Tag Archives: food

Natural wines: the joys of simplicity

Local vigneron Rémi Curtil

Local vigneron Rémi Curtil

There’s a relatively new movement afoot here in rural France that has the wine world abuzz. Something called “natural wine” which is made almost like regular wine except it allows none of the 2,000 or so additives, enzymes, boosters of colour and other enhancers that can be used in wine production. Only sun-ripened grapes go into natural wines. That’s it. Simple, or so it may seem. The problem is there is not even a trace of sulphites added to natural wines so there is a risk of turning a juicy, well made wine into vinegar in no time. Not a choice for the faint of heart. It takes a special breed, with lots of courage, long-term commitment and a touch of folly to go this far against the grain.

Tasting on the market in Uzes.

Tasting on the market in Uzes.

Rémi at the wine cellar in Bourdic.

Rémi at the wine cellar in Bourdic.

My friend Rémi Curtil runs de Grappes et d’Ô, a one-man winery of 7.5 ha just south of Uzès.  Rémi is in the wine business for the love of pure, complex wines and the love of the land or the terroir he works throughout the year. He respects the soil and wants to transform the current norm of chemical based production to a much more ecologically friendly organic model. One only has to compare the rich living soil of an organically farmed vineyard to the weed free, barren vineyards of his neighbours to understand the harm we are doing.

Rémi has always loved good food and wine and initially trained as a sommelier. After several years working for several top restaurants in Paris, he become head sommelier for the huge Accor hotel chain and got progressively bored with wines that all tasted much the same. Rémi wanted a change so at 25 he went back to school for a year to learn the basics of grape growing and wine making at the Lycée Agricole in Beaune. Since that time he’s learned the rest on the job, working for some of the better domains in Bandol, Lirac and les Baux de Provence. He came to Uzès with the intention of one day starting his own domain and after a stint as cellar master at Domaine de Malaigues, Rémi started up in 2007 with a desire to create artisan, hand-made wines that reflect the vintage and the terroir. From what I have tasted, I would say he has done just that. There have been a few misses along the way but the vast majority of Rémi’s wine is balanced and full of character. He is very keen on the newly rewarded appellation status for the wines of Uzès and thinks it will help spread the renown of our local wines. For the moment, Rémi makes mainly red wine; a 100% grenache called Grenat, a 100 % syrah called Carmin and a blend of the two for the AOC Duché d’Uzès. And he is so thrilled about the 2012 vintage he may reserve the best lots for a super cuvée aged in top quality oak. Also in the works; a bag-in-box, unoaked white made from a  blend of white grenache, viognier and vermentino. Next year he will release the same wine in bottle.

When I ask Rémi if he has any regrets, his broad smile gives away his answer. Even though his adventure represents big risks and an enormous amount of effort, he wouldn’t give it up for anything. Long may he run.  De Grappe et d’Ô / telephone: 06 75 1999 55

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On Fat, Freedom and Food

Time to change things up a bit. I’m going to try to post a lot more often with my thoughts on a lot of stuff to do with wine and food. More reactive, fresher and to the moment. So please stay tuned.

I heard a short news blurb on the radio this week that the US military elite has decided that fat people are a threat to national security. No, it’s not some bizarre plot to crush the army under very heavy folks. Apparently the military’s having a hard time getting enough recruits. Fully 3/4 of young, high school students are too overweight to be eligible for the army. The army brass are pushing Congress to adopt a nutritious food program for schools. Strange where good ideas come from sometimes.

A few weeks back I learned from a friend in France about the European Commission’s decision to allow farmers to grow a new GMO potato. She asked me to sign a petition to bring an end to such folly. I did and while I was learning more about this move I happened upon a series of videos on an even more scary story. If you haven’t heard of Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), you should get informed ASAP. Basically it’s a gigantic trade organization that regulates standards worldwide for almost everything that goes into our mouths. It is sanctioned and funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO)  and the UN. Sounds like a good idea until you understand that CAC was the brainchild of a German industrialist named Fritz derMeer who ran German industrial giant IG Farben during WW II. Fritz himself invented the infamous slogan, Arbeit Macht Frei, or work gives freedom that greeted the millions of soon to die prisoners of Auschwitz. The company also manufactured the gas that was used to murder them.

