Tiramisu and barbera?

When a restaurant the hotel booked did not have the quality of wine list we asked for, we stumbled onto I Colori del Vino, an enoteca of our liking.  A broad selection, but also a number of hidden gems, like mature Barolos, etc.  Hereby recommended for wine and light grub.  Anyways, this is about their tiramisu….

Tiramisu at I Colori del Vino Roma September 2 2014

Crunchy fingers, creamy, medium length, perhaps a tad one-dimensional?  But kinda cool, a little bit like the rest of the food at I Colori del Vino.  A little bit Roman touch maybe?

Accompanied by a 2003 Barbera d’Alba Scarrone Vigna Vecchie by Vietti.  One of the top barberas from one of the top barbera years.

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The Hunt For The World’s Best Tiramisu – Trattoria Populare, Oslo, Norway

Since March 2011 one of the often talked-about restaurants on the Oslo food-scene has been Trattoria Poulare.  We went there for lunch on a beautiful spring day.  An outside table, good pasta, a great bottle of wine, the settings could not have been much better. 

Tiramisu Trattoria Populare Oslo

Pity then the tiramisu was not up to par.  Cocoa on the nose, some citrus. Mascarpone attack on the first bite, angstrong citrus aftertaste. Too much orange, also a feel of metallic fruit.    Sorry, Populare, but you need to do much better than that!

The search continues…..

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Our Top 10 Value Wines of 2013

The season of lists continues, this time with great buys we have discovered in the 12 months behind us.  You might shake your head in disbelief as some (2) of these wines might top 40 dollars, but this is not necessarily a top 10 wines at a low price list, but rather a list of wines we find fight really well way above their weight class.  Hopefully they are still around for you (try www.wine-searcher.com or www.vinopedia.com)  to buy and enjoy.

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo by Cavallotto (at Vinmonopolet, Norway)

2010 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits by Domaine Lécheneaut et Fils (at Specs, in Texas, USA)

2010 Langhe Nebiolo by Cantina Bartolo Mascarello (at Enoteca Fracchia & Berchialla, Alba, Italia)

2010 Bourgogne Rouge by Domaine Marquis d’Angerville (at Caviar House & Prunier, Frankfurt Airport, Germany)

2010 Bourgogne (white) by Domain Guy Roulot (at Vinmonopolet, Norway)

2009 Monthélie Le Meix Bataille, by Paul Garaudet (at Metrovino, Calgary, Canada)

2009 Fixin, by Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret (wine shop – forgot the name, sorry – Nuits St George, France)

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo by Giovanni Rosso  (at Specs, in Texas)

2007 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia, by Fattoria di Felsina (at Vinmonopolet, Norway)

2012 Riesling QbA Trocken, by Weingut Keller (at Systembolaget, Sweden)

 

We could have seriously added to this list, but a top ten list is a top ten list.  Have a question on a good value wine, feel free to ask on Twitter, here, or anywhere you find howtowinetravel. 

 

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Our Top 10 Wines Of 2013

It’s that time of year!  Where you look back, and try to make sense of it all.  The good stuff, and the not so good stuff.  And, to make it easier on yourself, you make lists.  So do we.  First out, our list of what we found to be our top 10 wines tasted in 2013.  In no specific order:

Barolo Villero Vietti 2006

1993 Langhe Larigi  –  Elio Altare

2009 La Romanee  –  Domaine Comte Liger-Belair

2006 Barolo Villero  –  Vietti

2010 Nuits St Georges Les Pruliers  –  Domaine Léchenaut

2009 Mersault Les Tillets  –  Guy Roulot

2012 Riesling Hermannshöhle GG  –  Dönnhoff

1996 Barolo Vigneto Arborina  –  Giovanni Corino

2010 Nuits St Georges Clos de le Marechale  –  Domaine J-F Mugnier

1995 Barolo  –  Bartolo Mascarello

1974 Barolo Enrico VI  –  Cordero di Montezemolo

 

Many many more could have been on this list, but we had to limit it down in a year that has been good to us when it comes to drinking great wines and meeting fantastic people around the world.

