2021 in review: a year of French culture in Australia

Reading Time: 7 minutes

As we prepare to farewell 2021, we thought we’d take a look at the highlights of French culture in Australia this year on Matilda Marseillaise. We’ve had celebrations of French food and wine to art exhibitions, festivals and other events with French themes. We’ve interviewed people across many areas including international touring artists and local French and francophone people. Join us as we look back over 2021.

 

French culture in Australia: French Food days

Food is an extremely important part of French culture in Australia as much as in France. January was of course the month of the Galette des Rois which is always one of our most popular posts and has become the go-to resource for French and Francophiles in Australia to find out where they can buy this special cake around Australia.

 

We celebrated Croissant Day with a brief history of the croissant and again letting you know where you can buy croissants from French bakeries in Australia. Then we turned to a sweeter treat for Chocolate Truffle Day. Another day to indulge in all things cacao was World Chocolate Day.

 

We also wrote about Cheese Lovers’ Day for the first time with a focus on cheese subscriptions and celebrated Mouldy Cheese Day in October. As always, Christmas was celebrated with the Bûche de Noël.

French culture in Australia - food days

 

French culture in Australia: Drinks Days

You can’t have food without something to drink and we continued our French wine varietal series throughout the year with facts about the varietals and recommendations from French wine importers in Australia. We also celebrated World Bartenders Day with French cocktails.

 

We looked at French spirits and liqueurs: Chartreuse Day with a look at the history of the green drink and a day celebrating another often-green drink: Absinthe Day. In addition, we discovered strong French links in one of the most popular spirits of the moment: gin. We also celebrated another spirit that you probably don’t associate with France: vodka.

 

Champagne and sparkling wine gave us moments of celebration throughout 2021 with various festivals: Sparkling Fest, Bubbles Festival, Taste Champagne, Effervescence Tasmania.

French drinks days

 

French culture in Australia during Festival time

Australia’s borders were still shut due to COVID-19 so festival time didn’t feature any international acts in 2021. 2021 highlights instead were French themed shows or shows from artists with French links at Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival and Sydney Festival. These provided opportunities to enjoy French culture in Australia.

 

Particularly strong French links were found in performances at Adelaide Fringe including music in different styles, theatre and more. The White Mouse told the story of Australian French Resistance leader, Nancy Wake. Louise Blackwell and the Paris Set took us to Paris for the night.

 

By the time June came, Adelaide Cabaret Festival was able to bring in a few international acts including Brent Ray Fraser, who paints with a very unique and personal tool. Kim David Smith gave a strong nod to Marlene Dietrich with his show Mostly Marlene also at Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

 

Auburn in South Australia’s Clare Valley was transformed into a French village and a celebration of French culture in Australia for a weekend at the inaugural Auburn Frenchfest, which will return in 2023.

 

Le Festival was held over 4 separate events throughout the year, bringing 4 weekends of French joy to Brisbane.

French culture in Australia - festivals

 

French and francophone culture in Australia: National Days

We celebrated (even if virtually for some) the national days of a number of Francophone countries: Canada Day, Bastille Day, Belgian National Day and Swiss National Day as well as Alsace Fan Day.

 

French culture in Australia via exhibitions

Fortunately, COVID-19 didn’t stop international works of art coming to Australia. Exhibition highlights included a number of exciting exhibitions with French links including: French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Camille Henrot: is Today Tomorrow, and She-oak and sunlight: Australian impressionism.

 

Most recently the NGV opened the Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto exhibition and the Art Gallery of New South Wales opened its Matisse: Life and Spirit.

 

An international exhibition of a different scale and type, Van Gogh Alive also toured in 2021 and continues to tour Australia. Our Hearts are Still Open, a photographic exhibition and book were recently unveiled in Sydney and we chatted to Australian-born photojournalist Tony Maniaty about them.

French culture in Australia / la culture française en Australie

 

French and francophone film

The Alliance Française French Film Festival returned to the big screen in March and April 2021. Highlights for us included Bye Bye MoronsMiss among those that we reviewed. Countless others were also enjoyed. Because of COVID-19 lockdowns throughout Europe for much of 2020, Australian audiences were the first to see a number of films shown at the AFFFF 2021 including Eiffel and Delicious. We interviewed incoming Artistic Director of the festival, Karine Mauris.

 

One of our most read film reviews this year was for a film which is now on SBS on Demand: Roxane. With most of the Eastern states in lockdown over several months of the year, our articles about previous festival films available on streaming services were also well-read.

