Drink local: Holy Vale Winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Holy Vale Winery's vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 by local resident and hotelier Robert Francis who wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Holy Vale Winery’s vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 by local resident and hotelier Robert Francis who wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

In the afternoon on St. Mary’s Island we joined a small group for a visit, tour and tasting at the Islands’ only winery, Holy Vale Winery.  The winery and local vineyards are a project of local hotelier (and chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly) Robert Francis, who knows wines from around the world and wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly.  Because production of local wines is so difficult and there is very limited availability, the winery’s second goal is to select some fine wines from around the world and introduce them to winery visitors (in lieu of tasting only local wines).  The winery’s website notes: “Holy Vale Wines is a British family owned and run company, created to bring you a very special collection of some of the most exciting, delicious wines from around the world, featuring California [from the Francis Ford Coppola Family Winery, and others]. Our selection is driven by our passion for great wine that is ready to drink, offering exceptional value and quality.

“Holy Vale Vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 after a couple of years trying to beg, borrow or steal redundant farm land on St Mary’s.  With co-operation from the Duchy of Cornwall and local farmers we were able to set about obtaining the land we had found that suited the planting of the vines, mostly sloping and facing south, to aid water drainage and aspect to the sun.  These parcels of land are situated in Holy Vale, Maypole, Silver Carn and Helvear.  It was not possible to obtain all the land together in one parcel, but that in some respects is an advantage because it will give diversity and different character to the wines.

 

The winery has several parcels of vineyards across St. Mary’s Island on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom; these are located at the winery where we visited and had a tour and tasting

The winery has several parcels of vineyards across St. Mary’s Island on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom; these are located at the winery where we visited and had a tour and tasting

 

“We carefully selected nurseries in Burgundy and Luxemburg to nurture the vines of our grape varieties grafted on to our rootstock. 7,000 vines were ordered of our selection, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  These were chosen instead of the normal, mostly German varieties that have traditionally been grown in the UK mainly for climatic reasons. Our choice reflected the commitment and quality that we wish to achieve, rather than quantity. Our resolve is to produce the most special wines, even though working with Pinot Noir is especially difficult.

“We are now producing, bottling and selling Holy Vale Wines, 2014 was our very first vintage. We offer tours of the vineyard and tastings of wines at the vineyard…”– http://www.holyvalewines.co.uk

 

The first vintage of Holy Vale Pinot Noir was 5 years after the vines were planted, in 2014; there was no wine made in the subsequent four years due to weather and loss of grapes to predators, so there are no tastings of recent vintages

The first vintage of Holy Vale Pinot Noir was 5 years after the vines were planted, in 2014; there was no wine made in the subsequent four years due to weather and loss of grapes to predators, so there are no tastings of recent vintages

 

Some of the wine making equipment at the Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Some of the wine making equipment at the Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

The wines from around the world that we tasted with winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

The wines from around the world that we tasted with winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom. Note that Robert was very gracious and generous and pulled a couple of bottles of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir from the winery’s “library” to taste with us; at 11.5% ABV (alcohol) – due to the cool weather on the island — the Holy Vale Pinot Noir was lighter that we are used to on the West Coast of the United State, but refreshing with good acidity and fruit.

 

Winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery in the vineyard with a bottle of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery in the vineyard with a bottle of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat and Drink Local: Azienda Agricola Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Le Macchiole (winery) is in Bolgheri, Italy, on the Etruscan Coast -- “in this magical place, where rolling hills are blanketed by forest, where vineyards and olive trees meet with the

Le Macchiole (winery) is in Bolgheri, Italy, on the Etruscan Coast — “in this magical place, where rolling hills are blanketed by forest, where vineyards and olive trees meet with the Tyrrhenian Sea”

 

From our dock in the port of Livorno, a small group of us drove an hour south to the beautiful Bolgheri wine region on the west coast of Italy.  Bolgheri (also the name of the central town in the region) is the newest wine region in Italy and has become very successful over the past few decades, producing some excellent wines, usually in small quantities.  Our first stop was at Le Macchiole (winery) where we had a wonderful personal tour, wine tasting and luncheon.  Many thanks to our hostess, Veronica, and Chef Gionata d’Alessi of Io Cucion Restaurant in Bibbona (a municipality in the Province of Livorno and the chef’s birthplace) for an outstanding meal.

