She’s worth it

I love my wife enormously!! She has already been my rock already for almost 17 years and will keep being it for many years to come. Although she says I don’t need to take her to special  restaurants or places in general (read: “use the money for a bigger gift(s)”)… I do it anyway 🙂 Reason 1 because I like it myself going to great restaurants, reason 2 she just  deserves it!  I admit that I also do it because she sees me going to special restaurants on many occasions  with other people and I don’t want to have her think I don’t like to do this with her … For her birthday this year I absolutely wanted to take her to Chalet de la Forêt. “AGAIN” I hear you say?? Last time I was here the chocolate dessert I had was soooo amazing that it was something my chocolate addicted wife just HAD TO HAVE!! Luckily they still served the dessert.

Chocolate dessert

Another reason I like going to Chalet is because of my dear friend Cesar Roman. He always finds ways to surprise me during a meal. A great example about how Cesar is from a few years ago when he was still working at ‘Comme Chez Soi’ , he knew I was a big sherry fan, so he paired my whole meal with sherry’s …An amazing meal that I will always remember! This time for my wife’s birthday it wasn’t any different!  Not that I had doubts that this time the quality or standards would be less than the other times. I was however curious how the experience would be now I wasn’t there with a winemaker or for an event. Curious to see in what way Cesar will be surprising me this time. Wine wise that is. When I was there with winemakers they obviously serve that winemakers’ wine.  I was also very interested to know why Cesar chose to serve certain wines with certain dishes or maybe the other way around maybe the chef made some dishes to go with a particular wine, now he had the liberty of choosing whatever he wants.

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As expected and just like the other times our afternoon at Chalet was perfect !! They have an eye for detail and try to make your time at their restaurant an unforgettable experience every single time you visit them. Chalet de la Forêt stands for high quality products prepared in a  ‘not too sophisticated’ way, but yet special. What I mean with that is that is still an understandable dish and you still know what you have a front of you.

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You can say  without exaggeration that you get spoiled at Chalet de la Forêt! When you enter you take place in one of the comfortable armchairs or couches and before we even decided what we would eating  we were already served an assortment of appetizers. It speaks for itself that we were served an appropriate drink to go with those appetizers and that’s where Cesar came into the game 🙂  We are no difficult people, my wife likes bubbles and for me the type of wine doesn’t matter that much as long as it is good…For my wife Cesar had chose a zero dosage Champagne from the Drappier vineyard.  Zero dosage basically means there is no sugar added to the champagne or better to the wine before the bubbles are formed in the bottle. The fact that they don’t add sugar makes it a very unique product where the nature (even more then with ‘regular’ champagnes) is the main actor or better the quality of your grape the most important factor as you don’t “camouflage” it by adding sugar.  For Cesar this seemed like the perfect and  subtle way to start our afternoon. For me on the other hand Cesar had foreseen  a glass of the first wine made by our mutual friend William Wouters named  Roleta Russa (Russian roulette) :-). William actually made this wine as he wanted to find out what it would be like to make a wine without the help of his wine making wife (Filipa Pato). Compliments to my dear friend and mentor, if this was only a test I’m looking forward when he is out of his test phase 🙂

Roleta Russa

Sitting in the armchairs and enjoying all the delicious bites only gave us the taste for more it felt a big like sitting in a theater where you are getting warmed up for the big show that is about to start  with a fireworks in the end 🙂

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When they asked us to move to our table, we expected to immediately start eating the dishes we ordered, but No sir, after cleaning our hands with warm towels (that always reminds of my dad doing funny things when they used to give warm towels at the end of a meal at a Chinese restaurant. Worst part of it all it that I could see me doing that with my kids when they get a bit older #weareourparents ) more appetizers followed. In my  case even with a very special pairing, namely with a very old Rotterdam juniper 🙂 distilled in an old school craftsmanship way  (so not using modern techniques or machinery  to make it). I didn’t drink my whole glass… as we were just getting started and it was a pretty strong juniper.


