Friday, August 18, 2017

Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2017: Germany's Best 2016 Riesling Kabinett Wines

Pictures: The Top 3 Wines of the BerlinKabinettCup 2017

The BerlinKabinettCup 2017 took place in Berlin, Germany, a few weeks ago, orchestrated by Martin Zwick. 47 German Riesling Kabinett 2016 wines were included and ranked in the tasting. 2/3 of the wines came from the Mosel Saar Ruwer area. The wines were blind-tasted by 11 wine experts, including Winemaker Kai Schätzel of Weingut Schätzel and Sales Director Desire Schröder of Weingut Dr. Loosen.

Martin Zwick and his Berlin Cups

Martin Zwick was initially known for organizing the BerlinRieslingCup. The BerlinRieslingCup is about Germany’s ultra-premium dry grand cru (Grosses Gewächs) Rieslings from Grosse Lage vineyards. It typically takes place in the second half of September, following the release of the Grosses Gewächs wines of the previous year.

In the following years, he added 3 other Berlin Cups: The BerlinGutsrieslingCup, which reviews and rates entry-level Rieslings. The BerlinKabinettCup: A ranking of off-dry, light Rieslings that carry the Kabinett predicate. Finally, the BerlinSpätburgunderCup, a ranking of German Pinot Noirs.

Thus, there are now 4 BerlinCups: BerlinRieslingCup, BerlinGutsRieslingCup, BerlinKabinettCup and BerlinSpätburgunderCup. See more below.

Pictures: Martin Zwick, Berlin Cups, with Guiseppe Lauria, Editor-in-Chief of Weinwisser

What is a Kabinett?

What is a Kabinett? That depends.

In the framework of the standard classification of German wine (the Law of 1971), a Kabinett is defined by the sugar content of the grapes at harvest. It is a wine made from grapes harvested with a sugar content of 67 to 87 degrees Öchsle that was not chaptalized. Such a wine can be fully fermented and become dry. These are the Kabinett Trocken wines.

Alternatively, the winemaker could stop the fermentation so that natural sugar remains in the finished wine (and perhaps add a bit of sterilized juice – Süssreserve) to produce a wine that is fruity-sweet.

Depending on the ripeness of the grapes (i.e. the sugar content at harvest) and the timing of the winemaker for stopping the fermentation (early or late during the fermentation process), fruity-sweet Kabinett wines can range from lightly-sweet (halbtrocken, feinherb) to fully-sweet. The law of 1971 does not define any limits for the sweetness of a Kabinett wine and thus you find a wide sweetness range in the market. What they all have in common is that they are rather light wines, with a low alcohol level, made with grapes that were picked early in the harvest.

The VDP producers have introduced a new classification, very much based on the Burgundian approach. In their new classification, Kabinett no longer stands for a certain ripeness of the grapes at harvest, but stands for a certain sweetness level of the wine in the bottle.

For the VDP producers, Kabinett is an indication of a certain sweetness profile. Only wines that have a certain sweetness in the finished wine can be sold as Kabinett. Kabinett Trocken does not exist for VDP producers (although some VDP members still produce Kabinett trocken during a transition period). With a few exceptions, all the wines sold as Kabinett are fruity-sweet and in in a certain sweetness range. Auslese is sweeter than Spätlese and Spätlese sweeter than Kabinett. The terms “Halbtrocken” and “Feinherb” have become redundant in the VDP classification system.

The wines in the BerlinKabinettCup 2016 were all wines where the fermentation was interrupted to generate a wine “that dances” as Stephen Rheinhardt put it in the Süddeutschen Zeitung: A low alcohol wine with some remaining sweetness, no Trocken Kabinetts.

Martin Zwick: I made this "BerlinKabinettCup" not because of another Cup, not because of ranking, not because of scores. The true star is the KABINETT. Here in Germany Kabinett was heavily overlooked in the last years, as most people drank trocken, trocken, trocken. My "BerlinKabinettCup" created awareness in Germany for Kabinett and now the people buy more Kabinett. That´s all about.

