Friday, June 20, 2014

Bordeaux Fete le Vin - Largest Wine Festival!

A 2 Km Wine Route, Concerts, Events, and many Activities

Bonjour everyone....if you follow me on facebook or twitter you will have seen some references to this upcoming festival.  What exactly is Bordeaux Fete Le Vin?   Basically, it's the city of Bordeaux embracing it's heritage, love and diversity of it's number one product - Wine!!  It's a time for both locals and visitors to come together in one place to celebrate and experience what this city is all about.  This festival puts together 2 km of a wine route representing the different appellations (regions) of wine, pavilions to learn more and taste some of the finest masterpieces, activities, concerts and special museum exhibits.  There is a lot packed into this wonderful 4 day event!!  To read more about it and how to purchase the "Pass Degustation"- check out the website: Bordeaux Fete Le Vin

If you live here, it's a must to experience and it only happens every 2 years. If you love wine and want an opportunity to learn more about it, certainly come to Bordeaux if you are able.  If not, feel free to follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram as I cover many aspects of this event next week.  My hope is that in 2 years - you will want to come and experience it for yourself!

In the meantime, I want to share a little photographic taste of what it looks like.  My first experience of this event was 2 years ago in 2012.  I was impressed and awed by it then, and now as I look back on the photos I realize how much I have learned about the region, its wines, and how much passion and hard work goes into its production.

Les Quais (riverfront) - all set up for the Wine Festival
The many different wine appellations (regions) of the Bordeaux area

It's amazing what almost 3 years of living in a new place can do.  As I type this post, I definitely feel more knowledgeable than I did back then.  But I marvel at all the things that struck me then and not realizing it at the time - are truly so integral to the wine production process.
A Tall Ship arrives for the festivities
This year will be the Santa Maria Mauela
In 2012 - There were beautiful artistically created bottles lining the riverfront. 
Each appellation sets up a separate pavilion serving wines from many different chateaux/vineyards in that area.  It's a great chance to directly compare wines from the same area and understand how different each one really is.  Each appellation has certain characteristics due to its terrior, but at the same time, each winemaker seems to makes their wine unique. The Bordeaux region has both geological and geographical diversity contributing to so many different designated wine areas (Medoc, Saint Emilion, Pessac-Leognan etc..).  The different micro-climates, proximity to the sea, rivers & forests, along with the various composition of its soils (sand, gravel, limestone, clay etc..) all impact on the varieties of grapes grown and wine blends produced.  I have come to learn that this complexity and mixture (terrior) is what is so important to the wines made in this area and why each appellation is so different in taste and structure from another. 

The pavilion for the Medoc & Graves Appellation
Always nice to smell, swirl and admire the color before tasting.
Two years ago, I was fascinated by all the wine barrels at this display.  I think I was so overwhelmed by everything that I didn't put it all together to understand that the word "Tonnellerie" meant barrel-maker. Nadalie is a famous barrel-maker located here in the Medoc region and just recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to tour the factory and understand not only how a barrel is made, but all how different types of Oak and the degree to which they are heated or toasted, are used to produce different tastes as each wine ages in the barrels.  

Over the past couple years, I know I have learned and absorbed so much about not only the city of Bordeaux, but also about it's wines.  I still feel naive and young when it comes to my wine knowledge and understanding but each new experience makes me eager to learn more. I look forward to attending and covering this event as Press to gain even more insights! The wines of this area are truly fascinating and very complex.

The Pomerol & Fronsac Pavilion
One of my favorite photos - Artistic bottle in front of Port Caillou
I invite you to follow along with me next week, as I cover various events of this wine festival and continue learning about the Great wines of the Bordeaux region!  It's a fun event - with lots of wonderful activities for one and all!

If you don't already follow me on the different social media platforms - you can do so here:

Have a great weekend and I look forward to sharing Bordeaux Fete Le Vin!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Discovering The Libourne Market & Connecting with Stephane of My French Heaven

...A day enjoying fresh food, photography & culture
Libourne Market on a Friday morning
One of the fun things about blogging is that your "colleagues" are other bloggers & writers.  They become your resources, your inspiration for ideas, you share back & forth and eventually become friends.  Sometimes you are lucky enough to meet up in person, as you often live far apart.  I feel very lucky that I have met several bloggers throughout the past couple years. These have become special encounters. 

I also read blogs written about this area which serve as great sources of French culture and knowledge - I feel I get to learn lots from these "locals"! One such blogger is Stephane of My French Heaven.  I have been drooling (If you look at his photos-you will understand my choice of wording) over his blog for the past year and a half.  Through his beautiful photography, I have learned more about the Saint Emilion & Libourne areas, French culture in general, & tried some of his great recipes.  I love seeing the Libourne market through his eyes and we often commented about meeting there sometime, so I could view it for real! When I learned about my new job and found out that one of the areas was the Libourne market and Saint Emilion - I knew it was time to officially meet in person! 

I expected a tour of the market - taking in the sights, the smells & the atmosphere of a local "marche" in a Bastide town.  What was bonus was gaining invaluable insight into the "who's-who" of the market, his favorite bread store and Patisserie. Additionally to be with such an expert photographer, was an experience in itself.  It was one of those days that started out with one purpose and became so much more!  Just goes to show, sometimes the best experiences are unplanned and unexpected!

We started by walking around the Libourne market - on a Friday morning. First enjoying the outdoor vendors and farmers.  I loved this little boy as he was so taken by the little chicks.
We wandered into the covered market section and enjoyed the fresh fish & seafood displays.  I even found some delicious French olives to bring home!
Spider Crabs
Coquille St. Jaques - Seasonal & very delicious
Let's not forget the cheese - my favorite!  So many varieties, looking so delicious!  Someone could have given me a piece of bread and samples of all of this and I would have been in heaven!

The colors of the market - the fresh vegetables, the wonderful way everything is displayed, all ready to be sold.  People in villages, like Libourne count on their markets to fill their tables with such fresh and succulent food.  It's often seasonal and so delicious!  The French customers tend to be loyal to merchants that they enjoy and will seek them out each week.  When you see a line at a vendor, one can often deduce that they are very popular and sell excellent products!
After exploring the market we headed to Stephane's favorite bread store - just look how delicious these loaves seem to be - it's like you can smell them as you look at the photo!
So here's where my day turned really special - As I said, I highly admire Stephane's photography skills and not only does he share his love of the French countryside, but he also shares on his blog his love of delicious mouth-watering food!!  After touring me through his wonderful market, Stephane invited me to his home for lunch and do some food photography with him. For me it was like learning from an expert - a chance to gain some great photography insight from a master!!
It was fun setting the table up for presentation and then snapping away - trying to find just the right angle, just the right focus - and having photos that tell a story.
He had prepared some cured duck and then he garnished it with a bit a tomatoes and greens.

He has a beautiful way of sharing his recipes, his perspective and life experiences.  Just read his post of-cured-duck-vineyards-and-haunted-mansions/
What I loved most was learning from him, I can't even begin to share what I took away from that day.  But I can say that if you read his blog -My French Heaven - he is the same in real life!  He loves and appreciates French life, family and experiences.  It's very touching to be with someone who really loves and lives life for everything that it can offer - savoring experiences (even if everyday ones) and creating new ones!   

And the knowledge he has....about French life, culture, food - it is truly so special to spend time with him!!  Not to mention his photography skills and tips he passed on to me that day!!
I have to say this particular day is a cherished and favorite one! It's taken me a long time to put this post together, as I've struggled with how to share such a beautiful experience.  How does one explain being able to feel all your senses throughout the day: to see, smell, hear, touch and taste all that is quintessential France!!  From the fresh market experience, all the fresh fruits, vegetables & other foods, to the aroma of fresh bread, the beautiful countryside, and then to enjoy some delicious cured duck - and being able to lunch on poached eggs & fresh artichokes (sorry no photos-ate them too fast!!).  I only hope that my narrative & photos capture some to this for you.

Here's something special too - even you can explore South West France with him - Check out his page - Your French Heaven - where he offers personal foodie days and tours. My feeling is that when you meet someone this special - it's worth sharing - so if any readers are looking to visit this area - and want to have a truly authentic French experience -definitely check out Stephane, his blog and his tours - My French Heaven.

Thank you Stephane for such a beautiful day and an experience that I will treasure for a long time!!  I know you have added to my enthusiasm and love of the French culture and it is especially reflected each time I tour my clients in Libourne & Saint Emilion.
Love the Fresh flowers and green garden - a beautiful setting!

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