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May 18, 2017
krista

15 comments

I bought a Flat in Paris!

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I bought a Flat in Paris! 

Bonjour Everyone!!! Here is a rather long post and up-date…

Since I last posted I have been living life happily in Paris 🙂 I have traveled, wrote a memoir!, kept myself busy with part-time jobs, purchased MY apartment and just wrapped filming my very own episode for a real estate show that will air nationwide! My episode will air on the HGTV network across the US as well as various travel networks in 60 countries! You will also be able to find it on YouTube and i-tunes. I will release air dates when I know them… just wrapped filming and the footage is off to the producers and editors…

The Flat I purchased is a DREAM come true. It has one of the most stunning views of the Notre Dame Cathedral and is steps from the Seine River. It is located on the left bank of the river in the 5th arrondissement also known as the Latin Quarter. My little pied-a-terre is nestled in a 19th century building on the 6th floor and has all of the quintessential parisian charm I could only have hoped for!

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Filming the TV show was a once in a life-time experience that I will truly never forget. I was “on set” for 10-12 hours per day the entire duration of filming, and had cameras catching my every move as well as a microphone stuck to my chest and cords wrapped around my back disguised by my clothing. My “film set” happened to be all of my favorite places in Paris 🙂  To say this felt surreal is a serious understatement.

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It was not easy to purchase foreign property, in fact I endured many sleepless nights… and that is why I instilled the help of someone who knew exactly how to do it! I hired the popular Expat Real Estate Agent Ms. Adrian Leeds. She assisted me in the process so that I was able to sign a 50 page contract in French with little hesitation… and now I own my very own little piece of Paris.

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(Picture Above) Adrian Leeds showing me a Paris Flat on film. Also pictured, one of my best friends Stanley Wong, (whom I met in wine school) who accompanies me during my episode on the house hunt and apartment search!

As far as purchasing foreign property, and specifically property in France, you need an agent, a buyer and seller agreement, and a Notaire (or basically Real Estate Lawyer). Notaire’s are necessary for all officialness here in France, and contracts have to be done through them. The process alone just for the paperwork in France is typically three months minimum for a real estate sale. Finally signing the sale contract, after months of thinking about this decision, felt scary as well as completely exhilarating. I had always wanted to own property in France, but in PARIS! Oh my. And with my location being so central to boot… When I signed on the dotted line I was speechless. I simply could not believe this was a reality for me, and had no words.

How did I finance it?

The apartment I purchased ain’t cheap folks…

I literally took a giant risk and put my ENTIRE savings account into this property. I then convinced my father to loan me the rest. He is the best dad a girl could have and in the entire world and agreed and sent his money to a foreign country so that I could have my dream!

Next, I was cast on this very popular real estate show through HGTV Network to tell my story. My story in Paris started as a student… I even got to shoot a scene at my sommelier school- Le Cordon Bleu Paris tasting wine with my professor! To think I originally moved to Paris two years ago for my wine school is hard to believe … so much has happened here it blows my mind.

 Film Scenes Included– Strolling the charming Paris streets, Private Boat on the Seine for a glass of Sancerre, Luxembourg Garden Picnic with Friends, Buying Wine in a Wine shop (I actually shop at!), buying cheese and fresh flowers at an outdoor market (that I actually shop at!), snacking on Nutella-filled street crepes, touring apartments and Paris neighborhoods, and the best of all…. Flying over Paris in a Hot Air Balloon!! This was a once in a life-time experience! (Pictures below…while being filmed!)

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My incredible Film Crew out of NYC! (Pictured Below) They made my film days so much fun and most importantly made me feel so incredibly comfortable on camera! I will miss them so much…

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I will definitely post air dates… and now I can absolutely live by the Humphrey Bogart Quote in Casablanca “We’ll Always Have Paris.” 

OFFICIAL Paris Resident!!! 

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Below- Sunrise view from my window 🙂 Notre Dame and Parisian Roof tops… 

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July 7, 2016
krista

3 comments

The Majestic Island

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The island of Corsica was one of the most, if not the most beautiful place I have ever been to.

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I spent a glorious five days in the town of Porto Vecchio, at the south end of the island. Corsica is a french island that has a history of being occupied by the Romans and was in fact Italian for a short period of time. This island is pure beauty- filled will surprising spots worth seeing to take your breath away and buildings seeped in history. In addition, the island has a lush forest, mountainside and rugged picturesque coastline. Corisca is unique in that the french inhabitants are extremely protective over the land, and it remains pure and beautiful with white sand beaches and turquoise water. It is situated just north of the Italian island of Sardinia, and Nice is the closest french town.