 

The vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

The winery production uses very contemporary, state-of-the-art equipment at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The winery production uses very contemporary, state-of-the-art equipment at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

“A living legend, Le Macchiole is today recognized as one of Tuscany’s finest wine estates.  Indeed, Le Macchiole is lauded as much for the consistency and quality of its wines, as it is for opening doors and increasing the sex appeal of the once little known Bolgheri region.

It began with a dream of one very special couple – Eugenio Campolmi and his wife Cinzia Merli. Living a comfortable life running Eugenio’s parents’ retail business, they longed to make wine in Tuscany, and set about exploring the region to discover the perfect site for their ambitions.

In 1983, Eugenio and Cinzia came across a special piece of land in the then largely unheard-of Bolgheri region, just 5 miles from the coast.  It was love at first sight – they planted several hectares of international varieties and produced their first vintage in 1987.  Released in 1989, the inaugural Paleo Rosso was received to universal critical acclaim, validating the couple’s pioneering strategy of making varietal wines in the Bolgheri coastline.  Critics praised the power, elegance and above all the remarkable concentration inherent to their wines, which has only improved since the initial releases.

Sadly, however, Eugenio died in 2002, leaving his widow Cinzia and her brother Massimo to continue his pioneering work and forge a legacy worthy of the family name.  Understanding and enhancing their unique terroir has been the overriding aim, with a painstaking amount of work going into vineyard management and matching a particular variety of vine to a special place.

But, as anyone who has sampled these delicious wines will testify, the rewards have more than justified the team’s hard work.  Today, Le Macchiole continues to make some of the greatest wines in the region, characterized by their balance, finesse and yet intense aromas and complexity.  Accessible on release, the wines will age gracefully for many years.” — www.cellartours.com/italy/italian-wineries/le-macchiole

 

One of the Corten steel frames set up in the vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, by the family owners as part of their “Messorio04Bolgheri” project

One of the Corten steel frames set up in the vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, by the family owners as part of their “Messorio04Bolgheri” project: “We would like those who visit our winery, walk through the town’s streets, cycle or drive along Via Bolgherese, to feel the urge to stop, relax and take in the beauty of the landscape around them, through the frames showcasing [the Nobel Prize in Literature winning Italian poet] Giosuè Carducci’s [1835-1907] best-loved sites.  We would like them to feel part of a wonderful place, just even for a moment, recite the Poet’s verses, open their eyes and heart to beauty.  This is what we wish for, and this is why we donated the frames to the people of Castagneto and Bolgheri and to all those who would like to come and enjoy the beauty of our land.”

 

“It was 2012, and I had been working for Le Macchiole for barely a year when Cinzia told me that she had a project in mind that would help promote the town of Castagneto Carducci: forty-eight 6-liter Magnum bottles of Messorio 2004 — an extraordinary vintage, even unique in some respects — up for sale.  ‘How about doing something with the proceeds from the sale- she said- to help our area?’  I thought it over for a few days.  Then I suddenly remembered myself as a child going to markets with my uncle, a street vendor, in his white truck and driving along the road to Volterra.  Every single time, my eye was attracted to an old, empty billboard frame on the side of the road near Ponteginori.  It was somehow ugly and fascinating at the same time: it framed the landscape perfectly, and never the same landscape.  Always different views, depending on the angle of vision, the time of the day, the season of the year.  And so, a sunset sky was not only beautiful: all it took was a rusty frame to make it a beautiful, framed sunset sky.  Basically, a work of art.  So I said to myself: why shouldn’t we do the same thing?  After all, Carducci used to come to Bolgheri to observe the landscape.  Well, yes, his beloved grandmother was there, waiting for him, but he gained inspiration for his poetry by contemplating the natural beauty of our land.  Magnificent landscapes, sweet hills and sunsets.  I was thinking of maxi frames, framing some of the town’s loveliest views, made of Corten steel, a metal which has a rust-like appearance and, besides bringing me back to my childhood memories, oozes with history and tradition.  And then I came up with the idea of doing it in the 16:9 format, which is the international standard format for multimedia, allowing passers-by and tourists to take a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #messorio04bolgheri.  No two photos of the same place will ever look the same, with the background constantly changing, whether because of a cloud, the sunlight, a nuance or the sky a different shade of blue.  And, who knows?  Maybe someone, though unaware of it, will be lucky enough to see exactly what the Poet saw.” — Antonio Sanna

 

