Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Days go by quickly in good company

This was day 5 of our almost one month long Camino de Santiago adventure. Click on the Camino de Santiago label to see all related posts.

Even with a pretty basic comfort level at the albergue, we slept well during the night. Floor mattress I had to use did not have any effect on my sleep whatsoever. Actually, I would choose it over a too soft, overused, wrapped-in-plastic top bunk bed any-time. Well, that was exactly what M. got last night but she also did not complain - she was just too tired to bother with details.

After a simple breakfast at the albergue (coffee with some cookies and toast) we left our donation for the stay and prepared our backpacks for the road. As I already mentioned in the previous post, the albergue we stayed in operates on donation basis. Bed, hot shower, breakfast and use of other services are available free of charge. In return pilgrims are asked to leave a donation in the morning before they leave. I am pretty sure the hospitalero collects a very decent amount every day.

Again the weather did not look too promising. There was a light drizzle when we met our Italian friends on the outskirts of Estella. A few meters after the Way turned from urban area into vineyard country, we just had to stop by the famous wine-fountain (fuente del vino) belonging to Bodegas Irache. Technically it is in Ayegui, the village just next to Estella.

On one of the outside walls of their huge cellar they have built a fountain from which, besides of water, also flows red wine. Unfortunately during our visit, the fountain was dry. This might have something to do with the fact we arrived pretty early in the morning.
Nonetheless I still managed to squeeze a few drops out of it. It seemed to be pretty low-quality stuff and I doubt I would have filled my water bottle with it anyway. An admirable marketing approach nonetheless.

We were happy to walk with the Italian group again - it was so much more fun and kilometres went by pretty quickly. Regardless of some age difference we have soon realised we had quite a few things in common.

Even the weather got better after a while and it turned out to be the second day in a row with only some light rain. We liked it that way.

Once again we mostly walked on a gravel road that led us through wide fields with huge stacks of hay bales. We began to appreciate gravel sections opposed to concrete and asphalt. It is interesting how on such a trip ones body can instantly feel the difference between soft and hard walking surfaces.

At midday we stopped at a refreshment stand by the road. It was just a simple trailer with some plastic tables and chairs set in front of it. It was sandwiches and beer for most of our group. I decided to go for a Spanish tortilla (Tortilla Española) and some freshly squeezed orange juice (Zumo de naranja natural).
A Spanish tortilla is quite different compared to its Mexican relative with the same name. It is a simple egg and potato omelette with some onions and sometimes also red pepper.

It seemed like none of us would mind sitting in the sun for an extra hour or so but we had to move on. Since we experienced some problems the day before with accommodation availability, we decided to place a reservation for the seven of us. After a hilarious (yet unsuccessful) try in Italian, we finally succeeded in English.

Even though we did not walk as far as the day before, we still managed to reach Torres del Rio. We walked 29 kilometres. The last hundred metre climb into the village proved to be quite a challenge for a part of our group.

Stretching and massage was something we could not afford to skip. Only after a glass of good red wine, of course.

By this time we were still in Navarra region, but also getting closer to Rioja. Good wine for a really low price was easy to come by. I tried quite a few wines and soon learned the meaning of Crianza. A Rioja Crianza is wine aged for at least two years, at least one of which it was inside an oak barrel. Usually Rioja Crianza is an indication of a fairly good wine and it often costed just over an Euro per glass. Now this is definitely a bargain in my book.
As I learned later on, I hardly took advantage of this enough while we were in and near Rioja.

Apart from good wine, dinner was also delicious. For the main dish within the Menú peregrino I choose a beef steak and really enjoyed it. For me it was one of the best steaks on the whole trip.

We started noticing familiar faces during dinner time. Even if we could not find a common language with some fellow pilgrims, this did not stop us from having some conversation during main daily meals. These large dining halls often felt like they were set inside the tower of Babylon. Fifteen different nationalities in a room of forty people was not an uncommon thing at all. Add some wine into the mix and you get one loud bunch of pilgrims.