We felt like Parisians arriving in Corsica because this is an island where Parisians typically escape the hustle and bustle of Paris for some calm. A quick 1.5 hour flight from Paris and we were on the island.

I stayed at Hotel Casadelmar by ESPA. This hotel was five star accommodation from start to finish. We were told that everyone from Paris Hilton to Snoop Dogg, Matt Damon and Leonardo Dicaprio come to this hotel for their quiet island retreats. It was truly magical.

 

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Above (Our balcony/private sun deck) and the wine the hotel supplied for us celebrating our arrival! A local wine made here in Corsica. Corsica has some very high quality wines due to the Mediterranean climate. The grapes are happy campers and grow well here 🙂

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We lunched daily at this spot and dined on Salad Nicoise, fresh fish served raw/sashimi style, caught and brought straight into the Porto Vecchio Harbor. Large shrimp and lobsters  were a frequent treat dipped in butter and/or aioli. All we really needed was fresh fish, lemon wedges and aioli and we were in heaven with the local quality and freshness. Simple food that was sourced right from the sea we were staring at!

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(This picture was taken at one of the most famous beaches on the island. Palombaggia Beach known for it’s white powdery sand, and turquoise tranquility.)

The water in Corsica was salty…much saltier than the Pacific Ocean that I grew up being used to. But most important was the color. Literally, piercing turquoise and the pictures I have just cannot do this purity justice.

I went swimming daily 🙂 and felt it to be a spiritual experience. Happy to be alive!

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We also went boating one day! One of my favorite things ever to do as soon as I arrive at any ocean! It was fabulous and the scenery… I have no words.

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Corsica is special because the island is complete with beaches, (public and private) small hidden coves and special hideaways, as well as the mountains. We laid in the sun, and watched a thunder storm with lightening strike and pierce through the sky across the island. Being that there are mountains surrounding the island border, simultaneously sunny days in the south coexist with stormy days in the north. It was so dreamlike. Lightening lit up the sky as we listened to the roar of thunder… all while, we were basking in the 80 degree weather with the bright and shining sun.

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We would lounge here (above) until around 6 pm, and then get ready to dine at the fabulous TWO Michelin-star restaurant in the hotel.  All dishes were outstanding.

This hotel was complete with a full fitness center, Health Wellness Spa, as well as two restaurants one being the two michelin star, and the other being more simple bistro fare. I have nothing to say but immensely positive things about this island and hotel experience. If anyone ever has the chance to visit this majestic island, it will be the time of your life as it was for me! There are many towns to see in Corsica and it was hard for us to choose. The other notable and enchanting places on the island are : Ajaccio, Calvi, Bastia and Bonifacio! I guess I will need to come back soon and tackle another part of the hidden beauty of Corsica.

Next up, I will head to Monte Carlo, and then…. a visit is overdue in California. I will be visiting family and also heading to the beautiful wine country. Sonoma.

 

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June 24, 2016
krista

2 comments

Le Grand Vefour

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It is not everyday where one dines at a 3-Star Michelin restaurant for lunch in Paris.

Today I had the honor and pleasure of eating at Le Grand Vefour located in the Royal Palace of Paris’s 1st Arrondissement. I met two girlfriends for probably the most memorable “Ladies Lunch” of my entire life.

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Le Grand Vefour is the oldest restaurant in Paris dating back to 1784…before the French Revolution. It started by Monsuier Aubertot, a cafe owner and used to be called Cafe de Chartres. It quickly became the place to be seen in Paris drawing in Napoleon Bonaparte in the late 1700’s and later Victor Hugo and his friends. It is a restaurant that is over two-hundred years old. I could not believe today was the day I got to experience the magic.

We arrived at 1:00 pm. We were greeted and seated by at least four people in tuxedos.

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We were given glasses of Champagne and immediately this delightful plate (above) came to the table.

The lunch menu is a Pre-Fixe Menu for 115 Euros (3 courses) However, once you are into your meal, several “treats” on the house are presented…making it more of a 6 course meal.

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I started with the Foie Gras… I figured when in France at a 3-Star Michelin Foie just needs to be ordered. It had a beautiful watermelon and grapefruit salad to accompany it on toasted seeded bread.

