Celebrating the 50th birthday of Jaume (we call him Jack) Gramona and his wife Mariona last October, we and a group of French friends got together and offered them a dinner for two in the famous restaurant Bocuse which isn’t very far from our house. It has been a long time that Mariona has wanted to dine there, therefore we felt that this was a perfect occasion to grant her that wish. So in April, when Jack called to say that he Mariona and another couple were coming to visit and taking advantage the moment to dine at Bocuse, we were delighted. It is rare that we get to see Jack when he comes to France on his many speaking engagements and even more rare that Mariona gets to come for any reason.
With many frantic phone calls and bustling about, together with Jack, we pulled together an impromptu weekend gathering of old University Enology friends and their wives at our place during their short stay in France. Jack brought with him the new Pinot noir wines not yet released from Gramona which we got to taste in a blind tasting. Very elegantly made wines, with their soft tannins, lots of cherries and subtle sweet spices.
After our day of wine tasting at our house, we then visited wineries in the Rhone. One new wine-maker we visited was Nicolas Badel. While Mr. Badel father was not interested in wines much, his grandfather use to grow grapes on 4 hectares of land in Condrieu where he eventually sold to another wine-maker in the region. So the young Nicolas was initiated by his grandfather and began to make wine just four or five years ago.
With less than 10 hectares planted int he department of Ardeche Northern Rhône, Nicolas Badel makes wines from organically grown grapes. He makes a fresh fruity white Condrieu using the Viognier grape and a firm tannic Saint-Joseph using the Syrah. While both of these wine are of course AOP (Appellation d’origine Protegé), Nicolas also has a couple of simple wines as well. He makes two very different white wines using the Viognier and Marsanne grapes, and a red from the Syrah. All of his simple IGP wines are great for pic nics and bar-b-ques.