A week of drinking locally - above from the top down: (1) The Horse Knows the Way, as proprietor Stefaan Massart does a tour de vines of his Chateau Vilatte estate near Puynormand; (2) The End of Bordeaux lies just beyond the building at the bottom of the slope, as the vines Chateau Parencherre near Ligueux look eastward toward Dordogne; (3) in the Colli Fiorentini, A Cellar with a View looks skyward from the ancient castle keep of Fattoria Torre a Cona.
For the last week, I've been a strict locaboire, drinking only local wines to pair with local foods.
The week began quite pleasantly with a Monday lunch at the Planet Bordeaux wine tourism center, feasting on duck confit and Bordeaux Superieure rouge at the intriguing facility just off the main route between Bordeaux City and Libourne that is all about Bordeaux' mainstay brands - Bordeaux AC and Bordeaux Superior wines.
After drinking and eating my way across Entre-Deux-Mer and adjacent regions, I landed Thursday evening in Florence in time for a long dinner at Trattorio da Tito, sampling a dozen or so bottles of delightful Chianti Colli Fiorentini reds and riservas before nearly collapsing from sensory overload into my steak Florentine.
Following a major tasting of wines of the CCF Riserva appellation at the city's Limonaia on Friday morning and visiting on Saturday four estates in the hills surrounding Italy's favorite city, I found myself on the flight back from Paris to Pennsylvania. There, my wife Ella's classic pasta with red sauce awaited me, savored at a Sunday evening dinner in front of the season's first fire and matched with two locally made Chester County wines - a homemade 2007 Pinot Noir from David Othmer's Haywagon Vineyard and a well-aged 2003 Va La Vineyards Nebbilo made by its proprietor, Anthony Vietri.
Eat local, drink local - wherever local happens to be at the moment.
The purpose of this week on the road was to get a closer view of two under-appreciated wine regions where great quality and value exist. Bordeaux AC and Bordeaux Superieur, whose wineries are concentrated in, but not limited to, the Entre-Deux-Mers region between Boredeaux' Medoc and Graves regions and Ste-Emilion and Pomerol, makes delicious red, white, sweet and even sparkling wines at affordable prices. Chianti Colli Fiorentini is lesser known than Chianti Classico, but it also makes great value wines in the hills, or colli, around Florence.
Some highlights of the week:
1. Shopping the weekly market at Creon and seeing the source of Bordeaux' fabuluos duck cuisine,
2. Touring Renaissance man Stefaan Massart's Chateau Vilatte vineyards by horse-drawn carriage then sitting down to dinner with bread made by Massart at the brick oven he reconstructed,
3. Hearing and watching in the gathering darkness as the mascaret, or incoming mini-tidal wave, swept up the Dordogne River from the Atlantic, at riverside Chateau de Bel,
4. Walking through the caverns beneath Chateau Lamothe d'Haux, carved out long ago to get limestone building blocks for chateaux and city buildings, then having lunch on the terrace above,
5. Examining the century-old vines newly identified as being from the rare Bouchales variety at Chateau de la Vieille Chapelle,
6. Watching - quel frommage! - cheeses being made at Domaine de l'Hirondelle,
7. Savoring a family dinner with the Demononchaux at Chateau Pierrail,
8. Interviewing the fascinating Antoine Touton on camera at Chateau Sainte-Barbe.
9. At Florence's Boboli Gardens, tasting through the 2008 vintage of Chiani Colli Fiorentini in the caveronous Limonaia, then
10. Visiting four estates in the maze of hills around the city.
And, of course, the pleasures of being back home again with local food, local wine, and a local bed!
Until next time,
In the September issue of the UK's The Drinks Business, read my business case study, "John Larchet's Aussie Wine Journal."