 

French and francophone films also featured at the Jewish International Film Festival and at the Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals.

 

French culture in Australia via music

We interviewed Sydney music duo Goldfynch on the occasion of their release of the beautiful escapist song “Ballooning over Paris” something we all longed to do with Australia’s closed borders. Baby et Lulu’s much anticipated Album Trois was finally released and we chatted to Lara Goodridge.  Pauline Maudy of MZAZA toured her show “Take me to Paris” around Queensland.

 

Sticking with the musical theme, we also interviewed Elena Gabouri ahead of her performances in Opera Australia’s Aida in Sydney and in Melbourne. Nicolas Fleury, French horn player from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra chatted with us. On the theme of opera and classical music, Pinchgut Opera presented Platée for the very first time on Australian stages.

 

Our favourite French festival So Frenchy So Chic announced a return to Melbourne and Sydney in February 2022.

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie

 

French culture in Australia via theatre

2021 saw the return of French theatre to Australian stages. Brisbane French Theatre presented its original play Us and Them. Perth French Theatre invited you to the circle of illusionists and after many false starts, Melbourne French Theatre was able to present its new show, The Candidate.

 

French culture in Australia in sport

The French Rugby team Les Bleus played 3 test matches against Australia’s Wallabies in Sydney and in Brisbane. We told you where you could watch them around Australia.

 

Other French happenings

Adelaide’s Les Deux Coqs in conjunction with Holdfast Bay City council started Rendezvous Market, a European Market with foods and crafts from many European countries being represented.

 

Glasshouse Fragrances’ launched a French inspired collection just in time for Bastille Day with delicious scents of Montmartre Macaron and Sacred Heart.

 

We made sure you knew your French (and Belgian) dogs from the imposters for International Dog Day in August.

 

In November, Sacreblue, the Embassy of France in Australia’s brand new website dedicated to French culture in English was launched and we were finally able to announce our partnership with them.

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie

 

Interviews 

We interviewed cabaret singer Caroline Nin and director Craig Ilott about L’Hôtel, an immersive theatrical world of French intrigue which made its worldwide debut at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June.

 

We interviewed a man who is perhaps Australia’s most famous French television chef, Gabriel Gaté for International Chefs Day.

 

One of the first international productions to visit Australia since COVID-19 struck and closed our borders in March 2020 was The Little Prince, direct from Marseille to the Sydney Opera House. We interviewed Chris Mouron who adapted the book for stage, Ebony Bott of the SOH about the logistics of bringing an international team to Australia, and staging a large show during COVID-19 times. The Little Prince is making a return to Sydney for a limited season of shows in early January – read our interview with Lionel Zalachas and Laurisse Sulty

 

We chatted to Michael Boyd, illusionist and also show director of Cabaret de Paris which started its Australian tour with new lead, Rhonda Burchmore.

 

We spoke to Australian author Pip Drysdale about her thrilling novel The Paris Affair.

 

Most recently, we chatted with Priscilla Doueihy ahead of her performances at Sydney Festival 2022 show 44 Sex Acts in One Week; Erin Helyard about piano and French composers ahead of Adelaide Festival 2022 shows Four Hands at the Érard and Evolution of the Piano.

 

French businesses in Australia

We published interviews with founders of French businesses promoting French culture in Australia including:

 

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie

We supported local French businesses by getting them to contribute their recommendations for Christmas gifts for francophiles. When many of the Australian states went back into lockdown, we let you know where you could purchase French take-away food.

 

Sofitel Adelaide, its French restaurant Garçon Bleu, and street level champagne bar Déjà Vu, were long awaited additions to Adelaide’s 5-star hotel and dining scene.

 

The French Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry held events both virtual and in person, where permitted, throughout the year including the French ANZ Business Days 2021 business forum which covered a number of interesting and pertinent topics.

 

It’s been a busy year! What have your highlights been? Is there anything you’d like to see on Matilda Marseillaise in 2022?

Wines for Christmas gifting and Christmas drinking

Reading Time: 7 minutes

With less than 2 weeks left until Christmas, it’s time to stock up on wine for Christmas gifting and Christmas drinking. We asked French wine importers in Australia to recommend French wines for Christmas gifting and for Christmas drinking across 3 budgets: under $50, under $100 and over $100.

Wines for Christmas gifting Wines for Christmas drinking

 

Clos Cachet Fine Wines

Ashleigh from Clos Cachet recommends wines for Christmas gifting and for Christmas Day drinking.

