We’ve all been there, arriving early to beat the lines and ending up waiting for you departure, long stayover between planes, or waiting because your plane is delayed.  What to do?  One need to eat, and it’s easy to stop by the first and best convenient restaurant or café.  Next time, choose a place that serve wine with the grub.  You’ve read the papers – sodas are not good for you, neither are all kinds of different fortified juices and ice teas.  And if water is the other choice, why not opt for wine with your burger?

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For the second time, I chose the Chilis Too at Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport, in Newark, New Jersey. I went for Chilis’ new Avocado burger, with fresh avocado, red onion, and swiss cheese topped with avocado ranch on a wheat bun. With fresh lettuce, pickle (which I always remove), tomato and homestyle fries.  To go with that I opted for the Pinot Noir (the other red choice was Merlot, will try that next time around).  The 2009 California Pinot Noir from Mirassou. Note that the wines are not on the menu, so you’ll have to ask for it.

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The glass is perhaps a bit on the thick side, but aptly shaped for wine tasting (and drinking). Wine served on the warm side, at 20+ Celsius would be my guess.  Mint, green berries, and hints of blackcurrant on the nose. Sweet and minty on the palate.  Short to medium length. $14.99 for 9 ounces for their biggest carafe.  A tad more than the burger.

No offence, Coke and whathaveyou, even burgers taste better with wine. And it somehow puts you at a different, and slower, pace altogether.  Next time, try it out.

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The Chilis chain has more than 1400 casual dining restaurants, mostly located in the US and Canada.

The Mirassou family has been growing grapes and crafting superior wines in the sun-drenched hills of California since 1854, earning the family the proud distinction of being America’s oldest winemaking family. 2004 marked an unprecedented 150 years of family winemaking.



Licorice, wet forest floor and sweet cherry. A hint of mint, old leather and spices. Some oak still. Rich, fruitful and concentrated. Medium long finish. All that said, we had it without decanting it, and it took a while for it to open. You can drink, and enjoy it now, but you should, if you can, stick it in the cellar for another 2-3 years at least.

The Bricco Fiasco is from vineyards in Castiglione Falletto, on the Fiasco hill, facing south.  The average age of vines is 40 years, and every year they make approximately 10 000+ bottles. It is aged 18 months in small barrels, and 6 months in large casks.

The Scavino family’s Azelia is located in the village of Castiglione Falletto, established in 1920 by Cavalier Lorenzo Scavino. Today Luigi Scavino is the 3rd generation winemaker, with wife Lorella and son Lorenzo, following in his father Alfonso Scavino’s footsteps. He is still probably a lesser known Scavino than his cousin Enrico Scavino of the Paolo Scavino estate (they do share ownership of the Fiasco hill), but his wines stand tall by themselves.

Azelia bottles a Dolcetto d’Alba, a Barbera d’Alba, a Langhe Nebbiolo, a “base” barolo, and two barolos from grapes at their estate vineyards Bricco Fiasco (in Castiglione Falletto), Margheria, Voghera, and  San Rocco (in Serralunga d’Alba).

To Luigi Scavino, traditionalist vs modernist does not mean much, he will do whatever he thinks is best for the final product mixing modern techniques with respect for tradition. The family believes the wines are made in the vineyards, and less in the cellar, and thus all 15 hectares are farmed organically. Their total output is around 60,000 bottles a year.



Thursday May 26th marks the second annual #chardonnay day.  The hashtag indicates social media influence, and indeed it is.  #chardonnay day is a virtual celebration of the chardonnay grape.  Participation is easy, simply get some chardonnay in your glass tomorrow Thursday.  Share your photos, tasting notes, experiences or videos on any social media site (it be Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, whatever), and be sure to add the #chardonnay hash tag.

#chardonnay day is a true global event set to run 24 hours in order to give everyone time to share a glass when it makes sense in their time zone.

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(above photo from Montrachet, the vineyard producing the most expensive Chardonnay in the world)

Another way of participating, and less “virtual” is to organize your own get together or see where you can go to someone elses? Use the Meetup.com/Chardonnay to add yours to the map.

@chardonnay (as well as the annual @cabernet day) is the brainchild of Rick Bakas.    http://chardday.eventbrite.com/, and http://rickbakas.com/



Very busy "Wine Saturday" in the US.  Wine Fests, festivals and even Riots, across many states.

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Great Lakes Wine Fest, Jackson County, Michigan
Wine in Bloom, Lehigh, California
Second Glass Wine Riot, Chicago, Illinois
Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, Elkin, North Carolina
Bottle your own wine, Nevada City, California
Ladysmith Village Art & Wine Festival, Caroline County, Virginia
Spring Breezes Book & Wine Fair, Apex, North Carolina
Wine in the Woods, Columbia, Maryland

Thus, if you’re in the area, you know what to do.



You can have water at the aid stations, but you will be asked: “red or white, Monsieur?”. Truly a different marathon experience, the Marathon du Medoc features 8000+ runners and a route that includes Chateau Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Lynch-Bages, and many more renowned wineries.  But no, it is not simply a wine tasting tour, it is a marathon, all 42km (26.2 mile) of it. With 23 aid stations offering the wines of Bordeaux, and many more just water.

