No one is likely truly interested in excuses for complete silence around here the last several weeks. However, a quick note to indicate that I was traveling and am now back. I was traveling through France and it was fantastic. I encountered lots of wine, some of it great - and naturally some of it not so great. I wanted to give a few observations about the wine world of France, from which you can glean whatever conclusions you wish:
- Wine culture in French restaurants in general is not any more advanced than wine culture here. The lists are vague, the glasses are inappropriate, the temperatures are less than ideal. However there did seem to be a much stronger tendency by the patrons to include wine in their meals. This seemed to be done with a lot less intimidation or some of the pomp and circumstance that can surround the wine culture here - and it was refreshing.
- The old rules by which France regulates their vineyards and wine production may be stifling, but they help delineate a sense of diversity that is truly pleasurable. While it may be frustrating to be restricted in what you grow and how you vilify it, there is a likely outcome that allows exploration of the various regions to be exhilarating. The culture, the people, the soil, the weather - I guess the idea of terroir produces such diversity in the wines that hundreds of years of stodgy tradition actually enforce something really beautiful.
- Wines are not cheaper at the source apparently. Maybe we are lucky here in the U.S. but we can essentially buy the same wines at the same prices (not 100% true, but primarily accurate).
- This didn't sink in for me, but it is apparently acceptable to put ice in a cheap rose. I'd rather put the bottle of rose in some ice and appreciate it for what it is, but.... I'm apparently in the minority in Nice.
- Beaujolais (which I have advocated before) has such a legitimate place in your wine rotation. And when it comes to the dinner table it is way more flexible than many of the wines we generally choose. This tip can save you some money too - check it out.
That's it for now. I have some reviews of some great wines out of Australia and Greece coming up soon, just need to shake the jet lag!!