Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bourgogne day 5

Hi all,

Tuesday was our last taste day in Bourgogne. We wanted to start at Vougeot as we didn't see any other wineries in Vougeot.



Grandes Caves de Laforet - Vougeot

Well, this was quite interesting. I wander if the clerk was high : after making a rendezvous and after putting the alarm clock to wake up in time, when we arrived and we asked as usual that we would like to do a wine tasting (degustation de vins) like we did every other place, the clerk said that they do not do a wine-bar and that they only do degustation for people who want to buy wine. I have no doubt on my French , as I 100% sure it is native, so I explained again that yes, we usually do buy wine but before we buy any we would like to taste it to see what we are buying. He then repeated himself again that they are not a wine bar, that they do not serve by the glass and we should go see a bar. So I have no idea what was going through his little brain but we left as even if I managed to clarify on the 3rd attempt I have no reason to give them (which looked like a perfectly ordinary wine merchant in fact !) my business. So that was that.
So instead we came back to Beaunes where I spend a nice time tasting wine.

Atheneum  - Beaunes

So I went back , the 2nd time during the visit, to the Atheneum, where thanks to the Coravin system I was able to taste all kind of wines that no other wine shop will let us. I really like that places , their sales people were always very nice and they really have a diverse extensive wine tasting collection and they are very willing to work with you. My objective was of course to try wines from regions where I couldn't otherwise and I did end up with 2 bottles of Gevry-Chambertin.

Maison Maurice - Beaunes

And then on the way back to the hotel I stopped by Maison Maurice. Also a very sympathetic owner who had nothing opened for a degustation so instead he let me pick what I wanted to try and we worked out a nice tasting menu of 4 wines, 2 whites and 2 reds. Also left with 8 bottles :) I did find the Pommard 1er Cru to be a little expensive and I was a little surprised by the 87 euro price on it but I hope it will be good. I may have 2nd thoughts on that one.

Bourre in Gevrey-Chambertin

And last but not least I wanted to make sure I try some wines from Gevrey , Chambertin and that most northern region of "la Cote d'Or" which I hadn't had the occasion yet. I had left Tuesday afternoon free so that I could , upon seeing the how the previous days go, adapt and schedule what I needed to complete my tour. And using the online Hachette Wine Guide website, I selected the mauson Bourre, where I got a hold of the owner on the phone at the 1st attempt and he was available for a degustation. The owner, Bernard, reminded me of Blair from the Dublere winery. He is the 5th generation running the Bourre winery. His oncle-aunt were the Bourre and they had no kids so he took over and his boys will take over from him. They do not grow much, they buy grapes, but they make a lot of different wines. They have a list of about 25 reds and maybe 20 whites they make or maybe even more. They have wines from everywhere.
We first spent about 30 minutes talking about us to get to know each other more which I though was a great approach. Then we proceeded to the cellar to try wines from the barrel , the 2013 vintage. This was only the 2nd place where we tried from the barrel instead of from the bottle and I asked if this is because he has no more bottles to sell like Dublere, and he said no, that's not the case. I wasn't going to complain of course, as this is the real wine professional tasting : taste from the barrel , spit on the grownd in the cellar and pour the last few drops back in the barrel to make sure we don't lose any !
So here we tried some village, some 1er Cru and 1 Grand Cru, the Chambertin. Bernard explained that after the Romanee-Conti wines the Chambertin Grand Cru , on average, is considered the next level.
I did leave from here with 10 bottles among which some really interesting ones . 2 Chassagne-Montrachet I liked a lot, 2 whites that are just village for 23 euros but are next door to the famous Corton-Charlemagne white Grand Cru, and of course 2 Chambertin Grand Cru which at 120 Euros a bottle I found worth the deeper investigation. I tried the Chambertin Grand Cru 2013 from the barrel so I am now very curious to try the 2007 and such of all these wines.


