Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Summertime Oscars in Bordeaux

by Paige Donner

Move over MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), Bordeaux has once again rolled out its Oscar picks in time for summer. But in good Bordeaux taste, these Oscars have nothing to do with films, and everything to do with good wine.


In its 7th year now, each spring, 100 women in Bordeaux get together and blind taste hundreds of whites, rosés, clarets and sparkling wines from the Bordeaux region. Of these, the initial selection is pared down to 35 in each category and then those are whittled down to 6 winners.


This year's "Les Oscars de l'éte' of Bordeaux are:

Bordeaux Crémant

  • Perle de Tutiac
  • Les Cordeliers Grand Vintage
  • Lateyron
  • Celene <Saphir>
  • Louis Vallon
  • Perles de Garrineau


  • Château La Freynelle
  • Château la Bretonnière
  • Château Sainte Catherine
  • Clairet de Lisennes
  • Cuvée French Kiss
  • Le Clairet de Boutinet


  • La vie in Rosé du Château Landereau
  • Château du Barail
  • Château d'Haurets
  • Château Lauduc Classic
  • Château La Freynelle
  • Château La Rame

Bordeaux Blanc

  • Château La Freynelle
  • L'Instant Bordeaux
  • Cellier de Bordes
  • Château de Bonhoste
  • Château La France
  • Château Le Bonalgut

Spotlight on the bubbly rosé by the young Bordelaise, Celene <Saphir>


This is the first cuvée by Céline Lannouye, a young Bordeaux woman who chose to express her winemaking ability with a sparkling rosé wine.  This approachable, balanced and refreshing bubbly is assembled from grapes grown mostly in the Entre Deux Mers region of Bordeaux. Her first production is an impressive 70K bottles. And this cuvée is one of the winners from the annual Oscars de Bordeaux blind tasting. Her parents have a wine estate in St. Émilion, so perhaps it runs in the blood.  Runs you about 10Euros per bottle. More Info : 


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Monday, April 3, 2017

Episode 26: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris by Paris GOOD food + wine

by Paige Donner

In order to record these interviews for Episode 26 of Paris GOOD food + wine, on a lovely late spring afternoon recently, I took a quick bus ride over to the new Le Cordon Bleu Culinary and Cooking Institut.

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cordon bleu ext

These new 4OOO sq Meter premises are located on the Quai across the river from the Radio France headquarters. The graceful self-contained building is within eyesight of the emblematic statue of liberty that graces the Ile des Cygnes in the middle of the Seine.

It's the very statue that was used as the model for the one gifted to the United States from France which famously resides in NY City's Harbor.

But, back to the Institute – Le Cordon Bleu has become, in the past century, the standard of cooking schools. The diplomas that the students receive after completing coursework here allow them to progress onto substantial careers anywhere in the world. This is, of course, where Julia Child famously began her mastery of the Art of French Cooking and it's also the school that was featured with Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina as well as more recently referenced in the movie Julie & Julia.


In recent decades, namely since the current president of the school, André Cointreau, took up the reigns, Le Cordon Bleu has focused on expanding internationally. It now has campuses all over the world.


In my interview with Mr. Cointreau, we'll be hearing more about this global expansion and export of the French culinary savoir-faire when it comes to pastry making, cooking and wine appreciation.

You'll also be hearing interviews from two of the senior chefs at Le Cordon Bleu, namely the head Chef Patissier, Fabrice Danniel and also Chef Marc Vaca who came to the Cordon Bleu after some years spent in Australia. To round things out, last but not least, we'll get some insight from Franck Ramage, wine expert and director of the wine program at Le Cordon Bleu, a program that has expanded significantly under his tutelage.

So, sit back and enjoy another episode of Paris GOODfood+wine as we retrace Julia Child's footsteps and esprit, in great culinary kinspirit.


If you'd like to visit Le Cordon Bleu Institute's Paris campus you're more than welcome to. It's about a 2 minute walk from the fashionable new Beaugrenelle Shopping Center in Paris' 15th arrondissement.