Ranking - BerlinKabinettCup 2017

1. 2016 von Othegraven „Kupp“
2. 2016 Emrich-Schönleber „Monzinger“
3. 2016 Hofgut Falkenstein „Euchariusberg“ #12

Pictures: Günther Jauch, Owner, his Wife and Andreas Barth, Managing Director, Weingut von Othegraven

Picture: Tasting at Weingut Emrich-Schönleber in Monzingen, Nahe, with Frank Schönleber. See:  was our host. See: Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

Picture: Johannes Weber of Hofgut Falkenstein at the 2017 Rieslingfeier in New York City. See: The Annual "Slaughterhouse" Riesling Feast in New York: Rieslingfeier 2017, USA

4. 2016 Schloss Lieser „Brauneberger Juffer“
5. 2016 Keller „Pettenthal“
6. 2016 Loersch „Hofberg“
7. 2016 Fritz Haag "Brauneberger"
8- 2016 von Othegraven „Altenberg“
9. 2016 Maximin Grünhaus „Herrenberg“
10. 2016 Wagner-Stempel "Siefersheimer"

Pictures: Tasting at Weingut Schloss Lieser in Lieser with Owner/ Winemaker Thomas Haag – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016

Picture: Annette Schiller, Julia and Klaus Peter Keller at the 2015 Rieslingfeier in New York, see: A German Riesling Feast in New York City: Rieslingfeier 2015, USA

Picture: With Oliver Haag, Weingut Fritz Haag, Brauneberg, Mosel, in the Brauneberger Sonnenuhr Vineyard. See: Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

Picture: With Owner Dr. Carl von Schubert at Weingut Maximin Grünhaus in Mertersdorf, Ruwer, Mosel. See: Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

Picture: Annette Schiller with Daniel Wagner, Weingut Wagner-Stempel. See: VDP.Rheinhessen Invited to a Gala Dinner: The World Class Wines of the VDP.Rheinhessen Winemakers and the World Class Food of Philipp Stein (1 Star Michelin, Favorite), with Klaus Peter Keller, Philipp Wittmann, H.O.Spanier, Caroline Gillot-Spanier and Other Rheinhessen Stars

11. Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg
12. Franz Keller - Schwarzer Adler Oberbergener Bassgeige
13. Willi SchaeferGraacher Himmelreich
14. Weiser-Künstler Wolfer Sonnenlay
15. K. J. Thul Schieferklang
16. Schätzel Niersteiner Pettenthal
17. Max Ferd. Richter Brauneberger Juffer
18. Daniel Vollenweider Wolfer Goldgrube
19. Schätzel KabiNett
20. Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpfchen

21. Hofgut Falkenstein Krettnacher Euchariusberg #8
22. Koenen Kabinett
23. Franzen „Calmont“
24. Dr. Hermann Ürziger Würzgarten
25. Clemens Busch Pündericher Marienburg
26. Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst
27. Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg.
28. Hofgut Falkenstein Krettnacher Euchariusberg
29. Kruger-Rumpf Im Pitterberg
30. Steinmetz & Hermann Wintricher Geierslay

31. Nico Espenschied La Roche
32. Max Ferd. Richter Elisenberger
33. Dr. Hermann Erdener Treppchen
34. Schloss Lieser Wehlener Sonnenuhr
35. Gunderloch Jean Baptiste
36. Thörle Saulheimer Hölle
37. Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr
38. Schmitges „vom roten Schiefer“
39. Carl Loewen Maximiner Herrenberg
40. Felix Waldkirch Rhodter Schlossberg

41. Steinmetz Mülheimer Sonnenlay
42. Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger
43. Zilliken Saarburger Rausch
44. Strub „Herzstück“
45. Zilliken Ockfener Bockstein
46. Weegmüller Pamino
47. von Hövel Scharzhofberger Versteigerung

