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Visiting Piemonte

Visiting Piemonte in Autumn is a wonderful thing for wine and food enthusiasts and was for me at last October. The reasons are quite simple;

Impressive views of rolling hills painted to all colors of Autumn, winery visit that can give opportunity to meet their winemakers in cosy environment, white truffle festival during October and November, relatively lower priced fine wines compare with Bordeaux and Burgundy’s and all combined with superb local food.

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WINERIES WORTH TO VISIT

We visited to several wineries in Barolo and Barbaresco and among them these are my favorites;

Marchesi di Gresy
One of the famous Barbaresco producer with consistent quality, that their cellar door is always busy at weekends and located in beautiful villa surrounded with vineyards. There is an attentive service that provides good selection of their wines and winery tour but the appointment has to be taken in advance.

Paolo Scavino
This is family owned winery provides informative winery tour and tasting. We were lucky to meet with the wine-maker.

Fratelli Revello
They produce one of the most elegant wines of La Morra and very well-priced.

Ceretto
They have a spaceship-like cellar-door and a bit touristically approach for wine enthusiasts but it’s worth to visit for their wines and the view.

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For more information about winery visits, please click here .

WHITE TRUFFLE MARKET

White Truffle Market is one of the most interesting markets for food lovers to buy them at lower prices and learn how to chose them.

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Tips for choosing them;

– Check by hand and don’t buy if it is soft, because truffle is basically a kind of mushroom and should be consumed in a week after hunting, soft texture indicates it gets older and already lost some of its aromas.

– Smell and chose intensely aromatic one.

– Don’t buy bigger one if it will be consumed at home, because small quantities are enough to give powerful aromas to dishes. Bigger ones are more expensive and not possible to consume in short period time.

When you speak with sellers you may get more tips about it. When we bought ours, we took Tajarin plates from the food stand in the Market and they made our truffle sliced on them and we consumed some of them immediately with a glass of Roero Arneis.
And other mushrooms, candied truffles, truffle pastes, local cheeses and fresh pastas can be found there.

FOOD

For good food, there are infinite options as in quantity and style. Our favorites were;

La Libera
La Libera is young face of Piemonte food. The food is Piemontese with contemporary touch and prepared from local high quality ingredients, served in sleek ambiance very attentively.

For more information, please click here .

Il Falstaff
It’s located in Verduno Town that is 20km far from Alba Town. They have traditional specialities mostly with truffles and it was the best dinner in Piemonte for me.

Some of the dishes we had were:

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Fish served with warm Tomato and Potato Purée

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Warm Cardo ( Thistle ) pie with Black Truffle

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Tagliatelle with Black Truffles

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Tagliatelle with White Truffles

Villa d’Amelia
Villa D’Amelie is a Small Luxury Hotel in Benevello. It’s a nice building with wonderful view. The Restaurant has one Michlen star. Delicious food, smooth service, well-priced extensive wine list. It would be chosen for special events for dining and staying.

Dining at Enoclub in Alba Town is a good option. We went there without reservation for lunch and there was long queue for tables in front of the door but it’s also possible to eat at the bar that we did. It’s fun to see how they prepare or slice the Parma Ham in front of your plate.

Local specialty Carne Cruda is not to be missed, especially if you like Beef Tartar. Carne Cruda can be found almost in all menus.

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ACCOMODATION

There are plenty of options; agroturismo, historical villas, hotels…

But we stayed in a self-catering room in Alba Town considering cool weather conditions on October; Casa Bona. It’s budget and gives opportunity to cook with local ingredients bought from Truffle Market as well.

Fine wine, good food, the Nature and wonderful people; Piemonte !!!

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Piemonte in October, Day 1 ( 26/10/2012 )

It’s our first morning in Piemonte, cool and rainy one. Lots to do, we would like to enjoy picturesque views of the nature and Medieval villages as well as seasonal local foods ( especially after we had a wonderful dinner at La Libera yesterday evening, we are more curious about food! ) and the wines of the region. But today, our priority is wine! cause most of the wineries are closed on weekends. Our appointments are done in advance.

The first one is Paolo Scavino in Castiglione Falletto, 20 min. to Alba. Although our car navigator fails to show there – as it happens often at rural areas – we could arrived the winery on time by helping our mobile phone maps and luck.

