From Champagne to the Vineyards of Nice
Our latest House Hunters International episode aired last Friday night — “From Vancouver to the Vineyards of Epernay, France” (Season 145, Episode 4). Thanks to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and my sister’s cable TV login information, I was able to watch the show live on the HGTV website 7:30 a.m. our time here in Nice the next morning.
Wine connoisseur, Christine Campbell, her husband, Dave Small, and their daughter, McKenzie, moved to Epernay, France, the heart of the Champagne region. In the episode, they consider the options between the sprawling vineyard countryside and the bustling town center, but there’s no easy answer as they decide what’s best for their eight-year-old daughter.
By coincidence, Christine, Dave and McKenzie were visiting the Riviera last week, so we had a chance to have breakfast together at Place Magenta on Thursday and then coordinate our watching of the show the next day. They are heading back to Vancouver in another month, but have now gotten the bug to come back to the South of France once they saw how glorious life on the Côte d’Azur can be. They don’t produce champagne here, but there are an awfully lot of wonderful wines produced in the immediate region. Yesterday, I learned a bit about Bellet wines from an American Nice historical expert, Robert Levitt.
From the hills around Nice, the Bellet appellation is small, but noteworthy for reds, whites and rosés. Adjacent to the vineyards of Liguria and Piedmont in Italy, the white Bellet, known as “Vermentino,” is originally from Liguria. “Braquet” and “Fuella Nera” (Folle Noire or Jurancon Noir in French) make up Bellet’s reds and rosés. Braquet is similar to Italy’s “Brachetto,” a grape found in Piedmont, while it turns out that Fuella Nera just the Italian name for Folle Noire.
Robert pointed out that you’ll see Bellet wines on local menus, something to which I’d never paid much attention before, but it’s tough to find it offered up outside of Nice and the immediate area. To find the vineyards, one must visit the hills surrounding Nice that are on terraced slopes steep and unsuitable for much of anything else, however, the Bellet viticultural area (70 hectares) is shrinking as real estate and tourism encroaches on this land.
For more information about Bellet wines, visit belletwine.com.
If you sadly missed seeing the HHI episode live, and wish to, you can find it online (at the moment, but maybe not for long) on their Facebook page.
Robert Levitt was full of fascinating information as we strolled from the Cours Saleya back to the area around my apartment, passing the Palais d’York at Place du Palais along the way, an official national monument built from 1762 to 1768. Then, we took a small detour to pass in front of the Temple Israelite (7 Rue Gustav Deloye), one of the three synagogues in Nice, this one also an official national monument and knowns at the “Grande Synagogue,” having been inaugurated in 1886.
Robert does all sorts of tours of Nice, and as his website proclaims, “Discover Nice from Another Angle.” He and his partners are devoted to showing off an authentic Nice and its environs from an historical point of view. Besides the personal tours they offer, they also are the only ones I know of who do “Historical Residential Reports” — studies of homes and businesses, archival and historical. It does not surprise me that an American has gone to such depths to learn so much about his new adopted home! Learn more about what they offer at their site, Via Nissa.
Whenever I come to Nice, I try to organize a “community dinner” — made up of a lot of the folks who have come to live here thanks to our assistance finding them an apartment to rent or buy and who have become friends and colleagues. One thing I have discovered is that the restaurants in Nice are easily prepared for large parties and can serve-up to a dozen or more at the drop of a hat. This is something much tougher to do in Paris, where the restaurants would want to fix a menu and a price. John Garland Jones, our un-official “selfie photographer,” is always ready to photograph the happy group.
A la prochaine…
Editor of Parler Nice
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