The Tasters

Desiree Schröder/Dr. Loosen
Dorit Schmitt/Chefredakteurin
Kai Schätzel/Winzer
Olivier Schnurr/Mosel-Freak
Ulrich Amling/Tagesspiegel
Marcel Saveedra/Sommelier
André WieWo/Weintauschbörse
Marcus Reinhardt/Sommelier
Shahzad Talukder/Sommelier
René Arnold/Sommelier + Weinhändler
Nikolai L./Auswerter+ Wein-Freak

schiller-wine: Related Postings (Berlin Cups)

Germany’s Best Ultra-premium Dry Riesling Wines - BerlinRieslingCup 2017, Germany 
Germany’s Best Ultra-premium Dry Riesling Wines - BerlinRieslingCup 2015, Germany
Germany’s Best Ultra-premium Dry Riesling Wines - BerlinRieslingCup 2014, Germany
Germany’s Best Ultra-premium Dry Riesling Wines - BerlinRieslingCup 2013, Germany
Germany’s Ultra Premium Dry Riesling Wines – The Berlin Riesling Cup 2012
Germany’s Top Wines – The Berlin Riesling Cup 2011 Ranking

Martin Zwick’s BerlinGutsrieslingCup 2016 - Rating Dry Entry-level Rieslings from Germany's Best Producers
Martin Zwick’s BerlinGutsrieslingCup 2015 - Rating Dry Entry-level Rieslings from Germany's Best Producers
Martin Zwick’s BerlinGutsrieslingCup 2014 - Rating Entry-level Rieslings from Germany's Best Producers
BerlinGutsrieslingCup 2013 – Rating Entry-level Rieslings from Germany
Berlin Gutsriesling Cup 2012, Germany

Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2017: Germany's Best 2016 Riesling Kabinett Wines
Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2016: Germany's Best 2015 Riesling Kabinett Wines
Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2015: Germany's Best 2014 Riesling Kabinett Wines
Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2014, Germany
BerlinKabinettCup 2013 - Kabinett 2012, Germany

Germany's Best Pinot Noir Wines - BerlinSpätburgunderCup 2013/2015
Germany's Best Pinot Noir Wines - BerlinSpätburgunderCup 2012/2014
BerlinSpaetburgunderCup 2011/2013, Germany

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Heads up for the 2017 Tours - to Germany and France - by ombiasy WineTours 

Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

The Annual "Slaughterhouse" Riesling Feast in New York: Rieslingfeier 2017, USA

A German Riesling Feast in New York City: Rieslingfeier 2015, USA

VDP.Rheinhessen Invited to a Gala Dinner: The World Class Wines of the VDP.Rheinhessen Winemakers and the World Class Food of Philipp Stein (1 Star Michelin, Favorite), with Klaus Peter Keller, Philipp Wittmann, H.O.Spanier, Caroline Gillot-Spanier and Other Rheinhessen Stars

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung in Hattenheim, Rheingau: Cellar Tour, Art Tour, Tasting and Vineyard Tour with Winemaker Tim Lilienström - Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Picture: Tasting at Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung with Tim Lilienström

Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung in Hattenheim in the Rheingau was our first stop of the Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours. It was an excellent start of the tour. Winemaker Tim Lilienström was our host.

We began the visit with a tour of the winemaking facility, followed by a visit of the art cellar and a sit-down tasting. At the end, on the way to Kloster Eberbach, Tim Lilienström showed us the vineyards of Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung.

Thanks you very much Tim.

Pictures: Winemaker and General Manager Tim Lilienström Welcoming us at Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung in Hattenheim

Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung

This wine estate in the heart of the Rheingau, the charming town of Hattenheim, was established in 1882 by Georg Müller, co-owner of the famous sparkling wine house Matheus Müller in Eltville. He also was one of the founders of the VDP. In 1913 Georg Müller donated the wine estate to his home town Hattenheim. He transformed it into a foundation (Stiftung), and the profits were used to support the poor and other charitable causes.

