Autumn Wines

There is only one advantage about the end of summer and it's called autumn. We can (finally) open our good red wines again, the foodshops are flooded with mushrooms, pumpkins and quinces and some quite interesting culinary possibilities present themselves again. And yes, some wines seem to long for this season and fit particularly well into it. But where as some whites and rosés are even for the mainstream public linked to spring or summer, autumn seems to be a bit more difficult.

A few weeks ago there was an intersting discussion on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/269698779797915/permal...) about autumn wines. I voted for Jura, old Burgundy and good Bordeaux, but my words were hardly cold before I taste the perfect autumn wine...and it was a Chinon.

Marc Plouzeau is in the world of natural wine probably less well know as François Plouzeau of the Domaine de la Garrelière, and I found this bottle in a very good wine shop annex restaurant in Eupen, of all places ! http://www.delcoeur.be/de/vinothek.php

The Rive Gauche, Chinon, M PLouzeau, 2010 costs 9,4 euro and is, of course, a 100% cabernet franc. My first impression was that of fresh fruit with a real bite, so typical for a good young vin naturel. Of course it also smelled of paprika and potatocellar (a good give away for the grape, but you have to be a Belgian to make this link I think), but after whirling it around in the glass there were also some autumnal elements, even something like peat. The mouth was also filled with fruit and touches of peat, and with nice tannines, it seemed a great food wine and a good Chinon, but nothing more, so I put it in the fridge to see what it would do.

Kazam ! Pow ! Flash ! Woodsmoke, sunday roast, mushrooms, dried fruit, it all jumped up from the glass when the wine was warmed up a bit. It was fresh, complex and so good it made me almost cry...This is a september morning in the forest, when you feel the force of nature in autumn, these strong masculine smells, a mix of animal, soil and fresh air, for the very first time cold after the warm summer nights, a smell full of promises of what next months will bring, and somewhere in the neighbourhood a fire is burning.

Day 3 (and 4) delivered a ripe fine Bordeaux smell-alike, Pomerol in a fresh year like 2004, all previous elements melted together in one. Exactly as a long cellared wine should taste. It would make a fantastic wine with beef (the tannines seem stronger and more active now).

It's been a while since I was so impressed by a wine, and I think I'm going to get some to put in the cellar of my parents, for sunday roasts in the years to come. And at this price this is absolutely a good investment !!    


Wine Ice Cream: unexpected grape encounters in a Gelateria in Rome

I keep on saying it, there is no better way to get to know a town than wander around in its smallest streets and leave the busy lanes. It may not be shorter and certainly not easier, but it makes life so much more interesting. This certainly goes for Rome. And so, when we walked from the Castel Sant'Angelo to the Piazza Navona, we did this through the Via dei Coronari, where just a few scooters and an occasional lost car disturbed our walk.

It's in this street that I have eaten the best ice cream of 2013, an ice cream that will make every true winelover jealous: a scoop of zibibbo ice cream and one of chocolate and nero d'avola...





Brilliant ! Especially the Chocolate and Nero d'avola one, that offered a taste I have not yet encountered in an ice cream, fascinating.

The Gelateria del Teatro is the best secret ice-cream adress of Rome. There are other more famous gelaterias where the tourists line up at every moment of the day, but this one is small, busy but ok and absolutely divine. Stefano Marcotulli was a well known pastry chef before he opened this adress in 2006 and he works with highly unusual flavours and combinations. 

Print this message, put it in your guide to Rome or fix it with a fridge magnet on your freeze and who knows next spring or summer we will meet in the Via dei Coronari...



Pizza and natural wines: the Pizzarium in Clermont-Ferrand

I have allways felt that it is both stupid and dangerous to drive from Holland, Belgium or Calais in one day to your holiday destination in the South of France, and most of all, I've allways felt that by doing this you miss out on one of the nicest regions of France: the Auvergne.

And where most tourists consider Clermont-Ferrand only as a city name you see for a while during your trip on the motorway direction signs, it is actually a beautiful town, situated on a hilltop with medieval streets and squares, two beautiful cathedrals, one gothic and one roman, and many good restaurants and shops.

Spending some time there in july, on our way to the Roussillon, I wanted to eat in a place that would satisfy both us and the kids. Would pizza do ? Yes, said the kids. Would natural wine do ? Yes, said the parents. And so we went to the Pizzarium...


This pizzeria is situated in the Rue de l'Ange, a small street in the environment of the Place de Jaude, the big townsquare of Clermont-Ferrand, a bit away of the streets on the hill, but something to see. It serves pizza's made with vegetables from a local bio-shop and non-pasteurized "lait cru" cheeses. They also serve some really good biodynamic or natural wines, and a few fabulous bio drinks for the kids (mine loved it!). You can pick your style of pizza, Roman, Gallic, Greek of Barbarian. I went for the Toutatis, with four local cheeses, but was sorely tempted by one with black pudding (I did not dare). Great pizza's !


We had a very nice rosé wine with this, the Corent, Côtes d'Auvergne, J-P Pradier, 2012, a local one, with fresh fruit in the nose and a nice zip including structure, excellent for the hot temperatures then. Afterwards I started talking to the owner and he gave me a list of all winemakers in the region that work bio and/or natural.

Absolutely a good adress when travelling with kids (or just loving pizza or vin naturel). A few streets away is La Régalade, in the Rue Nestor-Perret, with a very good reputation for its food and winelist, but without pizza...so maybe without kids...

I'll be back, Clermont-Ferrand, for pizza and for more !