For the menu itself I started with a suggested dish, hop shoots with home-smoked salmon and a perfectly poached egg. One of those dishes that you don’t care it is impolite to clean your plate with a piece of bread. I like hope shoots, too bad they are only around and available 3 weeks a year…to good things about them, is that when you see them on the menu you know spring is there and you can already smell the summer sun getting closer 🙂


My wife opted for the first course from the menu itself, the Limousin beef Tataki with tomato aromas capers and old Balsamic vinegar  (I could see a slightly jealous look on her face once I got my plate 😉 ) Again here we were in Cesar’s  hands to find us the perfect pairing. For my wife again some bubbles (she just can’t get enough of it) and for me whatever he had to offer;-)


For my wife he brought a glass of La Closerie les Beguines extra Brut champagne which is a different one then the one she had with the appetizers. This champagne was also served in a regular white wineglass instead of a champagne glass to bring out more the wine behind the bubbles and gives you the chance to explore the complexity of the champagne. I know to some people it might seem funny that top sommeliers like Cesar take a lot of time to find the perfect glass to serve a particular  wine or drink… but I dare you to try yourself serving the same wine in a few different glasses. You’ll be astonished the world of difference in flavors depending on the glass you’ll be exploring!!  The reason for Cesar choosing  a different champagne, is  because with the Limousin tartar you need something slightly stronger, the zero dosage wouldn’t be at its proper place here.

La Closerie les Beguines

For with my dish Cesar wanted me not to try 1, but 2 wines that according to him worked very well with the dish. 2 great wines I must say. The First one was a rather ‘classic’ wine, a 2011 Bourgogne Village (chardonnay) from the Leroy vineyard ( is considered as one of the best red Burgundy winemakers). In Burgundy the “Village” wines might be considered as the ‘simple’ wines, but it is at this level where a winemaker can actually show his  talent as this is mostly the entry level by lots of people… if one likes the simpler wines, the step towards the more complex big brothers is easier made.  The second wine was maybe the biggest surprise, a 2014 white Rioja wine which is a Malvasia grape blend? I honestly didn’t know Rioja made such good white wines.. which also the reason why Cesar served it 🙂 Even though the 2014 Rioja Blanco is relatively young it already has the complexity of a good Bourgogne or Rhône wine.  I think that this comes because of the fact the grapes are grown on 80 year old vines, the high location of the vines and the the wine ages for 12months on new French oak. A very impressive wine, no wonder it has been chosen as best Spanish white wine! This also shows that the Rioja Region can make more then only  good red wines. Wines like this ask for a moment of silence if you ask me (which is something very hard for me to do)




For with our main course, the duck, our dear friend had foreseen a 2003 Barbera d’alba from the  Elio Grasso. A winemaker that strives for harmonious and balanced wines, something I totally agree with when you taste this wine. I’m very impressed however with the long finish this wine has with beautiful notes of cassis and licorice… so if you’re a dark red fruit lover I’m sure you’ll like this wine just like me. If I must give a comment, for a Barbera it is softer then other Barbera’s I’ve tasted, but nevertheless a celebration together with the duck.

Elio Grasso

Le moment suprême, the chocolate dessert (that we got after a asparagus based pre-dessert).! I think my wife is still dreaming about this dessert! A mixture of warm and cold chocolate of different texture with if I’m correct some caramel undertones that makes every bit a pleasure and a moment in heaven. Last night my wife even asked me if they don’t do take out of this dessert 😉 (it might sound like a joke, but she doesn’t joke about chocolate 🙂 ) . With this Cesar served a French ‘Noix du pays d’OC’, a bio-dynamic distilled drink based on wine that is made with the noblest part of the fruit. You get the sensation of a higher alcoholic drink, but the affinity of a low alcohol liquor that only has a 17% alcohol percentage. A nose filled with nuts like almonds, pecan nuts with a little freshness of bergamot and I remember the scent of a brioche (bread).  The taste from the Noix reminded me a lot like a sherry finishing with a pleasant caramel like aftertaste.

Asparagus pre dessert

Chocolate dessert  Noix du Pays d'oc

A birthday wouldn’t be a birthday without a candle… I think Cesar found about my wife’s birthday via FB as I didn’t tell him or anybody at the restaurant… but I could clearly see my wife was very happy with the fact they did something 🙂

My wife

To end out meal a cup of Arabica coffee blend from Antigua & Guatemala beans and how else, a table full of sweets, cakes, chocolates, etc…

Full and very satisfied we return home and can’t wait for our next Chalet experience and Cesar’s surprises!!