Primo (first course) Raviolino di Pappa al Pomodoro e Burrata (small raviolis filled with tomato soup and Burrata cheese); luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with

Primo (first course) Raviolino di Pappa al Pomodoro e Burrata (small raviolis filled with tomato soup and Burrata cheese); luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Bolgheri Rosso (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) 2016

 

Secondo (second course) Filettino de Agnello con Pancetta e Misticanza (pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet with Mesculin salad), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with

Secondo (second course) Filettino de Agnello con Pancetta e Misticanza (pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet with Mesculin salad), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Paleo Rosso (100% Cabernet Franc) 2014 and Scrio (100% Syrah) 2009 and Messorio (100% Merlot) 2011

 

Cheese Selection with homemade bread, luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship_s launching year!)

Cheese Selection with homemade bread, luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship’s launching year!)

 

A close up of the Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship_s launching year!) and cheese at our luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy_

A close up of the Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship’s launching year!) and cheese at our luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

Dolci (dessert) Crostatina con spuma al Mascarpone e fondente (Chocolate Mascarpone mousse tart), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Dolci (dessert) Crostatina con spuma al Mascarpone e fondente (Chocolate Mascarpone mousse tart), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Drink Local, Eat Local: Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla wine region (near Cartagena), Spain

The entrance to the Juan Gil winery, which is the original site of the expanded Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The entrance to the Juan Gil winery, which is the original site of the expanded Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

From Cartagena we ventured out to the Jumilla wine region to visit one of the flagship Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates) wineries – Juan Gil, the original winery of the now expanded family holdings across Spain.  We had an extensive tour of the winery, a tasting of some of their well made wines, and an outstanding multi-course luncheon nicely accompanied by some of their top-end wines (including a Tempranillo from another Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares estate winery in El Pego, Spain).

 

Vineyards of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

Vineyards of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

The main fermentation room at the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The main fermentation room at the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

The barrel ageing room in the cellar of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The barrel ageing room in the cellar of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

From the main Juan Gil winery buildings we drove over to a newer complex where they produce their top end red wine, Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label), made mostly from the ind

From the main Juan Gil winery buildings we drove over to a newer complex where they produce their top end red wine, Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label), made mostly from the indigenous Monastreli grapes with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blended in to make a complex wine that is aged 18 months in a selection of French and American oak barrels, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

“It’s impressive to see the progression of such a large wine group, considering its humble origins and the area where they started.  Aside from Jumilla, where they own Juan Gil and Bodegas El Nido, the Gil Family Estates is also present in Montsant (Can Blau), Priorat (Bluegrey), Calatayud (Ateca), Campo de Borja (Morca), Almansa (Atalaya), Castilla y León (Tridente and Shaya, the latter under the Rueda appellation) and Rías Baixas (Lagar de Condesa).  They have recently expanded to Rioja where they have built a winery called Rosario Vera after buying vineyards in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa.

“The group comprises over 1,400 hectares of own vineyards with production exceeding 8 million bottles.  Up to 75% of the wines are exported to over 40 countries.  The fourth generation’s nine siblings all have a stake in the company headed by Miguel and Ángel Gil.

“The group’s strategy is based on offering best value wines and the creation of economies of scale to be more competitive…  Their wine portfolio usually includes an entry-level wine followed by a top value wine in the mid-range category and a premium wine.” — www.spanishwinelover.com

 

The fermentation tanks and ageing barrels for the Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label) wine, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The fermentation tanks and ageing barrels for the Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label) wine, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

The winery_s dining room for visiting guests where we enjoyed a multi-course luncheon, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The winery’s dining room for visiting guests where we enjoyed a multi-course luncheon, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Juan Gil Silver Label wine – the grapes used to produce this wine came from old vineyards with chalky and stony soils, poor in nutrients, that are ideal for the growing of the Monastre

Juan Gil Silver Label wine – the grapes used to produce this wine came from old vineyards with chalky and stony soils, poor in nutrients, that are ideal for the growing of the Monastrell variety, with a low yield; the wine was aged in French oak barrels; Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Our last savory course at the luncheon was this delicious paella cooked in a rather large pan for our small group, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

Our last savory course at the luncheon was this delicious paella cooked in a rather large pan for our small group, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Rejón is the Gil Family Estates_ best vineyard of Tempranillo located in the town of El Pego, Spain, with 130 year-old vines that are planted on a top layer of gravel over very sandy