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My next course was the Sea Bass with roasted fennel and Romesco.

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Then…. an entire cheese cart is presented. The server slowly went through all of the cheeses, with his recommendation for goat, sheep and cow’s milk. Also where in france the cheeses were made/which regions.

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I really don’t know how to put the “dessert course” into words. Basically, you have a dessert included in your pre-fixe. Plus, if you elect coffee service (which we did) you are presented with several other treats and may as well be at the Ritz having high tea. It was unbelievable. And the presentation is stunning. Pure beauty.

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“Specialty Tea Cake”

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Now, we also had wine with our lunch. The sommelier came to our table. And quickly within minutes of speaking to us…realized we were “wine people.” All of the sudden wine was being brought out on the house and after we were invited to tour the cellar. Incredible. We started the meal with Ruinart Champagne, then moved to a lovely Chenin Blanc that smelled of acacia honey and went well with the sea bass, then we moved to a Grand Cru Bordeaux for the cheese course, and a Gewürztraminer for the dessert selection. Divine.

The entire meal we had nothing short of two people watching our every move and making sure all of our needs were being met. The service was absolutely impeccable.

Today, Guy Martin is the Chef and Owner keeping this 200 year old restaurant thriving. If you are ever in Paris- do yourself a favor and treat yourself to this once in a lifetime meal. You will not regret it.

I am off to Corsica tomorrow…. I will post about the beauty of this french island when I am back in Paris! Au Revoir and have a fabulous weekend everyone!

 

June 7, 2016
krista

15 comments

Decisions and Diplomas

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Well, I did it!

I received my diploma in Wine Management and Consulting/ French Level Sommelier. Last week we had an intense two days of testing. Some of the top sommeliers of Paris came to our school and put us on the spot. If anyone has seen the documentary SOMM, it was identical to that testing process. We were individually called into rooms and the door was shut behind us. We were tested on blind tasting, selling ability, properly presenting wine at a restaurant table, consulting work, written journalist tasting analysis, public speaking describing several wines in comparison, food and wine pairings and more! There was also a 100-question written test on all of the french regions I have studied throughout this year. I was so elated to have finished and received the e-mail saying I had passed. It is rather bittersweet because while I feel great accomplishment and relief, I am going to miss every moment of this year. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I will cherish the memories forever. The glorious countryside tours of France, studying in Paris, the friendships I have made, the professionals I have worked alongside, staying on a vineyard in Bordeaux, the exquisite wines I have tasted, the beautiful meals that lasted for hours over incredible conversation… I will miss it all. I have never loved wine, or France more.

 

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What’s next?

This is a question that I have thought long and hard about, especially in the last two months. I put my resume out there to see what would happen. I did receive some job offers in the bay area of California and I will most likely be consulting with someone in Napa. However, I listened to my gut and realized California will always be there. My heart is in Paris. I have a complete life here. I feel strongly my adventure and journey in Paris is not quite finished. I declined an offer and decided to follow my bliss, trust my heart, and stay in Paris for now.

The truth is, studying wine in the food and wine capital of the world – Paris- trains you to leave and go get amazing positions out there. People are enamored with the fact that I have trained in Paris. Truly I am set up for competition and a unique edge. I am grateful for that and one day will capitalize on this simple fact. I absolutely see myself working in wine as it is now an immense passion and I feel so incredibly educated.

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So with that, I decided to extend my VISA. Now that I have established a full-fledged life here, cell phone, utilities in my name, residency, healthcare, etc. the french government makes it easy on me to stay. I have many ideas brewing and one thing I know for sure is… I plan to write! I am going to spend the next few months sitting in the same cafes Ernest Hemingway sipped his espresso in a century ago, and pour my brain onto the sheets of a tethered journal. I keep this blog simple, light and fun and what is not mentioned are the details of my personal life, the trials and tribulations of relationships lost and formed since arriving in Paris, dating french men ~ ooh la la, the stiff competition I endured in Sommelier School, what it was really like to work in a fine dining restaurant in Paris, or live on a vineyard in Bordeaux…so much has happened here it amazes me. So many characters, so many different personalities, so many experiences…I am attached to so much here in France. I experienced tears, loneliness, and anxiety to the extreme opposite of euphoria, pure joy and laughter on the other side… I want it written in a memoir…I don’t want to forget.