In 2003 the estate was privatized and Peter Winter, chairman of the board of one of the largest wine companies in the world, purchased the winery. He invested heavily, hired an ambitious cellar master, and brought the estate back to its former glory. As an aficionado of the arts Peter Winter uses the 250 years old vaulted wine cellar as a modern art gallery. The modern art on display and the historic cellar make for an impressive, extraordinary exciting exhibition space.

Pictures: In the Wine Cellar with Tim Lilienström

The Art Cellar

The cellar of Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung has become in part a museum. Most of the modern art exhibited in the cellar was produced specifically for the wine cellar. The climatic conditions in the cellar needed to be taken into account in creating the art. Consequently, the sculptors and painters typically worked with stone, metal, silicon or plastic and painted behind glass, Plexiglas or on MDF panels.

It is a fascinating setting down there in the cellar: a large space of about 1000 m2 and 250 years old. It can be used for various purposes, including receptions and wine tastings.

Pictures: In the Art Cellar of Weingut Georg Mueller Stiftung

Peter Winter

When you spent an afternoon at Peter Winter’s Weingut Georg Mueller Stiftung in Hattenheim in the Rheingau, you are a bit reminded of Donald Hess. Donald Hess and Peter Winter appear to be on the same journey, that of wine and art.

See:
Wine, Art and Food: Donald Hess’ Glen Carlou Estate in South Africa
A Painted Winetasting at Weingut Georg Mueller Stiftung in Hattenheim (Eltville), Rheingau, Germany

Picture: Christian Schiller and Peter Winter at Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung

Peter Winter’s journey started in 2003, when he purchased the Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung. Before that turning point in life, Peter Winter was for over 40 years in various key positions in the German wine industry. Importantly, for 18 years he was the Chairman of the Board of one of the ten largest wine companies worldwide. He is also President of the German Wine Exporter Association and teaches at the University of Geisenheim.

What Tim Poured

Art Cellar Tour

2013 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimer Rheingarten Riesling Sekt Brut


2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimer Riesling trocken VDP.Ortswein
2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimerer Engelsmannsberg Riesling feinherb VDP.Erste Lage
2013 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimerer Wisselbrunnen Riesling Spätlese VDP.Grosse Lage
2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Edition PW Frühburgunder trocken


2006 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimerer Schützenhof Riesling Beerneauslese VDP.Erste Lage


Seated Tasting

2016 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Riesling trocken VDP.Gutswein
2016 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Sweish Summer trocken VDP.Gutswein (Müller-Thurgau + Scheurebe + Sauvignon Blanc)
2015  Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimerer Schützenhof Riesling trocken VDP.Erste Lage
2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimerer Nussbrunnen Riesling GG VDP.Grosse Lage
2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimerer Hassel Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel VDP.Grosse Lage

Barrique

2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Auxerrois trocken VDP.Gutswein
2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Edition PW Spätburgunder trocken VDP.Gutswein
2015 Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung Daniel Spätburgunder trocken VDP.Gutswein

Pictures: Tasting with Tim Lilienström

In the Vineyards

At the end of the visit, on the way to Kloster Eberbach, Tim Lilienström showed us the vineyards of Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung.

The estate covers an area of approximately 12 hectares with excellent vineyard locations such as Schützenhaus, Engelmannsberg, Hassel, Wisselbrunnen, Nussbrunnen or Heiligenberg. Of the vineyards on the wine-growing estate approximately 80% grow Riesling and approximately 15% grow Spätburgunder in an environmentally sustainable way. Frühburgunder, Müller Thurgau, Auxerrois und Ehrenfelser are grown in the remaining vineyards.

Bottle production is 100 000.