Sommelier themed lunch: Italy vs. USA

To yearly tradition I was present at the Zonin sommelier themed lunch. This lunch is basically the Zonin wine estate bringing together Top sommeliers for a blind wine tasting to talk about the wines served during a lunch in a great restaurant. An event they do in lots of countries all over the world.  I can hear you think that this seems like a way to promote Zonin wines, which in some way is correct, but in last editions they also served non-Zonin wines. What I maybe should have also mentioned is that all sommeliers  write down their thoughts on every wine, give it a score and as it is a blind tasting guess which wine it is and its vintage. Afterwards they collect all the answers and see how they would be able to improve their wines. So you could see it as a Marketing strategy, but I rather see it as a case study to improve your products! That some wines getting served are being liked and turn up on the sommeliers wine list is a plus and a compliment to the winemakers or better a sign that they made very good end product.

The group at table

Cesar Roman discussions 2 discussions 3 discussions 4 discussions Me and Antoine

This year’s sommelier themed lunch took place at Le Chalet de la forêt in the green part of Brussels. Last time I was here I enjoyed my meal, but wasn’t blown away, this time however I did get blow away. Not sure what the ‘problem’ was last time, but I became a big fan after this lunch!! This year the lunch theme was to distinguish the Italian from the American Zonin wines. They would serve wines from both countries, made from the same grape, and it was up to us to say which one was from one of their Italian estates and which one from their Virginia estate. I must admit we got surprised in a positive way a couple of times. To support what I said earlier, they don’t even sell their Virginia wines outside the US and UK :-). Anyhow it was a fun afternoon amongst friends as I know most of the sommeliers present and of course Lorenzo Zonin, whose daughter has 10 days difference with mine 🙂 (10 day older if I’m right)

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I do know that I’m not a top sommelier or a sommelier like the other people at the table, but I like good food, good wine and I love talking about it 🙂 AND I have learned a lot over the last few years from the others at the table.

hapjes 2 hapjes

All of this said, after some great finger food it was time to start our lunch with a Gamberoni tartar with cold consommé and Oscietra caviar. A pleasure for the taste buds because of the little spiciness from the tartar and freshness from fish and citrus. I started my lunches in worse ways 🙂 . FYI I did take pictures of my own, but I chose to  use some from the photographer Pascal Hermans as nothing beats pictures of a real photographer!! I’m sure you’ll which ones are mine and which ones aren’t 🙂

1st course

wine 1

As for the wines being served with this dish I was 98% sure when tasting which one it was, Vermentino, as I thought remembering it from visiting some of the Zonin estates last year. Funny enough I was right about the wines, but the one I thought was Italian was from Virginia and vice versa.  I was confused by the typical ‘vementino’ scent and thought this could only come from Italy, as the other one was more floral, fresh/fruity.  I personally enjoyed or better I wouldn’t mind having a few bottles  from the Vermentino from the Rocca di Montemasi  estate for this summer.

wine with 1st course

If only the blind tasting would continue this way, I would definitely recognize more easily  🙂 But they made it harder 🙂 instead of 2 we got 4 glasses of wines from 2 different blends… oooooh boy 😦 These 4 wines that were the pairing with a signature Chalet dish: Noirmoutier sole “forêt” with parsnip, champagne butter and truffle. A piece of art in a plate that you don’t want to destroy 🙂 but glad I did it as it was njammy.


As for the wines, like mentioned they made it harder by putting 4 glasses instead of 2. Admitted that they helped us a bit letting us know that there was Viognier and Chardonnay. Up to us to decide which ones and also from which country and their vintage 🙂

4 glasses of wine

I didn’t found out which wines were viognier and which chardonnay, but that’s where it stopped for me 🙂


Up to the reds, here again 4 glasses 🙂 Tips here were that there were 2 ‘Bordeaux’ like blends, 1 Sangiovese and 1 Nebbiolo. The Nebbiolo I distinguished pretty fast due to it specific more orange color.. The same for the Sangiovese due to its specific nose (don’t know how to explain it), but also because it is one of my favorite red wines from the Zonin estates aka the Il Solatio . This gave me a little push in the back to find out which ones were the ‘Bordeaux’ like blends.  When they revealed the wines, I must say I was surpised to find out the Nebbiolo was a ‘Barolo’ from Virginia!! I would have sworn it was a blend from Italy. I’m also sure I wasn’t the only one!!

