A little departure from my usual post, with neither a recipe nor travelogue.
The first week of September in France sees ‘La Rentree’. The mass return to school and work after, in some cases, spending either all of July or August on holiday – or both! It is no secret that France enjoy more public holidays than any other country in Europe!
‘La Rentree’ generates a frenzy that I have never experienced in the UK, and T.V. news and current affair programmes dedicate hours of viewing time, advising parents how to prepare their offspring for this traumatic ‘annual’ event!
I myself have fallen into the mass exodus trap during the month of August, as both my partner and I work in the public sector (and let’s face it most people do in a country that boasts, along with more public holidays, more civil servants than any other), and we are obliged to take our holidays in August.
And besides, all of the local restaurants, markets and ‘zut alors!’, even the local boulangeries’ are closed,and with regional busses and trains running to a drastically reduced ‘summer timetable’, staying at home is not much fun……..
We try to dodge the convoys of cars and motor homes heading for the coast, by being very un French and taking our ‘vacances’ from Thursday to Thursday, thus avoid the ‘orange and red’ traffic alert days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
To soften the blow of ‘La Rentree’ the resourceful French have invented ‘La Foire aux Vins’. During the month of September ‘La Foire aux Vins’ takes place throughout France. This is basically a commercial ploy to get everyone into the supermarkets and wine merchants, buying wine and then presumably drowning the thought of another 10 months in school/work until they can do it all again!
Now I am NO wine expert, though I have acquired preferences since moving here six years ago, and no longer go for the prettiest label (that is actually a lie – bottle shape and labels still influence my choice……….and I’ve discovered some nice little tipples like this, along with a lot that have gone into the ‘coq au vin’ or ‘Boeuf Bourguingnon’ (see both my posts for these delicious ‘Franglais’ recipes)
Some cheap and cheerful wines on a buy two get one free offer for ‘La Foire Aux Vins’ at my local supermarket
I was very pleased however to pick up a sole bottle of 2012 Vin de Graves (as I had read somewhere that Graves was one of the best grape growing regions in Bordeaux). But then realised that I should have bought a ‘Grand’ Vin de Graves (as ‘Grand’ vin de Bordeaux’) and my choice was pretty lightweight.
After saying that (all French readers cover your eyes) I often find Bordeaux wines too heavy and personally prefer a ‘Val de Loire’ or ‘Vin de Bougogne’ red, plus I read on line that this wine was best with poultry, lamb and spicy foods, which is right up my rue.
So I am going to save it until the weather gets a bit cooler and serve it with my ‘Coq au Vin’ (or if all else fails, put it in the sauce!)
I’ll give the verdict after I’ve tasted it!
Of course if I had studied the ‘La Carte Des Millesimes’ then I would have known that 2009 and 2010 were the best recent years for wines from the Bordeaux region and 2012 was the year to look for in Champagne!
I’ve compiled a little abridged table below to help you chose.
I have highlighted all the four and five star selections.
Five star ***** = Année exceptionnelle. Four star **** = Tres bonne année Three star *** = bonne année. Two star ** = Année moyen (average)
But my motto is ‘if it tastes good, drink it’ and don’t worry too much about what the experts say!
2005 Bordeaux ***** Bourgogne ***** Val de Loire ***** Champagne ***
2006 Bordeaux *** Bourgogne *** Val de Loire *** Champagne ***
2007 Bordeaux *** Bourgogne *** Val de Loire **** Champagne ***
2008 Bordeaux *** Bourgogne *** Val de Loire **** Champagne ****
2009 Bordeaux ***** Bourgogne **** Val de Loire **** Champagne ***
2010 Bordeaux ***** Bourgogne *** Val de Loire *** Champagne X
2011 Bordeaux *** Bourgogne *** Val de Loire *** Champagne ***
2012 Bordeaux ** Bourgogne *** Val de Loire ** Champagne ****
2013 Bordeaux ** Bourgogne ** Val de Loire ** Champagne ***
P.S. I now carry a little copy of this in my bag, so I can spot a real bargain when I see one!