Grape News Volume VII - Spring 2003 - June 5, 2003
In this issue:
Beaujolais Day Trip
There is more to the Beaujolais than Beaujolais Nouveau! We give you a few
pointers to help you enjoy a day trip from La Maison des Deux Clochers to the
nearby Beaujolais wine region.
More books and movies reviews for our French Favorites section, including: Paris
in the Fiftes, On rue Tatin, French Farmhouse Cookbook, Amélie, Cyrano de
Bergerac, La Grande Vadrouille and Ridicule.
Because of global events this year, most of September and October, our most
popular months, are still available to rent. This is a wonderful time of year to
travel to Burgundy, and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to be there
during the grape harvest!
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The Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I
wonder where the Grape News is? Inspired by the tales of our first few groups of
guests of 2003, we decided it was time we celebrated the Spring by sending out a
fresh installment of The Grape News.
Unfortunately, we haven’t made it to Burgundy
yet in 2003, but we are hoping to get back in the late Fall or Winter.
Nevertheless, La Maison des Deux Clochers is never very far away from our hearts
or our minds. We’re sure that we are not the only ones who need a little France
fix, so in this issue we will venture into the beautiful Beaujolais, highlight a
great lunch stop, and add a few new French Favorites to our list.
I. A Trip to the
The Beaujolais is just a short drive from La
Maison des Deux Clochers. The wines are very different from those you’ll find in
the Côte D’Or; lighter and fruitier, and generally ready to drink immediately.
The landscape is beautiful; rolling hills with little stone villages perched on
From the La Maison des Deux Clochers you can
take the Autoroute A6 in the direction of Lyon – another great place for a day
trip that we featured in Grape News #4.
The city of Mâcon is considered to be the
gateway to the Beaujolais, and it is around here that you will notice the shift
from the flat Northern form of roof tiles on the houses to the concave Southern
style. Mâcon is a great place to finish up your trip – below we will
recommend a wonderful place in Mâcon to stop for dinner and to make any
last-minute purchases of wine before heading home to La Maison des Deux
The first place to get off the autoroute is
the city of Belleville which lies South of Mâcon. Starting from here, you can
slowly wander Northwards through the renowned and beautiful wine villages such
as Beaujeu, Villié Morgon, Julienas, and Saint-Amour.
Below we will review a few places we have
found that will serve as a starting point for your day trip. However, this
region is just packed full of delightful surprises, so don’t hesitate to stray
from the beaten path whenever the spirit moves you!
If you would like to research your trip
further, the following website is a great place to start.
Jayne conducting her first snail-tasting at the restaurant Au Raisin Beaujolais.
When we asked our good friends Nicolas &
Joelle for some special addresses in the Beaujolais they recommended a visit to
the Domaine Jean-Charles Pivot. We visited the winery with them, and had a very
nice wine tasting while enjoying a nice saucisson sec Nicolas had cleverly
bought for us when we stopped for a coffee in Beaujeu. For fun, the winemaker,
Jean-Charles, fished out an old bottle of goutte with a dead snake in it and was
rewarded with some lusty screams from the girls. We ended up buying a few cases
of Côte-de Brouilly and Beaujolais Village that we have enjoyed to the last
Au Raisin Beaujolais Saint Vincent
69 430 Quincié
Tel: +33 (0)4.74.04.32.79
Fax: +33 (0)4.74.69.02.12
This restaurant was recommended to us by
Jean-Charles Pivot, the wine maker we visited in Quincié.
It is a small little restaurant situated by
the side of the road, and boasts a fabulous view over the vineyards and a
patron with a disarming personality. He amused us all by reciting poetry to
us as he took our orders and served us our lunch. It was at this restaurant that
we introduced Laura’s younger sister, Jayne to snail tasting. As you can see
from the photo, she did very well and found them very tasty.
This restaurant is a wonderful little find
that the locals consider “sympa” – a high compliment indeed!
Le Hameau en Beaujolais La Gare - 71570 Romanèche-Thorins
Tel : +33 (0)18.104.22.168.22
Fax : +33 (0)22.214.171.124.18
Another great place to learn more about
Beaujolais and its wines is the Hameau en Beaujolais, the brainchild of
marketing genius Georges DuBoeuf – the man responsible for the concept of
Rows of barrels in which some of
Georges Duboeuf's prodigious output of wine is maturing. This cellar is part of
the visit of Le Hameau en Beaujolais.