Red wines

I almost forgot, these wines were served with the half wild duck (not sure which half 🙂 🙂 ) with fruited fennel and gravy (no, not your average meat gravy). I remember once a famous Michelin Star chef telling me what the perfect dish was: ‘when somebody finishes its plate and wants an other one exactly like it, that’s the perfect this’. This duck, was one of those dishes that if I could have, I would have 🙂 The meat melted like butter and the gravy had a some of that American BBQ taste in it that we all love (I think it’s called calories ;-)). No seriously, mind blowing dish!!


The cherry or frosting on the cake was the dessert that was specially given as they found out Lorenzo was a chocoholic 🙂 and it was of the same level as the previous dish with the big difference being that a second dish of this would kill you 🙂 🙂 and you’d be condemned on having a nap in the restaurant 😉


And as if the chocolate wasn’t yet a step close enough to heaven, they paired with it what is for me that best vin santo I have ever tasted, the vin santo from Castello d’albolla!! They served just like the other wines that we didn’t know what it was, but you could guess that one out of a thousand.

Cesar and the Vin Santo heaven me in heaven

It was again, like previous times a wonderful lunch!! I’ve learned and enjoyed at the same time. Special thanks to Lorenzo Zonin and the Chalet de la Forêt team (with their to Sommelier Cesar Roman) for making this all happen.

In case you would have more question about Zonin wines, please contact Hasselt Millesime as they can tell you everything about it!!

Spanish premium style bubbles

When people talk about Cava wine they always feel the need to compare it with Champagne (the same goes for Spumante or Prosecco). They mostly also see Cava (or prosecco or Spumante or any other sparkling wine) as an inferior product compared to Champagne. To my opinion the only things they have in common is the way they get produced and the fact they both have bubbles in them… besides that it are products that have their own style with their own identity and characteristics. That one prefers drinking Champagne over Cava (or another sparkling wine) or vice versa is a matter of taste and preference for a particular style (or that’s what it should be, not just because of the name of a product). This doesn’t mean I don’t like Champagne, I’m just saying there is more than only Champagne 🙂

Cava premium pic by CRC

A few weeks ago I joined a dinner hosted by the Spanish Ambassador to get to know the top segment of Spanish bubbles aka Premium Cava’s. The choice of restaurant for this dinner at ‘Le Chalet de la fôret’ didn’t come as an entire surprise knowing the restaurant recently added a new TOP member to their team. After working 4 beautiful years at the legendary restaurant ‘Comme Chez Soi’ my dear friend César Roman decided it was time for something new and joined the 2 Michelin starred restaurant ‘Le Chalet de la fôret’s team. I cannot imagine a better ‘ambassador’ for Spanish wines than César, he’s one very proud Spanish person 🙂 (who can blame him?). César’s aim at ‘Le Chalet de la fôret’ is making their wine cellar the most beautiful/best in Belgium…





Did you know the following things about Cava? Did you know that yearly there are produced around 241 million bottles on over 33 352 hectares of land ? With 97% of the land being in the Sant Sadurni d’Anoia region, basically the area around Barcelona (to keep it simple). It also seem that Belgians are on the most important cava drinkers. There are 3 kinds of Cava: Cava (around 9 months of aging), Cava Reserva (around 15 months of aging)and Cava Gran Reserva (around 30 months of aging)?  Of the 241 million bottles I mentioned before 30 million are considered as Premium cava which are Special Cuvées, Reserva’s and Gran Reserva’s….