1993 Larigi Elio Altare

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Stalking Luca Currado – of Vietti – in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Described as a contemporary, casual trattoria-style restaurant with alfresco dining overlooking the Opera House, Opera is a restaurant in the Park Hyatt Hotel, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.  Honed as one of the better restaurants in town, inside probably the best hotel in town, fitting then that you would find wines from Vietti there.

Vietti at Opera in Saigon

On the wine menu you’d find the usual French and Italian big wine brands, and the joy of finding a family wine from Elena and Luca among them, saved our lunch, and day.

Of course, to date, the most expensive Tre Vigne I have had anywhere (the wine list in general had way to many zeros in it, and that’s not only because prices were cited in Vietnamese dong), but it was absolutely worth it.

As for the restaurant, OK.  The hotel?  Great. 

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Stalking Luca Currado – of Vietti – This Time In Sweden

No Luca sighting this time, but at least his wines had their way to Systembolaget in Sweden. For me personally, Vietti’s 2010 Barbera d’Alba Vigna Scarrone was one of this summer’s big surprises.  Not that it has not always been a great Barbara, but I realized going through a couple of bottles this summer, that this wine really punches way above it’s weight class.  Absolutely perfect with most light pasta dishes.

Vietti 2010 Barbera d'Alba Vigna Scarrone

So, now, if in Sweden, you can get both this, the Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco, and the Barolo Castiglione.  It’s a start, a good one too. 

Perhaps the Swedes gets the rest of the Barolo lineup, as well as the divine La Crena (Barbera) next?

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Stalking Luca Currado, of Vietti

Stalking Vietti is not the hardest thing to do, as their wines are available in most geographies, and both Luca and Elena travels the world frequently to educate people about their wines, vineyards, and history.

Sometimes however, even I am amazed at where I can find them, and their wines.  This time at Ruby’s Diner, Houston International Airport (IAH) in Texas, USA. 

A Vietti Moscato d’Asti to go with your burger , Sir?  By the glass, no less!

Vietti at Ruby's Diner IAH

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Official Barolo 2009 Launch Ceremony – Il Barolo 2009 un’annata alla vostra attenzione

IMG_4996

101 winemakers ready to serve their 09 babies, a more crowded than usual Barolo town center, Jancis Robinson as the headliner (after the wine, of course), and great weather to boot.  Our first visit to this annual event, this time to welcome the 09 vintage of Barolos.  Here’s our takeaways:

Best dressed (inspired by the Swedish Royal wedding the same weekend):  Without doubt Giuseppe “Citrico” Rinaldi.  First time I have seen him in a suit.  Ready for the big occasion.

Best wine(es):  Bartolo Mascarello, Massolino’s Vigna Rionda, Cavallotto, and Giuseppe Rinaldi (must be said that we were not even close to taste the wines from all 101 producers present). In addition, we got some visits under our belt during the weekend, and must admit both Vietti’s and Elio Altare’s ranks high.  But, will agree with Antonio Galloni who thinks the 2010 Altare wines beats the 09s.  Wine of the weekend was without a doubt the 10 Langhe Arborina from Elio Altare.

Corte Gondina Springer 2013 A

Best learning:  Some Langhe Chardonnay’s are getting up there in quality. Not that Guy Roulot et al should fear the Langhe battle Burgundy for the kingdom yet, but it is now more than OK to order a bottle of Cavallotto’s or Massolino’s chardonnay for dinner or lunch.  Also, Giulia Negri’s version is interesting and worth a look.

Best news:  Giuseppe Rinaldi’s 09 Barolo Brunate-Le Coste is released at 35 EURO. 

Biggest surprise:  Dead heat between i) Marco Curto (Nadia, Elio Altare’s niese) whose 08 and 09 wines are good, and at the price, very good; and ii) Fallet-Prevostat Grand Cru at Centro Storico – I had no idea that cheap champagne could taste that good!

All in all:  09 is not 01/04/06 nor 08, but stay with the serious producers (the usual suspects), and you will find great value.

