#WineSquad: Animal Planet Division

I’ve got a wine squad. It’s made up of lawyers, distillers, teachers, singers, Twitter & Instagram friends, and international wine bloggers. We like wine. We roll deep. Or at least I thought we did, until I saw the wine squad from Vergenoegd Wine Estate. They’ve got me beat. By a lot. And they’re way cooler than my squad. #Ducks

(C) Vergenoegd Wine Estate

A Friendly Reminder[1]

Dear Alleged Blog Readers,

Today our good friend Last Bottle turns 5! In honor of this milestone, they’re running one of their infamous marathons[2]. Wine buying starts today at 9 a.m. Napa Time, 12 p.m. EST. Sign up here to participate. Deal after deal of great wines, but you gotta be quick. When it’s gone it’s gone and it’s on to the next. Get ready to stock up for the summer[3]! Free shipping on ALL ORDERS. This makes the fact that today is not Friday a bit more bearable[4]. God I love them.File Apr 28, 10 47 28 AM


Wine Esquire

File Apr 28, 10 47 47 AMP.S. If you don’t know about Last Bottle yet, you must be living under a rock. Great wine deals just for you. It’s amazing. Not a dud in the bunch! Check it out here.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] An ironic title seeing as how The Associates at The Firm received an email with this in the subject line last Saturday morning. It was not all that friendly. #lawyerlife
[2] By running, I mean organizing and facilitating. Not actually running, like with sneakers.
[3] I’ve already warned Husband. #creditcardalert
[4] Only slightly. #isitFridayYet

Three Glasses of Wine in a Box

When a fellow lawyer reaches out and says, “Hey, do you want to try my VineBox?” you say, “Yea I do!” VineBox is a monthly wine by the glass subscription. It comes in a sweet box with three glass vials, each holding one perfectly measured glass of wine. The box I tried had three French offerings,[1] one white and two reds.

File Apr 24, 5 29 58 PMI started with the white. The elegant La Dame Blanche[2] is a 2014 Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc made by Château du Taillan. Green grass, peach and minerals on the nose. Just a touch on the sweet side. Nice mouth feel, not too light, not too heavy. The color of pale straw. I had it refrigerated but it sat out for about 20 minutes, and that was the perfect temperature. The flavors were really allowed to come through. This would be excellent with some ripe cantaloupe,[3] maybe even wrapped in prosciutto.

File Apr 24, 5 30 48 PMNext up was the 2009 Château Suau Rouge, a Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. There’s that typical Bordeaux nose, heavy flowers and wood. Lighter than I expected, almost soft but there’s definitely tannins on the finish. Oak and black currant, this would definitely pair well with some meat, maybe a duck confit, or maybe just some pâté. Very drinkable, I’d love a bottle.

File Apr 24, 5 30 27 PMThe third selection was the 2013 Castelmaure Cuvee N°3. This blend of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre hailed from Corbières, France, an Appellation d’origine contrôlée in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France. Pepper on the nose, and spicy all around. Nice mouth feel, slight tannins on the finish. This is a big wine that would do well with some strong, salty French cheese[4].

File Apr 24, 5 31 12 PMNow that I’m hungry, I’m going to leave you. If you haven’t already, check out VineBox and give it a whirl. Use coupon code SPRING10 for $10 off your first box! There’s nothing better than coming home to a fun wine night in a box.

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] How appropriate. #FancyinFrancey
[2] La Dames Blanches are mythical women in French folklore. Thomas Keightley was a 19th century author whose book Fairy Mythology (published in 1828), described them as follows: “They lurk in narrow places such as ravines, fords, and on bridges, and try to attract passerby attention. They may require one to join in her dance or assist her in order to pass. If assisted she makes him many courtesies, and then vanishes.” Sounds like some fun broads.
[3] That somebody else is going to have to cut.
[4] #takemeback

#FancyinFrancey: Jour Deux[1]

[If you’re just jumping in, take a look at my previous post for some context on #FancyinFrancey and how I won the most epic wine trip to Bordeaux ever.]

We got an early start on Day Two of our Bordeaux wine adventure. With James Bond[2] set to arrive at 8:15, I set my alarm early and woke to a spectacular sunrise over the vines. File Apr 24, 8 17 20 AMWas this real or was I still dreaming? Apparently it was real. After tearing myself away from the beautiful scene outside my window, I got myself ready and went down to breakfast. No big deal, right? Well, when you’re living Château Life, breakfast is served in the grand dining room by Chantelle, complete with classical music playing from the heavens. She made our coffee to order[3] and we feasted on a spread of croissants, bread, jam, honey, cheese, meat, smoked salmon, yogurt, granola and the fanciest juices ever. A girl could really get used to this[4].File Apr 16, 9 54 54 PM

Monsieur Bruno

We collectively sat there for a few minutes, soaking it all in, pinching ourselves to see if this was real. When we realized it was, we finished up, got ourselves out the door[5] and enjoyed the trek to Bordeaux City where our guide Bruno greeted us with a huge, mischievous Cheshire Cat grin. Bruno had our route planned out so that we would get out at major sites then take a walk to our next destination where Mr. Bond would meet us to take us on the next leg of our journey[6].