Again ! Yes, well we wanted to visit the Marche aux Vins. When we went to Napa we ran into a shop where only the accountant, pregnant, was present. And guess what ? She opened the shop for us and she had us try the wines and she opened a good 10 bottles for us. Here ? Well even if the shop closes at 7pm, the last tasting is at 5:30 pm, and yes, they do not care that we leave tomorrow and can not come back. Yes, the acknowledged that they have the glasses and bottles in front of them. It was also true that it was 6:15 so we had a god 45 minutes to try their 10 wines , and that would be enough time but ... you know, why be nice when one can follow a stupid rule that gives you less work? I mean I don't think they care much. So we got also sorry for their asses and went back to the Atheneum. Here we tried a very nice 2011 which wasn't cheap around 60 euros but really nice. But most importantly our friends were able to taste and buy the wines they wanted despite the Marche aux Vins embargo  ! The Marché au Vins missed on about 350 euros of business there...

And thus finished our trip in Bourgogne. I have to say that by the end I felt like my taste buds were sticking out and are burned and during dinner the only thing I wanted was not a Pinot-Noir but more a Cab Sauv. Luckily enough the Gourmandin served us a beautiful Chianti which I loved.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bourgogne Day 4

Hi all,

Monday was a really interesting day where we focused mostly on proprietaires-exploitants.



Dublere in Savigny-les-Beaunes.

Dublere is an ex American journalist who when working from London in the 80s grew into liking Bourgogne so much that he decided to move here 20+ years ago and start his own wine making facility.
He describes himself as a farmer, as he says that 85% of his time is in the vineyard and that the vineyard makes the wine.
He is the 1st wine maker we met who only had 2013 vintage to taste, and we did a tasting from the barrels as he sells his production in the bottle nearly in full every year. He only had to sell a few (10 or so bottles) from only some of his wines and vintages.
Here we tried maybe 5 Grand Cru , about 10 1er Cru and 5 or so other wines. He explained really well all our questions about vineyard regulations and so on. He has wines from a lot of different appelations. It was really probably the most interesting visit. Usually he doesn't take visitors but thanks to the introduction from my friend Toshi from La Nuit Blanche in Ginza we were able to visit.
We bought about 1 case here, among which some grand cru, Corton I think.
It is pleasant and impressive to see what an American business man can do in 20 years starting small. He does about 35,000 bottles per year now. For example one of his main buyers is the Gordon Ramsey restaurant chain.
Unfortunately also he explained that in Bourgogne they use to have hail every other year only but for the last 4 years they had hail, and bad one, every year. His production for 2014 in some places is only 30% of the normal amount.

Fribourg in Villers-La-Faye

In the afternoon we visited a domaine in Villers-la-Faye which is over the hills in the Hautes Cotes de Nuits appellation. The domaine is a small house and they focus on the Hautes Cotes and such. We tried a few wines from this appelations and we bought some reds that we found pleasant. It was interesting to compare wines in the 10-20 euro range with the ones we tried that morning.

Thibert - Corgoloin

And at 4pm we went to another very family oriented domaine where Mr. Thibert who lives in a house that looks like any other house down the street took us through the garage, through a little working space in to a wine cellar that looked very old. He seems to be really small and doing everything himself. He's been doing it for 25 years as he explained and focused on Nuits-St-Georges. I did not know what to expect and the 1st wines were just ok, but the 4rd and last one, a 1er Cru from memory, was one of our favorites. He explained that because Pinot Noir is so low in tannis one can and should, on the more elegant climats, extract as much as possible from the skins. So as a result one can get a wine with deep black aromas and very interesting that will age very well. I look forward to trying it in the US and also seeing how it will age for a while.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bourgogne Day 3

Hi all,

Today was a quieter day, given it was Sunday.

The plan was to focus on the southern part, Pommard and Meursault.
On the way to the Chateau de Pommard, which is open non stop all day, and has free tasting, we ended up stopping at the Nuiton-Beaunoy winery and tasting room.



Nuiton-Beaunoy between Beaunes et Pommard

They are next to the highway but while we were there we saw quite a few locals come in and just buy 6+ bottles of wine.
We tried about 10 of their wines. Despite their marketing saying they specialize in Hautes Cotes de Nuits I didn't find that to be true at all.
They will have you try pretty much any of the wines they have on the least, about 25 + wines. We picked and chose and tried some Hautes Cotes, some Village, some 1er Cru and even 2 Grand Cru.
A very nice place to see a large diversity. They are a federation of 88 wine makers so they have a lot of products.
We did leave with 2 of the Grand Cru, 2 of the Monopole they have , 2 1er Cru in White and 2 Monthelie.
Their 2 Grand Cru, both red, are interesting. We loved the Corton but their second one was very animal, very strange, and more expensive (maybe due to its uniqueness).

