Route du Vin

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I have to admit, on our trips we may be on a Route de la Chèvre, but we are ALWAYS on the Route du Vin. Traveling with Bill, a seasoned traveler and  knowledgeable winemaker, he often guides our travels into food and wine decadence.

 

 

 

Bill, Nancy and most of our wine drinking friends prefer a dry wine experience. As a lesson in wine selection, the label or your server should provide you with some basic information: vintage, grape variety, origin and whether the product is dry or off dry. Here are some clues for searching for a dry wine.

France – Vin sec
Germany – Trocken wine
Italy – Vino secco
USA – Dry

From there you can match your choices to your varietal tastes and budget. For myself, I put down my menu and ask Bill to select something I will like. He is seldom wrong on this.

Beginning our trip in Bavaria, Bill spent an afternoon chatting with a charming Winzer or wine grower. The topics are all similar wherever we go, climate, soil conditions and environmental threats to the grapes.

German Wine Law requires 6 items to be included on the label. Unfortunately vintage and grape variety are not required. The best option is to decide white or red and the level of “Trocken” you desire.

We came home with two bottles of German wine, a Riesling and a Merlot from Gehrig in Weisenheim am Sand and the labels were clear that the Riesling was “Trocken” or dry and the Merlot is a Blanc (White) de Noir.

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We are both looking forward to tasting the Merlot. The Riesling we might save for a warm summer afternoon.

 

 

 

Alsatian wines are unique and some of “Bill’s favorites”. We visited the Wolfberger Winery in Eguisheim which has a beautiful tasting room, Sipp Mack in Hunawihr and a few others along the way. From Alsace we brought home a Riesling and several bottles of Gewürztraminer. The Gewürztraminer with a little creme d’ cassis makes a fabulous Kir, a popular aperitif at our house.

Incidentally, on the back label of the Alsatian wines, there is a chart which helps you identify the level of “vin sec”. Very helpful.

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The Burgundian wines, mainly chardonnay and Pinot Noir are typically sorted out by the area the grapes are sourced from. A single winery can produce Grand Cru, Premier Cru and a Village wine. We were able to taste all levels of wine on our visit to Imaginarium in Nuits-Saint-Georges, where they had a cruvinet that allowed us to taste some higher end wines.

 

It is possible to also look for opportunities in restaurants that might be serving some better wines by the glass. We like to confirm the bottles are stored correctly, optimally in a machine that will protect the open wine from oxidation. The O’Chateau wine bar in Paris offers a great selection of wines by the glass at all price levels and a knowledgeable server to explain the source and characteristics of the wine.

IMG_0158As far as what we like, our go to wine of choice is a Cotes du Rhone. It is reasonably priced and most of the time proves to be a good pairing to the food we enjoy. Our white wine selections are typically a higher priced variety and a special treat for us. Sancere is a particular favorite from the western part of the Loire Valley, primarily associated with Sauvignon blanc.

While considering your wine palate, think of your preferences of dry or sweet, red or white, grape variety and when you have the bottle in hand, be sure the read the label, front and back. There is always something to learn.

A couple of other beverages I also enjoyed along the way.

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The “Tango” or “Monaco” – Beer with a splash of grenadine or in this case a BIG beer. Some also have French Lemonade added to them.

 

 

 

 

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The Aperol Spritz – Aperol with prosecco or sparkling water and an orange slice. Yum!

 

 

 

 

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The very popular double espresso

 

 

 

 

And when you just are not sure of what you want, there is always this fall-back from home available down the street with free WIFI.

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Cheers!

My Favorite Things

It is the end of the trip but not the journey. We arrived home with two full bags of dirty laundry, seven bottles of wine and two bad colds. This was a memorable trip where we saw new places and revisited places we love. My Favorite Things fall into two categories.

  1. Sites
  2. Food and Beverage (Stay tuned for our favorite foods, wines and the places that serve them)

In this blog I will cover sites as apparently, according to our traveling partner Larry, the food and drink choices would be too big to cover in one blog along with the sites. I am sure he is kidding, isn’t he?

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The Bavarian Experience: Just to recap, on September 6th we landed in Munich, Germany to be greeted by our Bavarian friends, Herbert and Christl. This was a special time we will long remember.

 

 

 

Beaufiful, historic Regensburg, the Danube River and Weltenburg Abby

 

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The search for an old friend: We drove our rented car to Weisenheim am Sand, Germany. This was a visit that rewarded us with meeting Gerhard Friedemann and locating Arnd.  Truly a bit of magic in this trip.