This gargantuan learning and tasting centre
includes a dizzying array of possibilities; fancy a winetasting? –Go to the free
tasting bar! Feel like learning more about wine bottling? Go to the section
devoted to corks and bottles! Fancy seeing an art exhibit? Go to the Art
Section! And so on and so forth….
The Hameau basically provides a fully
interactive tour of the Beaujolais while at the same time promoting George
DuBoeuf’s wines, which are widely considered to be of good quality. It is well
worth a visit, and is conveniently open seven days a week.
Their website is a bit flashier than
necessary, but you can go on a tour of all the facilities:
estate near Villie-Morgon, an area producing one of Beaujolais' 10 major
La Maison Mâconnaise des Vins 484, avenue De-Lattre de Tassigny
71000 Mâcon - France
tel: 33 (0)3 85 22 91 11
fax: 33 (0)3 85 22 91 12
This a great place to finish your circuit in
the Beaujolais, and serves a double purpose.
Not only can you have a delicious and inexpensive meal here, but this is a great
place to buy wine as well.
The restaurant is massive but extremely
popular, and teems with people during mealtimes. In the winter, the big
fireplace crackles merrily away as people chatter and enjoy a hearty meal.
Regional specialties; omelets, ham, goat’s
cheese, etc. are served continuously throughout the day. The food is simple, but
delicious and the portions are definitely on the large side.
You can purchase wine by the glass, and this
is a great way to taste the wines that are available for purchase at the store.
Along with our meal of a Jarret de porc and Salade de Chevre we enjoyed a Saint
Amour and a Moulin a Vent, both fruity, smooth, and fairly priced.
After you roll out of the restaurant, toasty
warm and fully satiated, you can go next door to the large and spacious wine
store and taste any one of their 23 Appellations. La Maison Mâconnaise des Vins
has more than fulfilled its original mission to promote the wines of Southern
Burgundy, the undisputed cradle of Pinot, Gamay, and Chardonnay. We found that
the wines were of admirable quality at a very reasonable price.
Below you will find our latest picks for
myburgundy.com’s “French Favorites” section, where we highlight our favorite
French books, music, and movies.
IN THE FIFTIES
By Stanley Karnow
Quite à propos, as in chapter 7
Karnow relate an epic wine buying trip to the Beaujolais. It is worth
having a peek at, and luckily the Wine Spectator offer access to it on its web
site - see:
In Deepest Beaujolais.
Pulitzer prize-winning author Karnow
(Vietnam: A History, LJ 10/1/83) vividly chronicles his early years in Paris,
where he worked as a young reporter for Time magazine (1950-59). He draws out
the dichotomies at the heart of many French people; how they can individualistic
yet conformist, and honest yet narrow-minded. His depiction of Paris in the
1950’s draws out interesting comparisons to Paris in the year 2003. Life in this
marvelous city has changed, to be sure, but yet in many essential ways such as
the social importance of the local café, it has also remained remarkably the
ON RUE TATIN
By Susan Herrmann Loomis
Following her formal culinary training,
Loomis returned to the U.S. and met the man who would become her husband. After
the couple's first son turned 2, they moved to France where Loomis was
determined to launch her writing career focusing on unique aspects of French
farming cuisine. She and her husband eventually purchased an old monastery in
Louviers in the Normandy region of France. One of the more humorous and
memorable stories she shares concerns the landlord of the small rental that they
occupied for a year while her husband remodeled the monastery to livable
conditions. During that year, the wife of the landlord believed them to be CIA
agents and chose to keep a cold distance from the family. Meanwhile the French
police suspected them of dealing drugs.
Franck is currently reading this book, and is
thoroughly enjoying it. Along with the story of Susan Loomis' induction into
French living, it also contains some truly enticing recipes. Franck has tried
two so far, the stuffed tomatoes (tomates farcies), and the yoghurt cake
(gateau au yaourt). We tasted them one night along with my mother and my
aunt Sharon, and both recipes were unanimously voted absolute winners.
Reading the book, and experiencing with the
recipes gave us the idea to add a new category to our French Favorites:
Cookbooks and Books about Wine. We will keep adding to this section as we
find new and exciting items.
FRENCH FARMHOUSE COOKBOOK
by Susan Herrmann Loomis
The food in the French Farmhouse Cookbook is
a reminder of how deeply the soul of French cooking is rooted in the fruits of
the land and sea.
For three years, Susan Herrmann Loomis
traveled the coasts and visited rural farms in all corners of France. She
discovered more than treasured recipes for the quintessentially French dishes
that appear in this book. She also met people passionate about the foodstuffs
they raise, gather, catch, or produce. Their stories make this book a living
tapestry of individuals and the food they cook.
