pairing chemistry with not just a sweet wine (from the south part of Macon) but also a dry slightly tannic red and a dry white. The foie gras had a slight seasoning of black pepper on it and one slice had a dab of fig confiture. These refined details altered the pairing choices immensely. We were then asked to find a harmonious pairing with each type of foie gras (with pepper or with fig confiture) and then to find the contrasting pairing.  A round table Q+A with the 29 participants revealed diverse palates and tastes. Surprisingly, at least to me, there was one French sommelier who found the fig confiture and foie gras dish too sweet to pair with the sweet wine - a sentiment that I shared precisely but thought I would be alone in that opinion. 

The Wines (mentioned above):

Mercurey, Le Clos du Roy 2012 - Chateau de Chamirey

Mâcon Igé, La Cra 2013 - Domaine Pierre Yves et Olivier Fichet

Mâcon Villages Héritage Vendanges tardives 2006 - Domaine Michel

The takeaway from two days of tastings, food pairings, cellar visits and walks through the Beaune vineyards?  If Burgundy wines are something you appreciate, you must go there and take your own series of classes to further appreciate this complexity and refined grace in a glass. 

Luckily the Burgundy Wine School is happy to work with groups and tour providers to help coordinate seminars and wine classes, even focused ateliers be it on food and wine pairings or learning more in depth about the Climats de Bourgogne. Contact them for details and pricing quotes.    Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne



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Tuesday, June 14

What's The Big Deal About Bordeaux 2015?

I'll tell you what the big deal is - this is clearly a vintage to rival the already-legendary 2010. 

The Association de Grand Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion held its annual wine tasting yesterday at Paris's Shangri-La Hotel. Nearly all of the 63 producers present were pouring their 2010's side-by-side with their 2015's. That's how bright and shiny this vintage is and how confident the winemakers and estate owners are about showing their babies up against the last crowned millésime.  In certain cases, such as Château Chauvin, where their 2010's were sold out, they poured their '09's, another vintage on the history books. 

A Brief Re-cap of A Few St. Emilion Grands Crus Classés Estates

Château Laroze - An estate that dates back to 1610, whose château was built in 1884 by the great-grandmother of the gentleman pouring the wine, this wine has a Cab Franc profile though its majority, 65% is still Merlot. Up at the top of St. Emilion, just this side of Pomerol, these are wines to buy, cellar and enjoy in good time.    laroze.com

Château Grand Corbin - Unbelievably this 2015 is something already deliverable. That is one of the most outstanding features of this vintage, that in large part these wines are already approachable. No need to try to project 5 or even 10 years into the future to predict what they will become. They already are. Here at this estate you'll find exceptional maturity they credit in part to tailored harvesting, plenty of sun, ripe fruit... In two words, rich, powerful.   Their 2010, if you can still find any, has that nice "torrifié" element to it, in a roasted dark coffee bean way.      grandcorbin.com

Château Destieux  -  Another winner, expect to find their 2015 showing hints of licorice as your tastebuds wrap themselves around a mouthful.  Here they poured their 2008 as complement, whose full frontal tannins say drink me now - with a nice thick grilled steak.  vignoblesdauriac.com

Château Chauvin - Only the second vintage for this new owner and she's lucked into an extraordinary year. All the better for her and her daughter, Julie, who is just taking over the reins of marketing and sales.  They poured their 2009 along with the mature, but not overly mature 2015. No comparison to draw given that the winemaker and technical director are now both new, too.    chateauchauvin.com

Château Grand Corbin-Despagne   In the family since 1812 and cultivating vineyards that date back to the 14th c. this 7th generation viticulurist is rightfully proud about his 2015's.They cultivate organic vineyards, since 2004 when they first started in this direction. Up against their 2009, whose silky tannins show this classic predominantly Merlot blend to its best, you can easily see how the fruity, balanced, elegance of their 2015 will evolve its tannins.     grand-corbin-despagne.com

Château Fonroque  - One of the great St. Emilion chateaux even among the greats, owner Alain Moueix has been devoted to organic, and more specifically bio-dynamic vineyard cultivation, since before it was even fashionable. This care and delicacy of the handling of each single grape shows in his wines. For the 2009 poured alongside the inevitable superstar-to-be 2015, expect more pronounced tannins. For 2015, it's already a silky balanced magic potion. 

