a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘wine spectator’

croze-hermitage for the price of a beer!

It’s hard not to love Paris.  Of course, it helps when it feels like home 🙂  When the out of commission billet machine at Arts & Metiers station is no problem because you still have a ticket from your last visit eight months ago…

You pull out the map briefly to check if it is left or right from the hotel and in less than five minutes you

Paris sans instagram!!!

Paris sans instagram!!!

are on the incredible Paris métro.  You discovered last year the hotel is conveniently on the metro line direct to Printemps and one stop away from Galèries Lafayette.

In the past I have always shunned Galèries Lafayette and still think Le Bon Marché is more charming but, if you are into shoes, Paris is your city and the basement of Galèries Lafayette the perfect gateway drug…

Being famous for my shoes, I have shopped for shoes all over the world – how I discovered Paris was the best city.  And what is cool about Galèries Lafayette is that it represents what I love about shoe shopping in Paris.  There are famous brands with dizzying prices to match the killer heels around the periphery but there are also lots of creative, well-crafted, more reasonably priced options in the middle of the 21st shoe temple.

I have just arrived in Paris so this was a scouting mission.  Too many objects to lust over on just a brief visit but luckily I need to haul my suitcase through a few more train stations and airports before I leave Europe so some restraint needs to be exercised!

I am not yet sure in which order I will post my scribblings but I have two visits to both Paris and Amsterdam on the clock, neither of which has been fully reported.

Sadly I saw some cool exhibitions in Paris last year, which I meant to promote in the moment to encourage further visitation but the time has now passed so no taunting allowed.  One of the cool things I did last September CAN be repeated – and I am doing it so the endorsement is notable.

If you read my ramblings on a regular basis, you will note that I am very fickle 🙂  In life I am the opposite and have friendships spanning decades to prove my commitment.  But I love cities and interesting hotels.  So I am always trying to mix it up.  A new neighborhood.  A new design.  A new concept.

A hotel has to be pretty awesome to warrant a second visit 🙂  But last year I ran through Paris, primarily on Sunday and Monday.  I do not recommend it.

not a typical hotel

not a typical hotel

Jules and Jim is in the Marais, a neighborhood I have flirted with but never fully explored.  And the hotel is one of most memorable I have visited.  When you rock up at the impromptu front desk and the cute boy says in his charming English, “you must be Marla”, you wonder “is this the hipster Claridges?”


Pretty much.  The rooms are petite but perfectly designed.  You get Molton Brown products and free wi-fi.  I know from last year you can hang out at the bar with a serious budding mixologist who is thrilled to ply you with his innovative (and excellent) cocktail creations.  (His name is Antoine).

There is wall art in the form of shrubbery – and art installations worthy of the Pompidou.  It is a hotel where the hotel is part of your Parisian experience.  George V service at a fraction of the cost 😉

I am writing this in one of those ubiquitous Parisian brasseries.  The food was decent.  The atmosphere is historic (in a good way – retro ceiling fixtures, advertisements from the art nouveau period plastered to the walls and menus on chalkboards).

But the real treat is the wine.  There were options.  Normally I peruse the wine list with a discerning eye and maybe even a Wine Spectator vintage chart…

But what is so amazing in Paris is that generally there is no “vin rouge” but nor is there a specific wine producer, let alone a vineyard or vintage.

You order a Croze-Hermitage and see what happens.  A little magic it appears.  It came in a plain bottle.  I have no idea what it is – besides Croze-Hermitage.

But it’s delicious – and the same price as a beer in Amsterdam.  Paris, je t’aime 😉


drinking like a pro ;)

If I didn’t like boys so much, I would know nothing about wine 🙂  One of my mother’s favourite stories is her recounting of my first day at school.  She was hoping I was there to learn something but when asked about my first impressions, I just listed the cute boys – in order.  The analytical skills obviously kick in early…

It was an Australian boy who said he would teach me about wine if I would date him.  It seemed a pretty decent exchange since at the time I knew approximately two wines and neither was especially memorable.  The wine education went well and I ended up in Oz circa 1990.

For wine aficionados there are few better places to stumble upon.  In those days, Monty Python made fun of Australian wine (they were WRONG!), the wineries were not owned by corporations and they made one of each and people made fun of you when you spent more than $7 on a 750 ml bottle of wine.

There are a lot of negative aspects to getting old but one of the sweet spots is taunting young Aussie wine drinkers with my introductory experience.  I would rock up to a winery and they would just pour me one of each… we started with Riesling and ended with Cabernet Sauvignon – or sometimes even Port.  It took me years to not pronounce Gewurtstraminer like an Aussie (i.e. wrong :)) because that was how I first heard the word.

When I moved back to Canada in 1992 with my 100 bottles of incredibly cheap Aussie wine (including my favourite, which was actually from New Zealand – the most expensive, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc for $11 a bottle because I found it before Wine Spectator did :), I couldn’t find any decent Australian wine in the market place so decided to explore Chile, starting at A…

This year Chile was the feature country at the Playhouse Wine Festival so it was a wonderful visit to my past.  Because I have been working so much in the past few months, I had no time to make a plan for my tasting so decided to just chill and revisit lots of old favourites, try a few new things and spend lots of time talking to the people pouring the wine.

It really helped me remember why we should all drink wine.  Long ago I went to this same event with a work colleague, back when I knew very little, and discovered he had worked in a wine shop to pay for university so I flitted around the room with him trying to absorb it all.

But the part I remember the most is his favourite wine – chosen for memories of those he had shared it with, not its terroir.  That is what I really love about wine.  Drinking it with friends.  The memories.  The stories.  Pros do not drink alone.  Wine geeks love my story about finishing a bottle of Catena Zapata Nicolas out of plastic cups in the Mendoza airport – but for me it’s really a story about travelling to Argentina with my friend Kerry shortly after my dad died.  There are so many bottles of wine that have been part of the narrative of my life.  Open a bottle and make a toast to someone important to you…

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