 

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As my friend Samantha said this week over cafe cremes…”Krista I envy you and Paris. You have a deep connection to this city and I can see you are at your best self here. I want to find a city that lights me up like that. I want to feel alive- you are lucky.” That is just it. I am lucky…. lucky to have a love affair with Paris!

 

 

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It’s obvious no one would want to part with delectable croissants and pain au raisins, crusty  baguettes, wedges of creamy camembert, world renown wine, and basking in the sun on the river admiring the astounding architecture that symbolizes Paris…

 

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But on a more personal note ~

I cannot part from my 6th floor flat with floor to ceiling windows staring at the Notre Dame Cathedral, my favorite boulangerie below me where they know my name, the Bistro where I read novels on the river and practice my french with the waiters, my daily walks along the Seine River that culminate with the Eiffel Tower lighting up in 1,000 sparkles to the beat of my music, the open-air market at Place Maubert where the vendors greet me with, “Bonjour Mademoiselle” and the meat, seafood, cheese, fruit and vegetables are so fresh…

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Up next, my travels will take me to the beautiful french island of Corsica in the middle of the Mediterranean. And I leave you with this quote that greatly influenced my decision…

And I have the firm belief in this now, not only in terms of my own experience but in knowing about the experience of others, that when you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there were going to be doors and where there wouldn’t be a door for anybody else. If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on the kind of track, which has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to live is the one you are living.  -Joseph Campbell

Thank you everyone for all of your support and following along on my journey this past year…

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May 27, 2016
krista

3 comments

Dessance Restaurant

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Final Food and Wine Pairing of the school year ~ An elaborate dinner held at Dessance Restaurant in Paris (Le Marais District. 3rd Arrondissement) This was an exceptional dining experience, one like I have never quite had in my life. It was truly an “event.”

Highly talented french chef Phillipe Baranes led us through 8 courses all properly paired with wine!

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First ~ amuse bouche

Green Tomato gazpacho served with a wild garlic ice cream 

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1st Course ~ Octopus Confit served with celery root infused coffee and passion fruit coulis garnish…black squid ink bread

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2nd Course ~ Veal roasted served with fennel parsley root puree thyme cream sauce and green asparagus garnish olive oil crumble. 

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3rd Course ~ Bleu Cheese crusted tagliatelle shiso pepper mandarin reduction with fennel brioche

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4th Course ~ Digestion Aid : Tarragon Granite Orange and Buckwheat Crisp with Fermented Milk, Cocoa Shavings.

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5th Course ~ Fromage Blanc with fresh strawberries, snow peas and sour cream emulsion, strawberry sorbet, snow pea puree.

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6th Course ~ Baked Alaska

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7th Course ~ Pear Cake, Honey Lavender Ice Cream

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8th Course ~ Petit Fours….that we paired with 1998 Dom Perignon Champagne… Memories. Wow. The buttery notes of this Champagne due to the aging and secondary fermentation in the bottle…. combined with the fresh acidity…the bubbles were so refined. So minuscule on the palate …. magic!! 

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And this my friends is Hedonism at its finest. Each dish was very small… probably 4 bites total. It really was an adventure that lasted four hours. Everything was perfectly timed and I felt very lucky to be at a level to appreciate this type of meal in Paris.

Exciting news coming next post…final winery trip…. final food and wine pairing… next chapter is approaching!

 

 

May 11, 2016
krista

7 comments

Alsace, France

 

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Yes… Hansel and Gretyl town as picturesque as it is, does exist in the present day.

The charm in Alsace was definitely more than I could have anticipated. Plush greenery, cobblestone pathways, hillside vineyards, and quaint wine tasting rooms…. all surrounding these little alsacian villages nestled in the center. With ALL the architecture resembling graham-cracker gingerbread houses with gum drops… that pretty much sums up the atmosphere.

Only a three hour train ride from Paris…. but yet feels like I am transferred into a different century….

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Alsace being very close to the German border… there is an energy that definitely feels unique, especially being that we are still in France. The accent spoken is different. In fact, much different than the Parisian accent. The food is greatly influenced by Germany and well, these pictures show you Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore….or Krista is not in Paris 🙂

Besides my mind and soul being enamored with this charm…we went to some outstanding top Grand Cru Vineyards of Alsace… which was the main point for our getaway out of Paris.

