Saturday, July 28, 2012

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise AOP. A Unique Wine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

A 2004 bottle of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise AOP
Photograph courtesy of sdobie.
The Muscat de Beaumes AOP is a sweet white wine with a light gold color when young, turning to a light amber as it ages.  You may be offered a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise as an aperitif, and then it will be served chilled like a sweet  Madeira wine, just below room temperature.
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise in the kitchen.
The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise will be in most chefs’ wine cupboards. The wine became very popular 50 years ago and has since remained an essential part of French cuisine. The wine may be added to the hors d’œuvre, the appetizer, the entrée, the first course or it may part of a sauce for the plat principal, the main course; it may also be flavoring the dessert, a pastry or a cake. The uses of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise in the kitchen are infinite.

A glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.
Photograph courtesy of  jean-louis zimmermann.
Finding the village of Beaumes de Venise.
The small and ancient town of Beaumes de Venise that gave the wine its name is in the department of Vaucluse, in the région of Provence in the Alpes du Sud.  Beaumes de Venise is just 26 km, (16 miles) from Avignon and 9 km (5 miles) from Carpentras. 

Copyright Google maps.

The village of Beaumes de Venise
Photograph courtesy of otbeaumes.
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise AOP on your menu:

Confiture de Pêche de Vigne au Muscat de Beaumes de Venise - Slowly cooked vine peaches flavored with the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.  N.B.: A confiture in French cuisine have a number of meanings; most often it will be a jam or fruit preserves.  However, in this case, which is obviously a dessert offering, this confiture will be a compote.

Filet de Rouget Barbet aux olives et au Beaumes de Venise -  A filet of striped red mullet prepared with olives and  flavored  with the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.  Striped red mullets are often small fish so the dish offered here may be an entrée, the French appetizer.
Risotto aux Champignons et au Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.  A button mushroom risotto flavored with the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.
Soupe  Glacée de Melon au Muscat de Beaumes de Venise – A cold melon soup flavored with Beaumes de Venise.
Poulet Rôti aux Raisins Verts au Muscat de Beaumes de Venise – Chicken roasted with green grapes and flavored with the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.
  The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is a Vin Doux Naturel
French Vin Doux Naturels, VDNs, are produced in a similar manner to Sherry, Port, Madeira and Marsala wines. The term vin doux naturel translates as naturally sweet wine, so for this and all other VDN wines, no sugar is added.   The wine’s fermentation is stopped by the addition of alcohol, usually brandy.  With the fermentation stopped the residual sugar is left and that produces wines that are naturally sweet. The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise  has a unique muscat aroma and taste; that along with a 15% alcohol content has made it one of the most famous muscat wines in the world.
The town of Beaumes de Venise
Walk through the town and you will find the center includes the original late medieval narrow streets and a 15th-century church remains, that was mostly rebuilt in the 19th century. Beaumes de Venise has also always been the market center for villages and farms around and  delightful place to visit as there are fetes and celebrations throughout the year.

Fête de la Vigne et du Vin – The fete of the vine and the grape,

On the last Saturday in May, every year, they have their Fête de la Vigne et du Vin, a fete honoring the vines and the wines. Visitors coming on that day may taste all the wines from the area and enjoy many other local products for a small contribution to the local economy.  Apart from wines Beaumes de Venise is a trading town and busy all year round with the sale of local and other products and produce.

Fete de Brocante - Antique/flea market at Beaumes de Venise.
The local fetes de brocante are one-day fairs held here three times a year in
March, August and September.
Dates are available from the Tourist Information Office website noted further down this post.
Photograph courtesy of Jean-Louis Zimmermann.
The history of Beaumes de Venise
The town is set below the narrow mountain range called the Dentelles de Montmirail. The mountains create a microclimate protecting the vineyards from strong winds and wide temperature changes.  The immediate area around Beaumes de Venise has been inhabited for thousands of years and the word Beaumes means a cave or grotto.  Below  the Dentelles de Montmirail a hill leads to red sandstones caves many of which were inhabited in the stone age.

The Dentelles de Montmirail above Beaumes de Venise.
Photograph by courtesy of JanPhillip
The Greeks came to Southern France about 2,600 years ago and they brought the first wine grapes grown to this area. A few hundred years later, around 100 b.c.e., the Romans came to France and when they arrived in Beaumes de Venise, they found wonderful vineyards with excellent wines waiting for them.

If you live in Beaumes de Venise you will live on a hill.
Photograph by courtesy of Steve Parker.
Other wines from the village's vineyards and other villages close by.
The vineyards for the Beaumes de Venise wine are interspersed with other vineyards.  These other vineyards produce the Beaumes de Venise Rouge AOP, a fine dry red wine, and Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages AOP wines,  which come in reds, whites, rosés. I found their Côtes-du-Rhône-Village rosé particularly good; only the thought of the airline overweight charges prevented me from buying a case. The microclimate, which results in these fine wines covers the nearby villages of Vacqueyras and Gigondas which produce the Vacqueyras AOP red, white and rosé wines and the Gigondas AOP red and rosés.

Relax and paint the beauty surrounding Beaumes de Venise
Photograph by courtesy of Pierre Marcel
The Beaumes de Venise Tourist Information Office
The town’s Tourist Information Office have a French Language website; they promise that English will be added soon. In the meantime the site can be clearly understood  with the Google and Bing Translate apps at:


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Bryan G. Newman

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