After the war Frtiz derMeer was sentenced to six years in prison and IG Farben was broken into smaller chunks that remain very powerful in the pharmaceutical and chemical field today. DerMeer decided that a better way to control the world was through food and by 1962 he and several influential colleagues created Codex Alimentarius trade commission to regulate food production worldwide. I won’t go into more detail except to say that the monster is out of the bag and it is very scary indeed. Check out the series of 2005 You tube videos by Dr. Rima E. Laibow and get informed how the multinationals are out to control food production to the detriment of our freedom to grow and eat locally sourced, nutritious food. Another great site for more info on the Codex nightmare is at; http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://shamanism.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/ca_united-nations.jpg&imgrefurl=http://shamanism.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/codex-alimentarius-dare-you-ignore-it/&usg=__0Q8GBGiVzr5aNrikh7OETQQuXos=&h=371&w=530&sz=50&hl=fr&start=5&sig2=csHpQcN9KDqv8n5DIHAgcw&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=0rCfixasz1aVwM:&tbnh=92&tbnw=132&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcodex%2Balimentarius%26um%3D1%26hl%3Dfr%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:fr:official%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=XTPVS-vhNY6ytAOHupzhCQ

Reading the Globe and Mail last week, I discovered  a truly disgusting trend that’s left me scratching my head all week. “Gainers” are people who get their thrills by adding on as much weight as possible. Written by Wendy Leung, the article profiles the story a 42-year-old mother from New Jersey who wants to reach 450 kg, which would make her the fattest lady alive. With much of the world starving to death and where food shortages and drought are commonplace, I just don’t get it. Something is badly out of whack. Have a look: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/super-size-me-when-bloggers-approve-and-glorify-obesity/article1534783/

But remember, we have the power to fight back every time we go to the grocery store. If you can, grow your own fruits and vegetables. If you can’t, buy local, organic produce and join a food cooperative that guarantees, nutritious, fresh foods. Support farmers markets and can or freeze the abundance of summer gardens for those long winter months. If you have to go to the big supermarkets, apply the U rule; using only the perimeter of the store where usually one finds  fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and fish thus avoiding over packaged, industrial foods in the centre aisles. Sure it’s more work than opening a can, but you’ll be healthier and happier in the long run.

As always I love to hear your comments.

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Exploring the Soul of Food and Wine

Today I figure is about as good as any other to get off my butt and jump into the blogosphere. The subject choice was easy to make. Food and wine. But I’m not interested in starting another recipe blog. There are more than enough of them out there already.

Real Food Warrior (RFW) is a meandering forum of all that is interesting, beautiful, bizarre, moving and sometimes shocking in the realm of food and wine. I want to discuss the themes and trends of today and look at how the choices we make today will affect life on this small green planet in the middle of space in the future.

For example, in the west but especially in America overweight or obese people represent over 65% of the population. And many of those people are on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. If they could eat better, healthier food they would but much of it is too expensive. It’s just another way to separate the rich from the poor. For those of us who can afford fresh vegetables, fruits, quality meats, fish and so on it’s as if we’re running on super premium gas. We build stronger, healthier bodies and tend to do better in school and work.  Financial success brings a lot of material rewards, cars, boats and other toys but I wonder if it doesn’t come at too high a cost. Stress is a part of life today. Busy people run from daycare to work to meetings, to classes and then home to bed. Many cram a bite to eat on the run and then a quick dinner at home before settling down with their favourite TV show. Life can go on like that for a long while and some get used to it but for many the bubble bursts with either burnout, depression, divorce or substance abuse the result.

For much of the rest of the world life is about surviving from day-to-day; scraping together a meal for a family where no supermarkets exist, no lush green pastures, no orchards.  This huge disparity from our world to theirs is unacceptable. The world as I see it is very much out of balance. Problems like global warming and all the radical changes that result are frankly quite scary but not because solutions don’t exist. They do but the political elites don’t seem to take the problem seriously. I hope it won’t take a major catastrophe for world powers to act.

What can we do? Start by treating our amazing planet earth as our home and not our slave. Reduce our carbon footprint (walk, bike, skate or run to get the groceries or to go to work). Plant a garden or a planter garden and support local farmers as much as possible (I just can’t give up chocolate overnight) for the stuff you can’t grow yourself. With a bit of help even a total newbie can learn how to start a small garden. As well as eating food that you grow you’ll find your body will appreciate all that digging, weeding, watering and harvesting. Getting the hands dirty is just so good for the soul too. I can feel the stress levels going down just writing about it!

Here are a few of the themes I want to explore:

  • the effect that first industrialization and now globalization is having on the food and wine of the planet
  • the slow and local food movements and how they are encouraging consumers to think about how they eat and the positive and negative effects our choices generate
  • nutrition and food education for all but especially for underprivileged citizens
  • innovators in food and wine; biodynamic and organic cultivation
  • profiles of food and wine artisans who respect nature and strive for excellence
  • photographs, videos, prose, paintings etc that focus on food and wine

I want RFW to be as interactive as possible as well. Let me know what you think about any of my posts.

slainte,

Joe

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