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On the premises you'll find a pastry shop where you can purchase pastries and enjoy them in the little café overlooking the Seine or you can purchase them for takeaway.

There's also a charming boutique on premise which offers their own honey made from honey produced from their rooftop beehives. The boutique also stocks wonderful souvenirs such as chef's aprons, cookbooks, jars of mustards and lots more delicious Le Cordon Bleu goodies.

All music used is free of rights and royalty-free courtesy This episode features Ilya Truhanov, Fantasy in EMajor. Show Intro/ Outro Jazzy Paris background courtesy of BenSound Music.
This episode has been generously brought to you by Paris Food And Wine @ParisFoodWine and also Bordeaux Food & Wine @bordeauxfoodvin 

For sponsorship and advertising, contact Paige. Also for hosting and speaking engagements and for media collaborations:

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

2016 Right Bank Bordeaux's + Margaux Silky Tannins

by Paige Donner

The first question I asked Oenoteam's Stephane Toutoundji after tasting some 40 of his 2016's-  primarily from Pomerol and St. Emilion - was, Are these silky tannins yours and your enologists' influence or is it the signature of the 2016's?

His quick response to me was that it's 2016's signature for Right Bank Bordeaux. And Margaux.

En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017
En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017
En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017
En Primeurs 2016 Bordeaux photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017

His associates, Julien Belle and Thomas Duclos, who complete the Libourne-based Oenoteam, concurred. Of course as enologists who consult to the 45+ chateaus tasted on a sunny spring morning at Paris' elegant La Dame de Pic, their style is going to come through. But that style is not so much as forcing a wine to mimic the consulting enologist's personal tastes as it is allowing the wine to express itself in the most harmonious of  ways.


Wine Allowed To Express Itself

When it comes to allowing a wine's inherent expression to shine forth,  I have to admit that I am an adherent to this religion, too. Maybe it's because my female palate, as they say, is sensitive to tannins. That may be so as personally I have never had an easy time judging the merits of a young Bordeaux. I seem only to be able to "taste" them after they've nicely settled in their bottles a few years. But even though these 2016s are full of flavor and not shy in alcohol (most hovering around 14% and even a bit higher) these were fresh and gentle and, above all, silky wines.

This En Primeurs tasting of these 2016's from Pomerol, St. Emilion and also Margaux was something altogether different. Silky. Supple. Approachable.

2016 Bordeaux: Expressive tannins that are amazingly well-mannered given their young age. Silky. Smooth.

With promises that they will only get better. This is true of the Margaux's such as Chateau Tayac's Or Norme as well as for their range of Pomerols like Chateau La Cabanne, Chateau de Valois and Chateau Mazeyres. It also holds for St. Emilion wines that have never disappointed me such as Fonroque and Chateau Soutard, but also ones that I've never tasted young like Muse du Val, Chateau Grangey,  Chateau La Serre, Chateau Larmande and Chateau Haut-Sarpe. There were even two from Fronsac that qualify for this descriptive of tame tannins for their 2016s, namely Chateau Barrabaque and Chateau Tessendey; as well as a Cotes de Bourg by Chateau Fougas (organic wine) that exhibited these silky tame tannins and also, remarkably, was a sleeper hit with 90% of the diverse tasters (male, female; young, old; smoker, non-smoker).


Surprisingly there were even a few 2016s I wouldn't be shy to recommend drinking in the coming months.Though of course all of them, as good Bordeaux wines, can be cellared for 3 - 20 years and more. Especially the Pomerols and Margaux but also the St. Emilions and a few of the Fronsac wines, also Bordeaux Superieurs like Chateau L'Escart and Chateau Grand Français as well as Lussac Montagne St. Emilion's Chateau Le Claymore.

In addition to these superstar, world-class appellations from which this En Primeurs 2016 tasting drew, there were also a few uniques thrown into the mix, just to jazz things up even more. One of these was a wine made by Olivier Malrieu with consulting enologist Julien Belle that is an IGP Comte Tolosan (near Toulouse). This 2016 from Domaine du Moulin de Montlauzin is 100% Cab Franc, Cuvée Petits Grains. Its nose is perfumed, perhaps by the fact that the 5 ha. estate has no nearby neighbors; the mouth exhibited the subtlety of smooth silk, even as young as it is. This is a wine that offers good value and a refreshing discovery. 