Rejón is the Gil Family Estates’ best vineyard of Tempranillo located in the town of El Pego, Spain, with 130 year-old vines that are planted on a top layer of gravel over very sandy soils; the limited production wine retains the typicity and of the indigenous grapes coming from the unique terroir; the wine is fermented in small vats and aged in French oak barrels for 20 months before bottling — Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat and drink local: Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

The undeveloped coastline of Lipari Island, Italy

The undeveloped coastline of Lipari Island, Italy

 

The largest isle in the Aeolian archipelago between northern Sicily and Italy’s Calabrian coast (home of Naples and the Amalfi coast), Lipari shares its name with the largest town as well.  Early settlers took advantage of the island’s volcanic origins, developing a lucrative industry producing tools made from the abundant supply of obsidian.  Along with the six other Aeolian isles, Lipari’s volcanic history earned it a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2000.  The island is a popular summer retreat served by a number of ferries from Sicily and the mainland.

 

Castello di Lipari (Lipari Castle) sits atop the tallest hill in the town of Lipari, Italy, directly above the harbor

Castello di Lipari (Lipari Castle) sits atop the tallest hill in the town of Lipari, Italy, directly above the harbor

 

Marina Lunga in the harbor of the town of Lipari, Italy

Marina Lunga in the harbor of the town of Lipari, Italy

 

Grape vines are vertical and not trellised, with the grapes growing low to the ground to avoid the strong prevailing winds at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

Grape vines are vertical and not trellised, with the grapes growing low to the ground to avoid the strong prevailing winds at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

 

We made an evening/sunset visit to Tenuta di Castellaro winery on the island of Lipari, Italy.  At the winery we discovered the inescapable role played by terroir on the volcanic island. T he winery uses the so-called “bush method” for growing grapes with the vines vertical and not trellised and the grape clusters close to the ground, avoiding the strong prevailing winds of the island.  The winery chose to name its wines after the names of stone found on the island such as “Bianco Pomice” and “Nero Ossidiana” (obsidian).

 

Grapes just before harvest at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

Grapes just before harvest at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

 

The wines of Tenuta di Castellaro winery that we tasted after our tour of the winery and vineyards, Lipari, Italy

The wines of Tenuta di Castellaro winery that we tasted after our tour of the winery and vineyards, Lipari, Italy

 

Zucchini fritters served as part of the hors d’oeuvres with our wine tasting at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

Zucchini fritters served as part of the hors d’oeuvres with our wine tasting at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

 

Tomato and olive bruchetta served as part of the hors d’oeuvres with our wine tasting at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

Tomato and olive bruchetta served as part of the hors d’oeuvres with our wine tasting at Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

 

Sunset over neighboring islands viewed from the vineyards of Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

Sunset over neighboring islands viewed from the vineyards of Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

 

Sun-lit clouds at sunset viewed from the vineyards of Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

Sun-lit clouds at sunset viewed from the vineyards of Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

 

Sunset with a thunderstorm raining over neighboring islands viewed from the vineyards of Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

Sunset with a thunderstorm raining over neighboring islands viewed from the vineyards of Tenuta di Castellaro winery, Lipari, Italy

 

Drink local: Calvados Christian Drouin (The Christian Drouin Calvados Estate), Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

After our tour of the estate, we had an opportunity to taste, with local cheeses, the three highest quality blended calvados offerings from Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

After our tour of the estate, we had an opportunity to taste, with local cheeses, the three highest quality blended calvados offerings from Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

 

A little ways northwest of Pont-Leveque (famous for its eponymous mild, cows milk cheese packaged in a square wooden box) is the commune of Coudray-Rabut, in the heart of the Calvados region – about one-half hour’s drive south of the Normandy coast and Deauville, Trouville, and Honfleur (where we were docked).

Calvados is a distinctive apple brandy produced only within the boundaries of the Calvados appellation contrôlée.

 

The estate, representative of the local architecture of the 17th century, comprises a group of half-timbered buildings; Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

The estate, representative of the local architecture of the 17th century, comprises a group of half-timbered buildings; Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

 

We visited the Christian Drouin Calvados Estate which is located in the heart of the region.  The estate was originally located near Honfleur until 1990 when Christian Drouin Junior moved the production to a former cider farm in Coudray-Rabut.  The estate, representative of the local architecture of the 17th century, comprises a group of half-timbered buildings: the press-house, the stillroom, store-rooms where the spirits are aged in barriques, the bottling plant, and a small manor house.

