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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Syrah wine is great red to drink, and for you to enjoy. Delas Brothers are one old-established maker. Try some syrah soon.
The historic French home of syrah is in this Rhone Valley and here we are visiting the property Delas Freres (brothers) having made wine there since 1835.
They are found alongside the wide and surging river at the plane tree-lined Tournon village on the left Rhone bank in the Appellation Saint Joseph.
On the right bank directly across the river is the companion town of Tain l’Hermitage, with the Appellations Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage dominated with syrah vines.
Synonyms for syrah include hermitage and shiraz (the Australians use the latter).
Our France wine tours take guests through the Appellations of the Rhone Valley, north and south, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our coach driver, a local, French, closes on this large river, dreadfully in flood, the swirling waters are 50 centimetres below its banks. See my quick video from the bus.
Rhone River floods
The next stop is on that western side (left bank), crossing the brown torrent sweeping downstream from spring rains in the Jura and Switzerland.
Our host, red-headed, a Rhône man, smiling, patiently waits our arriving bus outside the Delas Brothers cellar beneath a vine-clad cliff face. Meet Bruno Gonnet.
Bruno produces a row of bottles. They are all syrah, from this well-travelled grape known here since the Crusaders defended the Holy Land.
The progressive tasting goes: Crozes-Hermitage (right bank), Saint-Joseph (left), Cornas (left), Côte-Rôtie (left), Hermitage (right) wines, all differing parcels (sub-regions), differing qualities, and thankfully from one year, 2013.
Delas have 40 hectares of these vineyards; note the cute vineyard names attached to the tasting notes below.
Delas Domaine des Grands Chemin Crozes-Hermitage 2013 is one of those go to reds to get familiar with grape chunkiness. Distinctively whiffing of roasting meat, a sure smell sign of the enrichment from severe summer temperatures late in the ripening.
Delas Francois de Tournon Saint Joseph 2013 gives more fruit earthiness and less meatiness despite being nearby riverwise. The fact some vines sit on higher terraces whereas Crozes is the flats seems to make aroma differences. Palate is solid.
Delas Chante-Perdrix Cornas 2013 is from a small region further south. A more rounded wine giving heaps of rich taste feelings, pepper hot, earth-ripe, oak dries the mouth but is not tastable.
Delas Seigneur de Maugiron Cote-Rotie 2013 is exceptional, ground breaking syrah. Subtle smells then concentration power, those grapes are taut but expressive. The fineness of palate belies the fact this is syrah and should make a monster impression. It does not. Flavours of pepper, black fruits and earth unwind this wine.
This appellation repeatedly gives wines with finesse and elegance which defeat the perception that syrah has monster body. This is silk finish with the big flavours around my mouth. Hermitage wine typically has larger body.
Delas Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage 2013 is really lovely wine but as said, is a bigger wine. The pink flowers and violets are accentuated by the longer time in new barrel, oak gives sweetness and a lift to a mouthful of syrah power. Keep tasting the wine and it stays generous.
Hermitage vineyards provide wines worthy of a great experience. For Australian shiraz lovers put this place of production on your bucket list. Then when standing at the foot of the hill you will understand why it tastes how it tastes.
To visit these great wineries of the Rhone in 2017 read more here