DSC_0317Bordeaux City is a beautiful European metropolis filled with rich history, old world architecture, cobblestone streets, and beautiful people. The modern electric tram system is the first of its kind to not need cable extensions[7], and a good majority of the city is tram and pedestrian only, making it easy to wander around safely with a group of winos like us[8]. Turns out that fifteen years ago[9], Bordeaux was a blackened mess, with dirt and grime caking the ancient limestone façades. Thankfully, its newest mayor, Alain Juppé, came in and cleaned things up, literally, and the city is now a sparkling star in the heart of Bordeaux wine country.DSC_0287

DSC_0339Bruno’s humor and quick wit made the expedition not only educational, but hilariously enjoyable. Our tour ended with a look ‘round the city’s premier hotel, the InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand where we were brought to the Royal penthouse suite for a sweeping view of the city[10].

Why is my panorama photo so small? #technicalproblems
Why is my panorama photo so small? #technicalproblems

After a group photo, we sadly said goodbye to Bruno and we were off to lunch at La Grande Maison de Bernard Magrez, a Joël Robuchon Restaurant.File Apr 23, 6 45 54 PM

File Apr 24, 8 47 34 AM
La Grande Maison

File Apr 23, 6 40 08 PMWe drove up to a beautiful gated chateau with an ancient olive tree in the courtyard[11]. The gorgeous foyer opened to a decadent dining room, with soaring ceilings and outstanding Baccarat chandeliers[12]File Apr 24, 8 37 26 AMI’ve eaten some fancy meals, so I wasn’t really fazed by the two Michelin Stars everyone kept raving about. Having a Michelin Star is like being Zagat rated right[13]? Uhmmm, no. The difference was quickly apparent.

File Apr 23, 7 02 43 PMOur tasting menu began with petite quinoa and spicy mayo bites and a bread trolley with a DOME of butter, yes, a dome, which they shaved off into perfect curls topped with a smattering of sea salt[14]. The trolley featured basket after basket of artisan rolls and baguettes, some delicately inlaid with squid ink, some with cheese and bacon, others perfectly plain.

File Apr 23, 6 42 09 PMFor wine we began with a 2013 Chateau Fombrauge Bordeaux Blanc, and again, to say that these whites from Bordeaux are underrated is an understatement. The wine was bright, beautiful and complex. Stone fruit, citrus with a touch of minerality. Bon[15].

File Apr 23, 6 42 37 PMOur first course was a deviled egg. Now, my mother in law’s holiday specialty is deviled eggs, and I just don’t do them. But when this deviled egg came out, my mouth dropped. To start, it was beautiful, but what was on the inside was even more beautiful. Resting within the egg was a healthy portion of super fresh King Crab, and on top was a healthy dollop of caviar[16]. Did I mention there was GOLD sprinkled on top? Yes. Actual Gold.[17] I was done. Best.Deviled.Egg.Ever.[18] And with the wine? Magnifique!

File Apr 23, 7 02 22 PMEach course was exquisite; perfectly prepared, beautifully presented and utterly delicious. Fast forward a few courses and we were all basically losing it. File Apr 23, 7 02 01 PMThe “La Canette,” which was explained to us as “young lady duck,” had me absolutely melting. I mean seriously MELTING. Especially when I took a sip of the 2006 Château Les Grands Chênes. Deep, rich, flowery and gorgeous, it was like mouth heaven. File Apr 08, 6 35 25 PMFile Apr 23, 6 37 34 PMThe young duckling was perfectly cooked, nestled in local foie gras[19], with two dainty pallets of foie gras to the side. To know me is to know that I love foie gras. I was in liver heaven. My stomach was full. How could I go on?

File Apr 24, 8 47 05 AMI almost couldn’t, but then we started getting sweet. And why have one dessert course when you can have two? We began with what I dubbed “Anguilla in a Glass.” Passion fruit and rum served atop a sweet custard. Gorgeously light, and since it was really meant as a palate cleanser, I realized it was calorie free[20]. With this delight came a 2010 Sauternes[21]. Flowery, thick and beautiful, with the slightest hint of mustard.

File Apr 23, 7 01 31 PM

After the palate cleanser, over came the dessert trolley[22]. Adorned with a chocolate egg the size of my torso and a smattering of petit fours, our waiter prepared several plates of the sweetest sweets[23] for us to taste. I couldn’t pass up a macaroon or two, because just like croissants, it’s really hard to get good ones over here[24]. We wrapped up with a selection of coffee and teas and a wee spot of Armagnac, because, when in France, why not have an Armagnac?File Apr 23, 6 41 03 PM

File Apr 23, 6 38 50 PM
View of La Grande Maison from the Art Institute across the way

After lunch we hobbled over[25] to the Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez, or the Magrez Art Institute. Mr. Magrez is passionate about the arts, and the Institute is a place where up and coming artists have a chance to shine. Housed in another gorgeous chateau across from the restaurant, elegant chandeliers graced every room. File Apr 23, 6 39 47 PM

File Apr 23, 6 45 36 PM
Grape Stems

The exhibit boasted countless pieces in a variety of mediums, and the creativity expressed was truly awe inspiring[26].

