Making shandy in America

Making shandy

Making shandy

A classic for the summer in France, the shandy that we call panaché which literally means « a mix of ». The closest translation I found was shandy, a mix of beer and non alcoholic drink. However you never can get a panaché in a bar nor in any liquor and beer stores. 

Then my son mentioned a « summer shandy » that was sold but it is not a French panaché at all (review to come).

So I went on the hunt of making it at home. Making the perfect panaché or at least the French panaché I enjoy when in France, was really a bit of a hunt — I had to gather the right ingredients which was not as simple a task as it may have seemed. 

The beer, no problem, there are plenty of them, local, cheap or imported, gourmet or expensive from all the countries you can think of. Of course you don’t want to use a gourmet nor an abbey beer for that but rather an ordinary everyday beer. I chose to go with imported beers from Europe figuring I would be closest to the taste. I selected the generic Heineken lager beer and a French lager beer (might as well get even closer to the origins), a 1664 by Kronenbourg (the generic Kronenbourg was nowhere to be found here in New Jersey.)

But the complicated part was the other ingredient, the French limonade, or rather what we consider and call limonade in France. Here it’s nowhere to be found, ever. I have looked for it in the past when the kids were little and now to make the shandy. Not to be confused by what’s called lemonade here, which is a non sparking sweetened lemon juice, what we call a « citronnade » in France.

The closest « limonade » I could think of was a lemon/lime soda such as Sprite and 7-up. Not quite the same as the French limonade but worth a try. It’s lemon and lime, which the French limonade doesn’t have (it’s only a lemon tasting soda).

So I had my ingredients, Heineken and 1664 Kronenbourg for the beers and Sprite and 7-up as makeshift limonades.

Making shandy

Making shandy

I used my son as a guinea pig and for 4 evenings we tried all the combinations : Heineken with Sprite, then Heineken with 7-up then the 1664 with Sprite and lastly the 1664 with 7-up.

The first evening we were quite disappointed by the combination of Heineken and Sprite : too limy. The unwanted lime taste was too be expected but at that level it took away the real panaché taste with this strong lime taste.

The second evening was better, the combination of Heineken and 7-up worked better because the 7-up felt less limy in taste than the Sprite. Better but quite not there yet. 

The third night we tried the 1664 Kronenbourg with the Sprite and again too limy though it felt closer than the combination of Heineken and Sprite. Using a French beer helped, so I ruled out the Heineken for future shandy making. 

So I had high hopes for the last night when we tried the combination of 1664 and 7-up : that was indeed the closest. A tad off, not exactly the panaché taste but close enough and good enough for our expatriates’ enjoyment. 

I keep this combination as my recipe for makeshift panaché when I want to enjoy one on this side of the ocean on a summer day. It reminds me of summers of my youth and my son does also enjoy them as memories of his French summer days. 1664 and 7-up soda, half and half and it works close and good enough. We had this combination tried by a local friend who loved it (he had of course never heard of the real panaché and only knows the « summer shandy » that has nothing to do with a French panaché).

1664 and 7-up, way to go !

Making shandy

Making shandy

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Côteaux d’Aix en Provence Rosé The Palm by Whispering Angels 2018

The Palm rosé 2018

The Palm rosé 2018

Another Provence rosé, this time a Côteaux d’Aix en Provence (protected origin appellation). This one has had some heavy marketing since the end of March, everywhere. All the wine stores around do carry it and have it prominently in display. In spite of that I decided to try it when I saw it was a Côteaux d’Aix en Provence, not far from my home region (At first, with the name I thought it was another California Rosé).

Screw cap, 12.5% vol, around 13 dollars. A blend of syrah, grenache and cinsault made by the Chateau d’Esclans.

Their website : https://esclans.com

The Palm rosé 2018

The Palm rosé 2018

The Palm rosé 2018

The Palm rosé 2018

In the bottle, very pale pink leaning towards salmon, almost a « gris ».

Even way more pale in the glass, to the point of being closer to transparent than pink. Definitively a gris type of wine color.

Nose is flowery (fleuri), scents of rose flower and almost carnation, then red fruit like raspberry and mostly blueberry.

In mouth it’s characteristic of the Provence rosé wines, after all it’s a Côteaux d’Aix en Provence. Fruits, slight bitterness, very fresh. Mainly blueberry (like the nose) and a hint of licorice as it is quite frequent in the Provence rosés.

