Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More wines (and so little time)

Add to Google Reader or HomepageLast spring (April 28, 2012), I wrote about three wineries that I thought were worth visiting when in Provence or seeing if an importer brings their wines to your area. One of the wineries about which I wrote was Domaine des Escaravailles (www.domaine-escaravailles.com). Thanks to Philip Reddaway and his Facebook page La Madelene Rhone Wine Holidays, there is more to report on this winery. Phil made two entries in Facebook about Domaine des Escaravailles.

By the way, the name of the winery is Occitan for Scarab beetle. The winery chose the name because, in the 17th century, monks tended the vines and, in the heat of the day, they would pull the hoods of their dark robes over their heads to protect themselves from the sun. From a distance, they looked like scarab beetles moving through the rows of grape vines.

When we were getting ready to leave Vaison la Romaine last spring, we made a final visit to Domaine des Escaravailles and I asked the pourer in the tasting room about the single-varietal (Grenache) and when it might be available. She said that they planned to bottle it in November. I said that we planned to return in December to which she suggested that I might want to call and reserve a case or two because it was going to go fast.

A torn meniscus distracted me for the remaining time in the US, so I did not call but was relieved to learn, when we visited the winery after our return to France, that they still had some. The wine is called “Heritage.”

(“1924” refers to the age of some of the grapevines.)

On February 18, Philip Reddaway wrote the following for La Madelene Rhone Wine Holidays in Facebook:

“In the March issue of "Decanter" JLL reviews the aoc of Rasteau: "how is this new Cru shaping up and who are the star performers?". Delighted to see that Domaine des Escaravailles, a favorite tour visit, came out on top of their blind tasting - the specific winning wine = their old vine Grenache "1924". Chapeau Giles!” (Gilles Ferran is the owner/winemaker at Domaine des Escaravailles.)

A week earlier, La Madelene Rhone Wine Holidays included another reference to Domaine des Escaravailles with a new wine venture. Philip Reddaway posted the following from a review by Lincoln Silakus:

“So, what can I say about the standout wine of the day, the Calendal, a joint venture of Gilles Ferran (Domaine Escaravailles, Rasteau) and Philippe Cambie? I suspect that, for Gilles, it's a bit of fun, as this is quite unlike his more elegant Escaravailles wines. Cambie, the larger-than-life Rhone guru-oenologist, makes wines with an equivalent girth; big enough, in other words to be seen by Robert Parker. The Calendal, from 4.4 hectares of bush vines of old Grenache and Mourvedre (30% – yum!) is huge, fruity and succulent. It ages in barrels that have been used only once for over a year. The 14,000 bottles sell out despite the hefty 16.50€ price (twice the average for this appellation). A myth in the making.” Lincoln Siliakus, Vino Solex, Feb. 12, 2013.

When our Lansing neighbors were visiting last week, they bought me some of the Calendal. We opened a bottle last evening when friends were visiting and it is everything that Mr. Siliakus suggests. Another great wine from Domaine des Escaravailles.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Charge it.

Add to Google Reader or HomepageA small observation: in France, purchases made by credit card are completed without the card ever leaving your sight. Be it in a restaurant or a shop, the system feels more secure than the ways we transact business with credit cards in the states. In France, all of the restaurant servers have hand-held credit card swipe machines. They bring you the bill and, when you are ready to pay, they return with a wireless credit card swipe machine. You watch the restaurant server swipe the card and generate the printout(s) which s/he gives to you along with your credit card. (Retail shops operate much as they do in the states with credit card swipe machines located at the check-out counter.)

Giving my credit card to a server in an American restaurant might explain my heretofore undefined discomfort as I watch the server disappear with my credit card only to return X minutes later with a print-out to review and sign.

As we grow more concerned about identify theft, it seems like we should have the same wireless credit card machines in the US. – Or, maybe my anxiety is misplaced and I should be more concerned about wireless data transmission and hackers???