In the words of Mr. Moueix, Chairman of the Association of St.-Emilion Grands Crus Classés: 

With 56 Chateaux, the Association of Grands Crus Classés of St. Emilion is wholly representative of the various terroirs in which the Grands Crus Classés are implemented, thus encompassing all the wealth and complexity of the St.-Emilion area: southern slopes, plateau, northern slopes and gravelly areas.

Together, these properties make up a surface of about 800 hectares which represent 90% of the total surface area of the Grands Crus Classés. 

"Saint-Emilion, nectar des Dieux" - King Louis XIV

In sum, when purchasing St. Emilion, anything from 2015 is going to do well by you. It's a vintage that, remarkably, you will be able to drink young and you will be able to cellar it for the standard of great Bordeaux, of 5, 10 even 25 years and longer. 



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Waltzing With Chapoutier's Mathilda Rosé

"There aren't many other countries, besides France, that make rosé wines...". This is the surprising fact I was told by Team Chapoutier at their second annual Mathilda Rosé kick-off in Paris.​​​​​​​​

So when Chapoutier of both organic wine and Cote du Rhône fame took his game to Australia and decided to produce a fresh and fun rosé downunder, and then market it in France in time for the summer season, it was kind of like turning the tables on the two hemispheres, the new world sort of playing to the old.

In short, however you shake it, this Mathilda Rosé is a summertime winner. It's light and fresh and just fruity enough to make it thoroughly rosé-y. The fact that there are no added sulfites make you ever so thankful the day after.

And like a stroke of Australian sun, so far the only sunny day in June in Paris this season, was the day that Team Chapoutier chose to have their Mathilda Rosé beach party down by the Seine. Makes me wonder if we ought to be drinking more of this Mathilda?



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Sunday, June 12

Geant Casino Wine Tasting Paris

Every Year the Giant Supermarkets in France stage a wine festival in their stores where cases of some of France's top wines, and also wines yet to be discovered, can be had for fairly bargain prices. France's Geant Casino grocery store chain, with approximately 400 stores across the country, is one who upholds this tradition with good taste.


The French have it easy, at least when it comes to buying good French wines. And every Fall, many of these top French wines, and wines, too, from smaller lesser known producers, can be found and purchased for competitive prices, especially by US standards, at their local grocery stores.

Geant Casino, one of France's biggest and best in terms of quality, grocery store chains, boasts approximately 400 stores throughout the country. These stores vary in sizes from a super-Ralph's or Vons to their smaller Franprix which is more like the size of a Trader Joe's.

Each year their tasters, such the as young Sophie Talbot, fan out across the mosaic land to find, taste and bring back the best wines to offer their customers for the annual Foire aux Vins, wine celebration days that takes place each Fall.

Foire aux Vins 2016: September 2 - 17 Geant Casino and Casino Supermarche


Two Of Les Vins de Eric Beaumard's Vie

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the celebrated and celebrity sommelier of Paris's Four Seasons Hotel George V has released two of his own wines under his own label this year which will be available through Geant Casino. The first is a rose, Cotes de Provence, "Les Garrigues d'Eric Beaumard" whose freshness and acidity will leave you reaching for more. This 2015 is full of white flowers and shows off nicely with salad, grilled vegetables and also paper-thin carpaccio.

His next offering, a Chablis, goes by the name of "Les Ammonites." Here you will find the 2015 giving off hints of almond as you sip its generous liquidity.  Per Eric, best enjoyed with small toasts of smoked salmon or oysters from Cancale or Oleron.


Bordeaux - Right Bank

Chateau de Pressac is one of the most beautiful chateaus in St. Emilion. If you've ever had the privilege to visit, the memory of it will overshadow even its wines, which is saying quite a lot given this is a Grand Cru. The 2011 on offer here is a stroke of luck to get since the legendary 2010 have all long sold out.  Expect a bouquet of blackcurrant and blackberry with dried tabacco leaves. Once tasted you can look forward to black fruits, slightly candies, finishing with a long elegance and freshness.

Enjoy this wine with red meats, grilled or stewed and also fine cheeses.


Looking to make a new discovery and perhaps a new conquest? Look no farther than Portugal's red and white wines. Of course when one thinks of the Douro, Port wines often first come to mind. And while the Douro has made significant headway in recent years getting its unfortified reds onto the international market, their whites still remain a bit of a mystery.

Beira Interior Quinta Do Cardo

This little red that could won the Gold Medal in Brussels in 2015. Its full name is Beira Interior Quinta Do Cardo Touriga Nacional Reserva 2012. An easy to drink but complex red, you'll find here notes of violette and dark chocolate. Expect firm, dense tannins.