On second and third sips, still extremely fruity mainly blueberry, extremely blueberry actually, a slight acidity is present and noticeable but well balanced.

An explosion of blueberries, balanced with a nice acidity and firm licorice as an after mouth, that makes it fresh and easy drinking.

It is a really enjoyable wine, I am not disappointed and it is in line with all the Provence rosés we drink all summer long with my parents, when I visit them in the South of France, French Riviera (between Cannes and Antibes). If I can find a French version of this, it could as well be one of our go-to rosés.

For the people in France reading my blog, it might be a label and name made only for export in North America but you can contact them and ask for their Côteaux d’Aix en Provence.

Their French website : https://cavesdesclans.fr

I enjoyed it with pasta in sauce made of tuna, capers and light cream.

The Palm rosé 2018

The Palm rosé 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Fleur de Mer 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Fleur de Mer 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Fleur de Mer 2018

This is a Côtes de Provence rosé from les Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’Île de Saint-Tropez, my home region.

Their website : www.fleurdemerrose.com and also www.vignerons-saint-tropez.com

They had it on display at Stirling Fine Wines the other day and I figured I could try it as it comes from my home region, really a dash by car from Cannes where I was born.

Grenache, Cinsault. 12.5% vol.

The color is very pale, almost the color of white wine. My pictures don’t do justice to that very pale color though. Yellowy leaning to a pale pale pink orange. We could almost call it a gris. Very long and regular legs.

The nose is very scented and strongly perfumed. Strawberry at first, then redcurrant, after swirling the wine in the glass strawberry again, on the green side. Some red fruit mix almost like the Teisseire Grenadine syrup, then green grass, freshly cut grass and a hint of banana.
After smelling again and swirling one more time, the last final nose note is banana and a powder scent too (as a make-up powder).

Côtes de Provence Rosé Fleur de Mer 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Fleur de Mer 2018

In mouth a bit fizzy at first, very fresh and crisp then tastes of redcurrant and strawberry fruits, a hint of peach and the banana I was smelling. Nothing agressive, all the flavors are quite balanced and subtle, almost subdued and mellowed (fondus).

Definitely the major taste is banana but not in an agressive way, rather in an extremely pleasant way. I wasn’t expecting such a taste from this type of wine but rather some usual licorice taste which is actually absent from this one.

It has a refreshing sweet taste but the wine is sweet per se : the taste feels sweet but the acidity is there too, mixed and mellowed with all the flavors and sugar. An extremely well balanced wine, it is a notch above the usual Côtes de Provence rosés we drink during my summer days in France. Even if there are good ones, this one is above the lot and next level.

The price is a notch above my usual range for rosés, around 15 / 17 dollars but this was totally worth it. Also this is a French wine and import taxes are usually high, specially on French wines which are always twice the price we find in France for the same wine, even with Stirling Fine Wines reasonable prices or special sales.

This is an excellent Côtes de Provence rosé and an excellent wine period. A delicate and elegant wine, Côtes de Provence rosé at its best and above.

Côtes de Provence Rosé Fleur de Mer 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Fleur de Mer 2018

Enjoying a mint julep with Penelope Bourbon

Enjoying a mint julep with Penelope Bourbon

A mint julep made with Penelope Bourbon

As far as I remember I have always been a cocktail person : since my early twenties I have enjoyed cocktails, not only drinking them but even better, preparing and mixing them.

However I don’t fancy over complicated cocktails, with too many ingredients, that don’t taste anything precise in the end, neither the sum nor the combination of the ingredients. I like to keep things simple : 2 to 3 ingredients maximum, better with only 2, and sometime some carbonated water or a soft soda to make a lighter or longer drink. Cocktails such as daiquiri, margarita, gin fizz, Moscow mule, dry martini (very dry actually, my favorite, one ingredient and a half plus an olive, that’s for another time) caipirinha, mojito. Usually one spirit, some lemon or lime juice and a carbonated soft drink or soda water. Sometimes a second spirit or a bitter, Angostura preferably. Nothing more. The most complicated one I like — I started with it at the Harry’s Bar in Paris (where this very version of the white lady was created by Harry precisely) — would be the white lady (2 spirits, gin and Cointreau plus lemon juice). But generally I prefer having those simple and straightforward cocktails I mentioned above.