First we take winery tour that;

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We see rotofermenters, are used for alcoholic fermentation and maceration at the same time for their Barolos.

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French Oak barrels for ageing and also malolactic fermentation takes place in them. Ageing takes 24 months; 12 months in barrels and additional 12 months in casks. As the quality of wine in all individual barrels are observed during the ageing period, so lesser qualities can be eliminated.

In vineyard they apply organic and biodynamic applications including harvesting their grapes according to the moon calendar.

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Tasting them;

  • 2011 Paolo Scavino Langhe Bianco

  • It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Fruity and refreshing style. Intense aromas of apricot and peach with good acidity.

  • 2011 Barbera D’Alba

  • Deep crimson. Cherry pie and cheesy notes. Medium tannin and acidity. Long.

  • 2008 Barolo

  • It’s a blend of 3 regions; Barolo, Castiglione Di Falleto and La Morra. After tasting Barbera, it’s distinctively deep and complex. Aromas of red berries, licorice, chocolate with delicate floral notes.

  • 2008 Bricco Ambrogio

  • From Roddi. Brown sugar, cherry and floral notes. Long mineral and medicinal ending.

  • 2008 Monvigliero

  • From Verduno. More delicate. Floral with white chocolate notes.

  • 2008 Bric del Fiasc

  • From Castiglione Falleto. Intenser than Monvigliero on the nose. Complex aromas of licorice, brown sugar, chocolate with earthy and fleshy edges.

    At the end of the tasting we are lucky enough to meet with Mr. Enrico Scavino, who is the owner and wine maker of Scavino wines. Scavino wines offer a knowledgable and sincere tasting atmosphere.

    Now we are on the way of La Morra, 10 min. to Scavino Wines. Before Osteria Veglia, the view is wonderful, so taking some photos;

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    We are at La Morra town. Unfortunately the view is not clear at the Piazzo Castello because of heavy rain. So we choose one of the wine bars for lunch, Viniera S.Giorgio on Via Umberto.

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    We order “Tajarin” ( homemade pasta prepared with lots of eggs) which is a local dish can be found widely in the region and their Barbaresco option served by the glass.

    Our second tasting appointment will be at Fratelli Revello at 2pm. Revellos produce La Morra wines that are elegant and perfumed style of fine Barolo. The style is result of its Calcareous-Marl soil type that is same in Barolo Docg as well, whereas less fertile and Sand-Limestone soil combination of Castiglione Falletto Docg, Mondorte d’Alba Docg and Seralunga d’Alba Docg produce beefier, more tannic and structured wines that are less approachable when young but have more aging capacity.

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    1999 Fratelli Revello Barolo was one of my random purchase at the free-shop of Ataturk Airport in Istanbul and was one of the best wines I’ve ever had up to then. So we are at their panoramic wine tasting room.

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  • Fratelli Revello Barolo 2008
  • Long with red fruit aromas and floral notes.

  • Fratelli Revello Barolo Gattera 2008
  • Sweeter on the nose. Carnation flavours are already perceivable.

  • Fratelli Revello Barolo Giachini 2008
  • Elegant with aromas of sweet red fruits, leather and Autumnal notes.

  • Fratelli Revello Barolo Conca 2008
  • More powerful expression of Barolo with coffee and meaty aromas. 2007 is Intenser and sweeter on the nose with smokey fruits. 2006 is less approachable and has aromas of sage, cherry and strawberry.

  • Fratelli Revello Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata 2008
  • Intence and delicate fruit is very well integrated with high tannin and acidity. Perfumed and already focused.

    Gattera is the only one aged in Slovenian oak and represents more traditional ageing approach. The others are more modernists and aged in French oak barrrels for 24 months.

    We are leaving there with pleasure of tasting their fine wines.

    It’s time to turn back to Alba for having some rest and be ready for having a local food experience at Il Falstaff !

    2008 La Rocca Bianco and Dining at La Libera, Alba, Piemonte!

    We arrived to Alba at the late afternoon and had some rest at our hotel. Before dinner, we had a short walk to Piazza Duomo to discover medieval old town of Alba.

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    Although there are hundreds of eateries in Piemonte region, we preferred to stay in Alba for our first dinner, cause the day after would be busy with winery visits! Anyway we were at Ristorante La Libera , is located in one of the narrow and tranquil street of Alba.

