Winter Blues, Provençal Reds

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Even in Provence winter. Days, weeks, even months of cold weather. Admittedly the sky is also often a bright blue, making the bitter chill more bearable. But, on days like today, when the clouds are low and heavy, the rain incessant and the mountain peaks of northern Provence are tipped with snow, we are more likely to think of a roaring fire and a glass of full bodied red wine than the swimming pool and a glass of chilled rosé.

So I thought I would made a quick review of my favourite Provençal red wines over the past year. The four dominant varieties in the red wines of Provence are Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Good examples are full of fruit ranging from red berries (when there is a high percentage of Grenache) through to black fruit, cassis and plums. For winter drinking I thought of those wines which also have big fruit and tannic structure, so I have not included some of the fresher, more floral wines here. In Bellet red wines with a high percentage of Folle Noir tend to be more tannic and structural, while those with a higher percentage of Braquet are lighter and aromatic.

Here is part 1 of my favourite reds:

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Le Barbecue, Nice

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3 Rue du Four, 06000 Nice. Tel.: 04 93 53 02 59

I know, it seems daft to write up a review of a Portuguese restaurant when in Nice – but that is one of the joys of city dining, the wide range of world cuisines crowded together. The old town of Nice boasts Irish pubs, Niçois restaurants, Turkish, Japanese, seafood, vegetarian, Swedish, Italian…. and Portuguese.

We first discovered Le Barbecue restaurant when searching for a restaurant not over-run by tourists, not charging crazy prices, with an interesting menu which would keep all of us happy.

Le Barbecue is situated off rue Pairolière, one of the main streets in old Nice, up a small alleyway; so quiet and calm. The interior is decorated in a rustic old-fashioned style – giving an authentic, family feel to the restaurant – no hint of a designer makeover. The restaurant is indeed family-run, and over the past few years, every time we return we are greeted warmly as friends – no mean feat in a city heaving with tourists.

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