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Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith delivers you the latest wine reviews and wine and travel news. You can also search this blog for our e-news, press releases and media clippings.

Antinori: Old family new wines

Antinori is a venerable family wine company of 26 generations established in 1385, in times when Chianti was rustically made, probably in earthen ware fermenters like todays amphorae.

The family’s new subterranean winery, Antinori nel Chianti Classico in Bargino, a ten year building odyssey I believe, works on gravity. All things with the pre-history wine styling in mind should.

Our Italy wine tours take guests through the depths of Tuscany, offering introduction-only visits to family wineries, few open to the public.  If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call me direct on +61 427 705 391 or email denisew@uncorkedandcultivated.com.au.

So inside this underground collossus there are logically layered caverns of processing and ageing rooms (wine, olive oil and vin santo), fittingly paved in terracotta tiling, 44,000 square metres of space I believe.

It looks swish, bright in aspect, purposefully dull in lighting but cleverly the spots radiate light to keep visitors in the mood to view barrels, art works and light spaces.

Under vineyard barrel cellar

Under vineyard Peppoli barrel cellar

Our local-born guide and tasting host Eliza Trambusti relates that the Antinori family call this visitors’ haven their temple in good Roman God’s fashion.

There is no air conditioning as architect Marco Casimonti from Archea Associates designed it to be eco friendly and wines store gently around 15 oC.

Alberia Antinori, family company CEO speaks to our poured drinks, 18 metres below the ground, from Montalcino and Chianti Classico, places in this family’s blood for six centuries.

First family wine was:

Pian delle Vigne 2014, Rosso di Montalcino, 13%, (baby Brunello) belies the travellers’ expectations; the sangiovese grosso grape colour is not deep like Aussie shiraz, but has red in the heart of the glass, amber at the edges (the nail), some older ones go colourless.

Pian delle Vigne Rosso di Montalcino 2014

Antinori Family Pian delle Vigne Rosso di Montalcino 2014

It’s about the taste: savoury and drying, no fruitiness here, its austere; waits for you to chew the salty, crunchy baked pizza bread, schiaciatta .

It has long flavours, more dryness then it slips into softness. Again adjust your tasting technique from Oz shiraz to Localita Pian delle Vigne growing sangiovese grosso near the hill town of Montalcino my friends.

Villa Antinori 2012, Chianti Classico Riserva, 12.5%, now unfiltered, has been made since 1928.

Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2012

Family Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2012

It has the typicity of that sour citrus and almond aroma (how new world tasters peg sangiovese), traditional old large (2500 litre) barrel aging aromas including brett, then savoury and gripping tannin. It’s 10% cabernet sauvignon, and has 30 months cask age.

Perfect with big, fat, al dente pappadelle splashed with wild boar ragu that drown the rabid effects of the natural grippy tannins of the wine. That’s Tuscany!

Badia a Passignano 2011, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, 14.5%, is the newer, next tier Chianti classification of longer matured elite 100% sangiovese, made in the nearby Tignanello estate regularly past visited by Uncorked travellers.

Antinori Badia a Passignano 2011, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Antinori Badia a Passignano 2011, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Badia is an old monastery. The surrounds are Antinori sangiovese, 23 clones having been identified so far. Chianti first recognised itself in 1716 so the red grape gene pool here is quite diverse and capable of interesting wine.

Wines only age 20 months in old Slavonian botti (barrels) then further by bottle for another 18 months or so.

Look out also for a vinsanteria (small barrels that house the godly vin santo liquoroso white wine), hip cellar door tasting and purchase facilities, saying to tourists that this ancient Roman construction is the Antinori family re-invented.

Antinori nel Chianti Classico Vineyard, Bargiano

Antinori nel Chianti Classico Vineyard, Bargiano

Above is a new vineyard of sangiovese, build on 20 metres of fill, struggling now but making progress towards a drinking contribution for future tourists. Expect wine soon.

Also planted are the other traditional local red grapes: canaiolo, ciliegiolo, colorino, malvasia nera and mammolo.

Travel Healthy: Australians to Europe

Uncorked and Cultivated is a wine and food touring company guiding mainly Australians through French and Italian wine regions. We are very mindful that you remain fit and healthy during your short stay with us. We asked Eleni Georgiou from the nutritionally founded group Two Greek Girls Cooking to offer their travel tips on health.

Marinated Seafood-Taormina

Marinated Seafood-Taormina

Our Tuscany Wine Tours take guests through the villages in Montalcino, Castellina and Rufina, home of pecorino and sangiovese; offering introduction-only visits to wineries, only some open to the public.  If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call me direct on +61 427 705 391 or email denisew@uncorkedandcultivated.com.au.