Types of cava

The biggest “problem” during the dinner was keeping up the pass :-). There were about 10 different Cava’s served during our 5 course meal. It might not seem a lot, but you would be surprised…. You probably think I will say I loved every Cava we were served during the dinner, to that I say no! There were some I preferred over others, but this doesn’t mean they weren’t good, they just were not my cup of tea…  (of course not, you were having Cava not tea 😉 OK, bad joke). We started and ended in the same way, with beautiful bubbles 🙂

Just FYI the full list of cava’s we tasted:

My preferred Cava’s of the night were the 2010 Núria Claverol by Sumarroca because of its complex brioche/almond/ smokey aroma’s with citrus accents and even hinds of pear… basically a rich cava with refined buttery touches 🙂 (butter = good). Fun fact, the bottles of the Núria are numbered… Another favorite is the 2012 Maria Del Mar Brut Nature  Gran Reserva by Pere Ventura that has a ‘creamy’ texture with more or less the fruity accents as the previous one, but this time more herbal tones as well. Next in my favorites list would be the 2004 Reserva Particular by Recaredo. I notice  loads of tropical fruits, ‘jammed’ citrus (like a marmalade), fresh bakery accents with sweet spices  with a very fresh and pleasant elegance with a medium long after taste… simply beautiful!! Last but not least the 2013 Subirat Parent Brut Reserva by Vilarnau. The last one is one that I think is the biggest ‘everybody’s friend’ of the whole evening as the other cava’s were more complex and therefor more special… The Vilarnau had a very fruity (lycee, peach) smell, the taste reminded me a bit of a tropical fruit salad 🙂 basically a very pretty and distinctive wine. I was surprised that eventhough of the premium Cava’s came from bigger Bodegas, they were not of lower quality!! SO basically size doesn’t seem to matter in Spain 🙂 😉 (just pointing out the facts)


As we ate at a lovely restaurant like Le Chalet de la fôret something must also be said about the food?! In general you can say that ever dish looks like a picture and you can see the advanced way of cooking from the first look you give to the plate…however you do see that the chefs knows his basics as they come back in every dish (you need to know the basics before you can start experimenting). The first dish one the menu was (after some appetizers) a grilled cadoret Oyster from Bretagne, buckwheat  and iodée vinaigrette, followed by a seabass (line caught) salisfy, Jerusalem artichoke and a Xarel-Lo sauce . To continue with pheasant breast with white truffle, foie gras sauce, pumpkin variation and sautéed ceps. Followed by a melted Old Bruges cheese. To finish with a chocolate dessert with mushrooms. Yes mushrooms 🙂 I must admit that this was the strangest dish of all and not really my thing, but i finished it anyhow

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The dish that after 2 weeks is still the first image that pops in my head when thinking of Le Chalet is  the pheasant breast with white truffle, foie gras sauce, pumpkin variation and sautéed ceps. Maybe for that reason the Cava served with this (Particular de Recaredo Gran Reserva by Recaredo) was one of my favorites? Who knows 🙂


The dinner wouldn’t end perfect without all the ‘friandises’ aka sweets that come with the coffee 🙂 The chefs have outdone themselves as I like every piece of the assortment 🙂 🙂

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An evening to remember!! In case you would want more info on Cava don’t hesitate to contact the Cava Rugulatory board as they will be able to answer all you questions 🙂

Sherry with capital S

Ever since my wife and I visited the bodega of Tio Pepe a few years ago we became huge Sherry Jerez) fans. Lots of people know this and started giving bottles of Sherry as a gift  and  whenever I walk into a shop where they sell sherry’s the meat is weak and I end up buying a bottle :-)… basically this results in having quit a few bottles of Sherry and funny enough 90% from  Lustau  🙂  We occasionally  do enjoy drinking it in the evening in front of TV to accompany some dessert. I say occasionally as we mostly only open bottles of wine when we have company… we just don’t have the need for it on other days… So the best thing to do is to find some friends who want to sacrifice themselves and organize a get together/tasting to open all of them ;-).

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That’s exactly what I did, I organized myself a Lustau Sherry tasting at home!! Coincidentally the friends I invited and that sacrificed themselves are some of the best sommeliers in Belgium and far beyond the country borders.  Gianluca di Taranto (The Jane) who is always keen to learn more about wines and Cesar Roman (Le chalet de la Forêt) who is the biggest Sherry fan I know. I know how to pick my friends 🙂 :-). Not only did they bring themselves, they also brought a few bottles and some food 🙂 so basically extra bottles to taste…