Chateau de Pommard

 Then we did make it to the Chateau de Pommard. We didn't take the visit but went straight for the wines tasting. It was free and the taster was really nice but he seemed to not care much about order or talking about the wines. He served us straight the 1er Cru they had in White , which we didn't like too much, and then the 2008 Pommard prestige before we could even discuss trying other whites.
We had to discuss a little bit and we setup some tasting order which he then respected.
But overall we didn't buy anything , unfortunately we didn't like the reds ( especially a red had a very strange nose). So overall we were quite disappointed by the Chateau de Pommard wines despite the nice environment.
We then had lunch 2 minutes walking downtown Pommard. We didn't try any more wines there but we had the Delagrange Pommard 1er Cru at the "Le Pommard" restaurant. And we liked this Pommard red so much ( a lot of spices and black fruits) that we left with bottles from the restaurant.

Gauffroy in Meursault

And last but not least today we had an appointment in Mersault, with a Proprietaire-Recoltant , the Gauffroy family, downtown Mersault.

Meursault is extremely charming, authentic and worth a drive around but the construction changed a lot of things and it is very hard to find anything as google is confused on some one way streets.
But we did find it, and Mme Gauffroy , who's father established the winery probably more then 100 years ago, welcomed us. She was extremely friendly and helped us taste their Meursault Village white and red and their Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru and their 1er Cru in Red also.
We absolutely adored the whites which were extremely cheap (14 euro and 18 euro, so we got 3 of each). The Meursault Village red had an amazing nose but the body at the very end had a little yeast taste I do not like much, so we decided to skip that one, unfortunately.
We talked a lot with Mme Gauffroy , native French helps certainly, and she gave us the inside out of the difference between tastings wines at "negociants" vs " proprietaries-recoltants". Her view was that wines will be much cheaper and better quality when tried and bought at the winery ("proprietaries recoltants) then at the wine merchants ( negociants). Unfortunately given the time of the year most proprietaires are on vacation and so far we only met the 3 :
Natalie Vigot in Vosne Romanee
Fam. Gavinet in Nuits-Saint-Georges
And of course Fam. Gauffroy.
But tomorrow and Tuesday we are doing proprietaires only !


Visiting Bourgogne day 1 and 2

Hi all,

Just keeping notes as we go so that I don't get completely lost at the end.
Visiting Bourgogne between Christmas and New Years is far from being ideal, as many wineries are on vacation, but we make do by actually calling the wine makers and speaking to them in French on the phone.

In all cases our hotel in Beaunes, le Cep , is maybe among the best we ever stayed at. The quality of the services is unbelievable and it is very well located. We can only recommend it. And the restaurant next door, l'Oiseaux des Vignes, is also amazing, both for the food and the wine  : they serve 70 wines by the glass, all 1er Cru and higher !



L'Oiseau des Vignes

Dinner at l'Oiseau des vignes, clos sommelier Tomy Germaneau had a great PRESTIGE 5 wine selection. He also recommended we visit :
Domaine Jean Noel Gagnard, 9 places des Noyers 21190 a Chassagne-Montrachet.
Also Domaine Marc Colinet Fils , 9 rue de la Chateniere 21190 a St. Aubin.
They were both closed until Jan :(



Delagranges in Beaunes

Delagranges (centre Beaunes, proprietes a Mersault) : mostly Volnay in red I think. Volnay Clos du Village , monopole, and Volnay 1er Cru les Caillerets.

Atheneum in Beaunes

Atheneum : wine shop, use a Coravin, tried all kind of amazing wines, 10+, left with Grands Cru Clot Vougeot, the Pulligny-Montrachet La Velle , Vendenges Botyrisees Michel ....

La P'tite Cave

La P'tite Cave , centre Beaunes aussi. Here tried a few wines and bought some Mercuray. