Feature Article #1

Welcome to Bicycle Gourmet.com

Thanks for resting your eyeballs here for a moment.(They are resting, right?) If you rest them a little longer, you may learn some interesting,(hopefully)entertaining, and, yes, ocassionally BIZARRE things about FRENCH COUNTRY LIFE (more…)

| June 24th, 2009 | Continued

About this Site

Become A Blogger

Other Recent Articles

Paris Attacks – The Take Away

Paris Attacks – The Take Away

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "freedom of expression"


The take way from the terrible Paris attacks is not that there are people who want to kill you because you don’t believe in their fairytale.

We’ve always had ”those people.” And the majority of these crazed killers are connected to Religion. (Royalty and Government usually being the ”supporting players.”)

Remember :

The ”’Crusades ? Christianity’s (unsuccessful) attempt to get the Arab World to bow down before the ”one true God ?”

The Hundred Years War between England and France ?

The Albigensian Crusade – A 20 year ”campaign” to snuff out the Cathar religion in France which culminated in the massacre of all the inhabitants of the town of Beziers. (pro –” bez-e-a”) 

”Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt.”

Papal legate, the Abbot of Citeaux Arnaud Amalric, (from his letter to Pope Innocent 3.)

And today, when we’re rightly horrified each time a hostage is decapitated in prime time, never forget Charlemange, the ”Holy” Roman Emperor, decapitated 4000 Saxons in a single day.

To demonstrate to the remaining Saxons that Catholicism was the tribe for them . (Note : the remaining Saxons did get , and act upon, the message.)

Bottom Line : Crazy people who want to kill you, regardless of their motivation, have always been, and will always be, with us.

The Principal take away from the horrific Paris attacks is that civil liberties are the first casualities in a crisis. (Americans : can you say : ”Patriot Act ?”)

Example : Demonstrations (they’re called ”manifestations” here) against the current International Climate conference in France have been forbidden.

Yes, ”agitators/terrorists” could inflitrate the demonstration. But then, that’s a reality with any demonstration is it not ?

Other than throttling freedom of expression, (ie -”Liberty ”) is not the unspoken sub text here that given the massive security deployment at the conference, the Forces of law lack the confidence they could control an unruly crowd ?

The Environmentalists reponse to the Governments action was to place their shoes, in their place, in the Place du Republic. In effect, creating ”place holders for freedom of expression.”


Take Away : Your liberty is conditional. You have it on the conditions that your government feels it warrants. They can, and, will, take it away whenever it suits them.

By nuking your demonstration. Or the less visible, but more insidous ”security measures ”

Like tapping your phone, reading your email and/or surfing your bank account.

Winston Churchill once said : ”The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

Got vigilance ?



What are ya Thinkin’ ?

French Country Travel Life Hot Wine


Merlot grapes

French Country Travel Life Hot Wine is not the latest, greatest, trendy  grape discovery. Nor is it the mulled wine with those marvy spices you’re used to imbibing during the festive seson. (I’m referring to Christmas, just in case there is more than one festive season in your World)

Nada. The French Country Travel Life Hot Wine is to be found in Bordeaux – where searing, scorching, baking, blasting, incendairy, and even higher than normal temperatures this summer  have caused producers to search for another grape to replace the Merlot variety.

Which, like the majority of French Wines, is ripening earlier and earlier. The accusatory wine finger being pointed at the obvious suspect – Global warming.

My Wine-o-phile colleague Rudy Ruitenburg of Bloomberg Business has the heated lowdown: (his opening image btw. – nice shot dontcha think?)

In a vineyard on the outskirts of the world’s wine capital, Agnes Destrac, a researcher with France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research, points to shriveled merlot grapes, left to linger on the vine well past harvest time to simulate the effects of rising temperatures.

“You have to keep in mind the limits of the grape,” Destrac said. “We’re not going to keep merlot no matter what.”

A few years ago, such talk would have been heresy in a place where merlot vines cover more than 60 percent of the red-wine area. But now Destrac is at the forefront of a race to hunt for grapes that can better withstand heat, helping Bordeaux’s $4.2 billion wine industry adapt to a hotter world.

Merlot is Bordeaux’s earliest-ripening red, and its character would change if a warmer climate meant fully ripe berries in August rather than September, said Bernard Farges, a winemaker and president of the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux, the local wine board.

Overripe merlot loses its class and freshness, becoming “a fruit bomb with no hard edges,” Master of Wine Clive Coates wrote in his 2004 book, “The Wines of Bordeaux.”

An alternative ideally would yield a wine that still is typical of Bordeaux, Farges said. That means a deep red that’s easy to drink with meals, not too high in alcohol and elegant.

Reliable Producer

Farges is already looking for that grape. He’s experimenting with petit verdot, a traditional variety whose late and often unreliable ripening has held back its cultivation in the region. As temperatures increase and the grape becomes a more reliable producer, the variety can add tannins, color and flavor to Bordeaux reds.

France’s wine regions are organized in controlled designations of origin, known by their French acronym AOC, with rules on growing areas and grape types based on centuries of growing experience.

Global warming means tradition may have to go out the window. Bordeaux has heated up almost 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) since the 1980s, and more increases could push merlot outside its comfort zone. From Champagne in the north to the Rhone valley in the south, vines are flowering earlier and fruit is maturing more quickly than a generation ago.

