Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
Most storms developing out at sea in the Pacific Ocean eventually come ashore along the Chilean coast, but the towering Andes Mountains block these winds and rain from traveling further east. As a result, Argentina remains dry and sunny, nearly all of the time. And with 320 days of sun annually, I truly mean nearly all of the time!
Argentina has a long history of grapegrowing, dating to the Spanish conquistadors who brought grapes with them when they established colonies in the New World. From the 1500s through the 1800s, Argentine viticulture remained essentially unchanged. While a handful of today’s winemakers may still cling to the old ways (cow hide fermenters anyone?), most of Argentina’s wine industry has entered the 21st century, with temperature controlled fermentation, drastically improved sanitation and other modern conveniences.
Argentina is home to many European immigrants from Spain, Italy and France, so it is not surprising that many of these grapes landed on Argentina’s soil. Malbec, originally from Bordeaux, took incredibly well to the climate of its new home, especially once it was discovered that growing it at high elevation could significantly influence the outcome.
Though white wine plays a much smaller role in Argentine viticulture, the Torrontés grape has become its signature white. Torrontés handles the heat well and although it had been previously used exclusively for sweet, bulk wine, the variety has been repurposed to create a heady, aromatic wine that is now dry on the palate with floral and tropical fruit notes. Even within this taste profile, several styles have emerged from the restrained to the more flamboyant versions. Additionally, winemakers are experimenting with blends such as Amalaya’s Torrontés-Riesling.
Thankfully, there is more to Argentina than these two varieties and the range includes Barbera, Petit Verdot and the other usual Bordeaux suspects – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – as well as Pinot Noir. The latter thrives in Argentina’s cooler, southern areas such as Patagonia as evidenced by Bodega Humberto’s Canale Estate Pinot Noir 2010, produced from 40 year old vines. Given that Argentines consume 8 oz. of meat per person per day, reds dominate the vineyards.
As a very large country, Argentina’s wine growing regions are vast and spread out from Salta in the north to Patagonia in the south, but most of the production is centered near and north of Mendoza, which lies west of Buenos Aires. Although certain regions within Argentina are becoming known for specific varieties – Salta’s Cafayate Valley for Torrontés, for example – Master Sommelier, Keith Goldston, suggests that the aspects of terroir are still being worked out and for now, come down to three things: distance from the Andes Mountains, elevation and vine age –some vineyards today are 100 years old. Of course, regardless of these three elements – we know it will be sunny.
With its beautiful beaches, easy access and laid-back vibe, Waiheke is a popular weekend getaway for Auckland residents, much as the Hamptons are for New Yorkers. And, similar to Long Island, Waiheke boasts a small, but high quality wine region.
Accommodations on the island are varied with backpacker options at the low end and five-star, luxury lodges on the other. We had the good fortune to secure one of the four rooms at the Te Whau Lodge, located near Rocky Point. Its elevated position provides guests with an amazing view of Putiki Bay. Hosts Liz Eglinton and Gene O’Neill pamper you from the moment you dock, arranging for transportation from the ferry terminal and greeting you upon your arrival at the lodge. Although it is optional, choosing to dine with your hosts is highly recommended.
Guests who opt to partake in dinner are invited to meet at 7:00 PM in the guest lounge for wine and hors d’oeuvres. Gene is an amazing chef, well regarded on the island. Scallops, gouchères and chicken rolled in fresh herbs from the garden were served with complimentary (and complementary) wine – SoHo Wine Co’s Carter Chardonnay from across the island.
After the appetizers, guests are welcomed into the dining room for a three-course meal and can choose to order wine from the lodge’s selection of local wines. We chose a Montepulciano from Whispering Sands, Obsidian’s second label.
As our visit was coincident with Valentine’s Day, a single red rose adorned each place setting, adding to the festive atmosphere. Post-dinner, Port and Cognac were offered as was coffee. At $60.00 NZ/person, it was not only a fabulous meal, but it was a terrific bargain.
