Last year I went to France. Specifically, the good folks at Planet Bordeaux sent me, and a group of other bloggers, to Bordeaux for an amazing week. In all seriousness, I can’t even explain how amazing.
I could use the fact that I was simply overwhelmed by France as an excuse for not writing about the trip for a year. However, the true excuse is that so many other real-world changes have been happening to me, writing about France was just low-priority.
As many of you know, I’m now living in San Francisco. In fact, as of a few weeks ago, I’m in the heart of the city. We live in Lower Pacific Heights (no, Michael Keaton is not nearby – but Danielle Steele is). We are in the middle of the rejuvenated Polk Street, the hipster Hayes Valley, the trendy Fillmore District, and the trendy AND hipster Marina (Union and Chestnut Streets). This means that there is simply too much to eat, drink, sample and experience than one could possibly imagine.
But back to France. On Sunday, after partaking in the San Francisco constant that is all-weekend-brunch-with-bottomless-mimosas-everywhere, I was walking along Union Street. Despite walking down this street constantly, I’d never noticed a tiny French delicatessen. Perhaps because my companion and I were out earlier than most weekend denizens of Union Street and there was no one around … regardless, I wandered in based on a sign: “French Wine Club – $20.”
The store is called Chez Berlue. While I’ve been obsessed with all things Paris for the last year, I’ve studiously avoided the rest of France. One step into Chez Berlue and I was taken back to Bordeaux last year. Of course I joined their wine club (although I chose a slightly higher level than $20), and I had a wonderful conversation with the young Frenchman behind the laptop. He just got back from China and while in San Francisco right now, is studying wine in Bordeaux. More exploring led me to discover the great French cookies, jams, TRUFFLES, meats and of course, CHEESE in the front of the store.
It’s the back of the store that’s a miracle of French wine, though. Filled to the brim with French wines of every price tag and from all over – Provence, Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Champagne – it’s all there. It turns out that two young French women own this lovely little store. They love San Francisco but opened the store because there are just certain things they miss about French foods (such as how I miss LaRosa’s Pizza Sauce and Four Roses Single Barrel from back home). One of these two young women was born and raised in a Bordeaux wine family, and she (Julie – the Berlue of the name) maintains the enjoyable wine collection.
My entrance into this store had two effects on me:
1 – I immediately left with two wine club reds and a white, which I’ll review tomorrow.
2 – I left with a renewed energy to write – both about my trip to France and all things wine and French related.
That means you’ll be getting a lot of France from me over the next few months, as I dive into French wines, my trip, and everything else remotely related. See, French wines often LOOK intimidating (blame those grand chateaus on the labels), but in truth, they’re amazingly approachable – and affordable – wines. My goal? To make French wine easier for all of us. I think that’s the goal at Chez Berlue too.
I’ve still got an occasional cocktail review I need to share (Fernet Branca, anyone?) and some occasional wine experiences out here in wine country. But there will be a lot of France. Hang on to your french fries …
I think the evenings this weekend will feel a little more Fall-like. It might be a great time to try Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet-Merlot 2010.
This California red blend consists of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Although considered a full-bodied wine, I would classify it as medium-bodied.
Deliciously smooth and easy to drink. It has flavors of blackberry and cherry, with hints of vanilla and some oaky spice. It’s fruity and jammy with a nice finish.
A great value at less than $15.
You all know that Apothic Red is one of my favorite wines. So I thought I could not go wrong with the new (well, it was new back in the Spring when it was released) Apothic Rose Limited Release, California 2012. And I was right.
Apothic Rose is a blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. I read that the wine gets its vivid rose color from an ancient winemaking practice called saignée, which means “to bleed” intense color from the grape’s red skin.
It is fruity with flavors of strawberry and watermelon. I thought it had a pretty nice balance between sweet and acidic. Of course, Apothic Rose is best enjoyed chilled.
It is a limited release, but the Apothic Wine Facebook page still features it as its Seasonal Release. $11-$14.
Try it and let me know what you think.
I interrupt our standard coverage for a public service announcement. Sort of. I’m walking in the AIDS Walk San Francisco this weekend. It’s 6.2 miles through Golden Gate Park.
I don’t often do things like this but I believe that AIDS is something that has touched all of us, whether you’re familiar with celebrities, remember reading about Ryan White, or know someone personally affected with the disease. Hell, even if you’ve seen Rent, you’re aware of the toll this disease can take on someone and their families.
Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised nearly $80 million for San Francisco AIDS Foundation and other HIV/AIDS organizations in the six Bay Area counties. Your support will help the Foundation prevent new HIV infections and promote health among those living with HIV.
My thanks …
We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
When I think of boxed wine, I think of Franzia. If I’m not mistaken, I remember my mom and aunts drinking the White Zinfandel. No offense, Mom, but not my idea of the perfect wine.
As I’m sure you know, boxed wines have come a long way and there are some very good options out there. Heck, I believe there are now Target stores in Ohio that carry certain varieties.
A while back, I tried Bota Box Riesling 2012 and was very impressed.
It was not as sugary as I thought it would be. It had bright floral aromas and flavors of pear and green apple. It is a tad sweet, but nicely balanced. Crisp and refreshing (especially on these steamy summer days) and very easy to drink. Delicious!
The 3-liter box has the same amount as four regular bottles of wine, so for $18-$20 you cannot beat it.
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