Monthly Archives: November 2014

Hard pressed to resist Beaujolais Nouveau

As if it were Halloween, I spent last night “trick or treating” in a sense. Instead of candy, however, I received sips of newly-released Beaujolais wines. My trail began on rue Cler, and from there I took the Metro into the 3rd arrondisement of La Marais, and back again to rue Cler in the 7th, where wine shops welcomed passersby to come in and taste the 2014 grapes harvested in France. Fortunately, 2014 has proved to be a great vintage, especially when you factor in the warm September in the vineyards.

In the most southern wine growing region in Burgundy, France, there’s an outlier region called Beaujolais, where the wine is quite different in regard to production and climate. In fact, Beaujolais is referred to as its own appellation that produces light, dry gamay grapes, which are a cross between a pinot noir and the ancient white gouais grape.

What most people know Beaujolais for is its one-third production of Beaujolais Nouveau, revealed recently in Paris, France, and in the U.S. by next week. About 35 million bottles of this Beaujolais Nouveau are shipped worldwide and within two months of harvest, thanks to carbonic maceration – the Nouveau style of production. The catch to buying a bottle is:

1) It should be consumed immediately — within a month, preferably

2) It will not have a high tannin structure or acidity, but will be fruity in both aroma and taste – tart cranberry overtones makes it a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving coffee-table talk.

Also, you should know that Beaujolais-Villages is not the same thing as Nouveau, but it is made from the remaining production to produce a darker, richer and more full-bodied wine – and can be stored longer than Nouveau.

Beaujolais Nouveau pairs well with Thanksgiving dinner – turkey and cranberry sauce, or even salmon, trout, pork chops or charcuterie. Just remember, it’s a new wine, so it’s pretty fruity and straightforward grape.

Get a few bottles while you can, and enjoy! Click here for an interesting take on Japan’s welcoming of the new harvest, and here to get a bit of Beaujolais Nouveau’s history in marketing and the person most responsible for putting Beajolais Nouveau Day on the calendar.

Wine Tasting at O’Chateau

As the second part of a VIP Louvre Museum Night Tour and Wine Tasting offered by City Wonders, Paris has become even more interesting when a small group walked from an educational and highly interesting 2.5-hour tour within the Louvre to take a seat at the long wooden table within the historic stoned basement of O’Chateau. The history of O’Chateau is one filled with stories of its guests — dukes, ambassadors, princesses, countesses and all variety of important thinkers and writers of the time. Tonight, however, we are all VIP’s enjoying three wines and a plate of cheeses and hams while we learn about a few wines of France.

The first wine, an elegant Saumur 2012 cuvee vent du nord, was explained by the wine instructor, and the group listened intently about the regions within France from where each wine hailed. This chenin blanc grape was fruity and fresh, medium bodied and average. But, with the cheeses and jambon to which it was paired, worked perfectly.

O'Chateau wine tasting
O’Chateau wine tasting with City Wonders tour.

Next, a lesson in Beaujolais, France. This Corcelette Morgon 2013 is a wine made with a grape of the southern wine growing region in Burgundy and is referred to as its own appellation and not in the same category of Burgundian wines. It is light and dry, and we we are instructed to swirl and gaze at the ruby color of this gamay grape. We are enthralled in the process of tasting wine and devouring the cheeses and hams before us.

Finally, the malbec is poured. This is a 2012 Combel La Serre Cuvee Originelle Cahors from SW France. The instructor indicates its spiciness and bit of tobacco kick in the teeth. This is a wine that sells for around $10, and pairs best with beef and spicy food, mature and hard cheeses, as well as poultry. If you can find a 2010, this would be the better vintage.

So, the tasting was short and sweet, er… dry, actually if you refer to the wines, and after the closing of the tour, many in the group head upstairs to order a bottle of wine and food from the menu. At 10 p.m., the night has only just begun in Paris.

Visit to reserve your spot for a Skip the Line tour through City Wonders.

Ionian Jewel Tours to present ‘Umbria, Le March and Rome’ for March 2015

I’ve known the woman who runs these tours for a few years now, and Ionian Jewel Tours founder and president, Nancy Ursino Howard, is amazingly well-versed in all things Italy. So, I’m hoping to catch up with her and participate in the “Umbria, Le March & Rome Tour,” March 13-23, 2015.

Music, wine, food and fun will be all that surrounds from the time you land in Rome to start the tour. From Rome, the plan is to head to Assisi for a stay at Castello Di Petrata, where a relaxing day will lead to a fabulous dinner with wines of the region. On March 15, the day will be spent exploring the historic sites of Assisi: Basilica di San Francesco, Cathedral of Santa Chiara, Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, and possibly The Church of San Damiano.

The culinary delight in this day will be either a rustic Umbrian lunch or dinner at La Stalla (The Stable) will showcase the cooking method of La Brace (hot coals) to create a rich smoky flavor. Another day will lead to the Etruscan town of Perugia, home to Perugina Chocolate. Within this historic center, there will be much time to savor the sights, shop and dine before heading to Cantina Chiorri for a wine tasting. The grape of Grechetto has Greek origins and was planted throughout central Italy, particularly in the Umbrian region.

Next stop: the town of Monteprandone in the Le Marche region, where the tour group will check in at Hotel/Agriturismo Il Sapore della Luna before heading out to explore the organic vineyard. The days to follow will include wine tastings, a visit to Ascoli Piceno, and possibly a visit to the Adriatic coast before heading to Rome. The Hotel Tiber at Fiumicino awaits, and once checked in, there will be tours of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, home to the Pope and decorated by the talents of Michelangelo and Botticelli. A walking tour guide will meet the group to continue touring historic landmarks such as the Spanish Steps, Fountain of Trevi, Roman Forum, Colosseum and Pantheon. Time on your own is in order to do some shopping or enjoy an espresso at a nearby cafe — or better yet, a gelato.

So, if you’ve always dreamed of visiting Italy and want to do it in style and avoid trying to figure it all out on your own, you’ll want to join the March 13 Ionion Jewel Tours excursion so that you can relax and enjoy every moment, knowing you’re taken care of by an expert.

So, by now you’re wondering how much? The cost for this tour (space IS limited) is $3,499.00, and includes airfare from Boston, two meals a day, the minibus/private driver/transfers, all excursions/hotels/double-occupancy accommodations, and wine, of course . What it doesn’t include is anything you do outside of the itinerary, such as wining and dining, or enjoying that gelato during your own exploration time. You will also be responsible for museum tickets and driver gratuities.

Ready to go? Email Wanna learn more? Read the blog: or follow Ionian Jewel Tours on Facebook:

See you in Rome!