Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Bordeaux Wine Fest Celebrates L.A.


The ninth edition of the bi-annual Bordeaux Wine Festival (or Fete le Vin) takes place this week, from Thursday, June 26 to Sunday, June 29. More than 500,000 people—and 800 to 1000 winemakers--are expected to attend and tickets are still available.

The festival launched in 1998 and alternates years with the Bordeaux River Festival.

Featuring wines from the 80 appellations of Bordeaux and the Aquitaine, the Fete le Vin is considered one of the world's premier wine tourism events. Most of the action takes place on the quays of the Garonne River, in the historic heart of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
The economic impact for the city is estimated at 20 million.

Bordeaux has a total vineyard area of over 120,000 hectares, making it the largest wine growing area in France. Grapevines were  introduced here by the Romans,  probably in the mid-1st century,  and wine production has been continuous in the region ever since.

This year's festival highlights the 50th anniversary of the twinning of Bordeaux and its sister city in the US, Los Angeles. Yep, Los Angeles is the guest of honor!

For me that's especially exciting as one of my greatest old chef pals, John Sedlar, is coming to cook. John is a widely known expert in Latin American and Modern Southwest cuisines, whose latest restaurant Rivera, has been a smash hit in LA for the six years it’s been open.

This fall, he’ll launch Eloisa in Santa Fe, named for his beloved grandmother Eloisa Martinez Rivera, who--along with his mother and aunts--taught John to cook at home in Abiquiú, New Mexico. John's aunt Jerry was Georgia O'Keeffe's personal chef in Abiquiú for 15 years.

John is the only American chef invited to cook at Bordeaux. And boy, will he cook: he'll be presiding over an extraordinary buffet of events throughout the weekend.  These include: a welcome reception hosted by the consul general of the US in Bordeaux, the honorable Thomas Wolf;  one course of a seated luncheon in the Bordeaux City Hall for 150 guests; a “revisiting the hamburger” cooking demo with chef Christophe Giradot (he’s making  ahi tuna burgers with Korean kimchi); Los Angeles-inspired hors d’oeuvres and cocktails for execs of Air France; a cooking demo highlighting the products of Aquitaine; four consecutive nights of a pop-up restaurant in collaboration with chef Francois Adamski of the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gabriele (he’s serving Baja ceviche and squab mole); and the main course of a gala dinner for 350 guests at the Palais de la Bourse. He’ll also present a “deconstructed tequila tasting.”

To help, John is bringing two of his chefs, one media assistant and one agronomist..."because we had three aeroponic towers shipped in advance to grow my Meso-American micro herbs,” he explains. “We're collaborating with the Ecole Horticulture in Bordeaux and then gifting the aeroponic towers to the school."

John also shipped other supplies ahead--his distinctive plates, taco fry baskets—and  he’s traveling to Bordeaux this week with chile pastes, tortillas, corn husks and other ingredients from which he’ll whip up plate after plate of his signature cuisine.

All told, a contingent of more than 50 people are flying in from LA to celebrate the event.

The heart of the festival will be a 2 km-long "wine road" where visitors with a Tasting Pass can discover countless wines and vintages. To chat up winegrowers and merchants, they'll head for the ten Appellation Pavilions and Vintage Pavilions.

As in years past, lots of activities and special events planned are planned. There will be special Wine Festival menus in restaurants, the showing of art by 200 artists, some of them from California, a cinema devoted to classic Hollywood films and the Jardin des Arts, where street artists will be customizing giant bottles.

The Bordeaux Wine School will offer several introductory training courses every day. The 1855 Passport lets visitors to take part in Master Classes on great classified growths in the prestigious salons of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In conjunction, the Bordeaux Wine Festival will host the Bordeaux Music Festival, featuring four concerts in four days (tickets 30€)  plus a sound and light show entitled "Rendez-vous à Bordeaux" and fireworks every evening on the quays.

And last but not least, those who purchase the festival's Vineyard Pass are invited to visit and taste in exquisite châteaux. Different theme tours will depart everyday from the festival.

Ticket options include:

*Tasting Pass (15€ if purchased beforehand, 20€ at the event): 13 tickets + glass + glass holder + " transport ticket + advantages

*Vineyard pass (60 to 145€)

*1855 Passport (65-150€)

For all the info, click here (bordeaux-fete-le-vin.com). To see a video from last year’s Fete, click here. For general Bordeaux info, you can call +33(0)5 56 00 66 00  or go to bordeaux-tourisme.com.

Photos: (1) A festival shout out on a gorgeous old facade. (2) Los Angeles-based chef John Sedlar is the only American invited to cook--and he'll be cooking up a storm. (3) Most of the action takes place on the quays of the Garonne River, in the historic heart of the city. (4) There are also gala meals in gorgeous salons. (5, 6) The festival at dusk...and lit up by nightly fireworks. (7) This year's logo.

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