Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Afternoon in France With Dion Jones-Lewin - Great Food, Wine…and a bit of Good Whisky Too

On Saturday, December 14th, we had the pleasure of hosting Dion Jones-Lewin at our store. She signed her cookbooks and handed out samples of delicious French fare as I poured some wonderful French wines and an excellent French Whisky to celebrate.

This delightful lady was born and raised in Paris and learned to cook from her Grand-mere. After her grandmother’s death, Dion found a sealed box filled with recipes and family photos, which inspired her to write her series of cookbooks, “From the Sealed Box: Simply French”. They are written to allow anyone to experience French cuisine without spending hours in the kitchen.

Dion charmed our customers, introducing them to the joys of French cooking - and sold a lot of cookbooks. This was not surprising as her books are very well written with easy to read and follow recipes…and lists of ingredients which are not impossible to find. There are four volumes in the series, with her recently released “A French Christmas” now available. You can find out more about Dion and her Cookbooks at

We poured four wines to celebrate France. They all showed well and many people enjoyed them enough to purchase the wine from a bottle or two to a case or so.

Domain du Salvard Cheverney Blanc 2012. This is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Chardonnay from estate vineyards in Cheverney, a small appellation  in the Loire Valley. It is fresh and crisp with flavors of citrus, mineral and a generous acidity that results in a mouth watering finish that is refreshing and food friendly. It is a good alternative to the more pricey Sancerre produced nearby, costing only $14.99 per bottle.

Champalou Vouvray Sec 2011.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc and is from an estate founded by Didier and Catherine Champalou in the early 1980’s. White acacia flowers, honey  and citrus on the nose and a complex flavor profile of citrus  fruits with a beautiful minerality  make this a wonderful food wine. Priced at 21.99.

Clos la Coutale Cahors 2011. When Malbec is mentioned, people think of Argentina although Cahors, located just south of Bordeaux, is the birthplace of this grape. It was taken to Argentina by French emigrants at the end of the nineteenth century and has become that country’s signature red varietal. This wine which is 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot is much meatier, earthier and more structured than the Argentinan style of Malbec. It has a similar fruit profile but  is less flashy and fruit driven and  is an outstanding wine. $19.99.

Chateau Aney Haut- Medoc Rouge 2010. This Bordeaux blend from the Left Bank is a great value from an area where wine prices can get astronomical. Left Bank wines are usually Cabernet Sauvignon  predominant, and this is indeed primarily Cabernet, tempered and rounded with a bit of Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It is aged 12 months in new French oak. There is a nose of cassis, black fruits, graphite and tobacco with a wonderful fruit and earth flavor profile.  Delicious now and will only get better in the cellar for the next several years. A bargain at $32.99.

Last but not least, we poured a wonderful Whisky, Bastille. When thinking of Whisky, nobody thinks of France – at least until they try this. It is distilled from barley and wheat and is aged primarily in French Limousin oak for five to seven years. It has a floral, fruity nose with a hint of cinnamon. On the palate, it is slightly sweet and honeyed, with a bit of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. This is a beautiful whisky that is  best enjoyed neat and is a bargain at $30.00.

Dion’s cookbooks combined with her delightful personality, great wines being poured, a few morsels demonstrating her expertise…topped off with a sip of a great whisky…make my job very easy to enjoy.


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