 

The apple orchard in the Estate is a traditional high-stem orchard, planted and grafted between 1991 and 1993, Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

The apple orchard in the Estate is a traditional high-stem orchard, planted and grafted between 1991 and 1993, Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

 

Over 30 different apple varieties are grown and pressed for the Calvados and cider.  The resulting juice is distilled in copper stills and then aged in large oak casks (barriques).  We had a chance to taste Pommeau (a blend of apple juice and Calvados brandy) along with several local Norman cheeses, followed by the three highest quality blended calvados offerings from Calvados Christian Drouin (see the top photograph).  As a special treat, our host, Christian Drouin Junior, let us enjoy some of the rare and delicious single vintage Calvados bottlings – 1990 and 1995.

 

One of the store-rooms where the spirits are aged in barriques, Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

One of the store-rooms where the spirits are aged in barriques, Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

 

A bottle of “Calvados Pomme Prisonnier” – Calvados in a glass bottle with a whole apple (now fermented) that was grown in the orchard inside the bottle; Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

A bottle of “Calvados Pomme Prisonnier” – Calvados in a glass bottle with a whole apple (now fermented) that was grown in the orchard inside the bottle; Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

 

The very special single vintage bottles of Calvados – of the past 25 years’ selection, we liked the 1990 (aged in a former Cognac barrique) the best;, Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

The very special single vintage bottles of Calvados – of the past 25 years’ selection, we liked the 1990 (aged in a former Cognac barrique) the best;, Calvados Christian Drouin, Coudray-Rabut, Normandy region, France

 

Eat and drink local: Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

The formal gardens of the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

The formal gardens of the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

We had an excellent mid-day tour of the grounds and winery operations at Château d’Yquem followed by a wine cocktail and hors d’oeuvres on the grassy terrace adjacent to the Château, overlooking the vineyards.  [See our previous blog post.]

 

The “yellow” reception room in the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

The “yellow” reception room in the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

A wood-paneled room in the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

A wood-paneled room in the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

A room with a large, tapestry-style painting in the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

A room with a large, tapestry-style painting in the Château at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

Our luncheon appetizer was Tartare de Maigre (thin fish) et Ciboulette (chives) et Citron Vert (lime), accompanied by Y 2014 (a dry Semillon wine produced by Château d’Yquem) at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France

Our luncheon appetizer was Tartare de Maigre (thin fish) et Ciboulette (chives) et Citron Vert (lime), accompanied by Y 2014 (a dry Semillon wine produced by Château d’Yquem) at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France

 

Our small group luncheon was in the Château’s main dining room, accompanied by wines from the estate.  We also had the opportunity to tour some of the Château’s rooms.  This was an incredible experience – dining in an historic Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux estate with an excellent meal accompanied by the finest Sauternes made on earth.  Completely memorable and enforcing of the estate’s marketing slogan: “nobility that has stood the test of time”.  It is no exaggeration!

 

Our luncheon main course was Cote de Veau avec Pommes de Terre de Noirmoutier, Asperges vertes, Jus as Sauternes, accompanied by Château d’Yquem 2013 at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

Our luncheon main course was Cote de Veau avec Pommes de Terre de Noirmoutier, Asperges vertes, Jus as Sauternes, accompanied by Château d’Yquem 2013 at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

Following the main course we had Fromage Affines, accompanied by an exquisite Château d’Yquem 2005 at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

Following the main course we had Fromage Affines, accompanied by an exquisite Château d’Yquem 2005 at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

An exquisite Château d’Yquem 2005 accompanied our cheese course and dessert our luncheon at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

An exquisite Château d’Yquem 2005 accompanied our cheese course and dessert at our luncheon at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

Our luncheon dessert was Framboise fraiches, crème fermniere vanillee avec Brioche caramelisee, accompanied by an exquisite Château d’Yquem 2005 at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

Our luncheon dessert was Framboise fraiches, crème fermniere vanillee avec Brioche caramelisee, accompanied by an exquisite Château d’Yquem 2005 at Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux region, France

 

Eat and drink local: Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Entrance to the winery and vineyards on the hillside, Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Entrance to the winery and vineyards on the hillside, Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

With vineyards dating back to the Roman times, Château Pavie, whose name comes from the former orchards of peaches (“pavies”) is the largest Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, with over 35 hectares (86.5 acres) of vineyards located exclusively on the Saint-Émilion Côtes.