Just like in my blog post a few years ago I’m still of the opinion that wines like Sherry, Porto, Madeira and Marsala are under valuated for an unknown reason… although I just think the problem is that those people never tried a good Sherry, Porto, etc… Otherwise they would be a big fan just like me! Unlike what they know or think there are many different kinds of these wines (as that’s what they are in fact), a flavor for everybody and for every occasion. In the Sherry world for example you have Fino, Palo Cortado, Amontillado, Manzanilla, Oloroso, PX (Pedro Ximénez), etc… There is a bigger difference than only the name. They have different smells, tastes, color, etc… Me personally I am an Oloroso fan as it always leaves a nice I would say nutty caramel (not sweet, unless they blended it with PX) kind taste in your mouth. If you are more into very sweet wines, you’d be better to go for a PX or an Oloroso Dulce… If you like more refined taste a Palo Cortado or Amontillado…

Like I mentioned before I had a Lustau Sherry Tasting with a few friends, and below you’ll find the bottles we tasted:


  • ‘3 en Rama’ collection: existing out of a Fino from Jerez de la Frontera, another from El Puerto de Santa María and a Manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda

I was told to better understand/appreciate the difference from the ‘En Rama’ collection is putting them next to the ‘familiar’ aka classic Fino and Manzanilla collection. We did as told 🙂  En Rama style basically means that the Sherry has been bottled straight from the cask with no additional treatment. What they try to do is to make a product as biological as possible. In reality the en rama’ sherries still undergoes minimal clarification,  as a 100% raw wine, bottled without any filtering would go bad after a one or two weeks and has a non appetizing color. So they do filter it the ‘en rama’  but only taking away the largest, solid particles.

En rama

Time to put all the theory in practice and start opening bottles. As the best to enjoy a drink is with food, we filled the table with Iberic ham, cheeses, freshly made hummus, home made porcini under oil to mention a few :-). The most special piece on the table was the ‘Manteca colora’ which is a kind of pâté that tastes a bit like chorizo which in this case looked a bit like a heart but was surprisingly good. According to my dear friend Cesar this is something that farmers eat before going on the land… so you can imagine it is not a cholesterol friendly piece of meat 😉




We started our tasting by comparing the 2 Manzanilla’s. Manzanilla is the same wine as a Fino, but it just aged in a different place closer to the sea (in a particular area near San Lucar) resulting in a product tasting very differently than a Fino. The first thing that we notice is the difference in color as the ‘En Rama’ is much more yellow than the Papirusa (probably due to the less filtering). When you smell and taste the ‘En rama’ you notice that it is much more complex and contains more acidity… I find it very fascinating that nature can do such wonderful things when letting it do its thing without helping (to much)


When putting the 3 Fino’s (Regular, En Rama Puerto and En Rama Jerez) next to each other the differences are even more striking!! Especially the 2 En Rama’s where the ‘En Rama Fino El Puerto Santa maria’has a much saltier taste to it because of the influence the sea had (a as you might have understood by the ‘El Puerto’ part that it is near the sea)… Whereas the ‘En rama from Jerez de la Frontera’ has notes from apples that reminded us of Calvados (the smell). Normally I’m not really a Fino fan as I remembered it being very sharp both in taste and smell… but maybe that’s the house style of Tio Pepe as the Lustau Fino’s were much less ‘aggressive’… I would even say that the regular/familiar Fino was soft and smokey 🙂



If I would have to make a choice between the Manzanilla’s and Fino’s above the one that I would most probably be tempted to drink again would be the “En Rama” from Jerez de la Frontera… I think because of its complexity and something unexplainable that attracts me more to it 🙂 It was indeed a very good suggestion to put the ‘En Rama’ next to the Familiar collection.