    20121105-153110.jpgLa Libera has a sleek decoration with warm colors.

    The menu is in Italian! But no problem, our waiter speaks English fluently and after her translation, we chose our meals. For the wine, the sommelier recommended us a white wine for our fist courses and she added that if we like the wine, we could continue with this bottle for the main courses as well ( so, we did !).

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    The wine was 2008 La Rocca Bianco, a surprisingly good white in very famous red wine region. The grape is Gavi’ s Cortese but the wine is made of Barbaresco grapes. Compare with more aromatic Gavi, the style of the wine is near to a good white Burgundy. On the nose complex aromas of daisy, lime, honey, toasted bread and butter are detectable and on the palate aromas are more intense, savory and long. It’s not heavy, well balanced and has smooth texture.

    Our first courses were quite original and prepared by seasonal ingredients. And we were lucky to be Piemonte on October, it’s white truffle season.

    20121106-170443.jpgSephia with Porcini mushroom cream and crocante

    20121106-171242.jpgPatato gnocchi with white truffles

    20121106-171505.jpgVeal with Tuna sauce – Raw meat – Russian Salad – Local ham

    Unusual combination of Porcini and Sephia and more traditional Gnocchi with white truffles dishes were our favorites.

    Our main courses were:

    Veal with caper sauce
    Veal was Juicy and delicious.

    Yellowtail fillet
    Crunchy surfaced Yellowtail was very well prepared.

    Rabbit dumping with Sweetbread
    Sweetbread was creamy but fried Rabbit was overcooked.

    And Tiramisu was stunning.

    The bill was fair for the attentive service, delicious food and wonderful wine.

    It was good beginning to our holiday!

    Vineyard Trip to Barbare Wines!

    A boutique wine producer located on the north-west coast of Marmara sea, Barbare Wines took attention of wine lovers by producing first ( and still only ) Southern Rhône style red blends in Turkey.

    Firstly, 2009 Barbare Syrah & Grenache & Mourvèdre took place in the market and was appreciated well for its complexity, finesse and balance. Followed by a Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend, 2009 Barbare Elegance is my favorite in their premium selection.

    So, we thought it was nice timing to visit the vineyard before harvest!

    We met in Taksim square with Tulin Bozuyuk, General Menager of Barbare wines and other wine lovers. It takes nearly 2 and half hour to The Vineyard from Istanbul that we kept on good company together about food, wine as well as Turkish policy and social life at their comfortable shuttle.

    The location is quite intriguing that between two big water; Black sea and Marmara sea near to Tekirdag with a delighted view ;906.jpg” class=”alignnone size-full” />

    20120902-170153.jpgAfter we had our welcoming drinks, 2011 Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon & Mourvèdre we started informative touring the Vinery that we learn ;

    – After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation of the grapes, resulted wines of varietals are aged in mainly French oak except from Grenache wines.

    – They use only high quality medium or light toasted Allier and Nevers as French Oak barrel,

    – Their wine-making philosophy is minimum intervention in Vinery,

    – No carbonic maseration process for any grape varietal,

    – They produce their premium level wines to be benefited with bottle-age.

    And tasting at the Vinery Cellar;

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    – Firstly, we tasted without oak sample of red Rhône blend,
    – After that barrel sample,
    – Finally 2009 Syrah & Grenache & Mourvèdre.

    It was quite surprising and informative tasting experience to understand how barrel ageing process can effect the aroma and texture of the wines.

    Than at the vineyard we noticed perfect application of VSP Cordon-trained, Spur-pruned healthy vines and tasted their berries. And also noticed different skin thickness of red grape varieties especially between Grenache ( was obviously thinner ) with Syrah, Cabernet Souvignon, Merlot and Mourvèdre.

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    – Tulin Bozuyuk states that they have 23 ha total vineyard area and are happy with that size. Instead of extending the vineyard area their aim to apply biodynamic and sustainable viticulture efficiently.

    Vineyard area divided to 17 parcels according to sun exposure, drainage, soil type etc.

