Crémant de Bourgogne Tasting in Beaune

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Just a few hours from the fields of Champagne, Burgundy wineries are making their own version of golden, bubbly goodness. We headed down the Cote d’Or to Burgundy wine country for a tour of Veuve Ambal and a tasting of the tiny bubbles in Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy’s answer to Champagne. As you probably know, Champagne is protected under law to maintain its origin, quality, and exclusivity, and enjoying a bottle will put you back a few bucks in your wallet. Crémant is bubbly French wine, like Champagne, but made outside of the Champagne region and without the hefty price tag.CremantVeuveAmbalCremant-ProcessCremantbottle

We took a tour of the Veuve Ambal factory where we saw how the bubbly is made. Using a combination of the four grape varieties of the region, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligoté and Gamay, Crémant is made with different flavors and colors. The process is actually the same process as making Champagne, the difference is simply the grape and the region. In the autumn harvest the wine is produced and bottled and sent to the cellar to age depending on which Crémant it will become. After the aging process, the bottles are put through the meticulous riddling process where the bottles are rotated little by little by riddlers (who knew you could be a riddler?! Unfortunately, machines are the modern riddlers, so back to our day jobs we go) until finally sitting upside down, causing any aging residue to fall into the neck of the bottle. From here, the bottle necks are frozen, the frozen residue popped out, a little more sugar is added and the bottles are sealed and labeled, ready for any romantic evening that might conspire.

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Today the process is mostly mechanized, but with some many meticulous and careful steps to make one bottle of bubbly, it really does change the way you think about those tiny bubbles, and the ancient origins of Champagne are even more intriguing. After the tour, we headed down to the shop for a tasting. Our host was friendly and generous, and we tasted five different varieties of Crémant from Rosé to Brut to Prestige with clear explanations about each sip making the experience even more enjoyable.

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So, on Valentine’s day, if you are celebrating or not, indulge in a glass of bubbly! Enjoy it before your meal with an aperitif like a Frenchie, or like the rest of us, after the meal with a sweet dessert. Cheers to celebrating all the good things life, ensemble or solo, before or after the meal, for love or simply for pleasure. 

Besos, Dianne    ************************************************************************************************

For more info about visiting Veuve Ambal for a tour and tasting check out their website Veuve Ambal.

The tour is self guided, with a head set, and lasts about 1 hour. The tasting with a guide lasts 30mins to one hour.

McDos – fast food in France

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One of the first shocks I had on arrival to France was the number of McDonald’s and how packed they always seem to be. It turns out France is only second to the USA in golden arch hamburger consumption. Really? what about the long French lunch at a typical French bistro with steak frites and a glass of wine? McDonald’s offers a faster option for modern France, where lunch breaks are getting shorter, and for French cuisine, McDo (“Mac-Doh”) offers a particularly Frenchified menu (Chevre or Raclette burgers with Sauce Bearnaise, and even a baguette sandwich to name just a few) with all the ingredients sourced from France, guaranteeing higher quality than your typical fast food.

I haven’t been much of a Mickey D’s fan for the last 20 years, but I have succumbed to the convenience of familiar the familiar a few times to get a quick, inexpensive bite to eat.  I can’t say the food tasted much different compared to an American Mickey D’s, but the portions were a bit smaller and the decor and ambiance were more stylish and comfortable than I remembered, and who can resist the McCafé with macarons and cafe creme? 

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So, next time you’re in France you don’t have to feel so bad when you get the sudden urge to go somewhere familiar for an easy and inexpensive lunch-even though it is still fast food, choosing McDos is actually quite French.

Besos, Dianne

France Travel Tip : Le Cafe Gourmand

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When in France do not say no to dessert, ever. And for the days that you just can’t decide which dessert to choose, order the cafe gourmand, a little treasure listed with the coffees at most bistros and restaurants, that offers a sampling of the days dessert choices with a cup of espresso. It’s a great way to try a variety of French desserts while staying on a budget and controlling your portions! Win-win.

Besos, Dianne