In all four scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific intergovernmental body overseen by the United Nations, the region is expected to continue warming through 2050. In its scenario of rising greenhouse-gas emissions, average temperatures may be about 4 degrees higher than the 1975-2005 average by the end of the century.

Eight-Year Experiment

The Bordeaux wine board has asked to change the regulations of the AOC so growers starting in 2016 can try out grape varieties now barred under the label of the world’s most famous wine region. It’s proposing to add four red-wine grapes to the six allowed in the AOC as part of an eight-year experiment. The plantings would include regional varieties as well as Marselan, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache developed in 1961.

At the research institute’s vineyard, 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) south of the wine board’s 18th century headquarters, Destrac oversees a plot of 52 grape varieties — including vines from Portugal, Greece and Italy — as part of the Vitadapt experiment. Touriga nacional, a grape from northern Portugal used in port wine, held up well despite heat waves this summer.

“Portuguese varieties could be good candidates,” said Destrac, who previously studied tomato genetics. “We know they can stand high temperatures and they’re on an ocean front.”

Counted, Crushed

Every week, she gathers grapes for analysis at the nearby Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, tracking sugar content as the fruit progresses. The berries are counted, weighed and crushed into juice that fills trays of test tubes with colors from pale yellow to deep red.

An extremely hot July pushed up sugar levels and reduced the acidity that provides freshness to wine, Destrac found.

Studying new varieties will give wine makers more tools to confront climate change — and with vineyards typically planted for 30 years, the time for research is now, said Vincent Cruege, wine maker at Chateau La Louviere in Bordeaux’s Pessac-Leognan appellation. To make great wines, you need to be at the northern growing limit for the variety, he noted.

But Cruege isn’t convinced that global warming presents as big a problem as others believe. While sugar content has changed in the past 25 years, that’s as much the result of new agricultural practices as warmer weather, he said. Pruning, defoliating and thinning out unripe bunches can control crop development, meaning overripe merlot isn’t his biggest concern.

Harvest in the Bordeaux region
Harvest in the Bordeaux region
Photographer: Bob Edme/AP Photo

“How we work the vines can have more effect than the vintage,” said Cruege, who started out as a trainee at domain La Louviere more than 25 years ago and became head oenologist for owner Vignobles Andre Lurton in 2013.

Changing Environment

Even so, winemakers “will have to manage a changing environment,” said Herve Le Treut, a lead author for the most recent report by the intergovernmental climate-change panel. “Nature reacts extremely strongly to changes in temperature. We’ll need to know, for various wine-grape varietals and cultivation methods, what has to be preserved, at what price.


What are ya thinkin’?

French Country Travel Life Rosé

French Country Travel Life Rosé  French Wine from the vine is good anytime. (Likewise French Food!) But in Summer even more so. And since this IS the last (official)day of Summer – what better tribute could Da Bg share than a heart(and body)warming story of French Rosé?

Told by my fellow winophile Eleanore Beardsley:

The Blanc brothers, Didier and Robert, are third-generation vintners near the town of Uzes, in southern France. The area is known for chirping cicadas, olive trees and chilled rosé wine in the summertime.

Standing between the rows of vines at their vineyard, Saint Firmin, younger brother Didier pushes back the leaves to reveal clusters of plump grapes ripening under a blazing Mediterranean sun. Blanc says sales are exploding.

“We ran out of rosé last year, so we produced a lot more this year. And we’re going to run out again,” he says.

Rosé is made from grenache or cinsault grapes, and is certainly never a mix of red and white wine, says older brother Robert. He says a good rosé is pale, almost gray — the lighter, the better. And it’s easily quaffable.

“Since it’s so light, people have the impression that it has less alcohol and calories than red or white wine. But that’s not the case,” he says, laughing.

The brothers harvest their grapes at night, when it’s cooler. Once picked, rosé grapes in particular must have minimum exposure to heat and sun to limit oxidization.

A stiff wind whips down the rows of vines. It’s the legendaryMistral, a wind that blows up the Rhone valley. Didier Blanc says the Mistral is winemakers’ friend, because it combats the humidity and mildew that can hurt the vines.

The two men say their father used to put a few bottles of rosé aside just for his own pleasure.

A noisy bottling machine helps them put the cork on the last of their 2014 vintage. Robert Blanc says it’s the second year they’ve exported to the U.S. Since neither of them speaks English, Robert says it would have been hard to pierce the complicated American wine market. But he says importers have come looking for them.

“Yesterday we had a visit from another importer from Maine who was on vacation,” Robert says. “He loved the rosé. Maybe something will come of that!”

John Hames, director of the American Wine Society, says that in the ’70s and ’80s, Americans went for sweeter wines. But tastes are evolving, and appreciation for dry rosés is growing.

The label for La Vigne du Facteur— The Mailman’s Vine — a rosé produced by Serge Scherrer

“People discovered they were good food wines,” says Hames. “And at the same time, they were an alternative to the chardonnays and sauvignon blancs for just having a nice cool glass of wine in the evening on the patio.”

The rosé boom is transforming lives in this agrarian region. Serge Scherrer is a part-time postman, part-time winemaker. He was able to buy a parcel of land here 10 years ago because of the real estate crisis — just two days before the vines were to be ripped out. Now he’s realizing a lifelong dream, making 3,000 bottles of organic wine a year. He says he understands why rosé is a big hit.

“It’s simple to drink, it’s very fresh, and it’s not as strong as red or white wine,” Scherrer says.

Read more HERE.



What are ya Thinkin’?