Champagne wishes and a flight to Reims

met the police the first night I was in France. Well I saw them, in the lobby of the hotel I was staying at. Arresting three men. I arrived in Reims, to tour the vineyards of Champagne and was tired from a long day of travel. Not only was I carrying my backpack, but also two bags under my eyes, as I searched the town for a place to sleep. The sun was going down, I was in a strange town where I knew no one, and no one knew where I was. And what’s more, I hardly knew the language. Armed with what I could remember of my high school French, I managed to find a room in the main district of town. I went upstairs to check out the room, and upon my return to the lobby, I was greeted with two police officers apprehending the three men in the lobby. Between yelling at the men and the police, the clerk managed to check me in. Only after seeing the hesitation on my face did he throw in a free breakfast. Welcome to France I thought; try the Champagne. And that was what I had come to do. […]

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The grapes of Beaune

“Are you leaving today?” M. Rousseau would ask me every morning. To which I would always answer, “maybe tomorrow.” M. Rousseau owned a little hotel that I was staying at just outside of the old city in Beaune. Beaune is a tiny town in the heart of the Cote d’Or where Burgundy’s most famous vineyards are located. Burgundy’s best wines are hidden, beneath the cobblestone streets of Beaune, aging in damp, dusty cellars, some of which date back to the 1800s. Burgundy’s wines come in two colours, red and white, and are made from the pinot noir grape and the chardonnay grape respectively. Technically in the Rhone department, Beaujolais is also considered a Burgundy, but it is made from the gamay noir grape. The first evidence of pinot noir grape was recorded in the 1370s, though it’s thought to have been widely used before that. The chardonnay of white Burgundy did not appear until after the Middle Ages. As for gamay noir, the first duke of Burgundy, Phillip the Bold, was very much interested in wine. Also of interest was the health of the people of Burgundy. So much so that he took it upon himself to outlaw the seemingly […]

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Cycling The World’s Most Dangerous Road

No, it doesn’t connect Whistler with West Vancouver There is a tour based out of La Paz, Bolivia that every traveller in South America will tell you about. It is a 63 km bike ride down what is dubbed by locals, The World’s Most Dangerous Road. This distinction is based on the fact that on average 100 people die each year as they travel to the next town. I have been on some pretty scary roads around the world, but in all cases as I peered out the window to the steep edges I had to completely trust the driver. This was different. I was on a mountain bike. No windows to look out, just a shoulder to look over. We left La Paz in the sun, but by the time we got out of the van it was cooler, cloudy and the thought of rain was not far from our minds. This was punctuated by the bike gloves that were given to us as part of the equipment; they were soaked from the last day’s tour. Over some breakfast of fried pancakes and blueberry, cinnamon, and clove tea the guides explained a little about the road and what we […]

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A Taste of Tenuta Sette Ponti

Tenuta Sette Ponti is a Tuscan based winery that produces wines from different areas in Italy. The winery is headquartered in Chianti, with their oldest vines dating back to 1935, planted by Duke Amadeo d’Aosto vice-king of Ethiopia, in remembrance of a victory. The property has passed through numerous members of Italian royalty until the late 1950s, when architect Alberto Moretti bought it from Princesses Margherita and Maria Cristina di Savoia d’Aosta. In 1996, Antonio Fioravante Moretti, Alberto’s son, took over, and promptly brought top Italian winemaker, Carlo Ferrini, on board. Ferrini also works for other prestigious Tuscan estates such as Fattoria di Petrolo, Talenti and Brancaia. Export Manager Stefano Maggini walked a group of trade through some of Tenuta Sette Ponti’s wines last week. First on the tour were the Feudo Maccari wines from Sicily. The average age of the vines of this vineyard in the south east corner of Sicily are between 10-50 years. It is here that Nero d’Avola is at home and the two wines tasted showed the different quality levels that this grape can achieve. The Feudo Maccari Nero d’Avola ($20) was bright and fresh and if served slightly chilled would be the perfect partner to any charcuterie plate. The Saia ($35) […]

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A lament for my vintage

I was born in the wrong vintage. Not for drinking, but rather for collecting. Wines have never been more clean, stable and abundant than they are now. But the fundamentals, the classics, the benchmark wines are simply way out of my price range these days. That was not always the case. With the official inclusion of the BYOB (corkage) in the BC restaurant world last year, I have had the opportunity to taste some of the world’s finest wines, properly cellared by our guests. And time and time again I am told that they cost a fraction of what they do now. Krug Non Vintage for $5 a bottle? Apparently the bottle I opened last week was purchased in Alberta for that price in the 70’s. Piper-Heidsieck Rare for $50? No problem. Bordeaux and Burgundy? Lets just say that Rousseau Pere et Fils Chambertin Clos-de-Beze Grand Cru was at one time actually affordable and available! Yes, it’s certainly not as easy or affordable to buy these wines today; wines that have the advantage of science and technology and benefit from winemakers that have been around the world a few times. The wines being made today are certainly different from the […]

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Writing

Writings about my passion for wine, and the people, places, and stories connected to it.
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