 

Wines for Christmas gifting

Under $50

Les vins à offrir pour noël Wines for Christmas gifting Domaine Le Petit Saint Vincent – Cab à Bulles Rose Méthode Ancestrale Pet Nat – $42

This is the perfect celebration wine when on a budget. Gifting this bubbly Cabernet Franc is perfect for someone that likes a party. “Cab à Bulles” by Dominique Joseph is the quintessential Pétillant Naturel, and is made for enjoying on a deck with fresh prawns and seafood, dips and aperitif snacks.

 

Tasting Notes: This bouquet is lively and energetic with bright red berries with lively phenolics. The palate is bone dry with delectable red fruits, herbaceous green peppers and pretty bubbles. Drink now. 100% Cabernet Franc.

 

Under $100

Les vins à offrir pour noël Wines for Christmas gifting Chateau de Bel-Air – Lalande de Pomerol 2016 $75

As mentioned in the Cocks & Feret guides as one of the best wines of the appellation as early as 1922, Château de Bel-Air is the perfect wine to treat your friend or family to. As a delicate wine that perfectly partners refined dishes, it is a lovely gift for Christmas. Sourced from a vineyard with historic quality, Michel de Laet Derache’s latest vintages will be a delight for anyone to open at Christmas.

 

Tasting Notes: On the nose, Château de Bel-Air presents notes of red fruit and floral aromas; on the palate, a harmonious balance between flesh and tannins means it can be enjoyed after just a few years of cellaring. It can be drunk now or cellared until 2022+. 73% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Over $100

wines for Christmas giftsJean-Luc Jamet – Cote-Rotie “Les Terrasses” 2017 $215

Enjoy with hearty dishes like red meat-driven lasagne and ragu.

 

Treat someone this Christmas to a bottle of Jean-Luc Jamet “Les Terrasses”. As an undeniable icon and celebrated producer, he crafts some of the most exquisite wines in Côte-Rôtie. With his point of difference being his ability to blend more than ten different plots from the best, northern sites of Côte-Rôtie, the receiver of this gift would never have tasted a wine quite like Jamet’s.

 

Tasting Notes: The bouquet is bold and structured, with a spectrum of red-to-dark berry fruit alongside an iron earthiness. The palate delivers waves of dark berry fruit, savoury cured meat across the mid-palate, before bakers spice and menthol on the aftertaste. Drink now with a one-hour decant before serving or lay down till 2030. 100% Syrah.

 

Wines for drinking with the Christmas meal

 

Under $50

Wines for Christmas drinking /Les vins à boire pour noëlRougeot-Dupin – Bourgogne Chardonnay 2019 $46

Here in Australia, we all enjoy a nice hot summer’s day for Christmas, and the perfect wine comes in the form of a Chardonnay by Domaine Rougeot. It pairs brilliantly with cured meats on a charcuterie board before a big feast. Or pour a glass when dishing up your seafood lunch.

 

This Rougeot-Dupin wine is made from purchased Chardonnay grapes, carefully selected from sustainably grown vineyards in Cote de Beaune and Cote Chalonnaise, to ensure the highest quality wine for your enjoyment.

 

Tasting Notes: The wine has a subtle nose of white stone fruit, fresh hazelnut, almond and a hint of butter. It’s perfect to open when it’s young, in its first one to four years. 100% Chardonnay.

 

Under $100

Wines for Christmas drinking /Les vins à boire pour noëlChateau le Coteau – Margaux 2016 $90

For those that enjoy the heartier Christmas feasts this full-bodied Bordeaux blend is perfect to consume alongside your lean meats and charcoaled vegetables, even a firm fish with red wine sauce if you prefer.

 

Château le Coteau is one of the very last family estates within the prestigious Margaux appellation. It has been in Eric Léglise’s family for at least six generations, and now he is the proud custodian of the estate, working with passion and humility. He always applies methods that respect both the environment and his terroir: his vines have always been ploughed and have never received a drop of pesticides. Enjoy this guilt-free Bordeaux blend at your next Christmas dinner.

 

Tasting Notes: Château Le Coteau has a beautiful bouquet, very expressive, with red ripe fruits, blackcurrant, blackberries, some very fine spicy notes, and torrefied coffee beans. On the palate the wine has an enchanting, silky structure, very harmonious and dense. The finish is long, and balanced with great acidity and freshness. Drink now or cellar up until 2026+. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot.

