Category Wine Corner

The Best Of White Wines

white wineWhile there is no question that Pinot Chardonnay is king, as it pairs well with rich seafood and many fowl dishes and has become America’s favorite wine for any time sipping; during the warm days of late spring and summer, many other varietals are better suited for casual enjoyment.

I always prefer a crisper, more refreshing, less tropical and cleaner white wine: so Sauvignon Blanc is well suited and is getting increasingly more popular (as reflected by sales in my restaurants) but one should look to the light Rhone varietals like Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier or Grenache Blanc either from France or California, an AustrianGrunerVeltliner,the Verdicchios and Vermentinos of Italy, not to discount a well-made Pinot Griggio, or sip on the low alcohol Rieslings of Germany.

They are too many of these varietals to name them all here but the idea is to broaden your wine horizons by trying different “cepages”, making your wine drinking a more interesting experience, introducing your friend to your latest find! Most of them will also be far less expensive than a well-regarded Chardonnay.

A knowledgeable wine consultant in your favorite wine shop will certainly be willing to help you in that quest. Now, “Cheers”!

Pinot Noir

Whether from California, Oregon, Burgundy or other wine growing regions of the world, there is no question that nowadays, Pinot Noir rules!

Merlot gave way in the turn (the Sideways movie pushed it in the grave), Cabernet is galloping, Sauvignon Blanc is gaining ground, Chardonnay is puttering down the stretch but Pinot Noir is winning by several lengths!
Why the craze?

Pinot Noir is reputed to be the most romantic of wines but also the most temperamental of grape. Andre Tchelistcheff declared that “God made Cabernet but the devil made Pinot Noir!”

The wine tends to have a light garnet color with aromas of black or red cherry, cassis and raspberry. Whereas Pinot Noir wines from Burgundy will break the bank, we are able to find very affordable and delicious labels from California and Oregon, trust your favorite wine store! At Mille Fleurs we like to pair Pinot Noir with our Duck Confit, chef martin incomparable Wiener-Schnitzel, all veal dishes and our Wild Salmon recipes.

Visit to Grandes Marques of Champagne

restaurants in santa feAfter our trip to Champagne last June, I decided to put away my notes and write my blog in December, when the season appears to be more conducive to consume the bubbly. Stop!!!! “HERESY” scream the Champenois, “Champagne time is all the time!”.  And it was… Let just say that one can OD on the stuff: for 3 days we tasted and drank Champagne from morning to bed time…

It is through a pleasant drive from Paris thru beautiful rolling hills of vineyard after vineyard that you access the villages where the Grandes Marques of Champagne are located, they go on and on and just know that every acre of vineyard is worth a little more than $1 million bucks, pretty much like R S Fe property! On these vineyards grow Pinot Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the Pinot Noir can be used to make regular Champagne (by removing the skins after a couple of days or hours of pressing) or Rosé by adding a certain quantity of Pinot noir to the assemblage.

It is a treat to visit the beautiful old houses that harbor the famous brands of Champagne, all dating back to the 18th century, most of these houses bear the name of a Dutch or English prior owner (a few French) who were at the time, the main consumers of the stuff. The Russians tsars could not get enough nor could the English court aswell as the Dutch royalty.

These estates are built on top of deep chalky soil with miles and miles of caves dug up thru the centuries; chock full of millions of bottles resting in perfect temperature and humidity before being dispatched to every corner of the world. It is mind boggling that, just in the small village of Ay, to name just one, they have created over 100 miles of large tunnels, built on top of each other, 3 deep.

Not to bore you on how Champagne is made (you can easily Google it), note that you can spend minor of very big money on the different levels and bottling of the sparkling nectar: the scale of  Champagne starts with the Non-Vintage one (the most common) which is a product of mixing several vintages of still wine, some as old as 15 years to the latest harvest (typically 2 years old) to reproduce the special taste and profile which is the hallmark of each brand vintage after vintage: not an easy task! Then of course will be the vintage bottling of Brut, Blanc de Blanc, Rosé or Cremant ( the recent great vintages  now available are 1996 and 2002) and at the top of the pyramid the special vintage bottlings, ie:  Salon “Clos du Mesnil”, Dom Perignon “Oenotheque”, Pol Roger “Sir Winston Churchill”, Cristal and many, many others.

Enough of the technicalities, the Champagne producers are proud to say (almost a litany) that you never get a hangover from Champagne and  one can enjoy his bubbly with everything from fish to venison, caviar to chocolate in fact, it is hard to find a dish that will clash with this lovely liquid. I love the richness and roundness of the Chardonnay, the yeastiness of the Pinot Meunier and the elegance and depth of the Pinot Noir, all these grapes are blended in different quantities by the different houses or may compose 100% of each bottling. Only with much tasting can you decide which Champagne will be your favorite, or you may like them all, as do I!

So you get the idea, for the holidays, raise a flute: Champagne is great for special occasions but it is also wonderful for any and all occasions (I will collect my vig from the association of Champagne growers later!), and remember, NO hangover, what a plus!

Rosé Wines (they are actually reds!)

In the Mediterranean countries, rosé is synonym of summer, it is typically dry and displays fresh fruit flavors usually leaning to strawberry, raspberry or peaches.

Of course most wine connoisseurs will sneer when rosé is mentioned, but sales are on the rise in the US: think of it as nice, crisp, fairly low in alcohol wine, a perfect aperitif, then it grows on you and before you know it, you have enjoyed your rosé throughout the meal, as I often do!

In fact while recently vacationing in St Barth, we drank rosé every meal- just like everyone else- all the restaurants were offering at least a dozen different bottlings.

Rosés, although having to overcome the image problem brought on by the dreaded “white zinfandel stigma,” are perhaps the most versatile and food-friendly wines around.

The wines are the product of keeping the red grape juices in very short contact with red grape skins, typically 2 or 3 days.

Rosés are wonderful substitute to the heavy Chardonnays or big reds and of course, as a rule, they are much more affordable.

The shelves of our local wine shops will give you lots of choices: US growers are steadily introducing more “not white Zin” rosés. My favorites (inspired by my origins: I was weaned on them!) are from Provence, Languedoc and the Rhone. The Loire rosés are are also an option to taste but have the tendency to be sweeter.

So, I’d encourage you to buy a few different bottles and experiment.  I know you’ll enjoy it and I hope you thank me for it!

Rosé: Santé!

My views on wine service both in a restaurant and at home

My views on wine service both in a restaurant and at home

Here are my views on wine service:

I preach these simple points to my employees and I believe that it is also valid when you serve wine in your house.

The first and most important point is to provide clean and odorless vessels, too often the glasses and decanters have been kept on the shelves after coming out of the dishwasher, the chemicals have now dried out and they have imparted a distinct musty, cardboard smell and taste to your wine.

Rinse your glasses and decanters before use; I also recommend that you hand towel them to get rid of unsightly spots on the glass.

Use appropriate glassware as much as possible, by that I mean a glass big enough that you can swirl the liquid and enjoy its aroma, remember, we taste mainly with our noses.

Do not overfill the glasses when pouring from your bottle, 1/3 of the glass is the proper amount and 1/2 is all right: I do not want my guests to feel that I am trying to rush the wine service or force them to order another bottle, plus if you are having Champagne or

white wine it would get warm up too much.

Taste the wine before pouring to the guests, it is an accepted statistic that at least 5% of all bottles are tainted (corked), it will smell musty, “cardboardy”, generally nasty! Remember if this happens, your wine shop (usually) or restaurant will replace it at no cost, provided you have not finished the bottle!!!

So now, just enjoy and remember: “in vino, veritas!”


Mille Fleurs Reservations
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