Elio Altare wine tasting on the porch

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Wine Travel Tip – Hug the Cedar Tree in Piemonte

Square in the center of what’s commonly referred to as the Barolo region, at the very heart of the Langhe, on top of the Monfalletto hill, stands a cedar tree – the cedar tree of Lebanon. Once you find, and see, it, you will forever after never miss it. You will see it from every angle and from whichever nearby nebbiolo-vineyard you might be strolling.

Cedar Tree A

Planted in 1856 by Costanzo Falletti di Rodello and Eulalia Della Chiesa di Cervignasco, ancestors of the current heir of the Cordero di Montezemolo estate, in celebration of their wedding, it was a mark of their love for the earth. Legend has it that the young couple wished for this sentiment to endure in the hearts of generations to come, and when you hug the grandiose and majestic 150 year old tree planted right in the middle of vineyards destined to produce some of the most sought after wines in the world, you are reminded of their wish, as well as the history and traditions of this land.

Cedar Tree C.jpg

Dating back to 1340, when Pietrino Falletti became the owner of the commune of La Morra, the Monfalletto estate is full of history. The noble Falletti family owned the estate for six centuries, through 16 generations, before it was handed down to Paolo Cordero di Montezmolo, the grandson of the Countess Luigia Falletti and the closest heir. Paolo, the father of the current owner Giovanni, revolutionized the wine making, and took the winery from a regional player to an estate with highly regarded products that are savored around the world.

Today,  Elena’s wonderful smile and Alberto’s deep passion welcomes you to this classic estate.  With great wines to booth.

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In search of tradition – Wine travel to Burgundy

Although Burgundy was not the first known wine production area (that distinction goes to Georgia, with the earliest known wine around 8000 years ago), it is the place to go to explore the history, tradition, and evolution of wine. Castles, medieval churches and vineyards mark the region’s landscape, and makes it the perfect travel destination for those seeking wine and culinary experiences in historic settings. A trip to Bourgogne is more than just strolling in some of the most famous vineyards in the world, such as Montrachet, Musigny, La Romanée-Conti, and Chambertin Clos de Bèze, as it is also a rare encounter with what many centuries of civilization can produce. Patrice Rion, Trond Kostveit, Line Randmæl, Toni Fadnes, howtowinetravel

Wine

What’s intriguing about the region, are the same things that often have you tear your hair out in frustration – getting to know wine in this region is not a simple task. The rewards are immense, but at first you might just think this is inhumanly complex, and maddeningly inconsistent. Put simply, the most famous wines produced here – those commonly referred to as “Burgundies” – are white wines made from Chardonnay grapes and red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes. However, red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Also, both Chablis and Beaujolais are formally part of the region, but wines from here are usually referred to by their own names (i.e. Chablis) rather than by red or white “Burgundy“. It is absolutely possible to relish the wonders of Burgundy, without knowing anything about “terroir”. But it will undoubtedly help. Monks, with vast land holdings, were the first to notice that different pieces of land gave consistently different wines even if those sites were separated only by a small dirt road, and thus laid the groundwork for Burgundy’s terroir thinking. In short, terroir refers to the type of soil, drainage, altitude, weather conditions, sun exposure, the grapes, and the wine making itself. Burgundy is in many ways the most terroir-oriented region in the world, where which of the region’s 400 types of soil a wine’s grapes are grown makes up the region’s classification. Whilst the Ancient Greeks stamped amphorae with the seal of the region they came from, Burgundies have the name of area of origin on the bottle. To help customers further, there are four main levels in the Burgundy classifications, in descending order of quality: Grand crus, Premier crus, village appellations, and regional appellations. howtowinetravel So for those interested in tasting and learning the subtle distinctions in smell and taste between on plot of vines and another, there is no better place. And for the rest, tag along for some of the greatest white and red wines in the world.