La Dame de Pic (Michelin-starred)

After the tasting it was encouraged that we choose wines from these same chateaus and domains but from earlier vintages, such as 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 to accompany lunch. 

Kitchens at La Dame de Pic 1 Michelin Star Paris Restaurant   photo by Paige Donner copyright 2017


Kitchens (1) Signature Anne-Sophie Pic butter (2) at La Dame de Pic, Paris 1 Michelin Star  Restaurant  photos by Paige Donner © 2017

Anne-Sophie Pic, the Michelin-starred French chef, is one of France's culinary treasures and is, remarkably, self-taught. Her only guides she uses for inspiration in creating her inventive dishes are her highly-tuned olfactory sense and palate. When she speaks of her cuisine she often seasons her conversation with references to perfume, such is the delicacy of her alchemic offerings. 

I was intrigued to see how I could pair big, bold Pomerols, Margaux and St. Emilions with such delicate dishes as L'Oeuf de Poule, a poached egg served with green anise butter, verveine-infused oil and delicately grilled finely sliced green asparagus from Mallemort. Luckily I didn't have to because Stephane Toutoundji of Oenoteam suggested we sip the Chateau K white from Bergerac to start things off. This young fruity-nosed white that finishes on dry notes of its Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris blend served only to highlight the delicate balance of this dish. 


 La Dame de Pic Paris,  1 Michelin Star  Restaurant  photos by Paige Donner © 2017

Next up was pigeon which, we were reassured, would be served rare unless we really had a problem with that?  No one did. For this course the bold and knowledgeable at the table were given the task of finding a suitable wine to pair from our embarrassingly abundant selection. Chosen: Fonroque 2014,  Chateau Mazeyres 2010, Chateau Soutard 2009, Chateau Tayac 2010, giving us a comparison between classic vintage Right Bank St. Emilion and Pomerol and also a Margaux.

The pigeon had first been marinated in Geranium root and Cubébe pepper. It was served with red rhubarb puree, roasted celery that was then chilled and a dollop of puréed boudin noir (blood sausage) with Zacapa rum added. Testament to Chef Pic's delicate hand, it was the very first time I had been able to enjoy boudin noir. With the perfectly cooked pigeon and in such a small dose, perfumed with that hint of rum, it all paired perfectly with....well, for me, my top picks were Fonroque 2014, Chateau Le Caillou 2009,  and Chateau Tayac 2010 with the topper of Chateau Mazeyres 2010. But that was just my personal taste influences. Not everyone at the table agreed with me. 


Though I would say that wine tasting is, of course, all about that. A rose is  rose by any other name, but, the smell of a rose will evoke different sense memories in each of us. Hence different palate responses. I quite understand that the wine business is a business. Though I do appreciate the fact that it is a business that bottles earth, land, sunshine, a moment in time and the people who author all of that. In this sense, each bottle and each expression is deserving of the utmost respect. It's for each one of us to decide which we appreciate the most individually. 

Or as Anne-Sophie Pic would say:  "En toute chose, je recherche l'équilibre, la note juste, la précision...mon travail de création me donne l'impression d'etre toujours sur le fil."

(Transl. "In all things I look for balance, just the right note, creativity in my work gives me the sense that I am perpetually searching/walking a tightrope."


This team of three oenologists is based in Bordeaux's right bank Libourne where they have their own "laboratoire." They offer a variety of services, including: enological advice and consulting, detailed analyses, expertise in the cellar, vinification process and vineyards and more. "Each of our wines are unique, and each of our clients, too." 

The team's M.O. is that each wine be allowed to find its best expression with as little external influence as possible. There is a phrase that great wine consultants like to use in French that roughly translates to, "I elaborate wines, I don't 'make' wines." This is a phrase by which you can describe the Oenoteam. 


