Matt R.

St. Valentine and Grape Vines: An Unusual History‏



st. valentineWhat do St. Valentine and grape vines have in common? The answer may surprise you!

In the 1800s, in the town of Roquemaure in the Rhône Valley, wine business was booming! Roquemaure’s wines had become known throughout France and they were one of the first villages known to label their wines CDR (Côtes du Rhône) to distinguish them as a sign of quality. Yet in 1866, strange things were happening to their precious vineyards. In Roqumaure, and all over Europe, grape vines were mysteriously dying, and no one knew why.

Things were getting desperate and French newspapers and local clergy blamed mankind’s reliance on science rather than God for the sudden vine deaths. In 1868, a Roquemaure dignitary, Maximilian Richard, was sent to Rome to acquire some relics of a patron saint for protection of the vines. He returned with the relics of St. Valentine and housed them in Roquemaure’s church of Saint-Jean-l’Evangeliste. The hopes of the villagers lay in the relics of St. Valentine to help protect the vines and to help the farmers determine why the vines were dying. And then in July of 1868, an accidental pickax blow by a farmer to a grape vine revealed the culprit – tiny yellow aphid-like creatures sucking on the vine’s roots. Phyolloxera!

In time, the French discovered that grafting European vines onto American rootstock, which was resistant to phylloxera, would allow the vines to grow unharmed. And however scientific the ‘cure’, St. Valentine had won a place in the hearts of the people of Roquemaure, where his relics are still housed and celebrated each year with La Fete des Amoureux (The Festival of Lovers).

So help celebrate St. Valentine and his contribution to wine (by way of a comfort to the people of Roquemaure) by enjoying some festive bubbly and cheese!

2011 Champ Divin Cremant du Jura Brut Rose  -  $22.99

wine 1Valerie and Fabrice Closset-Gaziaux have lived a life close to nature. They both grew up with families that kept bees, biodynamic gardens, and vineyards. They’ve both worked together helping farmers and winemakers convert to and farm using biodynamics. In 2009, after travelling the world spreading biodynamic know-how, they decided to settle in the Jura and bought a property with five hectares of vines. Their first bottlings are such a pleasure to drink! This sparkling rose is made in the Champagne method with Trousseau and Pinot Noir grapes. It has aromas of fresh red berries and flavors of tart rhubarb, herbs, and a lush fizz-filled finish. Perfect for your Valentine!

NV Guiborat Fils Extra Brut Tradition Champagne  -  $39.99

wine 2

The Fouquet family has a long tradition in Champagne, having farmed their eight hectares in the sub-region of Cramant since 1885. Today, 5th generation Richard Fouquet and his wife Karine run the estate. While they have traditionally sold most of their grapes to other producers, life many in Champagne do, they’ve recently started saving some of their grapes and bottling their own Champagnes. The Extra Brut tradition is about 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. Although there’s not added dosage (sugar added after disgorgement), a bright floral and honeycomb nose leads to a rich palate full of stone fruit flavors and salty minerality. A great value for a great grower-producer of Champagne!

A Toast for Two: Champagne and Cheese Bundle – $39.99

toast for twoImpress your special someone with the perfect pairing, presented in a pre-made festive package. We’ve done the work for you and have these bundles pre-made and ready to grab at either Market. Each bundle includes one wheel of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese, a delicious, local, soft-ripened triple-creme, along with one split bottle (375 mL) of Guy Charlemagne Reserve Brut Champagne. This 100% Chardonnay Grand Gru Champagne is decadent, elegant and a perfect match for the rich and buttery Mt. Tam!

 

Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe - Thursdays, 6-9PM – Drop-In – At 18 Reasons. On Thursday, February 13, 18th Hour Cafe celebrates San Francisco Beer Week!

Champagne Tasting with Sacred Thirst Selections – Friday, February 14, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

21st Amendment Brewing Tasting – Saturday, February 15, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

Speakeasy Brewery Tasting – Sunday, February 16, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

Rich Higgins Beer Workshop: Food Pairing Techniques – Saturday, February 15, 3-5:30PM – At 18 Reasons

Tasting Seminar: Wine Basics with Pamela Busch – Saturday, February 22, 1-5PM – At 18 Reasons

Inexpensive and Incredible: How to Spot Great Value Wine – Monday April 21, 7-9PM, At 18 Reasons

Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or special requests (415.241.9760 for 18th St. or 415.551.7900 for Divis) or email wine@biritemarket.com.

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