Pictures: In the Vineyards of Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung with Tim Lilienström

Postings: Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir (Posted and Forthcoming)

Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung (VDP) in Hattenheim, Rheingau: Cellar Tour, Art Cellar Tour, Tasting and Vineyard Tour

Lunch and Tour at Kloster Eberbach and Tour and Tasting at Weingut Kloster Eberbach, Rheingau
 
Visit and Tasting at Weingut Schloss Vollrads (VDP) in Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau

Vineyard tour, cellar tour and tasting at Weingut Leitz in Rüdesheim, Rheingau

Visit and tasting at Weingut Ratzenberger (VDP) in Bacharach, Mittelrhein, with Jochen Ratzenberger

Cruise on the Rhine River from Lorch to Boppard, Mittelrhein

Visit and tasting at Weingut Heymann-Lösenstein (VDP) in Winningen, Mosel, with Richard Löwenstein

Tasting Pinot Noir at Weingut Kreuzberg in Dernau, Ahr

Visit and tasting at Weingut Jean Stodten, in Rech, Ahr, with Alexander Stodten

Tasting at Weingut Markus Molitor in Haus Klosterberg, Mosel

Tasting and Vineyard Visit at Weingut Immich-Batterieberg in Enkirch, Mosel, with Gernot Kollmann

The Wines of the Berncasteler Doctor, Bernkastel-Kues in the Mosel Valley, Germany

Wining in Bernkastel-Kues in the Mosel Valley: Wine Tavern “Spitzhaeuschen”, Germany

Tasting and Vineyard Walk at Weingut Fritz Haag (VDP) in Brauneberg, Mosel, with Oliver Haag

Dinner at the 2 Michelin star restaurant Schanz in Piesport, Mosel

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Trier, Germany

Visit and tasting at Weingut Maximin Grünhaus (VDP) in Mertersdorf, Ruwer, Mosel, with Dr. Carl von Schubert 

Visit and tasting at Weingut von Hövel (VDP) in Oberemmel, Saar, Mosel, with Max von Kunow

Tasting at Weingut Emrich-Schoenleber (VDP) in Monzingen, Nahe, with Frank Schönleber

Wine-pairing Lunch at Landgasthof Zur Traube in Meddersheim, Nahe, with Petra Hexamer and the wines of Weingut Hexamer.

Dinner with Wine Pairing the Restaurant of Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in Münster-Sarmsheim, Nahe, with Corenlia, Stefan and Georg Rumpf

Tasting at Weingut J.B. Becker, in Walluf, Rheingau, with Hajo Becker

Lunch at Gutsausschank-Ristorante Weingut von Oetinger in Erbach, Rheingau





Monday, August 14, 2017

Wining and Dining in the Provence, France, 2017

Pictures: Wining and Dining in the Provence, France

The Provence largely corresponds with the modern administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône River to the west to the Italian border to the east. The largest city of the region is Marseille.

The Romans made the region into the first Roman province beyond the Alps and called it Provincia Romana, which evolved into the present name. It was ruled by the Counts of Provence from their capital in Aix-en-Provence until 1481, when it became a province of the Kings of France.

Picture: Provence (Lonely Planet)

In early July 2017, I spent about a week in the Provence, with my wife Annette and my son Benjamin Schiller and his 2 children Lorelei and Otto. Our German Sheppard Oskar also came on the trip. We stayed in a house in La Ciotat, between Cassis and Bandol.

I flew from Frankfurt to Marseille, while the rest of us went by car and stopped over at Château de la Barge in Creches sur Saone. See also: Dinner at Restaurant Château de la Barge in Creches sur Saone in Burgundy, France. They also had lunch at a Bouchon in Lyon. See also: Dinner at a Bouchon - Chez Paul - in Lyon: Schiller’s Favorite Bouchons in Lyon, France

On the way back, we all went by car and stopped in Besancon in the Jura Region. We stayed at the Hotel/ Restaurant Château de la Dame Blanche and had awonderful dinner there.

Base: Airbnb House in La Ciotat

Out base was an airbnb house in La Ciotat, between Cassis and Bandol.

Pictures: Airbnb House

Beach

The beach was in walking distance. When our dog Oscar came along, we had to go to the "dog beach".

Pictures: At the Beach

The Wines of the Provence

Wine has been made here for over 2600 years, making Provence the oldest wine producing region of France. It is also the only French wine region to focus on Rosé. Two thirds of the wines from the Provence are Rosé.