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Saturday, March 4, 2017

25: Paris GOOD food + wine - French Oysters and Tea

by Paige Donner


Gillardeau Oysters and French Tea Tasting

Ahhh yes, it's March once again and that of course means that spring is just around the corner. For this episode of Paris GOOD food + wine I'm letting you in on a couple of my secrets. These are French secrets to keeping in good health and good spirits during the long winter months, - namely oysters and tea.

The simple prescription is to consume both in generous quantities


First up is my interview with Véronique Gillardeau, otherwise known as the Oyster Queen. This charming Belgian married into the 3rd generation Gillardeau oyster farming family from France's Atlantic Coast several decades ago and has shared in the cultivation of this valuable resource ever since.

Ladies, take note, because oysters seem to be a secret ingredient to staying young looking and radiant.

Next up we hear from Olivier Scala whose father bought a tea company in the 70's called Thé Georges Cannon. Mr Scala has steered his family tea company toward growth and expansion his whole adult life. And now he even has his own son working with him.


Olivier Scala, Thé George Cannon, Paris Saint Germain des Pres,  photo by Paige Donner  copyright 2017

Tea consumption in France is markedly on the rise, with 4 out of 5 French people saying that they regularly drink tea. This interview takes place at the delightful Georges Cannon tea house in the very fashionable St. Germain des Pres district on Paris' Left Bank.

Music provided by "Missing u" by John Bannister

Thés George Cannon Tea House 

Gillardeau Oysters


For more information about this and other Paris GOOD food + wine episodes please see  Local Food And Wine as well as iTunes.

All music used is free of rights and royalty-free. Show Intro/ Outro Jazzy Paris background courtesy of BenSound Music.
This episode has been generously brought to you by Paris Food And Wine @ParisFoodWine and also Bordeaux Food & Wine @bordeauxfoodvin Download the Travel APPs in Google Play and the APP store Today!

To contact Paige for hosting and speaking engagements and for media collaborations:

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Saint Mont AOC Celebrates 60 Years

by Paige Donner

Saint Mont is one of France's newer appellations, created in 1957, but one that harbors some of the world's oldest known vines of near-extinct grape varietals.



photos by Paige Donner copyright 2017 

In 2013 Saint Mont's pre-phylloxera vineyard parcel was given the distinction of historical monument (the first one in France). On this plot of land there are 20 different varietals planted that date back to the 18th c. Red and white grape varietals are planted side by side as was customary in that era. And there are even 6 different varietals planted there that have not yet been identified. 



photos by Paige Donner copyright 2017 

Here in this wine appellation of the Gascony region they take preservation seriously. You can find hundred-year-old vineyards in Saint Mont where pre-phylloxera vineyards date to 1871; Sarragachies pre-phylloxera vineyards that date to 1810; Limaris that were planted prior to 1910 and then over 130 hectares planted before 1970; and the jewel that is La Madeleine, planted 1880.

The Manseng Noir varietal is considered a "gift to Gascony" by the appellations's vine conservation center. In 2000 one vine was found, by 2002 there were 20 vines in the conservation center; In 2012 you could find .8 hectares planted in Lectoure which yielded its first wine in 2014. By 2016 there were 7.6 hectares planted and now 2017 there are 13.6 hectares in total, a tally that includes the 2 hectares planted in Aignan. 

One of the reasons the region and its vineyard owners and vintners are so devoted to vine preservation is that they recognise the importance of bio-diversity. In 2012 the 20 most prominent grape varieties accounted for 91% of vineyard area. This is compared with just 53% in 1958. 

In Saint Mont we have decided to combat genetic erosion and varietal concentration.

Saint Mont wine tasting, Paris. February 2017. photo by Paige Donner copyright.
Saint Mont wine tasting, Paris. February 2017. photo by Paige Donner copyright.

This is, of course, no small undertaking. In the world of agriculture where diversity is under attack by large-scale agro concerns, uniformity is often the argument that wins out. But in a hundred years, in a thousand years, if all we are left with is one type of tomato, what will happen to our genetic treasure chest? The recent meltdown of Samsung phones is a good illustration of what can happen when something is copied (cloned) and faults appear. It can spell diminishment of quality, and even mean extinction  - and quickly. 

