November 23 2013
Temperatures have dropped even lower than Miley Cyrus' cleavage. Hovering only a couple of degrees above freezing, the winter chill has officially hit. Little French kids are barely recognisable, bundled up, as they are, under all their knitted accoutrements. The adults, for their part, are sporting a very dashing red-cheek-look, to which the degree of rouge is directly linked to the amount of vin chaud they have consumed.
Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year, right?
The festive lights are twinkling, the shop windows are dressed up as if they're expecting the Queen Mum to pop over for tea. The main topic for idle small talk at the office and with the neighbours is how far along you are with your Christmas shopping.
The perfect antidote for this seasonal stress is a little project called "Carte sur Table."
It's a initiative to make some of France's greatest wines accessible to a wider audience during the Christmas period, which - let's face it - is a pretty good time to drink some claret.
18 top restaurants in Paris (and 1 in Versailles) are squeezing their margins as much as possible and offering 15 Bordeaux crus, in vintages that would otherwise just be consigned to the cellars. (Click on the picture above to see all 15 labels.)
You may already know that Bordeaux is not my favourite style of wine... but it has a classic style which pleases most wine-drinkers. Especially with hearty French fare at this time of year, it can go exceptionnally well. Starting at 75€ for a Chateau Giscours 2004, up to a Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2001 at 520€ (which would be at 2100€ in an off-license, according to the RVF) the promotional prices are heavily discounted... roughly half the normal asking price. In other good news, 9 of the 15 wines offered won't set you back more than 130 euros, which may (in some cases) be enough to break the bank, but at least you'll savour the memory from your prison cell.
The participating restaurants are heavily centred in the 7th and 8th arrondissements but range from the fairly informal to Michelin-starred names such as Alain Ducasse, Jean-François Piège and Cyril Lignac. Great for a Christmas blow-out. Full details on the website below. The project runs all through the month of December.