Grapevine Archive for April, 2017

‘Little town, it’s a quiet village…’

If you’re a Disney fan, your brain sang that line. (If you’re not a Disney fan, this blog post probably isn’t for you, although you’re very welcome to stick around for some gorgeous French scenery.)

The iconic opening to Disney’s 1991 film Beauty and the Beast is impossible to forget. Belle wanders into a sleepy village of colourful houses, cobbled streets and towering church spires that suddenly springs to life with gossiping villagers buying and selling their daily groceries.

This classic film moment came to life in Disney’s recent live-action remake of the film, but wouldn’t you like to walk the cobbled streets for yourself?

RiquewihrRiquewihr

Well, you can – and you can drink some delicious wines while you’re at it – because the setting is reportedly based on two villages in the Alsace region: Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé.

Riquewihr
Not too far from Colmar, visiting this storybook village is like stepping back in time. The half-timbered houses date back to medieval times, and are identical to those in Belle’s village, and you can definitely imagine the villagers thrusting open the pretty windows to shout ‘Bonjour!’

The village square, the Dolder Tower (once a defensive gateway, now a beautiful clock tower) and the cobbled streets transport you straight into the world of the film. It’s particularly nice to visit in spring and summer when the colourful houses are given a run for their money thanks to the village’s vibrant floral decorations.

Riquewihr's Dolder fountainRiquewihr’s Dolder fountain

There’s an antique shop if you fancy searching for your own candlesticks and carriage clocks (talking or otherwise), a fabulous pastry shop if you want to spy the ‘baker with his tray like always’, and plenty of picturesque old fountains at which to pause, take a seat and read a book just like Belle does (page-chewing sheep not guaranteed).

Famille Hugel's winery in RiquewihrFamille Hugel’s winery in Riquewihr

The wine
There are two grands crus in Riquewihr, Sporen and Schoenenbourg, and one of Alsace’s most famous wine producers, Hugel, meaning you won’t be short of fine rieslings and delicious gewürztraminer. A member of the family, André Hugel, also established a wine-themed museum here, giving you an extra reason to visit.

Ribeavillé
Ten minutes north of Riquewihr, and roughly double the size, the town of Ribeavillé is packed full of history and fairytale charm.

RibeavilléRibeauvillé

The beast would have his pick of real estate here as the town and the surrounding hills are dominated by the ruins of not one but three fortified castles (as well as a number of defensive towers, including the Tours des Bouchers, or Butcher’s Tower, which dates back to the 13th century.)

Castle over Ribeavillé

Wandering through the cobbled streets, you‘ll find postcard-perfect squares with more bubbling fountains that Belle would have pegged as reading spots, and you’ll find it a challenge not to burst into the Gaston song if you visit the Wistub Zum Pfifferhus, which really is the spitting image of the tavern Gaston and Lefou raucously frequent in the film.

The wine
Ribeauvillé has three grands crus: Osterberg, Kirschberg and Geisberg, and also hosts another of Alsace’s best-known wine producers: Trimbach. They are based just outside the town, and are known best for dry, steely riesling, producing one of the finest examples in Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile. Excellent gewurztraminer and pinot gris is also made here.

The Trimbach winery in RibeavilléThe Trimbach winery in Ribeavillé

There’s plenty of magic to be found in Alsace so it’s good to find another excuse to sing this region’s praises. It really is one of the most underappreciated holiday spots in France, in my view, so even if you’re not a Beauty and the Beast fan, if you are planning a visit you’re certain to find beauty, at least.

Comments (2)

Today’s Australian wine scene boasts an eclectic and even esoteric array of styles; but, when done well, the spot-hitting bargain Aussie red remains an unparalleled joy!

Step forward Joe Barrington from our Member Services Team, whose recommendation here echoes that of many fellow members and staff – not least buyer Sarah Knowles MW, who gives this wine pride of place in her selection of current Australian favourites

HMS Buffalo Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

HMS Buffalo Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

I love wines that that offer great drinking pleasure on their own as well as with a meal; a fridge door white, a fireside red, a quintessential quaffer! The key thing with this style of wine is to be smooth and easy drinking (and not too heavy on the pocket!) but have enough complexity and interest to keep you drinking it with a smile on your face.

Joe Barrington

This classic cab-shiraz blend ticks all these boxes for me. Upfront, ripe dark fruits entice you in; with a lovely hint of spice and black olives on the nose to keep you swirling and sipping. On the palate the ripe (but not jammy) fruit continues, with a good finish for an under-£7 wine.

The easy-drinking nature of this wine means you can have a glass with any dish that calls for a juicy full-bodied red (bangers and mash is one of my favourites) and then enjoy a glass afterwards whilst winding down.

Joe Barrington
Member Services Adviser

£6.95 – Bottle
£83 – Case of 12
View Wine Details

You can find a full archive of Staff Choices on our website here.

Categories : Australia
Comments (1)

Our Cellar Showroom opening hours (10am-6pm Monday – Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday, plus late opening to 7pm on Thursday) are not convenient to all, and we don’t open on a Sunday, except in the run-up to Christmas.

Thankfully though, we now have the solution for those members who wish to purchase a bottle of wine after 6pm or indeed before 10am, should the need arise.

New out-of-hours facility at our Stevenage Cellar ShowroomNew out-of-hours facility at our Stevenage Cellar Showroom

The Society’s Exhibition Vending Machine™, accessible via tongue-recognition software **,  will provide a vital ‘out of hours’ service to those members who live near Stevenage, but can’t be doing with grabbing an inferior bottle off an inferior shelf. It will certainly assist the author in no longer having to plan the occasional humiliating raid on his local supermarket whilst wearing a heavy disguise.

Members who do not live within travelling distance to Stevenage will be pleased to know that we will shortly be rolling out similar machines in major cities across the UK. Keep your eyes peeled and your tongues ready…

** The Society will shortly be adding a new layer of biometric security for members logging onto its website, which has been extended to this machine. Members will soon be asked for the tongue-prints using new software that will scan tongues from a user’s own smartphone. A simple lick will suffice for identifying that a user is indeed who they claim to be and that they are in need of more wine.

Ewan Murray

PR Manager

Categories : Miscellaneous
Comments (12)