There is wisdom, then, in Saint Mont's dedication to the preservation of diversity. 

Tasting wines made from pre-phylloxera fruit is transportative. It takes you back to an era that can no more be recaptured than time in a bottle. 

The region produces reds, whites and roses. One outstanding white is L'Empreinte 2014. And you are sure to pleased by anything from La Madeleine, Saint Mont Monastery as well as anything vinified by Eric Fitan or Veronique Terrade.  For 2017 Plaimont Producers were chosen as the Cave de l'Annee by La Revue du Vin de France. 

Maison de Vins de Saint Mont


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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Episode 23: Air, Water and Well-being Hello 2017 with Love, from Paris GOOD food + wine

Paige Donner, host-producer of Paris GOOD food + wine brings you the January '17 episode of the program, the first-ever English language radio show and podcast about French food and wine broadcast from Paris. To contact Paige:

In this show we speak to you from Le Centre Element in the Marais, Paris' chic central neighborhood. More than a yoga studio, the Centre Element is a center of well-being. Here we have conversations with Pia LeCannu, a yoga teacher and evolving wellness enthusiast about her approach to good food and healthy eating.

Next we speak with Xavier Chabeur, the owner of the Centre Element as he explains to us his philosophy behind his center. His emphasis is on plenty of oxygen for the body, structured water and also how important meditating is for our own health and the health of the planet.

So relax and enjoy another episode of Paris GOOD food + wineParis GOOD food + wine, with me, your host and producer, Paige Donner.

All music used in the show is free of rights and courtesy of and also


*NOTE French word of the day:  Curcuma = Turmeric

This show was brought to you by Paris Food And Wine. Download the Paris Food And Wine APP in the App Store and on Google Play today.

December in Paris saw high levels of pollution in our air quality. So much so that for several days during several weeks public transportation was free. It was an attempt to get commuters to leave their cars at home and ride the bus or Metro.

This got me thinking, once again, that there are few things as essential to our daily nutrition as clean air and water. So I contacted a yoga teacher friend of mine and asked her to meet me at the Centre Element in the Marais, a yoga and well-being center. There we arranged to discuss the issues of healthy eating, clean air and clean water. The owner of the Centre Element, Xavier Chabeur, happened to be there that day and so he, too, shares his thoughts about how we can better take care of the basics, air, oxygen and structured water, when it comes to a well-being approach to food and our bodies.

Pia Le Cannu, the yoga teacher who is featured in the first half of this January 2017 show, spends part of her time in Amsterdam and so she can easily compare the air quality between that city and Paris.

According to her, the pollution in our air at times here in Paris is tangible, at least when compared to the pristine air of Amsterdam. Of course, myself, as a transplanted Los Angeleno, remember all too well the eye-burning yellow clouds of smog that would descend on our city of Angels altogether too frequently. Compared to Los Angeles, Paris' air is pristine.

But clean air and clean water should not be a relative issue. Rather it is an absolute – either our air and water are clean and healthy for human consumption or they are not. Is there really an inbetween? And if you, like myself, agree that clean air and clean water are a basic human right, then keep listening to Episode 23 of Paris GOOD food + wine as we start this year 2017 off in the right direction: air, water and well-being.

Le Centre Element  -  7, rue des Guillemites  75004 Paris

Restaurant & Patisserie Shop Recommendations (As mentioned in the January Show)

In the interview Pia talks about the golden curcuma (turmeric)latte, that you can find in the nicest spot in Montmartre: Café Tabac

She also mentioned 

Mandoo Bar, Paris 8 Corean restaurant that is a delight, with an open kitchen and extremely fresh food. 

Causses, rue notre dame de Lorette, Paris 9

Season, rue Dupuis, Paris 3 

and Ze Kitchen Galerie, rue des Grands-Augustins, Paris 6

I mention three Patisseries that are either gluten-free, sugar-free or both:

Helmut Newcake, Foucade and Eugène

Those listings, including addresses and reviews, can be found on my 10BEST listing here:

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