Picture: Provence AOC (Wine Folly)

(Source: wikipedia): Provence is the oldest wine producing region of France. The wines of Provence were probably introduced into Provence around 600 BC by the Greek Phoceans who founded Marseille and Nice. After the Roman occupation, in 120 BC the Roman Senate forbade the growing of vines and olives in Provence, to protect the profitable trade in exporting Italian wines, but in the late Roman empire retired soldiers from Roman Legions settled in Provence and were allowed to grow grapes.

Provence is also the only French wine region that predominantly produces rosé wines. The most characteristic grape is mourvèdre, used most famously in the red wines of Bandol. Cassis is the only area in Provence known for its white wines.

The wines of Provence are grown under demanding conditions; hot weather and abundant sunshine (Toulon, near Bandol, has the most sunshine of any city in France) which ripens the grapes quickly; little rain, and the mistral.

Picture: Rosé Wines Account for 80% of the Wines of the Provence

The AOCs of the Provence

AOC Côtes de Provence is the largest AOC ihe Provence, accounting for about 75% of the total. The appellation covers 20,300 hectares. 80 percent of the production is rosé wine.

Pictures: AOC Côtes de ProvenceWines

Second in size, the AOC Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence was classified as an AOC in 1985. There are 4000 hectares in production. 70 percent of the wines are rosés.

Picture: AOC Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Wine

The AOC Coteaux Varois en Provence is a recent AOC in Provence (1993). 2200 hectares. 80 percent rosés.

AOC Bandol wines must have at least 50 percent Mourvèdre grapes, though most have considerably more.

Pictures: AOC Bandol Wines

AOC Cassis was the first wine in Provence to be classified as an AOC in 1936, and is best known for its white wines.

Picture: AOC Cassis Wine

AOC Bellet - At the time of the French Revolution, the little town of Saint Roman de Bellet (now part of Nice) was the center of an important wine region. Today the region is one of the smallest in France; just 47 hectares.

AOC Palette Palete is a little village 4 kilometres east of Aix-en-Provence.

AOC Les Baux de Provence was established as an AOC for red and rosé wines in 1995.

The Grape Varieties in the Provence

(winerist): The key grape variety for reds and roses in Provence is Mourvèdre, also known as Monastrell. Mourvèdre is typically high in alcohol, high in tannins and has typical aromas of dark berries. Mourvèdre is often blended with Grenache and Cinsault. Bandol, is the most famous appellation for powerful, gamey red made from Mourvèdre.

Grenache, originally from Spain, provides greater body and fullness to red wines. Cinsault - native to Provence is fresh and subtle, is an important component in most rosé wines and the grapes can be enjoyed as raw fruit too. Tibouren, a grape with a full bouquet, is also perfect for blending in red wines with other locally derived grapes.

Carignan has been a major grape for the last century in Provence blends. This variety has diminished somewhat but is still used to provide full bodied brightly coloured wines. Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are becoming more popular due to increased global popularity, though some winemakers are being more cautious with these grapes. They provide strong tannins and spicy flavours to the wines. Other prominent grape varieties for reds and roses are are Braquet, Folle, Cinsault, Counoise, Muscardin, Terret Noir and Vaccarèse.

Of the white varieties, Rolle (Vermentino) is grown widely in Provence, a very hardy grape boasting pear and citrus aromas. It is full bodied and very smooth. Clairette, ancient and aromatic this oddly shaped grape is a rare delight. Ugni Blanc is clear and fruity, for an elegant glass. Semillion is used in small amounts for a strong floral and honey bouquet.

The major white wine grapes of Provence often feature Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne, Spagnol, Mayorquin, Pignero, Picpoul and Muscat. Some of the most compelling white wines of Provence are made in Cassis, but these rarely make it outside the country due to high local demand.

Food of the Provence

Provence borders the Mediterranean sea, and fish and shellfish are eaten in abundance. Commonly enjoyed fish and shellfish include, tuna, sea bass, anchovies, red snapper, red mullet, monkfish, shrimp, crab, mussels, scallops and oysters.