After dinner we were off to bed pretty quickly again. A perfect end of another beautiful day.

Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.


Thursday 27 March 2014

Terra Magica

A few days ago I stumbled upon a documentary teaser well worth sharing. It is about something everyone should experience by himself: Slovenian wine.
There are just so many excellent winemakers in Slovenia but mainly due to small production most of them are completely unknown to the global market.

If you ask me, it is just one more reason for spending your next vacation exploring Slovenia. Yo can drop me a line if you need some local advice somewhere along the way.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the video in the comments below.


Friday 14 March 2014

A glass of wine in a traditional trattoria

Every time we find ourselves in this area of Dolomites, we make stop for a glass of wine at the same place. It is a small restaurant - trattoria, in the village of Mezzocanale. It is called Trattoria da Ninetta.

From the outside it does not look all that special, but there is a very pleasant, local atmosphere waiting for you inside. They offer mostly local dishes for a reasonable price. When you add a glass of good wine you have a winner.

An old fireplace is the main attraction of the place in my opinion. The massive stone fireplace stands in the middle of a cosy seating area. At its side there is a stand with a number of iron tools for poking the fire and keeping it at just the right size to warm up the place.

When we stop at this place and order a glass of Cabernet Franc I always get the feeling my skiing vacation has finally began. It was no different this year.


Wednesday 29 May 2013

Underground world of Principe Pallavicini winery

These photos were taken on a wine tasting tour just outside Rome, Italy. If you find them interesting, you are welcome to check out a detailed review of our visit to the Frascati wine region (just follow the link).


Friday 24 May 2013

Frascati Wine Tasting from Rome

A couple of posts ago I already mentioned a great wine tasting experience we had while in Rome, Italy. We really enjoyed it and decided to do another similar thing. Since not many such opportunities are available in Rome, we chose to go outside the city.

I saw the fact this wine tasting was taking place in hills not far away from Rome as an opportunity for a getaway trip from the city. Since this time we were not travelling by a car I looked at our options and decided a guided tour might be our best choice. Since usually we are not too fond of mass guided tours I really looked into it before booking.
It was not long before I realized Frascati Wine Tasting Tour from Rome was what we were looking for. We liked the fact that pickup and drop-off in the center of Rome was taken care of as a part of this tour.

We started the trip from our meeting point at Piazza Re di Roma. Since it is not a very busy square but still has good public transportation connections it was just perfect. As our group of 16 random wine enthusiasts gathered, it started raining. Since I was hoping for a few nice photos I was not too happy with that.

During about an hour long drive to Frascati hills our guide for the afternoon shared some interesting facts about the history of wine. In the meantime rain picked up but eased to a drizzle just upon our arrival. It did not bother us too much during the tour of the winery. Unfortunately weather was far from ideal for photography.

The Principe Pallavicini winery is the largest privately owned vineyard dedicated to production of Frascati, boasting 50 hectares of white Frascati DOC grapes. They have 80 hectare of vines in total.
The place has been renovated but still has lots of original character since new buildings have been perfectly integrated with the ancient ones. A section of an authentic Roman subterranean aqueduct serves as a charming cellar and antique stables are now used for drying grapes.

After the tour of the estate we continued to Osteria della Colonna for the actual wine tasting. The tasting was led by Mauro de Angelis, Principe Pallavicini's agronomist and wine connoisseur. Our guide Massimo took care of necessary translations between Italian and English.

We got to taste four of Principe Pallavicini's many excellent wines :

  • Poggio Verde 2012, Frascati DOCG Superiore. Grape variety: Malvasia di Candia (50%), Malvasia del Lazio (20%), Trebbiano Toscano (10%), Greco e Grechetto (20%).
  • Soleggio 2010, Lazio IGT. Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon (100%).
  • Casa Romana 2006, Lazio IGT. Grape variety: Petit Verdot (60%), Cabernet (40%).
  • Stillato 2011, Lazio IGT. Grape variety: Malvasia del Lazio aka Malvasia Puntinata (100%).