The Oloroso’s were and are still my favorites and were exactly how I expected them to be 🙂 Although both oloroso’s serve for a different purpose, the Don Nuño is more for with meat I might even say game meat and the Añada being a blend from Oloroso and PX would be more appropriate with a dessert. The Añada was definitly the favorite from the ladies at the table (So we are now sure they have a sweet tooth 🙂 )

The stars of the evening were without any doubt the Palo Cortado VORS  and the 47 La bota de Palo Cortado by Equipo Navazos. It might be strange to put them next to eachother as the VORS is around 30 years old and the 47 La Bota is around 80 years old, but they competed really well next to each other. I don’t know what it is, but the is always a mistery around Palo Cortado, such a mistery that there was even made a documentary about it that was presented on the Berlin Film Festival!? Palo Cortado is a wine that “occurs”, rather by accident – you can’t actively produce it and I think that this is the big reason for all the legacy and mistery around it 🙂 That, and the fact that the taste of these product is a combo from all the best from Oloroso and Fino and Amontillado in 1 wine but with more complexity and interesting flavors to discover 🙂 So what’s not to love ?? My personal preference went to the VORS, but the sparkle in the eyes of Gianluca and especially Cesar when sipping of the ’47 bota’ I guess that was their favorite… maybe that it is the difference between pro sommeliers and me an ‘amateur’… I think the 47 bota was to complex and to special for my taste buts… maybe I’ll have to train them some more to refine them like a pro sommelier!


I had a wonderful evening with my 2 dear friend Cesar and Gianluca (and their wives and the little Ignacio (Cesar’s son) who was extreeeeeeemly cute 🙂 ) I learned a lot tonight from you guys and can’t for the next ‘tasting’ event. I became an even bigger Sherry fan as I was before (or maybe I should thank Lustau for that 😉 )

In case you want to know more about sherry in general, as very good website to look on would be sherrynotes. In case you want to know more about Lustau Sherry in Belgium (like where to purchase, etc..) you can contact or pass by my friend of Young Charly as they do the import of Lustau. For the other countries check the Lustau website

Copa Jerez

Everybody knows the prestigious culinary competition ‘Bocuse d’Or’, where countries from all over the world send their best team to represent their country with pride. A competition as prestigious you might not have heard from as much is the ‘Copa Jerez ‘. The ‘Copa Jerez’ is more or less the same principal with the exception that in this case a team consists of a sommelier and chef that have to create a 3 course meal  paired with Sherry wine. BTW for those of you who don’t know sherry there are many typs of Sherry  Dry sherry’s  (Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso o Palo Cortado), sweet sherry’s  (Moscatel o Pedro Ximénez)  and semi-sweet (Cream, Medium y Pale Cream).  You can read more about it on one of my blogposts 😉 (The  blogpost).  I fully support this contest!! First of all because ever-since my visit to Jerez or better to the Bodega of Tio pepe I became an enormous fan/lover of Sherry wines. Secondly the team representing Belgium this year are very dear to me 🙂 . Starting with the (TOP) Sommelier representing the Belgian colours this year is no-one less than Comme Chez Soi’s Cesar Roman (who originates from Spain). Cesar will be assisted by a chef who always puts a smile on my face when he serves me his food,  Nico Corbesier (Les Eleveurs).  A young dynamic team with a winners attitude that don’t take satisfaction with a second place 🙂


I even support them sooo much that I (together with a few sommeliers and chefs) went to help/advice them on the dishes and their accompanying sherry’s. Before our commends and advice it was pretty clear this year’s team is a winning team, so you can imagine how it is after the advice 🙂 🙂 On the picture below you see a small assortment of the big assortment we (had –  and what a sacrifice it was) to try to help our friends for the competition… talking about friendship 😉



I did take pictures of the dishes they will be serving, but I think it is better not to share them… that would only give the competitors the change to steal ideas. What I can say is that the dishes are a good mix of Spanish and Belgian influences and products they are proud of…

Join me and support the Belgian team by liking their facebook page!! I will keep you posted on how they did, but every facebook like will give them an extra reason to win.

Visiting Megavino 2014

As mentioned in a previous blogpost, I’m not really a convention center person. I always feel like I’m begging for a glass of wine… I know that I shouldn’t feel like this, but in some way I do. On the other hand for many years I accompanied my dad and 2 of his friends to Vinitaly a wine convention in Verona (with around 5000 exhibitors/winemakers). The difference there was that this was I was able to spend more time with my dad (and a good excuse to travel) and we usually would also only visit the winemakers he knew personally and therefore it felt less like begging and more like just visiting a friend (which it also was). My visit to Megavino in Brussels this year was for the exact same reason, to visit friends… coincidentally mostly female friends that took me (and my friends) on a trip through their wines 🙂 🙂