*These photos were taken in the towns of Riquewihr and Kaysersberg. *

Vineyards visited…. Trimbach, Marcel Deiss, Josmeyer, Weinbach. We also visited the distillery  Mette. 

 

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Yep- Tasted all of these!

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The enologist (winemaker) at Josmeyer is a chic, beautiful and elegant french woman… she treats work as play and draws in chalk on her barrels… every barrel in the cellar had these amazing art scenes on them. I thought to myself…. this woman knows how to enjoy life. Being in a dark cellar many days… she finds ways to bring herself joy!

After a long day of tasting we went for some of the towns specialties… Flammkuchen… or essentially flatbread with all kinds of toppings… the original has bacon, onions, and tons of stinky cheese! Yum.

We started this pizza party close to 10 pm at a rather chic restaurant (Flamme & Co.) in the center of the village… it went late into the night… pizzas just kept coming out with different toppings on wooden cheeseboards… paired with Grand Cru Rieslings. Good Times!

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To end the trip the next day we went to the michelin star restaurant Relais Des Menetriers

Here are some photos of that meal… truly wonderful.

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Pan seared Foie Gras…sitting a-top coddled eggs… with toast.

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Fresh beyond fresh. Wild strawberry tart with lemon cream…and home-made strawberry thyme sorbet.

Oh Alsace… my FINALE trip for the school year as far as vineyards go. I have had some incredible experiences venturing into the vineyards and wine making regions of France. I tear up just thinking about the fact that I have traveled all over this country tasting some of the greatest wines ever produced. I have been welcomed with open arms and treated as a top professional at some of the most emblematic Chateaus and Domaines in France making wine not only today but ever in history!!!! I am a very very lucky girl….. 

Alsace was a perfect icing on the cake.

Hopefully you have enjoyed reading about the regions and the listings/locations/restaurants/towns…and possibly have ideas of your own if you ever want to venture to these historic winemaking plots!

 

Up next…. Back to Paris… with an elaborate Food and Wine pairing at Dessance restaurant  with Chef Phillipe Baranes…this is our biggest pairing of the year stretching 8 courses!!! Not only wines but liquors, coffee, and tea are in the pairing. I will report in on this elaborate dinner.

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12 comments

VinAzur

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It is about that time…. to start thinking about sitting on the French Riviera with a glass of Rose in hand…

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I have just discovered an amazing company that I want to make known. A company of discovery in my favorite topic these days….WINE! VinAzur is located in Nice, France…. Saint Laurent Du Var to be exact.

The founder of this company Damien Dubus started VinAzur in 2012 because he was discovering all of these wonderful wines in Provence that were produced in small quantities and the average consumer was not privy to them as they were not sold in supermarkets, etc. So he created a web site and an on-site location in Nice, France where these wonderful wines could also be available to everyone ~ he unlocked the secret so-to-speak!

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VinAzur works directly with with small scale producers in the heart of the Provence region. These wines are “un-discovered” but very well made and of high quality.

I really connect with what this company is about because I cannot tell you how many wines I have tasted this year that are not produced and sold on a wider scale. In essence, wine gurus/experts…or in my case students are tasting these wines…but no one else will have the opportunity. Damien and the VinAzur team have a passion to not only discover these wines but also share the love and make these wines available…

In my opinion VinAzur is a personal expert shopper for the consumer. Out in the vineyards, tasting the vintages, watching the harvest and determining the wine “great” then making this wine available to all of us!

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Oh, and did I mention that these wines are sold through VinAzur at the “producer” price? In other words, this means they are sold without the mark-up of selling the bottle retail. You can go on the website and order wines just as if you were visiting the winemaker at the vineyard…without having to actually travel all the way to Provence….although who would not want the excuse to travel to Provence?!

*On-line order and delivery all throughout Europe. VinAzur is still looking for a US importer.*

What kinds of wine does VinAzur offer?

White, Red and Rose… even sparkling wines and the latest trend of organic wines. Whatever your tastebuds usually appreciate …there will be a discovery wine for you….if not several.

VinAzur also is very involved with wine education and offers in-store tastings, as well as partnerships with local restaurants developing paired food and wine dinners…

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From vine to the glass…the world of Provence wines will have no secret for you…

The best part ~ I have a promotion code created for all of you fabulous readers… simply enter KRISTA and you will receive a 10% discount. 

If nothing else… head on over and check out the company web site.

http://vinazur.fr/en/content/4-about-us