Popular fish and shellfish dishes include bouillabaisse, salad Niçoise (a vegetable, tuna and anchovy salad) and fruits de mer.

Picture: Carrefour

Bouillabaisse is the classic seafood dish of Marseille. The traditional version is made with three fish: scorpionfish, sea robin, and European conger, plus an assortment of other fish and shellfish, such as John Dory, monkfish, sea urchins, crabs and sea spiders included for flavour. The seasoning is as important as the fish, including salt, pepper, onion, tomato, saffron, fennel, sage, thyme, bay laurel, sometimes orange peel, and a cup of white wine or cognac. In Marseille the fish and the broth are served separately – the broth is served over thick slices of bread with rouille.

Picture: Bouillabaisse

Fruits de mer is a plate of fresh seafood accompanied with lemon wedges for drizzling. Interestingly, the one I had did not contain anything from the region I was told. Overall, the seafood that I have seen in other areas of France, including Bordeaux, was more impressive.

Picture: Plateau des Fruits de Mer

Octopus Salad

Picture: Octopus Salad

Moules frites were very popular.

Picture: Moules Frites

I liked the "petite friture" with sauce tartare.

Picture: Petite Friture

Provence, like other regions of the Mediterranean, has a sun-blessed climate that makes it ideal for olive growing. And like their Italian neighbors to the east, the people of Provence rely heavily on olives—for food and as an oil. Olive oil is used for sautéing foods, and is added to sauces, dressings, dips and marinades. Whole olives are scattered into hot dishes and salads, or are eaten as a snack.

Picture: Olives

Tapenade is a relish consisting of pureed or finely chopped olives, capers, and olive oil, usually spread onto bread and served as an hors d'œuvre.

Picture: Pastis with Tapenade

Salad Niçoise is a vegetable, tuna and anchovy salad.

Picture: Salad Niçoise

Aïoli is a thick emulsion sauce made from olive oil flavoured with crushed garlic. Here, I have it with a fish soup.

Picture: Fish Soup with Aïoli

Daube provençale is a stew made with cubed beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de provence. Variations also call for olives, prunes, and flavouring with duck fat, vinegar, brandy, lavender, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries, or orange peel. For best flavour, it is cooked in several stages, and cooled for a day between each stage to allow the flavours to meld together. In the Camargue area of France, bulls killed in the bullfighting festivals are sometimes used for daube.

Picture: Daube Provençale

Ratatouille is a traditional dish of stewed vegetables, which originated in Nice. Here I have it with fish.

Picture: Fish with Ratatouille

Tarte Tropézienne is a tart of pastry cream (crème pâtissière) invented by a St. Tropez pastry chef named Alexandre Micka in the 1950s, based on a recipe he brought from his native Poland. In 1955, he was chef on the set of the film And God Created Woman when actress Brigitte Bardot suggested he name the cake La Tropézienne. It is now found in bakeries throughout the Var.

Picture: Tarte Tropézienne

Herbes de Provence (or Provençal herbs) are a mixture of dried herbs from Provence which are commonly used in Provençal cooking.

Picture: Herbes de Provence

The Provence is not well known of its cheeses, but the selection of French cheeses at the Carrefour was as huge as everywhere else in France (here: Section of Camemberts).

Picture: Carrefour/ Camembert

Oeufs à la neige is a classic (and my favorite) French dessert.

Picture: Oeufs à la Neige

Pastis

Pastis is the traditional liqueur of Provence, flavoured with anise and typically containing 40–45% alcohol by volume. When absinthe was banned in France in 1915, the major absinthe producers (then Pernod Fils and Ricard, who have since merged as Pernod Ricard) reformulated their drink without the banned wormwood and with more aniseed flavour, coming from star anise, sugar and a lower alcohol content, creating pastis. It is usually drunk diluted with water, which it turns a cloudy color. It is especially popular in and around Marseille. The selection of different Pastis at the Carrefour was impressive.