 

Over $100

Wines for Christmas drinking /Les vins à boire pour noëlDomaine Rougeot – Meursault 1er cru “Les Charmes” 2019 $215

If you’re wanting to treat yourself to the best of the best, serve up this Meursault Chardonnay with the white meats and seafood. Domaine Rougeot has a long history of making superb white wines out of the famed village of Meursault and the Meursault 1er Cru “Les Charmes” is one of the most incredible Premier Cru of the village.

 

Tasting Notes: The “Les Charmes” Chardonnay has a profound gold colour and a very complex taste of almond, pear and fresh apricot. It is ample, full bodied and rich with a very long finish. The Meursault “Les Charmes” is known to be Meursault’s most elegant wine. You can cellar it for up to 10 to 12 years but if opening it on Christmas you just need to decant it for thirty five minutes before serving. 100% Chardonnay.

 

Clutch Wines

Henri from Clutch Wines shares his recommendations of French wines for Christmas gifting.

 

Wines for Christmas gifting

 

Under $50

Les Deux Moulins Rosé

A little French rosé from the Loire Valley, simple, fruit driven and dry finish.

 

 

 

Des vins à offrir à NoëlOver $50

2014 Domaine Bohn Riesling Schieferberg ‘Biodynamic’

Summer down under is always nice and hot. Nothing better than refreshing ourselves with a classic Alsatian Riesling with a little bit of age. 

Dry, Mineral, biodynamic vineyard

 

Des vins à offrir à NoëlOver $100

2011 Domaine Gatinois Grand Cru Champagne

A stellar drop from a grower in Champagne. As a world celebratory wine Christmas can’t go by without a great bottle of champagne.

Very limited, Only 2 bottles available.

 

 

Cyrano Wines

Jean-Francois from Cyrano Wines shares his recommendations of wines for Christmas gifting and wines for Christmas drinking.

 

Wines for Christmas gifting: all under $50

 

Pic St Loup “Joseph” 2018 from Mas de Figuier     

AOC Pic St Loup/Syrah/Organic

Price inc. GST : $47.00

 

One of the best terroir in the world for Shiraz in the world!

  

Crémant de Limoux « Eugénie » 2018 from Maison Antech   

12.0%/ Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac

Price inc. GST : $33.00

 

So close to Champagne for half the price!

 

 

Wines for Christmas drinking : all under $50

These wines are the perfect match for a Christmas roast.

 

Wines for Christmas drinking /Les vins à boire pour noël« Galets » Rosé 2020 from Château Mourgues du Grès

AOP Costières de Nimes/Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre/Organic

Price inc. GST : $24.00

To be enjoyed chilled before the meal and then with dishes such as grilled fish, red tuna or pork roast.

Luminous rose colour, Intense red fruit aromas and flavours finishing with subtle spicy notes and a distinct sensation of minerality.

Palate is fleshy and crisp.

A serious foodies rosé!

 

Rivesaltes Ambré « Réserve personnelle » 2011 from Jeff Carrel

Vin doux naturel/18.0%/Maccabeu, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris

Price inc. GST :  $33.00

Made by the mutage method (addition of grape spirit to stop fermentation and retain natural sugar), followed by oxidative maturation.

 

Very complex wine with such aromas and flavours of dried fruit, nuts, resin, vanilla, chocolate, caramel, browned sugar, honey….

 

Excellent with Christmas chocolate and dried fruit. Also pairs very well with cheese.

 

Jean-Francois also recommends the two wines recommended for gifting also for drinking with the Christmas meal

 

Crémant de Limoux « Eugénie » 2018 from Maison Antech 

12.0%/ Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac

Price inc. GST :  $33.00

A round and delicate wine with fine bubbles.

Distinctive aromas of white flowers with toasty and honey notes on the palate.

Perfect for festive pre dinner drinks or with summery desserts.

 

Pic St Loup “Joseph” 2018 from Mas de Figuier

AOC Pic St Loup/Syrah/Organic

Price inc. GST : $47.00

Profusion of aromas such as ripe red berry, liquorice, pepper, vanilla, and black chocolate.

A full bodied yet balance wine, with silky tannins and remarkable mouth length.

Perfect red for the Christmas roast.

 

Which wines are you gifting and drinking this Christmas?

 

For other French Christmas ideas, check out these articles:

French Christmas gifts for everyone on your list!

Gift vouchers for French Restaurants and Cafés in Australia

 

And to find out where to buy the Buche de Noel near you:

It’s time for the Bûche de Noël 2021

 

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Wines for Christmas gifting Wines for Christmas drinking