All of the wines we tasted were really great - each one in its own way. First was a dry white, quite typical for the region but the carefully chosen grape variety contributed a special note to it. The Cabernet Sauvignon was good but not all that special - the 2010 we tasted still has plenty of time to mature. The last two were definitely special and worth taking home - Casa Romana 2006 is a perfectly mature dry red with complex flavour and lasting aftertaste, while Stillato on the other hand is a macerated white desert wine with perfectly interwoven flavours.

During the wine tasting we also had an opportunity to taste some locally produced olive oil. It was quite mild (not as spicy as are most Sicilian varieties) and very delicious. As was the case with wine, we could also buy some olive oil.

As you have probably guessed by now, we enjoyed this wine tasting experience a lot. In my opinion it was just the right combination of things. Our guide was really knowledgeable and shared interesting information about local wine history, the chosen location (the estate of Principe Pallavicini) delivered just what one would expect from a place with centuries of history and finally, the wine we got to taste was excellent.

During this tour we were also offered to join the same company on a full day trip to Tuscany which also includes a wine tasting. Since we have been to Tuscany many times before, we decided to skip it.


Wednesday 22 May 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Dusty wine cellar


Monday 20 May 2013

Wine tasting in Rome

If you are a frequent visitor to this blog or even know M. and me in person, you probably know we love to drink a good glass of wine once in a while. That is why we also see every trip as an opportunity to widen our wine-tasting horizons and try some local wines.

Since Italy is among the top class wine producers of the world we thought there would be many opportunities for some serious wine tasting when in Rome. In spite of Rome being the capital of the country, it is definitely not its wine capital.

As we learned during our visit, there are a few wine producers based in the nearby hills and the whole Lazio region is home to roughly 30 DOC titles. Three of them really stand out: Castelli Romani, Frascati and Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone. Local wine producers are mostly famous for their dry whites.

Our idea was to join a guided wine tasting where we could bump our amateur wine knowledge up a notch, learn a thing or two about local wines and taste some great wine samples in the process. I expected to find many companies and wine bars offering such tastings but to my amazement I could only find a small variation of suitable offers.
One of them is Vino Roma with a wine studio located just minutes from the Colosseum on Via In Selci 84/G.

We booked their My Italians wine tasting and were not disappointed. It was not so much locally oriented as we would have liked but since this particular tasting is advertised as "an overview of Italian wines", it was pretty much expected.

The tasting was led by a sommelier speaking perfect English (he is actually an American living in Rome) and he took that night's group of 6 wine enthusiasts on a great wine trip around Italy. Everybody else but M. and me were Americans. After speaking with some of them about European wine prices across the Atlantic our guess was that visitors from the US might be quite frequent at such events.

In the tasting we got to sample a variety of six wines from various Italian wine regions. This is our wine list of the evening:

  • Zamo Bianco 2011, produced by Le Vigne di Zamo in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Venezia Giulia IGT). Grape varieties: Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Trebbiano Spoletino 2011, produced by Antonelli in the region of Umbria (Umbria Bianco IGT). Grape variety: Trebbiano Spoletino.
  • Greco di Tufo 2010, produced by Dell'Angelo in the region of Campania (Greco di Tufo DOP - DOCG). Grape variety: Greco.
  • Vigna del Forno 2010, produced by Cascina Gilli in the region of Piemonte (Freisa d'Astri DOC). Grape variety: Freisa.
  • Malandrino 2010, produced by Cataldi Madonna in the region of Abruzzo (Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC). Grape variety: Montepulciano.
  • Caselle Riserva 2006, produced by D'Angelo in the region of Basilicata (Aglianico del Vulture DOC). Grape variety: Aglianico.

Although this wine tasting was not cheap by our standards, we still thought it was very good value. Wines were not all that special but we liked most of them (Greco di Tufo and Caselle Riserva were our favourites).