Picture: Carrefour/ Pastis

Marsaille

(Lonely Planet): For many years, the busy port city of Marseille has suffered from a serious image problem. Dismissed for its down-at-heel reputation, urban decay and often alarming crime statistics, it's long been the black sheep of the Provençal coastline. But while it’s gritty, and not always pretty – Cannes or St-Tropez, it’s not – Marseille is a dynamic, edgy, bustling city that’s rich with more than 1500 years of history. And since its stint as the European Capital of Culture in 2013 and the addition of a brace of swanky new museums, the city has sparkled with a new sense of optimism and self-belief. At long last, everyone seems to be waking up to the fact that France’s second-biggest city might have been unfairly maligned all along.

The heart of the city is the vibrant Vieux Port (old port), mast-to-mast with yachts and pleasure boats. Just uphill is the ancient Le Panier neighbourhood, the oldest section of the city. Also worth an explore is the République quarter, with its stylish boutiques and Haussmannian buildings, and the Joliette area, centred onMarseille’s famous striped Cathédrale de la Major.

Pictures: Marseille

Cassis

(Lonely Planet): Nestled at the foot of a dramatic rocky outcrop crowned by a 14th-century château (now a hotel open only to guests), this little fishing port is all charm, hence the enormous crowds that pile into its Vieux Port with its bustling restaurants, play on its shingle beaches, visit its terraced vineyards and sip fabled white Cassis wine. The town’s name comes from the Roman Carsicis Portus, meaning ‘crowned port,’ so christened for the rock Couronne de Charlemagne (Crown of Charlemagne), which is visible from far out at sea.

Pictures: Cassis

La Ciotat

Once an industrial port, La Ciotat has brilliantly reinvented itself as a tourist destination. Today it's one of the liveliest and least spoiled resorts along this stretch of the coast. In the 20th century La Ciotat was one of the most important shipbuilding centres on the Mediterranean until its naval shipyards closed down in the 1980s.

Pictures: La Ciotat

Bandol

(Lonely Planet): Bandol’s old fishing-port charm has long since been swallowed up by its high-rise seaside apartment blocks, but the plentiful restaurants, cheap-and-cheerful shops and copious beach facilities make it a favourite for holidaymakers from nearby Toulon and Marseille. For everyone else, it’s probably best for a quick lunch stop or a spot of wine tasting rather than an overnight stay

Pictures: Bandol

Toulon

(Lonely Planet): Rough-round-the-edges Toulon just doesn’t fit in with the glittering Côte d’Azur. Built around a rade (a sheltered bay lined with quays), France’s second-largest naval port has a certain rough charm, and isn’t quite as terrible as it once was, though most visitors wisely just pass through.

Initially a Roman colony, Toulon became part of France in 1481 – the city grew in importance after Henri IV founded an arsenal here. In the 17th century the port was enlarged by Vauban. The young Napoleon Bonaparte made a name for himself in 1793 during a siege in which the English, who had taken over Toulon, were expelled. The city was badly bombed in WWII, and languished for much of the second half of the 20th century until its current revival. It’s the birthplace of France’s beloved actor Raimu, the star of Marcel Pagnol’s 1931 classic, Marius.

Pictures: Toulon

Going There

On the way to the Provence, Annette, Benjamin with his children and Oscar stayed overnight and had a lovely dinner at Hotel/ Restaurant Château de la Barge in Creches sur Saone, just 10 miles south of Macon in the Bourgogne.

See also: Dinner at Restaurant Château de la Barge in Creches sur Saone in Burgundy, France

Picture: At Château de la Barge in Creches sur Saone, Bourgogne, France

On the next day they had lunch at a typical Bouchon in Lyon and arrived before dinner time in La Ciotat.

See also: Dinner at a Bouchon - Chez Paul - in Lyon: Schiller’s Favorite Bouchons in Lyon, France

Going Back

On the way back, we stopped in Besancon in the Jura Region. We stayed at the Hotel/ Restaurant Château de la Dame Blanche and had awonderful dinner there.

Pictures: Dinner at Restaurant Château de la Dame Blanche in Besancon

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