 

The reception hall and terrace are on the upper level of the winery building at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

The reception hall and terrace are on the upper level of the winery building at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Following our tour [see our previous blog post], we had a wine tasting on the terrace of the reception hall, atop the winery, overlooking the vineyards before sunset.

 

The intrepid explorer and your blogger enjoying wines and hors d’oeuvres before dinner, on the terrace as the sun was setting at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

The intrepid explorer and your blogger enjoying wines and hors d’oeuvres before dinner, on the terrace as the sun was setting at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Terrific views of the surrounding vineyards from the dinner table in the reception hall at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Terrific views of the surrounding vineyards from the dinner table in the reception hall at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Our dinner was catered by Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint-Émilion, a member of the Relais & Chateaux group.  The exquisitely prepared and delicious dishes were accompanied by wines of the proprietor of Château Pavie, ending with a wonderful Château Pavie 2006 en magnum, Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé (Class A).

 

Our first course was l’Asperge blanche du sud ouest, esturgeon fumé – thym citron (white asparagus from the south west, smoked sturgeon – lemon thyme) at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Our first course was l’Asperge blanche du sud ouest, esturgeon fumé – thym citron (white asparagus from the south west, smoked sturgeon – lemon thyme) at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Our first course of l’Asperge blanche du sud ouest, esturgeon fumé – thym citron (white asparagus from the south west, smoked sturgeon – lemon thyme) was accompanied by Château Monbousquet blanc 2001, Bordeaux blanc, a winery that is also owned by the proprietor of Château Pavie, Gérard Perse.

 

Our main course was le veau de lait roti, poireaux – mousse d’oignon (roasted milk fed veal, leeks – onion foam) at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Our main course was le veau de lait roti, poireaux – mousse d’oignon (roasted milk fed veal, leeks – onion foam) at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Our main course of le veau de lait roti, poireaux – mousse d’oignon (roasted milk fed veal, leeks – onion foam) was accompanied by Château Pavie Decesse 2007, Saint-Émilion, Grand Crus Classé, a winery that is also owned by the proprietor of Château Pavie, Gérard Perse.

 

Following refined, local cheeses, our dessert was Délicat chocolat a la noix de pécan, fraicheur verveine (delicate chocolate tart with pecan nut, freshness lemon verbena) at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Following refined, local cheeses, our dessert was Délicat chocolat a la noix de pécan, fraicheur verveine (delicate chocolate tart with pecan nut, freshness lemon verbena) at Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Our fromages affines de Mr. Pierre Rollet (Mr. Pierre Rollet’s refined cheeses) and our dessert of Délicat chocolat a la noix de pécan, fraicheur verveine (delicate chocolate tart with pecan nut, freshness lemon verbena) was accompanied by Château Pavie 2006 en magnum, Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé (Class A).  Château Pavie produces elegant, harmonious and stylish Saint-Émilions that typically display a fine bouquet with good depth of fruit on the palate.  The 2006 was drinking beautifully with our dinner!

 

Eat and drink local: Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

The historic Château Figeac is the largest estate in Saint-Émilion, with 40 hectares (99 acres) of vineyards and wines carrying the rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé (Class B), Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

The historic Château Figeac is the largest estate in Saint-Émilion, with 40 hectares (99 acres) of vineyards and wines carrying the rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé (Class B), Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Following our visit to Château Cheval Blanc we drove through the Saint-Émilion region, past Petrus, to the historic Château Figeac estate.

 

The living room of the Château, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

The living room of the Château, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

“Château Figeac originates from an ancient estate that traces its roots back to the 2nd century, when a Gallo-Roman villa was built on the estate and named after a Figeacus.  In the late 18th century, the property was close to 200 hectares (490 acres) in size, but was sold and subdivided several times in the 19th century until 1892, when Henri de Chevremont bought it… In January 1947, Thierry Manoncourt … took over the running of Château Figeac, and it was under his leadership that the estate rose to the front ranks of Saint-Émilion estates.  He continued to run or be actively involved with the estate until his death in 2010, although his son-in-law Comte Eric d’Aramon took over the daily running of the estate in the 1980s.” – Wikipedia

Thiery Manoncourt’s wife, Marie-France Manoncourt, remains the proprietor and continues to live at the Château.