We felt the real value was in the knowledge passed to us - there were moments when it felt like an excellent wine tasting school. In my opinion the event was just that - an enjoyable wine school evening. Among other things we have also learned how to guess the age of wine and the amount of alcohol in it by just looking at the glass. The sommelier in charge of the tasting was really knowledgeable and could basically answer all of our questions.

The atmosphere was really relaxed and I think it is fair to say everyone was really happy in the end. We definitely enjoyed the two and a half hour event. If you are curious about a particular wine from the above selection, you are welcome to leave a question in the comments section below the post.

Since we liked this wine tasting so much, we decided to also try a little different approach and taste some local wine directly at the source. That is why we also visited one of the famous local producers at the very place, where the (wine) magic happens - their wine cellars in the hills just outside Rome.

You can read more about our visit to the Frascati region in one of our next posts.


Thursday 31 January 2013

Drinks you must try in Lisbon

This post could have easily been titled "Where to try Port wine in Lisbon". It does not mean there is no other drink worth trying out, but this way or another a visitor to the capital of Portugal will come across some Port sooner or later.

Although Port wine is produced in only one region of Portugal - the Douro Valley, it is very popular all over the country. Port wine is just one of many excellent Portuguese wines. There are many wine tasting opportunities in the city of Lisbon and I really advice you to try at least one. You don not need to be a wine connoisseur to like this. Usually things are explained according to the level of your knowledge of wine. I am convinced after the first one you will be ready for more.

As you probably already know port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto) is Portuguese fortified dessert wine. Although it is usually a red wine of sweet taste it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. It has been produced since 18th century when long trips to England often resulted in spoiled wine. That is why fortification of the wine was introduced to improve the shipping and shelf-life of the wine.

We did a few wine tastings while in Lisbon and I can only say they were all great. I especially recommend a visit to two places mentioned below:

  • Wine Bar do castelo on your way to or from the castle. It is located in Alfama just outside castle walls on Rua Bartolomeu de Gusmão 11/13. We really liked the atmosphere of this place and also staff were super nice.
  • The other place I can also recommend is BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto and you can find it at Rua da Rosa 107.
You can expect an average tasting to cost you around 20 euro or more. Some tapas are usually included, but you can expect to pay extra if you choose to try some exquisite cheeses or something similar.

Since wine prices may vary greatly, you should always agree about the tasting process, your preferences and price ranges in advance.
Of a few different approaches we tried I preferred the following approach to tasting: every one of us (we were a group of seven) got to taste one small sample of four different whites, four reds and three ports. After each round every one of us chose a glass of wine he preferred. We payed only for those three full glasses per person.

We were especially impressed by those ports we got to try - none of us has ever tried a port wine before. I guess it is pointless to emphasize the older (and more expensive) they were - the more we liked them. There is a distinct difference between different types of port wines. White, Ruby, Tawny and Vintage are the kinds we managed to try. I liked Tawny Port the most, but all of them were good.

We were even treated with something special at the end of one of those tastings (at the second place mentioned above). The owner gave us something really special to try - something we would never have ordered, considering the budget we were on. It was a taste of a 1880 Vintage Port. It definitely tasted great, but considering the price of it I think I could not appreciate it nearly enough.

In my lay opinion the differences among up to a 20 year old Tawny Ports are very noticeable. From there on you can expect a substantial price leap and in my opinion you have to be a bit of an expert to appreciate it enough to justify a purchase.
I recommend you buy at least a bottle for your home collection since good quality port wine is hard to get and more expensive to buy back home. Just make sure you secure the bottle properly for the way home.

There are also other drinks you should not miss when in Lisbon. One of them is Ginja. There is a small bar in Baixa district on Largo de São Domingos 8 (near Rossio station at Praça de São Domingos) offering this famous Portuguese sour cherry liquor. At Cafe ‘A Ginjinha’ there is a 150 year old tradition of serving this specialty liquor. Although you might not like it you should at least give it a try.
You can settle for a shot or get yourself a whole bottle for around 7 euro.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Label Cloud


Blog Archive