Healthy eating is not a priority when travelling through Europe. Although a lot of European cuisine consists of fresh produce and amazing wholefoods, at times we get distracted and our eyes drift to the not so healthy options. We become so invested in culture, food and the people that there is zero hesitation to overindulge (speaking from experience at Uncorked). It is not difficult to maintain ones’ healthy eating habits when travelling though. The following are a few simple tips.

Iced Potato Soup-Summer Truffle-Nuits Saint-Georges

Iced Potato Soup-Summer Truffle-Nuits Saint-Georges

Do your research!

When planning a holiday, it is easy to get caught up in the logistical details of the trip, and forget about the real food!! Research online the local cuisine, best restaurants, deli’s, wholefood stores, and farmers’ markets, ask friends and family who have travelled before and MOST importantly, ASK THE LOCALS.

Asking the shop assistant or people walking the streets will usually lead you to those amazing restaurants that are not in the travel guides and where locals eat. This will present you with the most authentic experience. This usually means wholefoods with as little westernisation to the dishes as possible meaning less processed! Take your time when searching for a place to eat and assess all the options. (Uncorked’s guided tours have done this so we select fitting restaurants, and we add more on your personal travel guide during your stay in a city. But we agree in doing your health and enjoyment research, and you will note Peter is also a well respected TripAdvisor writer).

Fine Dining-Clos du Cedre-Beaune

Fine Dining-Clos du Cedre-Beaune

Keep Hydrated

For anyone who has travelled to Europe, you will know there are endless sights to see and many streets to get lost in. This however usually involves A LOT of walking in the amazing European weather, increasing the chance of dehydration. It is SO important to always be carrying a large water bottle to keep yourself hydrated for a typical (never ending) tourist day. Look out for the ancient drinking fountains, there since Roman times, when in Rome.

Breakfast

Meal times are never consistent when travelling and are often skipped when sightseeing. It is however, still important to start your day with breakfast, no matter what time you wake. This will not only start your metabolism, but you will feel energised for the day ahead. Uncorked touring always includes breakfast.

Prepared snacking

Don’t panic, this tip does not involve the daunting process of “meal prep”.  Instead, try to visit a wholefoods store or farmers market to stock up on some fresh fruit or dried fruit and nuts to keep in your backpack. This allows you to be able to have a quick healthy snack when feeling low and also avoid hunger panic, which we realise, may end in a sneaky unhealthy purchase.

Try to include one proper nutritious meal per day

We know that the usual criteria for choosing food when travelling, especially in Europe, is “does it look good?” and the usual answer is “Yep!”. A compromise here is to try to choose one nutritionally sound meal per day. You tend to try a ‘bit of this’ and a ‘bit of that’ and find that you haven’t actually consumed a proper meal. Whether it be a protein-filled breakfast, or a carbohydrate and protein lunch, you would be surprised the difference it makes in how you feel. A good idea is to usually choose this meal for lunch, as people tend to indulge at dinner.

Prawn Tails, Foam -Trento

Prawn Tails, Foam -Trento

Joesph Drouhin-cellars under Beaune

Joseph Drouhin is a historic Burgundy name. So a cavernous walk a few metres under the city of Beaune to view their bottle collection history is a wondrous site.

There are cobwebs, dark corners, dusty old bottles, medieval height entrances (you must crouch to pass) and shining new wine pieces (barrels) to contrast this display place of wine storage, bought in 1880.

And there is no better watering hole in Beaune than here to complete a visit by drinking from Drouhin burgundy bottles carefully selected from all over the appellations (small vineyards) this negociant (trader) either occupies or purchases.

VISIT

Our France wine tours take guests through the villages of Burgundy; into Beaune, Pugliny-Montrachet and Nuits-Saint-Georges, offering introduction-only visits to caves, only some open to the public.  If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call me direct on +61 427 705 391 or email denisew@uncorkedandcultivated.com.au.

Our tasting guide describes the cleverly placed, mood-lit surrounds: built in the 14th century, one level below the town established by the King of France at that time, then we step into another section built in 1450. Wish the wine was that old.

The view at the chamber end gives the herringbone style of 4th Century Roman brickwork which is the base of this cavern. Perfect for the bottle museum (all sizes; 375 ml, normal, magnum to jeroboam) with its uneven stone flooring, always cool or cold.

The modern day Drouhin family has set about retaining their drinking heritage, though the interruption by WW2 has caused many gaps.

The oldest date on a bottle is 1911, then the rest are post 1961, and as time passed, as much as 5% is retained for tasting, drinking, exhibiting, auctioning and donating.