 

 

Visiting the picturesque Alsace region, France: Degustation (wine tasting), photo ops and unique cuisine abound in this region.

 

Getting high in the French Alps: The Chamonix valley is located in the French Alps and has striking views of Mont Blanc. There is a exciting set of 2 funicular cable cars that whisk you up the mountain. The station of the Aiguille du Midi has several terraces where visitors can take in the spectacular views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. This was a thrill at 12,600 feet.

 

Cruising in Annecy: Next we traveled to the pre-alps lake town of Annecy. This is a big-little town with a great, historical old town and a beautiful lake.

 

Burgundy, an area that brings tears to the eyes of all wine lovers: The  slopes of the Côte d’Or produce the world’s finest and most expensive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wine. The tears must come from not owning a couple of acres of this land or viewing the cost of the Grand Cru wines. We have had the opportunity to visit this area in the past, and always enjoy Beaune and the country side in the heart of Burgundy.

 

The Paris Experience: From Beaune we moved on to our final destination, Paris. We met the rest of our traveling crew, Larry, Lynn and Kathy and headed for our rented apartment near the Eiffel Tower and close to the pedestrian area of Rue Cler.

One of our favorite things is visiting the markets. It is a meandering trip through fresh produce, meats, cheese and seafood, displayed in typical Parisian art form.

 

1EDFE6BA-E79A-4664-BEAD-816549E0B031Something’s are ready to eat, many things you would like to take home and a few things I would never eat.  C’est la vie 

 

An hour train ride to Medival times: We made a field trip from Paris to Provins where we enjoyed a fabulous Birds of Prey show and the well preserved medival sites of this city.

 

 

Navigating the Paris Canals: Back in Paris, we took the Paris Canal boat through the canal St. Martin which terminated at the Musee d’ Orsay.

 

 

So Many Museums and so little time:

 

The Musee d’Orsay, converted from a train station is a must see in Paris where one can visit all the favorite impressionists, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gough and more.

Small and stately, the Jacquemart-Andre museum, housed in a lavish mansion is an enjoyable way to visit the art we love. This site has permanent and temporary exhibits and a very nice cafe making a visit a special experience.

 

Marmottan-Monet museum is largely dedicated to the art of Monet and his impressionist friends. Located on the outskirts of Paris, it has a fabulous collection of the father of Impressionism, Claude Monet and a good collection of Monet’s impressionists friends.

 

My traveling crew:  My very favorite, Bill, our neighbors, Larry and Lynn and our very good friend, Kathy. Where you go and what you do in greatly enhanced by who you share it with!

 

 

If you have reached the end of this post, I just want to say there were many more sites and experiences we enjoyed. These stand out as sites I would recommend to all my traveling friends.

Paris is a city that kind of attacks you and I doubt one can ever see it all. As we travel home we are already contemplating our next trip! Where shall we go and what will we see?

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Beaune – The Heart of Burgundy

We have traveled from Annecy to Beaune, located in the heart of Burgundy. Burgundy is rich in history, traditions and wine culture. Some of the most expensive vineyard land in the world is located in this area.

C39016E2-0981-4B8D-B130-315CF52B8AEAThe grape varieties here are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which is widely produced in the Oregon Willamette Valley. But there is much to learn about the wines of Burgundy. I happen to be lucky to be traveling with Bill Fuller, Consulting Winemaker for Willamette Valley Vineyards. He is the perfect guide to help me sort through Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Village wines.  E277A651-892D-4F84-85E0-0E455E20F1A4

 

 

 

Beaune and the surrounding villages are wonderful to visit. One village we visited is Santenay and the winery “Prosper Maufoux”. We were greeted by Joanne, from Great Britain. We enjoyed her discussions of the wines we tasted and some current history on the winery. They have a really nice tasting facility and also have beautiful rooms to rent.

There are many options for staying at a vineyard vs a hotel room in Beaune. We chose to stay in the Beaune Hotel and were happy with the friendly staff, clean rooms and proximity to the sites of Beaune.

 

Make sure you have a good travel guide to help you through the burgundy area. The roads are narrow and the choices are many.

In the small village of Nuits-Saint George we found an interesting opportunity to improve my wine knowledge called L’Imaginarium. There was a excellent display of how vines are worked and historically, the many threats hanging over them. At end  is an great opportunity to taste local Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines. The total experience was well worth our time.

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Then almost across the street we found a Cassissium. This tour lead us through the world of black current (Cassis) with an interactive museum and a tour of their production facility. They offered a taste of everything they made! Yum.

Sadly, we bid au revior to burgundy as we head off to Paris to meet our good friends, Larry, Lynn and Kathy.