Saturday, 4 December 2010

Coëx - 4 hours from paris

Coëx is a little over 4 hour drive from Paris, but only an hour and half drive from Nantes. It’s a cosy little French town located 15 minutes away from the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean with the closest beach being Sion sur l’Ocean. My visit there was a long weekend to visit a friend of 4 days that was very much needed. The weather was a mix of rain and sunshine that  the Vendéens call ‘les grains de lumière’ “a grain of light”, that last approximately an hour and a half to 2 hours, just long enough to do a quick visit before getting drenched!...

For a small village, in fact there is quite a bit to do in Coëx. There is a large Golfing villages right outside the city limits of 18 holes; 4 biking trails and open air nature balads that you can do at your own rhythm, an equestrian centre, if you like horseback riding, and a beautiful aromatic park called ‘Le Jardin des Olfacties’ which is an aromatic garden that you can visit.

‘Le Jardin des Olfacties’ garden is a 1 to 2 hours visit that arouse your nose and enchant your senses with over three thousand aromatic plants displayed on 5 hectares of garden. Every Wednesdays and Fridays in July and August, as the evening falls, there is an illumination with music that gives the grounds a fairy tale allure.

The garden is also known for its extraction of natural oils by distillation. Visits are given every day at 3:00 pm starting in June to demonstrate the vapor extraction using a still to obtain the essential oils. And finally, there is also the boutique where many of the natural oils in many forms can be purchased. If you are interested, below are the dates and hours that you can visit ‘Les Jardins des Olfacties’.

Written by Melba Allen

Vinitaly 2010

After a short absence from the wine scene, I decided to launch my comeback by attending the VINITALY 2010 Professional Wine Fair this year in Verona , Italy. It was a perfect couple of days, sunny weather and the usual agreeable Italian temperament, except when cars didn't advance as quickly as they should due to the arrival of the Italian President  Gorgio Napolitano and the Italian Minister of Agriculture Luca Zaia for the Opening ceremonies.

This is a very large fair catering mostly to those working in the profession of buying and selling Italian wines, and there were over 5000 exhibitors and approximately 200,000 international visitors.  Although most of the wines presented during the Fair were Italian,  other countries were represented like France, Germany, Brazil, Israel, Canada, and Czechoslovakian Republic, for example.

However, my visit to Vinitaly was in fact to discover and look for new wines mainly coming from the Tuscany wine region. What I found was quite delightful. Light and refreshing whites using the white grape called Roero Aneis, simple yet very fruity reds made with red grapes like the Nebbiolo, or more sophisticated red wines using the Barolo and Brunello that I hope to introduce to you soon in future writings or better yet, organized tastings later. Passport Gourmet was in Piedmont last week preparing exciting wine tasting tours departing from Turin and Genoa to discovery the wines from the Langhe and Roero areas as well as for those interested Spumante from Asti and Canelli.
 There were many organized tastings of some of the better-known Italian Estates and a very special charity tasting of the famous Italian label Solaia from Marchesi Antinori, highlighting their best vintages 1978, 1988, 1994, 1997, 2004 and 2007.

Finally, we found out the results of the Vinitaly International Wine Challenge, which is a contest of the best wine presented for the year.  There were at least 100 journalists and oenologists from Italy and the world over participated in judging over 3,600 wine samples during 5 days of tastings.  Unhappily, I wasn’t amongst the judges, but maybe next year! If you would like to know the results and other details of this contest, just go to The special  Grand Vinitaly 2010 Award went to Gambellara VI produced by Zonin Vineyards, the largest familly owned wine company in Italy and we will have something to say about them in future posts with some interesting photos of our recent visit there.

Written by Melba Allen Sommelier