In the seventh century, in a part of France’s Ardèche called Cousignac, a small chapel was built and named Notre Dame. In the 18th century, the Pommier family bought the property and over the years turned the fields into vineyards. The chapel is still there, now in the middle of the Pommiers’ vineyards, and the winery’s name is, appropriately, Notre Dame de Cousignac.
Now run by Raphael, the seventh generation of the Pommier family, Notre Dame de Cousignac lies west of the Rhône River across from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Its vineyards are all certified organic and cover the appellations Côtes-du-Rhône and Côtes-du-Vivarais. “All my wines are blends,” Raphael noted. And all his wines are without barrel aging, which is why their natural fruit flavors, untouched by oak, are so dominant.
Côtes du Vivarais, a small and generally unfamiliar appellation, is in the southern part of the Ardèche and a northern strip of the Gard and has only seven producers. Raphael’s Côtes du Vivarais Blanc 2011 ($14) combines Marsanne, Clairette and Grenache Blanc. Its first pleasure is an aroma of intense and spicy fruit flavors; its second pleasure is the spiciness that follows through in the fresh, minerally taste, leaving a medium-long finish.
Ardèche 2011 ($14), a blend of equal amounts of Syrah and Grenache with 20 percent Carignane, has the suppleness of satin, is well balanced and easily approachable.
Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2012 ($16), whose lead grape is the Clairette of 50-year-old vines, complemented with a 30 percent blend of Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier, is fruity and fresh with a floral essence. It is relatively fullbodied, making it a wine that can graduate from an aperitif to a first-course dish.
Notre Dame de Cousignac’s Côtes du Rhône Villages Rouge ($19) blends 70 percent Grenache with 30 percent Syrah to produce a deep-shaded wine whose aroma is reminiscent of dark cherries. Ample-bodied and round, its taste begins with a hint of earthiness followed by a whiff of anise. “That licorice flavor is a result of iron in the soil,” Raphael explained.
The Ardèche is a quiet place, but with their quality-to-price ratio, these are wines that shout their value.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
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Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.