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    – Viticulture is organic and certified by ECOCERT,

    – Effective Yield Controlling, restricted to 350kg/decare ( ~ < 35hl/ha ),

    – No irrigation with exception of Merlot parcels have drip-irrigation system only for excessive drought conditions,

    – Sea breezes protect the vineyards to humidity in growing season and related vine diseases, also has warming effect against to frost,

    – Attentive vineyard and vinification activities are checked by Xavier Vignon during his monthly visits.

    After the vineyard tour, time to barbecue! with local speciality Tekirdag Kofte;

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    Tender vine leaf wrap ( vine leafs from vineyard );

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    And we tasted almost all of their wonderfully distinctive wines 🙂

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    Thanks to Tulin Bozuyuk and Barbare Wines Team for such a lovely day!!!

    2 Days in Barcelona! Day2

    DAY 2

    We began the day with simple breakfast again and we would like to have our lunch at Cal Pep;

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    Unfortunately, It wasn’t open on August:( , as many good and famous eateries do one month shut-down on July and August in Barcelona. So we tried another good option in the same small square next to the Cal Pep; lonja de tapas. Open air eatery is located in Pla del Palau, in relatively tranquil square of El Born.

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    And than we ordered our wine from Rueda region; 2011 Ramon Bilbao Verdejo Monte Blanco

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    It has intense fruit aromas of pineapple, peach with lifting acidity and mineral edges. Some residual sugar balancing with acidity. Ending was gently peppery.

    And the Food;

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    Grilled pepper from Padon, Cod Croquets, Tomato and Olive oil bread.

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    Wonderful creamy and juicy grilled Foie Gras on Ginger Bread

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    Tender cooked Calamari

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    Ended with Coulant of chocolate with virgin oil and maldon salt, was fantastic!

    After visiting Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia and Miro Museum in Montjuïc, we went to Lavinia in order to complete our wine shopping. And than to the Hotel up to Dinner at Restaurante El Velódromo at the north end of the Eixample area.

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    Quite interesting tapas Bar
    -that gives service for 21 hours a day,
    -The Chef is Carles Abellán graduated from El Bulli,
    -Building is in Art-Deco style, quite spacey and mainly decorated with pistachio color,
    -No reservation policy excepting Business Lunches,
    -Far from Touristic spots, so “La Gente” is mainly local, mixing with curious foreign food lovers,
    -Wine list is not extensive but satisfactory with good selection of bottles and well-priced,

    So that we could order a wonderful Red Rioja without thinking much;

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    Deep purple-colored, black fruit and ripe plum, polished tannin, complex with smoky and earthy edges, deep and subtle but not heavy, good length that we enjoyed a lot.

    And the food we tasted;

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    – Red pepper dumping with tuna,
    – Warm Bellota ham,
    – Anchovy with sardines,
    – Slice of waxed big fish eggs,
    – Foie gras,
    – Ham Croquets,
    – Grilled Padon peppers

    were delicious and the service was perfectly attentive.

    Than we went to famous cocktail bar near to the Restaurant, Dry Martini;

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    – Crowd is mainly international, enjoying their drinks and the ambiance,

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    While the counter was indicating 1.022.707 martini prepared by the Bar, it was 2:30am time to leave, early for Barcelona, late for us??? No lo se :)))

    2 Days in Barcelona! Day 1…

    Day 1

    We had simple breakfast with a croissant and a coffee that we need to have good appetite for lunch at La Boqueria. We had a long walk from our Hotel to El Gotic in refreshing weather which is surprising in August. And Than we came to La Boqueria, the most lively open air food market of Barcelona is not only feast for stomachs but also for eyes;

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    Variety of foods can be seen and tasted in Tapas Bars in it, so we tried seafood Bar that the foods are prepared in front of your bar;

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    No reservation but you need to make your name written by bar staff than in five minutes they call or shout your name and you get your place at the bar. We ordered “Copa de Cavas” which were in invigorating quality.

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    Mix vegetable plate

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    Clams with garlic and parsley

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    Mix seafood plate

    Foods were perfectly prepared from the freshest ingredients. The bill was fair for quite big plates, total 35€ for three people including Cavas.

    Than we had another walk to El Born and we stopped at Bubó for dessert;

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    Our choises

    Time to buy some Spanish wines:))), Vila Viniteca .