My first stop was at the French Pavilion to join the always lovely Miss Vicky (that all of you probably all know from me mentioning her in some of previous blog posts). Not only is she a very nice French young lady, her life also turns ALL around wine. She makes wine, writes about wine, knows almost everything about wine and travels the world to share that wisdom and to bring together people to drink and share their experiences about wine both Miss Vicky as other wines (in a nutshell). One of Vicky’s goals (I think) is amongst other to put French wine in the picture again and give them a younger image. In which to my opinion she ( lots of French winemakers also support her in that mission) succeeds. Megavino this year was also a little family moment for Miss Vicky as she brought her whole family to the convention (besides her mom). Surprise , surprise, her whole family also work in the wine business 🙂 (besides her brother whose main activity is art). So I was able to try all their wines and I’m really not able to say which vineyard I preferred, Miss Vicky’s or her dad’s…. What I can say is that we (me and my friends) had a preference for their Fleurie (both Miss Vicky as from Domains des Moriers) because of the fact it is an easy to drink wine with a nice aftertaste and from Miss Vicky’s white’s I did like the fresh en fruitiness of the Beaujolais.








My next stop was to meet Claudia from Podere Marcampo. I had never met Claudia before, we only knew eachother from our correspondence over the internet 🙂 normally the plan was to visit her vineyard during my trip in Tuscany earlier this year, but due to a few schedule changes we didn’t make it happen… The combination of Claudia’s and her enthusiasm when we met at Megavino made me wanting to immediately join her to visit their vineyard in Italy :-). Podere Marcampo is a fairly new small vineyard (only 2ha of vines and around 10000 bottles a year) that was started around 2006 when father Del Duca purchased Podere Marcampo. Wine making isn’t (yet) their main focus as besides winemaking they also have already for many years a refined enoteca/restaurant in the historical centre of Volterra called Enotaca Del Duca (a must if you are ever in the area). They also have a Agriturismo in the middle of their vineyards on top of a hill with some breathtaking views (also around Volterra). I didn’t stay their yet myself, but one of my friends did and enjoyed every moment of their stay :-). Regarding their wines you can still feel and hear they are still looking for the exact direction they want to take and are still experimenting a bit… what you must know is that the area around Volterra is not really seen as a wine area as the climate isn’t as mild as for example 50 or 100km around them . Nevertheless this didn’t stop them (difficult is also an option 🙂 ). Because of the use of Sangiovese and Merlot grapes and the fact the wines aren’t too heavy, makes their wines an every person’s friend. I must be honest and admit that some of the wines I tasted were still a little too young, but still very drinkable 🙂 I’m already looking forward to try their wines when they are a bit older!



Voltera 9

The frosting on the cake on this day was without any doubt the Master class I was able to take thanks to France Wine (UbiFrance) about wines in Amphora. It basically is a ceramic container in which they age and conserve wine already since the 8th century before Christ!!! The reason I subscribed for this course was because it just intrigued me that a technique like this still god used after century’s aaaand that it was my friend top sommelier Cesar Roman who would be teaching the masterclass. It might seem unbelievable, but I learned quite a lot in those 45 minutes, like that the first signs of winemaking can be found in Georgia (country)… form all places I never expected it was Georgia 🙂 . And this is just one of the many things I learned, but I’ll be talking in more detail about this in one of my next posts. The taste of the wine wasn’t 100% my cup of tea 😉 (“of course not, it was wine 🙂 🙂 hahaha, sorry!! Bad joke I know) but just like with all wines, I’m sure there also some very good or better amphora wines of my liking…








I did visit more stands, but I wanted to keep it “short” 🙂

So even-though I’m not really a convention center person I did have a great time at Megavino! Thanks guys!

Megavino 2014

Normally I’m not too crazy about going to wine fairs. Megavino made me change my mind this year.. Like for example with the fact that this year’s guest country is Portugal and you guys know how much I like Portuguese wines?! They have some very interesting masterclasses like one given by my friend Cesar Roman (Comme Chez Soi) where he will be talking about wines in Amphora or one where you can discover which is your preferred French wine region, etc…. I’m also looking forward discovering new vineyards and seeing back some old friends…

I can only advice everybody to make a visit Megavino and who knows what discoveries you’ll make.