Te Whau Vineyards is a short walk from Te Whau Lodge and a perfect place for a relaxed, al fresco lunch, featuring locally-caught fish. In fact, our server’s husband was among the local fishermen. The restaurant’s wine list features wines from throughout the island as well as more international selections.
After lunch, we tasted through the line-up of open wines, all of which were Bordeaux-style blends, but from different vintages. Unfortunately, our visit on the island was too short to visit any other wineries, but I have tasted wines from Waiheke’s Stonyridge and Man O’War at trade tastings in the U.S., further attesting to the quality of the island’s wines.
- The chance for the average American traveler, in the course of their lifetime, to die in an airplane crash is 1/5,552 . The chance they die in a car crash is 1/247.
- According to the US Transportation Secretary, flight delays cost the US economy $15 billion annually.
- The travel and tourism industry in the United States is valued at $1.6 trilion
- This industry generates anywhere from 7-8 million jobs in the United States
- The Washington Post did a study in 2001 of airline delays. Over 1/6 million passengers were delayed at least 15 minutes that year- an accumulated time of 170 years
- On an average 7 night sailing aboard the Disney Magic Cruiseline, the following food items are consumed:
- Beef – 5,000 pounds
- Chicken – 10,000 pounds
- Salmon – 1,200 pounds
- Shrimp – 1,300 pounds
- Lobster tail – 1,000 pounds
- Pineapple – 3,300 pounds
- Melon – 12,800 pounds
- Individual eggs – 71,500
- Coffee – 57,820 cups
- Soda – 3,125 gallons
- Wine and Champagne – 2,700 bottles
- Beer – 12,385 bottles/cans
I’ve come to the conclusion that you drink wine with more than just your nose and taste buds – your memory also plays an important part in the process.
That’s why people often gravitate towards the same grapes, the same terroirs and the same brands when they choose their wine. Certainly, for me, memory is the primary reason I’ve developed a mania for wines from La Rioja, in Spain.
This February, I was lucky enough to travel with Jody Ness and the crew of Wine Portfolio to experience the wines of this venerable region first-hand; and it’s colored my experience of drinking them ever since.
Just a whiff of the earthy combination of mountain-grown Tempranillo and old oak is enough to whisk me back to the amazing food, stunning scenario and warm hospitality I experienced on my trip to Spain.
But there’s more to it than that.
For example, when I bought a bottle of 2005 Marques de Riscal Reserva today, I chose that wine because I’d been lucky enough to visit the Bodega where it was made. While there, I witnessed every step of the journey that turns a plump, juicy grape into a rich, rewarding drop of wine.
It’s knowing that journey – and the passion and precision which went into it – which makes every mouthful so flavorful.
Let me share the journey my wine went on with you. It makes it taste just that much better:
August reminds us of our three favorite Greek words: ampelography, Assyrtiko and the Aegean. Follow that with sunlight, sand and Santorini, and we are good to go. August is the month to visit Greek wineries as grapes make their journey from vine to vat to bottle. Ampelography, the study of grape vines, comes to mind when we trip over a low lying ampele, a wreath-like Assyrtiko vine, the signature grape of Santorini. Grown in this ancient fashion to trap moisture from the volcanic rock below, the vines are stripped of their fruit, which is vinified into crisp white wine. Wine lovers in the know head to Boutari for the annual release of their Experimental Series, available only at the cellar door. Take some time to enjoy a flight of their wines from around the country paired with mezes, or small Greek plates. It’s not just grape season, it’s tomato season as well; don’t miss the tomatokeftedes, Santorini’s delicious traditional tomato fritters—they’re unforgettable. Besides the citrus-driven Assyrtiko, which is perfect with grilled octopus at a beachside bar, pick up a bottle of Vinsanto, a sweet fortified wine named after the island. Sigalas’ is among the best, and its winery is in clear view of some of the most interesting vineyards you are likely to encounter. You won’t find trellised vines or machine harvesters here—just grapes picked by hand. Be among the first to visit Gaia’s new beachfront tasting room and try the winery’s modern version of the Greek classic, Retsina, made by steeping pine resin in the must. Grab a glass of cold white wine, stride across black volcanic sand and dip your toes in the warm blue Aegean.
Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen
Food, Wine and Travel Writers
Periodistas Gastronomia, Vinos y Viajes
World Wine Guys LLC
As we’ve traveled around the globe I’ve been keeping pics of the funniest bad translations and cultural missteps with wine. Enjoy!
All the best wines come from well rested grapes
I am not so sure that this is a bad translation, I think most descriptions of wine is pretty awkward, with elegant notices of leather of course
What’s wimpy in a brilliant fragrance? Maybe it smells like a teenage boy at the prom with too much Axe Body Spray on.
Super old is always the best age for “fine” whiskey
Why I never drink non-alcoholic drinks
And of course why I always drink wine
My favorite wine bar in Japan (I like the honest name)
Here’s a restaurant named in honor of me
And one that’s definitely not
Finally, all I can say is WTF!
If you have any pics or stories of bad translations or funny culture clashes, share them with us in the comments below. Happy travels.
As I pack up to embark on my next journey, I can’t help but drool over all that I’ve discovered about Croatia’s gastronomical selection.
Croatia is described to have the “cuisine of the regions. “ With each region having its own distinct culinary traditions, its heterogeneous food selection is most notably divided between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. The mainland cuisine is heavily influence by the earlier Slavic, and more modern Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish flavors. The coastal region bears tastes similar to those of the Greek, Roman, Illyrian and more Mediterranean cultures. Italian and French cuisine are also heavily represented in Croatia.
The region of Istria is particularly famous for its harvesting of truffles. Truffles are a rare and precious mushroom species unearthed by pigs and specially trained dogs. Rest assured that I will be eating a lot of pasta a risotto dishes seasoned with this fungi! Lamb is a most highly valued meat, and most traditionally boiled or cooked on an open fire.
The Dalmatian coast serves up some of the best and freshest seafood, straight from the Adriatic Sea. The island of Pag is famous for Pag cheese, made from sheep’s milk. Having a sharp flavor and often served with olives, I will be sure to enjoy it along side a glass of local wine.
The cuisine of the northwest specializes in simple traditional cuisine. Several specialties of this area include: buckwheat porridge, turkey with mlinci (pasta taters), strudels, and pumpkin cake with poppy seeds. In addition to this, the curating of meats is quite popular, with winter salami, blood sausages, and garlic sausages being commonly eaten. Boiled smoked pork leg with potato or bean salad with onion is a very traditional dish. Sweets definitely don’t go unnoticed in Croatia. Traditionally, deserts are pastry dishes. The palacinke, or Croatian pancakes are stuffed with walnuts or chocolate and served with ice cream, and are a national favorite.
While Croatia has over 300 geographically developed wine regions, it is divided into two main ones: Continental (Kontinetalna), and Coastal (Primiorska), which includes the country’s surrounding islands. Continental Croatia, which is the inland wine region, hosts a climate with hot summers and cold winters. Production in this area is concentrated in white wine varieties. Producing white wines, which are characteristically rich and fruity, share a similar style with the neighboring countries: Hungary, Slovania, and Austria. This continental climate supports the Grasevina vine, producing crisp, light refreshing and aromatic wines. Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are also very popularly produced varietals in this region. While less commonly produced as compared to white wine, the Frankovka is the most popular red wine grape.
The Coastal wine region runs along the Adriatic coast line. Hillside slopes and islands of this region are home to a multitude of small winegrowing estates. This region has a more Mediterranean climate with long, hot, dry summers, and mild, short, wet winters, being particularly well suited for grape harvesting and winemaking. The northern part of the coast, Istria, produces mainly bold dry Bordeaux reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while the southern edge of the cost, Dalmatia, homes a wide range of wines and regard the preservation of terroir to be of the utmost importance.
Does anyone have their own personal fav food or wnes that I must try while we’re in Croatia?