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    They have good selection of Spanish and international wines. But we were only interested in Spanish ones. Exciting wines can be found there, such as;

    Emilio Moro, Malleolus de Valderramiro 2006 from Ribera del Duero,
    Artadi Pagos Viejos 2004 from Rioja

    And Of Course Sherries;

    Hidalgo Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana,
    La Bota Fino 27, Manzanilla 32 …

    After shopping we deserved to have some rest at our hotel up to the late Dinner at Bar Mut.

    Bar Mut is located on Calle Pau Claris, 192 ( corner of Avinguda Diagonal ), far from crowded areas. It has cozy decoration with wooden rustical bar, relaxing with high ceeling and wide windows, they have also table to “compartir” where we seated.

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    They have tapas menu that changes every day according to available fresh ingredients and wine menu has by the glass option. And our first glasses were from Rioja;

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    A robust style of Rioja is complex and deep with Black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, bacon, leather, licorice and spice, high alcohol is balanced with intense fruit and medium acidity.

    And we ordered from daily tapas menu;

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    Clams

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    Local Mushroom

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    Steak Tartare

    Food were delicious, but Steak Tartare was one of the best I have ever had that French can jealous!

    Our second glass was Artadi;

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    Was relatively simple than the fist glass, probably It should be the first glass.
    Dessert was very creative and surprising;

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    Yogurt icecream with tomato and basil sauce. It has very little sugar and creamy texture lifting with soft lactic acid of yogurt. Wine pairing for the wonderful dessert was;

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    If it’s possible I could go there everyday for Yogurt icecream!

    To be continue with Day 2 !!!

    Ô Chateau, My Birthday…

    Last April we were going to Bordeaux via Paris and we chose Ô Chateau; a new wine bar in Paris for my birthday dinner. I learned the bar from a tweet of Jeannie Cho Lee, MW;

    ” 2 new wonderful wine discoveries in Paris: Frenchies wine bar on Rue du Nil & Ô Chateau on JJ Rouseau, casual, gd wine prices…”

    Its location is central but far enough from very crowded and touristic regions of Paris, so feeling the city in more relaxing way is possible.

    In order to spend sometime at the bar before dinner, we arrived earlier than our booking to the cozy wine bar is decorated with warm colors and lighting, comfortable feeling with high ceelings and wide windows.

    We took our place at the bar by helping welcoming staff. The wine menu – by the glass – is quite extensive that consists almost all of the important wine regions of France and has also some of the iconic wines of France such as; Chateau d’Yquem and Dom Perignon. There are 3 options of cl’s; 3cl, 10cl, 15cl and 3cl is quite enough to taste and enjoy the wines.

    Whites

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    Reds

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    So I asked something special to taste on my birthday. Honestly I was looking for a glass of 1999 Dom Perignon but what we had was,

    ” Cuvée Edmond Vielles Vignes 1996 – Sancerre ( Alphonse Mellot Edmond ) “

    And we met an unusual, maybe a hidden style of white Loire; an aged Sauvignon Blanc, like a Bordeaux Blanc without its Sémillon. It was impressively rich, complex and deep with delicate fruit and gentle mineralty.

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    After surprising and informative experience, we chose daily menu with two options;

    Starters

    – Baked truffle brie, apricot sauce,
    – Mozzarella, tomato salad

    2 glass of Pouilly-Fumé were a good matching with cheese-based dishes.

    Main

    – Beef fillet, gratin dauphinois, braised asparagus, 3 cheese truffle sauce,
    – Risotto aux Saint Jacques poêlées, sauce balsamique

    were brilliant with aromatic J.C. Rateau – Les Bressandes 2008 – Beaune 1er Cru,

    Dessert

    – Orange Tart,
    – Cheese cake and fraise coulis

    with a thoughtful birthday present from Ô Chateau; 2 glass of 1999 Dom Perignon were excellent.

    Another souvenir came soon;

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    – No need to make reservation unless selecting one of their wine tastings or having a dinner at limited tables.

    – Interesting wine tastings such as;

    Grands Crus,
    Le Tour de France of Wines,
    Paris Pass,
    Paris Champagne Cruise,
    Champagne Madness…

    – friendly, kind and knowledgeable staff.

    – Relaxing atmosphere and lively crowd.

    – Good selection of French Wines and accompanying food.

    – Good pricing, we only paid for the wonderful evening 85€.

    Sometimes being a winelover can really be rewarding!!!