Someone once described Piemonte to me as being “Tuscany without the Tourists“. And, to a degree, that is true, they are similar in many ways and there are less tourists. But what people really enjoy about Tuscany – the rolling landscape, the meandering country roads, the wine, the food and the medieval villages – can be also be found in Piemonte, especially the region around Alba, and for a lot less money.Continue reading “Weekend in Alba, Piemonte”
This turned out to be a rather special day. We planned to take the towns of Bra, Saluzzo and then make our way to Torino, but didn’t make it to either towns. Instead, we found Pollenzo. And in Pollenzo, we discovered the “Banca del Vino” on the beautiful grounds of the Agenzia di Pollenzo.Continue reading “Alba to Torino, Italy”
I very much enjoy searching for great places to stay when we have decided where we want to go for our next trip. There are just so many wonderful places to stay, to experience. So when looking for a place in Provence, in Vaucluse, when I saw the name of this place–Auberge du Vin–well, I was more than intrigued. The Auberge is operated by Linda and Chris, a couple who not only operate a wonderful Auberge, but also are certified wine instructors. All we were looking for was a nice place to stay. Well, we got that and a great mini course on wines in the Vaucluse region.
The Auberge is nestled in the middle of three wines vineyards (grenache, syrah and viognier), in between Carpentras and Mazan, making it strategically located for visiting all parts of the Haute Provence and the Rhone region. Nice accommodations, wonderful pool and garden area, and very hospitable owners.
We’ve taken numerous courses and tastings before, but this was the best yet. Linda knows her stuff, and she doesn’t have to go far to provide product for her course on Rhone wines. After talking a bit about the history of wine in the region, the types of grapes available, and the concept of the appellations, we then stepped right outside the Auberge and see firsthand syrah, vionier and grenache growing on the vines.
Our course involved eight tastings of wines; two Viognier whites (the “new” Chardonnay), two cru reds from Beaumes de Venise, two desert wines (a red and a white) and a Chateau Neuf de Pape with a surprise bottle of 2001 Domaine la Tourade that was simply amazing.
A few interesting things were learned were:
- While in the Americas we tend to classify wines by the grape type (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, etc.), in France it is by region (Bourgogne, Cote de Rhone, Bordeaux, etc.). Which can explain why I’ve always had trouble finding a good selection of Pinot Noir wines in French wine stores; all Bourgogne red wines are Pinot Noir!
- While I knew that keeping wine in oak barrels helps the wine live longer, I discovered that is also provides the tannins in wine, and that when a wine is is strong in tannins it tends to dry out the mouth, while a wine with a good acidic balance will make the mouth watery.
- The Rhone region produces more than 370 million bottles of wine a year, more than a million a day.
- While most wines today are picked by machines, the higher quality Cru wines have to hand-picked, so limit damage to the grapes.
If you are looking for a wonderful place to vacation (Provence) and also learn a little more than about French history, The Auberge du Vin may be the place you may want to consider for your next stay.