Wine and food

Although both white and red “Burgundies” easily stand their ground by themselves, and do not need food to show their true qualities and satisfy your palate, adding food will enhance your experience, at least for the pro food-and-wine people out there. Burgundy is definitely a food AND wine region, where the gastronomic tradition is almost as long-established as that of its red and white wines. Burgundian cuisine tends to be rich, flavorful, and as is the case for most regions, a perfect match for the wines. Not only do the wines complement and enhance the dishes, local cooks and many of the area specialties, use wine in the preparation too. The area specialties are in such abundance that it is impossible to cover all, but here are some you should put high on your list: A gougère, a savory choux pastry (or simply hot cheese puffs) primarily made of milk, Gruyère cheese, flour and egg, is a staple to start off your meal – do not forget to ask for it. Burgundy is the home of the Charolais (the white cattle said to produce the best beef in France), and thus beef is a good bet on the menu. With “boeuf à la bourguignonne” being the most famous this, and a must try. Other renowned specialties include la matelote d’anguille à la bourguignonne (eels stewed in wine sauce), coq au vin, fondue bourguignonne, and Jambon Persillé . And, you have not graduated from Burgundian cuisine before you’ve enjoyed escargots de Bourgogne (yes, that’s snails, cooked in garlic and parsley butter). And, finally, you cannot leave Burgund not having tasted their cheeses. Especially “Epoisses de Bourgogne”, one of the great cheeses of France. Famous epicure and gastronome, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, even went so far as to call it the King of Cheeses. Napoleon was one of its backer, and often enjoyed it with wine from Chevrey-Chambertin. Monks first produced this cheese at the Abbaye de Citeaux, and it became hugely popular until it disappeared during World War II. Luckily for burgundians, and visitors to the region, two local Burgund families started to produce it again just after the war. It’s certainly not the most straightforward of cheeses, but it’s salty, sweet and creamy aromas will leave you with a complex and fascinating tasting experience. AK Most Burgundy specialities are not necessarily “light” food, so remember to not overdo it at lunch. Plan ahead, and leave some space for dinner.

Must do’s

A wine lover and wine traveler favorite is to stand in the “Montrachet-crossroad “, and marvel how wines made from vineyards only meters away from each other can taste so different, and ponder why one vine makes the most expensive white wine in the world – Montrachet, and the same type plant a couple of meters away only a fraction of that. Montrachet crossroads, howtowinetravel And, you will forever hold bragging rights having been circling a couple of the most famous vineyards in the world, Chevalier Montrachet, Batard Montrachet, and of course Montrachet itself. If you’re lucky, you may catch the horse and its owner, working tirelessly up and down these vineyards. One might start long arguments on whether that’s really necessary (yes, they do have tractors in Burgundy too), but one cannot argue the sense of tranquility and tradition it gives, and further adding to the mystique of these astonishing pieces of land. If you have the opportunity to visit Burgundy on a weekend, you should ensure a trip to the Saturday market is included. The Saturday market in Beaune is a bustling and renowned food and clothes market, and has been around since the early 13th century. It is the major event of the week, and it is as much for people to meet and greet as it is to buy. Fresh, including old-variety vegetables and fruits, Burgundian and Jura cheeses, herbs, fresh eggs, jams, charcuterie, honey and organic meat. Depending on the time of your visit, you should not miss the Les Trois Glorieuses (November) or Saint-Vincent Tournante (January). Les Trois Glorieuses is a traditional three-day celebration on the 3rd weekend of November, marking the end of a harvest knowing another vintage is safe in the cellars. The event kicks off with a black-tie dinner at Clos de Vougeot, an old monastery adjacent to the renowned walled vineyard, followed by the famous Hospices de Beaune charity auction. Here bidders from around the world try to acquire barrels of wine made from vineyard holdings that have been willed to the hospital over the centuries. The celebrations ends with lunch on the third day, knows as La Paulée de Meursault. Originally for the winemakers, the cellar workers, and the community, it now counts numerous wine-loving tourists as well. Dating back to 1938, in its present form, the Saint-Vincent Tournante is great spectacle of banners and flags with much marching and and proceedings – much like May 17th, not to mention free offering of cuvée de Saint Vincent (if you present your newly acquired Saint Vincent souvenir glass). Hosted each year by a different Burgundy village, the festival has established itself as the most popular public event to be held in Burgundy, attracting around 100,000 visitors from all over the world every year.