File Apr 24, 8 52 20 AM
Seashells in a Briefcase
File Apr 23, 6 49 43 PM

Next up on our schedule was a tasting tour of Millésima’s cellars, a gorgeous, winding cavern that carefully watches over more than two and a half million bottles of wine. File Apr 23, 6 49 59 PMThe Millésima team pulled out all the stops for this, and you could tell they had a blast, not only in the planning, but at the event itself. Throughout the night we literally wandered through the cellar, stopping at strategically placed tasting tables where wines were poured and gourmet chefs prepared small bites[27].

File Apr 23, 6 59 51 PM
I won the gold sifting contest even if my opponents were cheating (Ahem, #RockinRedBlog #PleaseBringMeMyWine)

Each stop featured a new activity; at one area, darts[28], another, an art lesson, we competitively sifted for gold, and then, the finale, a photo booth.

20160403 21-26 48

In the hall of magnums, we were each presented with an award for our blogging efforts, and a final hoo-rah of Sauternes and perfect desserts capped off the evening[29]. Though exhaustion had begun to set in, we all left beaming, fully sated and extremely happy.File Apr 24, 9 03 22 AM

Hard to believe this was only the first full day. The next morning we’d be off to the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UCGB) official En Primeur tasting, followed by lunch and a tasting at Chateau d’Yquem. Yes. You read that right. Chateau d’Yquem.

Until the next glass! Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] This means Day Two.
[2] Our chauffeur. There were several over the course of the week, all of them impeccably dressed like their famous namesake. It was pretty epic.
[3] Coffee in France means espresso. I had to specify Café au Lait (coffee with milk), and by day two, Chantelle knew what I wanted before I even asked. S’il vous plaît.
[4] In fact, I did get used to this. Breakfast at home has been rather depressing.
[5] A bit later than the schedule called for, every morning, without fail. #slowpokes
[6] It all worked out well except my infamously poor choice in vacation footwear blew up in my face during the first hour of our trek. #wedgesarentgoodforwalking
[7] At least according to Bruno, who was very, very proud of his city’s achievements.
[8] Although all the people on bikes can be a little dicey. #bicyclebell
[9] Did you know? Bordeaux? 15 years ago? #insidejoke #sorrynotsorry
[10] At only 4,000 Euros a night, I’d say it’s a steal.
[11] The newest Tesla model was also parked out front. #bougie
[12] This was our first glimpse of the Baccarat/Magrez partnership, and we’d be exposed to even more later in the week. #bottlesizedglasses
[13] Read a quick breakdown of the difference. Essentially, Michelin restaurants are TOP NOTCH, Zagat restaurants are awesome. Also, the top Michelin award is three stars, not five like I assumed, so to get a 2 star rating, within ten months of opening, is a true gastronomic feat! Bravo Messers Magrez and Robuchon!
[14] I could have been happy with just the bread and butter.File Apr 23, 6 43 29 PM
[15] French for good, but when you say it, it almost sounds like “Boom.”
[16] Hellooooo caviar. I love caviar. Why don’t we eat more caviar?
[17] A sprinkling of gold on your caviar is par for the course when you’re living #ChateauLife
[18] Mother-In-Law, are you taking notes?
[19] Just found out that “foie gras” translates to “fat liver”. I probably have a fat liver now. #worthit
[20] This is real guys.
[21] We’ll get to Sauternes very in depth in a later post. For now, it’s enough to know that Sauternes is divine.
[22] Trolleys are the best. We need more trolleys over here across the pond.
[23] The menu described this course as “escorté de mignardise”. Google translate says this means “escorted cuteness”. #lostintranslation
[24] It was about this time in the meal that we learned about Windy Pops from our British friend Mike. They may also be referred to as Whirly Pops. “Windy Pops” is a cute way of saying passed gas and/or burps. Mike had a lot of windy pops that week, but we still love him.
[25] Literally. We were hobbling. Me not only because of my inappropriate footwear choice for the morning’s tour, but we had all just eaten our body weight in Michelin Stars.File Apr 23, 6 38 14 PM
[26] Even the dogs in France go to art museums. #cultured
[27] I almost couldn’t eat anything because of our amazing lunch, but then a truffle pasta came out and that went out the window. #YoureStillEating? #insidejoke
[28] My darts hit the board, maybe not in the area where they were supposed to, but I’d call that a win.
[29] Like I needed any more macaroons, but like I said, when in France…