WHAT TO DRINK

All are unlabelled save the chalked identification on each bin patch-very much a burgundian habit this. If there are spare labels or new ones produced they will be in the label storage section, more pristine a place than in this dusty series of caverns.

Caves Joseph Drouhin

Caves Joseph Drouhin-Roman inscriptions, cellars, barrel aging, ancient press, Hospice wine

We were offered brilliant new papyrus paper style labelled wines such as Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaune 2012, a village wine from north of the town, known to be terribly drinkable as oh so supple for entry pinot noir. This had that level of deliciousness. Thank you pinot.

Joseph Drouhin Chorey-les-Beaune

Joseph Drouhin Chorey-les-Beaune   1er 2012

 

A significant drink for sharing is Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches 1er 1996; a vineyard of both chardonnay and pinot noir purchased in the 1920s and now held up to be part of the soul of the company.

Joseph Drouhin 1er Clos des Mouches

Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches 1996

The pinot is most expressive, dense and rapturing to see and smell, then succulent, alluring and mouthfilling, a touch of age but pinot with backbone. The vineyard was once circled by bee hives (mouches).

From the northern Cote de Nuits poured was Joseph Drouhin Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Damodes 2008; this now perfumed from bottle time, oozing red fruits yet contrite on taste; both black and red fruits, supple, rounded, expressive.

Joseph Drouhin 1er Damodes

Joseph Drouhin Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Damodes 2008

 

The cellars of Joseph Drouhin once had uses apart from maturing wine.

At the end of WW2, Maurice Drouhin escaped the Gestapo underground via a “door to freedom” to a corridor into the Hospices de Beaune hospital, hidden there over four months until war’s end.

Canard-Duchene-Champagne from Ludes

We are visiting the  Champagne maker Canard-Duchene in the Montagne de Reims countryside.

A patchwork of neatly hedged, close to leaf-manicured vines line each side of our road and extends into the distance, clinging to the soil of its appellation. It is quite wondrous.

Canard-Duchene is nearby to the quaint village of Ludes, and the vineyards extend right up to the village streets, and into some back gardens. That’s how valuable these appellations are!

Our France wine tours  take guests through the villages of Champagne; the Cotes de Blancs and la Montagne de Reims,  offering introduction-only visits to houses, only some open to the public.  If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call me direct on +61 427 705 391 or email denisew@uncorkedandcultivated.com.au.

This day will be fun. We are to learn about how Canard-Duchene make and age their 14 million bottles of bubbly stocks, and some lucky travellers will perform the old art of sabrage.

That is the medieval act of removing the cork from the champagne neck with a sword. It chops off some glass but you can drink the fizz after thankfully. And Canard-Duchene wine is found in 54 countries internationally.

Guests perform sabrage-Canrad-Duchene

Guests perform sabrage-Canard-Duchene

It was a favourite act of Napoleon Bonaparte to celebrate a battle victory.

Canard-Duchene’s cellars underground are extensive. Inside and beginning at 34 metres into the damp chalk below are large, long, parallel cavernous tunnels (extending to 6 km) carved out over time on four levels since establishment in 1868.

Our first super drink is Canard-Duchene Leone Green NV, green label too, to signify production from organically-grown grapes; a practice on the increase here. Bubbles with a top perfume of crackling yeast, super dry, taut, bright and fresh. Sante.

Canard-Duchene Leonie Green NV

Canard-Duchene Leonie Green NV

The team was ever-so-eager to taste Canard-Duchene’s 2008 Vintage. This is recorded as one of the best of the decade with universal great longevity expected.

Canard-Duchene 2008-a cracker

Canard-Duchene 2008-a cracker

It is a wet and cold year but for the grapes that made it through gave enormous minerality, zippy freshness and expectations of a long time for the high acids to come into balance. So eight years in bottle here has barely tamed this fruity style, expect more, keep some.

The pinnacle set of wines is Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Noirs and Blanc de Blancs NV; single style wines from red (two pinots) and white (chardonnay) grapes. Charles was the smart French king who worked out how to dispose of the English at the end of the 100 years war (1337-1453).

Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Blancs NV

Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Blancs NV

This is expressive chardonnay; the house has vineyards and buys grapes in the best Cotes des Blancs villages south of the mountain; the fruit personality of this chardonnay is self evident, the flavours come out deliciously. Drink some.

Canard-Duchene require an equivalent of 400 hectares of producing vines from 60 village origins annually to supply their French market which is its largest (70% sold), and also keep Australian drinkers happy.

After a visit to this part of France you will never forget the closely-clipped hedges of grapes and the vista which extends to the horizon; all 33,000 hectares of it.

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