Despite the having to race fancy dressed – this years theme is animals – it is a race restricted to runners only.  If walking is more your favorite choice of moving around, the next day recovery walk, albeit 10 km, in and around Bordeaux’ vineyards and castles is for you. 

Chances are you will not run your fastest time here, but you’ll probably have the greatest time.

Un Viking en tenue de sport, une infirmière à forte pilosité, des  cuisiniers pressés... Certains ne passaient pas inaperçus sur le  marathon. Photos Eric Despujols|| Despujols Eric

The race is hugely popular and fills up quickly. Plan ahead, and if you do not make 2011, go for 2012.  That will allow you to get in the extra training (probably) needed for the race…. Also, remember to include drinking a bit of wine each day and slowly increasing your dosage in your preparation for the race.

For more information and registration, go to http://bit.ly/eDjlXO



This year we’re bringing some friends to Piemonte for their first time wine travelling and tasting.  So we decided to invite them for a preparation dinner, with some Piemontese grub and wine.  Wild Boar ragu (made with dry red wine) was the the plate de jour.  As for the wine, we mimicked a typical winery visit where you start with the Dolcetto (assuming they have no whites), move on the Barberas, and finish it off with the Nebbiolos.

Started off with Elio Grasso’s 07 Dolcetto d’Alba dei Grassi.  Made from 30 year old vines from southfacing plot in Monforte.  Typical of the Monforte dolcettos, it adds licorice and mineral notes . Beautiful structure have you thinking wine of a different class than run-off-the-mill dolcettos. Gorgeous length. Get your hands on this one if you can.

Piemonte Preparations

The 04 Barbera d’Alba Superiore La Serra from Manzone (also of Monforte d’Alba) followed with dark fruits, violets (reminiscent of a La Morra Barolo) and spices. Medium length. At 7 years old, getting into it’s peak. Grapes from the La Serra vineyard in Monforte d’Alba makes up this wine.

To round it off, we served the 04 Barolo Pi Vigne from Silvio Grasso. The Pi Vigne is their Barolo normale if you like, and is sourced from family vineyards in La Morra and Barolo, facing south and southeast.  Sweet fruits on the nose, mixed with flowers and spices. Precise, fresh, and excellent length. Drink now, probably will not evolve any further.

Our friends are now ready. 30 days to go!



Not to be mistaken for Marcialonga, who are for people who prefer energy drinks and granola bars to fine wine and slow food, and requires the presence of snow, Mangialonga is a non-competitive walk, and festival, in the vineyards of La Morra.

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On August 28 this year, meet up with people from all over the world, taste typical products of the Langhe along four kilometers across beautiful landscapes and vineyards.

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La Morra is one of the 11 Barolo producing communes in Piemonte. It houses renowned winemakers like Elio Altare and Roberto Voerzio, and famous vineyards like Brunate, Cerequio, Arborina, and Rocche dell’Annunziata

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Here http://bit.ly/fnWBuk you will find suggestions on where to stay, eat and shop while in Piemonte.

If Barolos from vineyards like these, and vintners like Altare/Voerzio, do not float your boat, but you like the idea of enogastronomic hikes, here’s some sister/twin events in other wine regions this summer:

 

31st May

Portè Disnè – Canale / Montà,  Tel. 0173.976114 – Italy

13rd June

Charrois Gourmands Lantignié – Beaujolais, Tel. 0033.3.474692288 – France

14th June

Recreation Gourmande, Tel. 0033.5.57841322, Rauzan – Bordeaux – France

21st June

Oberrotweil Kulinarische Weinwanderung, Tel. 0049.76.6293200 – Germany

28th June

Escapade Petillante e Gourmande en Champagne, Tel. 0033.326599278 – France

5th July

Balade Gourmande – Ladoix S., Tel. 0033.3.80264530 – France

5th July

Promenade Gourmande Limeray – Amboise, Tel. 0033.2.47571419 – France

5th September

Will Grill Fäscht – Visperterminen, Tel. 0041.27.9480048 – Switzerland

6th September

Sentier Gourmand – Scherwiller, Tel. 0033.3.88922562 – France

13th September

Route Gourmande – Chailly, Tel. 0041.219628437 – Switzerland



Last night’s dinner with How To Wine Travel and some very good friends.  Food and wine, wine and food, and again a great mix of old and new world wines.

For starters we had salad with  roasted pinenuts, balsamico, and "Epoisses de Bourgogne", (the Burgund cheese often referred to as the king of cheeses), served with a 2004 Meursault Clos des Meix Chavaux from Domaine Jean Latour-Labille. Almost Puligny-like on the nose with flowers, nuts, and citrus, but typically Mersault in the mouth – full, buttery, and rich. Clos de Meix Chavaux is a Monopole (a vineyard Jean Latour and his son Vincent  alone own and work), and remains their most popular wine by demand. A grand vin (village wine), but performs like a Premier Cru.