And the mint julep of course.

To keep it simple, I usually follow the Harry’s Bar recipe from their very book, which is as follow: powder sugar with a bit of water and 8 to 10 mint leaves in a highball or any large glass, stir gently to melt the sugar, at the same time it will release the mint flavor from the leaves. Don’t crush nor brutalize the mint otherwise some bitter and green herbal taste will follow which you don’t want of course. Then crushed ice, one fluid ounce of bourbon (roughly 3 cl or one dose using a cocktail jigger (those double conical shaped measures), stir, repeat : crushed ice, another ounce of bourbon stir, repeat depending on the size of your glass. I stop after the second ounce of bourbon but depending on your thirst you could continue. Lastly, float with a dash of bourbon (the actual recipe calls for another yet stronger 101 proof bourbon, the only part of the recipe I don’t follow : actually I float with a generous dash the same bourbon.)

The key ingredient to this cocktail is obviously the bourbon, this is a one-liquid-ingredient cocktail apart from the mint leaves for the taste. There comes the Penelope Bourbon, my new discovery from this year (your can read the full discovery and also the full review).

And yes the bourbon makes a difference ! The bourbon we use in such a cocktail that is merely pure bourbon with some mint leaves does matter indeed : bad taste or bad quality bourbon would make a poor mint julep. As I already enjoyed the Penelope Bourbon as such, plain and straight, it was the most suitable candidate for the perfect mint julep.

Which it was indeed, the best mint julep I have ever had so far !

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Another wine from Love Noir. I must say this is a faultless performance : all their wines are excellent. As of this writing (May 2019) there are three in all, two I already reviewed on this blog the Love Noir Satin Red , the Love Noir Rosé and this one which I am reviewing in this post.

Their website : https://www.lovenoirwine.com

This last one I am reviewing is a Pinot Noir. I am not so much used to drinking Pinot Noir (except from Burgundy wines back in the day when I was living in France) : in truth I had never really tasted a Pinot Noir from California (nor from any part of the world except Burgundy as I said) apart from one other California Pinot Noir during this past winter, that was either too old or faulty so that doesn’t really count (review yet to come). So I didn’t really know what to expect.

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

13.5% vol. Screw cap.

Brown red in glass, almost no rim, greasy on glass but no legs per se or they vanish rapidly. A really surprising brown to purple color, the brownish tint is really marked. 

Nose : mocha, chocolate and leather. Rich warm notes but no fruit. Elegant and distinguished (racé). 

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

In mouth the fruit appear : red fruit and cherry, very cherry actually, although I didn’t smell it during direct nose olfaction. Then cocoa, chocolate (dark chocolate) and coffee (on the mocha side). It feels almost like eating a cherry dipped into melted chocolate. Then leather, a hint of wood and a slight very pleasant bitterness.

Medium to long in mouth and the after mouth is of chocolate and cocoa definitely. 

The acidity is well balanced as in a ripe cherry. 

Then again chocolate, leather and melted tannins : it almost calls for a cigar !

As I am not a Pinot Noir drinker, I don’t know if this mix of red fruit and dark notes (cocoa / coffee), is to be expected or is usual in a Pinot Noir.

In any case it’s a very enjoyable wine, it can even be an after dinner wine treat with some fine chocolate and a cigar, to sip with friends while rebuilding the world, as we use to do in France after fine meals late at night with some nice liquor or spirit.

After the tasting I had it with pumpkin gratin (a sort of French casserole with a topping of breadcrumbs cooked in the oven, in this case a provencal family recipe).

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

Love Noir California Pinot Noir 2016

 

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Another fine rosé from California.

Actually I have been drinking Apothic wines, reds and rosé, for 2 years now. Their reds are outstanding and I’ll make a review on the blog down the road and their (only) rosé has nothing to envy to the reds, it’s excellent too as you will read in this review. I keep coming back to it during each warm season, though I have found lately there should be and there is no season for the rosé furthermore when it’s such good quality wine. However for the past 2 summers, 2 springs and 2 autumns I have been enjoying this rosé, even giving it as a present to my local friends. I keep coming back to it, never getting tired of it, this is one of my favorite rosés that I stock and drink regularly from early spring to late autumn.