Good preparation is everything

Wine travel, like any other kind of travel, is better if you plan well. First, and foremost, you need to arrange for wine tastings and or winery visits, as in most cases one cannot simply visit wineries just by turning up on their door. Most wineries in Burgundy are small structure with no staff dedicated to receiving visitors, and thus very different from many “industrial” estates typically found in California, Australia, and the like. The winery is often their cellar and their home, the family is the staff, and they are usually busy doing something. Especially in spring, and at harvest time – particularly busy times for a wine maker, they give a higher priority to the work in the vineyard and the cellar rather than receiving even passionate visitors. When you manage to get an appointment, though, there are few wine tastings that will leave you with more “uuuhs” and “aaahs”, so they are definitely worth seeking out. Montrachet horse Burgundy does also have their own large wineries and negociants, and although wine connoisseurs often hold these in less regard than the artisan producers, they are worth a visit in their own right. First and foremost, big scale means they have wines from vineyards from all over Burgundy, providing you with a great way to introduce yourself to the different areas and villages in the region. Secondly, in a region where tradition reigns supreme, most wineries —big and small—winery seems to be about making wine reflecting the land from which it came. Finally, as these often do have staff dedicated to wine tasting and cellar tours, getting an appointment is easier. Like with the food, though, do not exaggerate. Trying to visit all the Burgundy villages in just a couple of days, and attempting to cram in 8-10 winery visits and tastings a day, will just leave you exhausted. Instead, circle in on what you would most like to experience, book it, and leave time to ponder, inquire, and rejoice. Burgundy is personal, and the experience varies from one person to another. What we will all have in common is the never-ending opportunity to learn, to taste, and to indulge in something new, that Burgundy. That will draw you in. Excite you. And have you come back for more. Again and again. Until it becomes tradition – your own tradition.

Where to stay eat and shop

Burgundy is ideally located one hour and forty minutes south of Paris by train, a two hours drive from Geneva and Lyon international Airports, making it very accessible.

Hotels

Hotel Le Cep and Hotel Le Poste: Both are in the town center of Beaune, which is at the heart of the Côte d’Or and the wine route. Stylish, friendly and furnished with tradition. Hotel Le Montrachet: Located in Puligny-Montrachet, a town with less than 200 inhabitants. If your looking for peace and quiet, this is definitely it. http://www.le-montrachet.com/

Eat

Nearly all restaurants in Burgundy feature the regional classics on their menus, ranging from the Michelin-rated to the more accessible. Remember to book, as they quickly fill up, or stay closed. Ma Cuisine often comes up first when searching for a place to eat in Burgundy. Much because of its extensive wine list, but also a great place to rub necks with the who-is-who in the wine world, and sometimes some wine loving celebrities Still in Beaune, Caves Madeleine (+33 3 8022 9330), Caveau des Arches http://www.caveau-des-arches.com/ , and Le Bistrot Bourguignon http://restaurant-lebistrotbourguignon.com/ offers atmosphere, wine, burgundian specialities, and are sure bets if eating and drinking well is what you’re after. Top-of-the-line, but not too formal, try out Le Chassagne in Chassagne Montrachet. Not the cheapest of places, but a profound culinary experience http://www.restaurant-lechassagne.com/ . In Puligny, lunch or dinner outside on the pateo of Le Montrachet (part of Hotel Le Montrachet) is worth trying. Fusion style food, but umistakingly burgundian at the same time. Staying further north, both Le Chambolle http://www.restaurant-lechambolle.com/contact.php in Chambolle Musigny, and Restaurant Simon (+33 3 8062 8810) in Flagey-Echézeaux are legitimate showcases of Burgundy and its culinary traditions. Try l’Auberge du Vieux Vigneron for the real local grub. Here you will only eat the local stuff, next to the people working the vineyards and cellers, and their families. It’s a bit out of the way (15 min taxi from Beaune), but worth seeking out if that does not put you off. http://www.aubergeduvieuxvigneron.com/

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