Main course was filet of lamb with mashed sweet potatoes.  With that, a magnum 99 Estate wine from Rust en Vrede (in Stellenbosch), made from  61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Shiraz, and 9% Merlot.  Amazingly fresh for a 99, dark berries, spice and coffee on the nose, and silky on the palate, medium long.  This was tried next to a 94 Gruand Larose, so a to see how well the SA blend stood to a second growth Bordeaux blend.  The  94 Gruand Larose was all leather, tobacco and traces of red fruit, balanced on the palate with soft tannins. The verdict around the table was 50-50, with the structure of Gruand Larose and the fruitiness and spice of Rust en Vrede, the winning arguments, respectively.

With cheese to end the evening, we had an 86 Overgaauw Vintage, South Africa’s answer to Port. Made from  5 Portuguese varieties, it offers range, spices, and plums, and is velvety and long.

All in all, an interesting food and wine evening.  The Mersault Monopole was a pleasant surprise, and it was also fascinating to see the freshness of a 12 year old South African blend.



On our way home from Houston, we visited the Vino Volo at Newark International Airport.  Much has been said about airport dining over the years (although I personally think it has got better at many airports), so this was to try whether the same was true for airport “wining”.  We ordered a plate of dry-cured meats and the “World Noirs”, a sample of 3 Pinot Noirs from around the world.

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Your wines come with information about it, even tasting notes (I recommend tasting it yourself first, and then check if your nose and palate equals that of the VinoVolo tasters).

The 09 Monterey County from Elusiv in California showed sweet fruit on the nose, sweet spice and candy. Not my cup of tea (eh, glass of wine), but if you like it light and sweet, the freshness and fruitiness is attractive on this one.

Next up, 08 Russian Jack from Martinborough Vineyards in New Zealand, was on the lighter side of pinot noir. Aromas of sweet berries like it’s Californian cousin, but some mint and green fruits shines through (a little more bottle time should rid the wine of it’s greeness?). Good finish.

The 07 Beaune (Premier Cru) Clos de Vignes Franches from Nicolas Potel rounded of the wine flight (vino volo – get it?). Dark berries, tobacco and wet forest floor on the nose, blackberry and minerally on the palate. A tad too much oak, but should integrate in not too long. Clos de Vignes Franches is a Monopole, and a small part of the climat “Les Vignes Franches”, situated in the southern area of Beaune.

Yes, it was a trip through the world of Pinot Noirs. It was a good collection showing the diversity of the grape.  And the charcuterie was wonderful to go with it.

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I give Vino Volo and the concept two thumbs up.  My advice to all travellers is to skip the usual burger or sandwich and try a wine flight instead, before boarding.

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Vino Volo is a wine lounge, restaurant, and boutique wine shop. They offer wines from around the world by the glass, in tasting flights, and by the bottle for guests to take home or have shipped. All dishes are available for guests to enjoy in the lounge or as carry-on. Vino Volo has 17 stores in operation today  (spring 2011).



Everything is bigger in the US, and everything in Texas is even bigger. It’s true, even at wine tasting.  Not that they get out the magnums necessarily, but at Dalla Terra’s annual wine tasting at Dolce Vita yesterday afternoon they got out the good stuff for everyone to taste.  Case in point, I’ve been to multiple wine tastings with Vietti wines around the world, and I ‘ve been at the family winery itself, but yesterday was a first when it came to taste their Barolo Brunate.

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Wineries represented were: Vietti, Casanova di Neri, Avignonesi, Adami, Marchesi di Gresy, Alois Lageder, Saracco, Selvapiana, Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Badia a Coltibuono, Inama, Li Veli, La Valentina, and Felluga.  Who not only had a capacity crowd tasting their wines, but getting the history, the stories, and the Wine 101, to go with it.

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My personal favorites were, aside from Vietti’s 06 Brunate, the 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto by Casanova di Neri (although a bit shut down, the wet earth, dark plum and sheer fruitiness, make this a wine in the top drawer), the 2007 Chianti Rufina Riserva Bucerchiale from Selvapiana (smoke, spice and generous fruit), and the Barbera duo exhibited by Vietti:  2007 Barbera d’Alba Scarrone Vigna Vecchia (elegant, fruity, and layered), and the 2006 Barbera ‘d’Alba La Crena, always a personal favorite (minerally and Barolo-like violets).  And, yes, the 2006 Brunate.  Who might end up 20 year from now a one of the classic and historic wines.

 

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All in all, a fun crowd, a diverse set-up of wine makers, ranging from new and upcoming stars like Achille Boroli to the royal-like and historic figure of Alberto di Gresy, and everything in between.

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Dolce Vita was an excellent venue for wine tasting, and the people representing the host Dalla Terra was more than accommodating, attentive, and passionate. Gloria and Marco Wiles, who also runs Da Marco (restaurant) and Poscol (vinoteca and salumeria), has created a good atmosphere at the pizzeria and enoteca Dolce Vita.

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