Their website : https://www.apothic.com

It’s a screw cap, 12.5% vol.

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Apothic Rosé California 2017

In the glass the color is deep pink leaning towards an orange salmon tone. No rim. Short but very regular legs.

Nose : fruity, red fruit, strawberries of course and also peaches. After scenting it several time, peaches and yellow fruit become prominent.

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Apothic Rosé California 2017

In mouth the wine is superbly pleasant and balanced. Not too sweet, not to acid, just perfect.

A bit fizzy (CO2) then an explosion of fruit, first strawberries than yellow fruit mainly. A fruit salad in summer then some raspberry and cherry, a slight bitterness that is rather pleasant in the end with grapefruit, pomelo and ruby red notes and a hint of flint. All in all this makes the wine very fresh —refreshing and crisp.

The middle mouth, in addition to the duo strawberry/peach, has some pear notes also. It is mineral in the after mouth and again some grapefruit, ruby red and pomelo.

Excellent, excellent ! I highly recommend this rosé wine. Furthermore at this price point (10 dollars in New Jersey at my favorite wine store, Stirling Fine Wines).

After the tasting I enjoyed it with homemade pizza with small multicolored bell peppers and sliced mozzarella cheese toppings.

Apothic Rosé California 2017

Apothic Rosé California 2017

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

This one is a wine from Australia, made by 19 Crimes — that’s the name of the winery — in homage, sort of, or rather in memory, of the criminals that were exiled from Britain to Australia, mainly during the 19th century and Queen Victoria’s rule and who made and developed the country after all. So according to the story, 19 crimes were punishable by exile to Australia, that was called punishment by transportation. Each different wine has a label with a real mug shot and a real criminal from the past. His or her crime is mentioned on the cork so you can see it after you open the bottle.

Their website : https://www.19crimes.com

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

I bought different types of their wines after reading some good things about them in various wine blogs. Furthermore their price is nice on the wallet, depending on where you buy them you should find them between 8 and 10 dollars (in New Jersey). I bought mine from my usual place, Stirling Fine Wines. 

So first up is the Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

It comes in a heavy glass bottle that is also frosted and has one of those very distinctive labels that you cannot miss and will remember ! Well done ! 13.5% vol.

In the glass the wine is deep red, ruby red to crimson with a purple hue. It has a large purple rim and super long regular legs. When looking at it from the top of the glass it is very dark.

It has a very strong scent even away from the glass, even before actually smelling it from the glass. Dark cherry, wood tanins, blackcurrant and blackberry but the strongest one is a scent like those dark very ripe cherries we have in summer. All overripe black fruit and berries, wood and vanilla and a hint of smoke.

In mouth it is very velvety or satin like with an explosion of very ripe cherries, morello cherries (griottes) and dark black cherries. Very satin like and mellow on the palate and tongue. This satin smooth feeling is an extremely pleasant sensation, a great pleasure.

Middle mouth : deep vanilla (the tannins) and some soft spices (cinnamon, nutmeg but subtle and soft), dark plums, it reminds me of a plum pie with cinnamon sugar that I use to cook in summer. In the middle mouth too, a hint of mint freshness.

In the end of mouth, a hint of blueberry that comes after all the cherry and vanilla tastes. The after mouth finale is quite long with cherry notes again and also the texture of the cherry. It almost feels like biting in those juicy black cherries full of pulp and juicy flesh splashing on my tongue.

A very nice balanced acidity, the tannins are not noticeable at first, then in finale they bring a very delicate bitterness, They feel mellowed, soft (fondus) and blended with the cherry taste, which is exceptional for such a young wine (2017, tasted in May 2019).

No wooden taste but rather a vanilla taste well blended with the cherry. I love it !
Furthermore when it is a wine costing between 8 to 10 dollars.

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Red

It has become an instant favorite and a go to wine, an instant classic and a safe bet. Almost for every day also, due to its reasonable price (though there are so many good and inexpensive wines to try out that it would be missing out, to have only one everyday wine).

I highly highly recommend this wine. I love wines that feel like satin or silk on the palate and tongue. I had a similar experience of this satin silky smoothness with the well named Love Noir Satin red  but this 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon is even a tad further in the smoothness, if possible. (The price point is roughly the same.)

After the tasting I enjoyed it with Barilla pasta with a classic tomato and basil sauce.