 

Due to its gravelly soil, the estate is planted in grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Cabernet Franc (35%), and Merlot (30%); Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion (where Merlot typically is dominant), Bordeaux region, France

Due to its gravelly soil, the estate is planted in grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Cabernet Franc (35%), and Merlot (30%); Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion (where Merlot typically is dominant), Bordeaux region, France

 

Monsieur Manoncourt noted, a number of years ago before his passing: “Look at this gravel…this is the uniqueness of Figeac’s great terroir.  Three outcrops, a blend of quartz and flint, some ancient sands and a trace of blue clay.  A layer of gravel up to seven meters deep – unique in Saint-Émilion!  And the planting: 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc, and only 35% merlot.  These 3 grapes, these soils, this climate, you will find this combination nowhere else in the world.”

 

One of several barrel aging cellars at Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

One of several barrel aging cellars at Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Château Figeac “is the largest estate in Saint-Émilion, with 40 hectares (99 acres) of vineyards. Due to its soil, which is dominated by gravel, it is planted in grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Cabernet Franc (35%), and Merlot (30%). Most other Saint-Émilion wines are dominated by Merlot, and Figeac therefore bears a certain semblance to the wines of Medòc and Graves despite being situated on Bordeaux’s right bank. The wine, which is one of the most famous of Saint-Émilion, is aged in 100% new oak barrels. Château Figeac wine carries the rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé (Class B) in the official Classification of Saint-Émilion wine.” — Wikipedia

 

Following our tour of the vineyards and winery, we were hosted by Marie-France Manoncourt, proprietor, who joined us for our outstanding luncheon paired with the estate’s wines, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Following our tour of the vineyards and winery, we were hosted by Marie-France Manoncourt, proprietor, who joined us for our outstanding luncheon paired with the estate’s wines, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Following our tour of the vineyards and winery, we were met and hosted for the afternoon at the Château by Marie-France Manoncourt, proprietor, who also joined us for our outstanding luncheon paired with the estate’s wines.

 

Our appetizer was Roules de Bar et Langoustines Bordelaise, accompanied by Petit-Figeac 2012 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Our appetizer was Roules de Bar et Langoustines Bordelaise, accompanied by Petit-Figeac 2012 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Marie-France Manoncourt, proprietor, organized our outstanding luncheon, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Marie-France Manoncourt, proprietor, organized our outstanding luncheon, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Our small group at the table enjoyed learning the estate’s history from our hostess, Marie-France Manoncourt.  She is a consummate host and really enjoys her role at the Château, as she noted: “Welcoming people to Château Figeac is such a joy.  I love sharing the place that I hold so dear.  The family house, the grounds, the vines, the nature that we protect.  Arranging a reception for our special guests, I first of all choose the wines, then the good and then decoration.  People tell me these are timeless moments full of happiness, refinement and simplicity.  Those who come here thinking only of wine are very pleasantly surprised.”

Madame Manoncourt perfectly captured our mood and our response to her gracious and generous hospitality.

 

Our main course was Supremes de Caille, Cepes, Deglacage accompanied by Château Figeac 2003 Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé in a Jéroboam, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Our main course was Supremes de Caille, Cepes, Deglacage accompanied by Château Figeac 2003 Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé in a Jéroboam, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

The 2003 and 1986 Château Figeac Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé wines served with our luncheon (the 1986 wine is in the decanter and glass), Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

The 2003 and 1986 Château Figeac Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé wines served with our luncheon (the 1986 wine is in the decanter and glass), Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

 

Eric Beaumard, winner of the Silver Medal in 1998 for the World’s Best Sommelier, and Director of “Le Cinq” restaurant at the George V Hotel in Paris, has noted about the estates wines: “The wine of Figeac is a true expression of its great terroir.  It is inimitable.  You will always recognize a Figeac.  The wines are powerful but delicate with characteristic freshness and great fullness on the palate.  Intense in flavor.  The Cabernets and the skill of the winemaker give them a deep and sensual structure that is never heavy and always elegant.  Recent vintages can be enjoyed young but with age, Château Figeac reveals an extraordinary range of flavours.  Figeac and time go hand in hand…”

 

Following a Plateau de Fromages, dessert was Delice des Trois Chocolats, both accompanied by Château Figeac 1986 Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé in a Jéroboam, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France

Following a Plateau de Fromages, dessert was Delice des Trois Chocolats, both accompanied by Château Figeac 1986 Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé in a Jéroboam, Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux region, France