Many dishes, while utterly French, fit well
into today's preferences for sensible good eating. Each recipe gives us a short
story to where the recipe originated, its location in France, and the family
that makes it. In true French style, recommended wines are included with the
by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
I think this has to be one of the most
charming movies I’ve ever seen. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen),
the film is a visual feast filled to the brim with surreal images and saturated
colour. The storyline is simple but magical, and the film possesses an
unabashedly romantic heart. Amélie (played to impish perfection by newcomer
Audrey Tatou) is a highly imaginative soul who has decided to fill her days by
helping the lonely people around her fix their lives, only to come to the
realization that it is her own lonely existence that needs fixing. Her quest for
her soul-mate; a man who keeps a mysterious album of discarded photo-machine
pictures, is a delightful cat and mouse game that is played out through the
picturesque streets of Montmartre. If you feel like your life could use a dose
of whimsy, treat yourself to this deservedly popular film.
Amélie soundtrack, created by musician Yann Tiersen, has been a favorite of
ours since we purchased the CD a few months ago. It’s music – heavily tinged
with accordion and piano, has a gypsy soul. It stands apart from the movie, and
is breezy, fresh, and contemporary while at the same time evoking the timeless
charm of Montmartre.
by Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Each time Franck and I watch this movie it
seems to get even more brilliant. Director Jean-Paul Rappeneau does a wonderful
job of bringing this classic French story to screen. Casting Gerard Depardieu,
France’s hulking behemoth of acting talent, as the vulnerable Cyrano is a stroke
of genius. Depardieu plays the unattractive, large nosed swordsman to
perfection. Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I watched Cyrano pour his
heart out in impassioned love letters to his beloved Roxanne, only to have her
believe they have been written by one of his handsome underlings, Christian.
Cyrano ends up teaching us all a lesson in honour and selfless love….not to
There is also a strong Burgundy connection to
this movie. The duel / city scenes were shot in downtown Dijon, and the last few
scenes were shot at the Abbaye de Fontenay in Northern Burgundy, a beautiful old
Abbey that is now a classed UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an easy day trip
from La Maison des Deux Clochers and a great place to visit while you are in
Burgundy - click here
to view the abbey web site. We will be reviewing this wonderful spot in
our next edition of the Grape News.
LA GRANDE VADROUILLE
by Gérard Oury
This classic movie held the French cinematic
record as the most successful movie for 30 years before finally being knocked
off its pedestal by Titanic. The storyline is a simple one. It is 1943 and three
Allied parachutists land and turn the lives of Stanislas (Louis de Funès) and
Augustin (Bourvil) upside-down. In order to get rid of these unwanted
houseguests, Stanislas and Augustin must lead them to the Free Zone. Beaune was
right near the border between occupied and unoccupied France, and features
frequently in the film –especially in the hilarious scene where our heroes seek
refuge with the nuns of the Hospices de Beaune. This movie is a point of
reference for the French – a must if you want to bone up on your popular culture
à la francaise.
by Patrice Leconte
Admittedly, the opening scene is rather
shocking to some sensibilities, but if you can get past this, Patrice Leconte’s
film about the battle of the wits in the court of Louis XVI is pure delight. The
story centres around the modest nobleman Ponceludon de Malavoy travels to
Versailles with an admirable purpose; he hopes that he can plead with the King
to help him drain the fever-infested swamps of his homeland. However, once he is
there he quickly discovers that in the court of Louis XVI gravitas is frowned
upon, rapier wit is celebrated, and if you stay long enough, being the subject
of ridicule is inevitable. De Malavoy is tutored in the ways of the Court by a
delightfully sentimental and slow-witted Jean Rochefort, who just happens to
have a beguiling daughter Mathilde. Fanny Ardant plays Madame de Blayac, the
world-weary courtesan whose bedroom leads to the ear of the king. If you liked
Dangerous Liaisons, you will love this film.
“Les Vendanges”, or Grape Harvesting,
many years ago. This photo was taken from Franck’s family album and shows his
predecessors harvesting the family vineyards near Villers-La-Faye. The grapes
are on their way to the press, so everyone is celebrating.
This has been a strange year travel-wise, and
as it happens, Sept 10th through to the end of October is still available for
rent in 2003. This is definitely one of the best seasons in Burgundy, what with
the warm weather, lack of tourists, and the Grape Harvest (vendanges).
We’ve recently had a few enquiries regarding
the fall, but no firm bookings yet. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to
Laura & Franck Germain
523 Oliver Street
Canada V8S 4W2