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.
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There’s a lot to taste and experience in the picturesque landscapes of France and Italy. Uncorked and Cultivated offer authentic epicurean food and wines tours to iconic regions like Bordeaux, Champagne, Tuscany, Sicily and more, hosted by Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith. Their small-group tours focus on delivering the best of each region. Immerse yourself in French culture on an exclusive tour of Champagne, Burgundy and Rhône and discover the perfect French food and wine pairings. Tour dates from 22 May to 1 June 2018, A$7.700 per person. Uncorked has also partnered with Travelling Divas to announce their first female-only itinerary. Experience the Tastes of Rome and Sicily on a tour combing glamour, culture and the divine food and wine of Italy. Tour dates from 6 to 16 September 2018, A$7,450 per person.
GOURMET TRAVELLER WINE | August-September 2017 | p 130
Spring-fresh air in Reims told me that the day was to one for elegant wines.
And a great highlight was to happen on walking into the bureau of Reims-based champagne house Louis Roederer.
First this family-owned house, with 100 hectares of biodynamic vineyards out of its 240 ha is proud of its 70% self sufficiency. This gives it cred as bubbly with soul and clearly a lot of past vision.
Champagne is a grand vineyard of 34,000 hectares dominated by small growers (average plot holdings are 5 ha) selling grapes to producers, elaborators and houses such as Roederer.
Roederer is 17 years down the track with bio grapes of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties. How significant. Tasting the champagnes allowed me to clearly recognise a flavour roundness (elegant wines) I’d expect to be derived from the vineyard; not achievable other ways (in the winery).
The natural and widely used process is malolactic fermentation (acid reduction). Here in Roederer’s own-grown crops it is not needed as any grape in-balance compensation is not required. Growing grapes the Roederer way fixes that in situ.
A high achievement with a nudge towards the advantage of bio over conventional growing. Are the vines in sync with the moon? If not well there is a clearly defined and recognisable flavour and acid ripeness in the wines I tasted. Unbelievably good too.
It does not surprise me that the 30% of harvested grapes Roederer buy from growers will have partial malolactic fermentation where acid balancing is obligatory from grapes not quite on the mark.
Our France wine tours take guests through the regions of Champagne; the Montagne de Reims, Vallee de la Marne and Cotes de Blancs, 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 email@example.com.
Champagne houses are known as negociants (NM on all labels) who trade in grapes for their needs to spread wines throughout the globe. The sources are geographical (Reims mountain, Marne Valley and White Slopes) which dominate the industry plantings) according to variety and microclimate dictated by history.
Roederer respect this traditional pattern. Their top wine Cristal always has to have it grape origins in all three regions (mountain, valley and slopes). Additionally Cristal comes from the best vineyards (grand cru) possible and this is from terroirs (soil) with high chalk content; it gives the Cristal taste.
Cristal is not made in years where grapes fail in any of the three regions; such as 2001, 2003, 2010 and 2011. I drank 2009. In undeclared vintages to Cristal designated grapes end up as future reserve wine to preserve the chalk-grown personality of the clear (non fizzy) wines.
We are 12 metres down, the air is cold, 11 oC, and all the bottles in every tunnel I see are Cristal- 750 ml, 1.5 l, 3l, 6l, 9l all the way up to 12l salmanazar. Here the wine is manually finished (sediment shaken down) while mainstream wines are mechanically turned for lees removal.
Back above the winery has 450 tanks to hold clear wines. That is so because there are 410 parcels of grapes by variety harvested, each pressed separately and maintained that way until blending.
More emphatic a spectacle is the process of storing older bulk stocks (reserves) in large barrels or foudres (2500-5000 litres), 150 of them, held underground in use for up to 40 years, then replaced. Oak is old and does not make reserve wine oaky, just complex and personality plus.
Cristal 2009 is 60% pinot noir 40% chardonnay, all grand cru, the mountain pinot from Verzenay (north facing vines on chalk), the valley pinot from Cumieres (south face chalk) and slopes chardonnay from Cotes de Blancs. Taste-smells complex, some age expressed as smoke and flint, has a sphere of flavour which goes creamy and ends up elegant as acidity sits behind the wine. Round, fine, still fruity, emphasises the use of older vines well established in chalk. From a rich and ripe year.
Roederer 2009 is 70% pinot 30% chardonnay, again filling out in flavour from a very warm year of growing; rounded and full, not too much flavour, just complex, lots of oyster shell from lees time, seaweed complexity, a lot of influence from north-facing pinot vines, partial oak fermentation gives robust finishing notes.
Roederer Rose 2011 is 70% pinot 30% chardonnay; the pinot from Cumieres, carefully harvested to make a special wine. This has perfume, lightness, aroma sweets and succulence, very subtle wine to make a drinker think. The key lies in an innovation making concept. No red wine is added. Grapes are chilled, berries hand removed and sorted, then cold macerated 5-7 days, chardonnay juice added, all pressed together to be fermented. Has a wonderful strawberry glisten, a light touch. Special wine.
Uncorked’s next visit to Champagne and the champagne houses commences in spring 2018, see if you can join us, the experience will be memorable.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.