Serve with a roast and/ or aged cheese.

Dao Quinta Do Cerrado Encruzado 2015

Of the two Portugal whites on offer for this wine bonanza at Casino, this is the more mineral of the two. Fresh fruits, intense color, small flowers and nice balance.

Best as aperitif or with shellfish.

Douro Vallegre Colheita Branco 2014

This is the wine to bring to the bbq or a meal where everyone is to pleased. It has the mark of an international wine. Hints of lemon on the nose, with an ample mouth, warm and rich.

Photos: by Paige Donner of the selection of wines to look forward to this Fall at Geant Casino. Tasting at Drouant Paris.



Sunday, May 8

Episode 17 Paris GOOD food+wine

Host-Producer Paige Donner brings you another awesome episode of Paris GOOD food + wine.

Episode 17 of Paris GOOD food + wine caps off our very successful Season 2. I'll be bringing you Season 3 of Paris GOOD food + wine in September.

Enjoy your summer!!  And remember to catch up on archived episodes of Paris GOOD food +wine, available on the iTunes Store. See you back here in Paris in September.


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EPISODE 17 Paris GOOD food + wine

Our show this episode is packed full of goodness.

So much so that I have to keep our intro short and sweet. First up we have Parisienne Laurel Sanderson talking about her very own baking recipes: 

"There's science, there's alchemy, there's magic!"

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Then you're coming with us on a cheese tasting outing with Pierre Brisson, AOP cheese specialist and founder of Parole de Fromager.

To round things out, Laurel turns the table and interviews me about my new #ParisFoodAndWine App, now out on Google Play and on the App store.


Paris Food And Wine brings you what's best in food, drinks, restaurants, excursions, nightlife, hotels and vacation accommodations in the City of Lights.

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It's like having a concierge at your fingertips! 

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* Music courtesy of Ravel, Bolero (now in public domain) jazz rendition at this link

I've also launched #BordeauxFoodAndWine APP  - Available for Apple and Android  INFO @BordeauxFoodVin  and also at Bordeaux Food And Wine

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Sunday, April 10

Episode 16 Paris GOOD food+wine

by Paige Donner

This episode 16 of Paris GOOD food+wine  focuses on Wine Tourism in two of France's most famous wine regions: Burgundy and Bordeaux

Mark O'Connell from Domaine de la Chapelle  -  at Aloxe-Corton en Bourgogne photo by Paige Donner copyright 2016
Mark O'Connell from Domaine de la Chapelle - at Aloxe-Corton en Bourgogne photo by Paige Donner copyright 2016

For many people passionate about wine, Burgundy remains the El Dorado of fine wines. And I don't mean just French wines, but all wines. So when I was invited last month, along with 2,500 other participants from 21 countries, to be a part of the Grands Jours de Bourgogne, held every two years, I literally jumped at the chance.

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Not often do we get the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines, all in beautiful terroir-centric settings, from esteemed appellations such as Volnay, Pommard, Corton-Charlemagne, Puligny Montrachet, Meursault, Chablis, Beaujolais, Clos Vougeot, Echezeaux and Nuits St. George.


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Four days of non stop wine tasting was enough to fall in love not just with the wines but with the Burgundy region itself.

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So who better to sit down and talk Burgundy with than the new owner of Château de Pommard. His name is Michael Baum and he hails from Silicon Valley.

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Michael Baum (L), Emmanuel Sala (R) at Château de Pommard photo by Paige Donner ©2016

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This start-up specialist fell in love with Burgundy, too. So much so that he bought the emblematic chateau of the legendary Pommard Climat, the term the Burgundians use for appellation. Here you get to listen in on my conversations with Michael Baum, his winemaker, Emmanuel Sala and his Chief Commercial Officer, Ann Feely.

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To round out our show this month, Episode 16 of Paris GOOD food + wine, I was able to catch up with Wine Spectator's sr. Editor, James Molesworth, as he dashed from Bordeaux back to New York City.

James Molesworth of Wine Spectator

He was barrel tasting his way through Bordeaux's 2015 En Primeur and he has some exciting news to share with us about both the 2015 Bordeaux vintage and also the friendly, vibrant city itself.

>>> More Info about the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux HERE

So sit back and relax as we take you through a spectacular Wine Tourism show featuring France's two most famous wine regions, Burgundy and Bordeaux.

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