Thursday, 18 December 2008

To all our wonderful friends and wine lovers,


Santa may be left out in the cold.....

.....but you'll always get a warm welcome with us at
La Grande Maison

Micaela and Sue wish you a fabulous festive season and look forward to seeing you again in the New Year. In the meantime remember that "If a life of wine, women and song becomes too much, give up the singing."

Joyeux Noël from La Grande Maison

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Under the Hammer in Saumur

Of course we only went along to the Hotel des Ventes to view the Fine Wine bidding. Didn’t we?
However once armed with paddle number 46 there was to be no stopping us. Viewing of the lots starts in the morning when everyone turns up with their price lists and eyes you suspiciously as you have a look at what is on offer. Then the doors are firmly locked, everyone goes away and lunches for 2 hours whilst slathering over the prospective lots. Doors re-open promptly at 2pm and the bidding commences. I think the man in the red coat must suspect me of espionage!
There were plenty of goodies on offer some of which went at very competitive prices. Including the Mouton Rothschild 1966 with a label by the artist Pierre Alechinsky and the Cos d’Estournel 1934 with a label that looked like it wouldn’t cling to the bottle for much longer.
We should of held out on the 6 Magnums of Chateau Latour 1959 at a reserve of 3,000 - 3,300 per bottle but we had to let them go to an anonymous phone bidder at 3,100 euros per bottle plus 19.6% tax! What a shame my birth year as well but thank goodness Sue took my paddle away.
Carried away with the adrenalin rush of bidding we did however end up with 12 bottles of Chateau Grande Puy Lacoste 1976, (could be a little old but worth a punt at 15 euros a bottle) a Chateau Carbonnieux 1979, a Gevrey Chambertin Le Bel Air 1985, all at what seemed like very reasonable prices until we realised they were without tax! Oh well 2005 was such an excellent year that the case of Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc couldn’t be missed either.
The excitement of opening a case that had been tightly nailed shut for 32 years was too much. Inside we found 73cl bottles with no indication of the percentage alcohol so we just had to try one. Once at room temperature we got out the best Riedel glasses and decanted the wine by candle light.
Our tasting notes go something as follows : Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste St Guirons 1976 5th Cru Bordeaux, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Garnet with a brownish tint on rim. Initial nose of stewed fruit and a little woody on the nose. A huge mouthful, fruits of the forest and good length. Cedar, sagebrush and licorice root backed with vanilla but woody......a little old I guess but the complexity and structure was still there.
The cupboards will go bare this Christmas but at least we will have a well stocked cellar and it was brilliant fun to bid for, decant and then taste a little piece of oenophilic history all in one day.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Chocky Wocky Foie Gras

From La Petite Maison in the tiny riverside hamlet of Treves (Loire Valley) you are only a stones throw away from St Hilaire St Florent where you will find the famous Sparkling Wine houses of Saumur. Bouvet Ladubay, Veuve Amiot, Langlois Chateau are all here. We popped into Ackerman’s not to taste the wine this time but to see the “Divine Chocolate” demonstration held deep in the tuffeau caves.
There was chocolate double dipped in chocolate, freshly made chocolate chantilly to taste on chocolate cookies, white chocolate decorations but our award had to go to the St Jaques served with a balsamic vinegar reduction on a tomato coulis with dark chocolate and the fois gras with chocolate noir and mango. Amazing sensations on the taste buds.
We were also surprised to find Ackerman Laurance producing a sparkling “Methode Traditionelle” called L’Origine using traditional sparkling wine corks secured in the bottle by cord and a wax seal. This is how they would have been bottled back in 1811. It’s 100% Chenin Blanc and no sugar is added at any stage during the production. A “fine bulles “ tasting of dried fruits with an aromatic persistance, golden in colour with a hint toasted brioche on the nose.
La Petit Maison is available for self catering stays and sleeps two. It is in the pretty village of Treves on the banks of the Loire which is dominated by the Tour de Treves and the romanesque church of St Aubin.
The Kitchen and Dining Room at La Petite Maison

The Bedroom and En-suite Bathroom at La Petite Maison
A little further down the river the christmas lights surround the church of Le Thoureil on the banks of the Loire.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Wine Quote of the Week from La Grande Maison




Thursday, 4 December 2008

Honestly The Price of Wine These Days

I was just musing over who might buy this bottle of Petrus 1947 at 36,000 euros a bottle (that's about £ 31,000 or about $45,000 to all those with falling currency! ) and on what occasion they might drink it when I suddenly remembered a book that had kindly be given to us this summer by Yves Michalon of Editions Michalon in Paris and one of our guests at La Grande Maison. The book was called Carnets D'un Collectionneur de Vins Anciens and as you can see from the moment I opened the first page I became engrossed.
Anyway my reason for mentioning it is that Francois Audouze, the book's author, has indeed found a way that you can try these wines. Check out and for a mere 1,500 - 2,000 euros (ish) plus your travel costs, you could be dining at a Michelin starred restaurant somewhere in the world and get to taste a tenth of each bottle that is opened during the meal. There are around 1o vintage wines in all, rare ones at that from Francois's own cellar. Here is the list for the 2009 January meal which still has eight places left.

  • Champagne Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1988
  • Champagne Krug 1988
  • Château Haut-Brion blanc 1966
  • Château La Gaffelière Naudes 1959
  • Château Brane-Cantenac 1921
  • Volnay Clos des Santenots Domaine Prieur 1945
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges Camille Giroud 1928
  • Chateauneuf-du-Pape Audibert & Delas 1949
  • Château Loubens Sainte Croix du Mont 1928
  • Château Sigalas Rabaud 1959

  • Perhaps one day for VERY VERY special occasion eh?

    In the meantime why not come and stay at La Grande Maison and partake in one of our special Wine Sampling Suppers, a delicious 4 course home cooked supper with local Loire Wines to match each course.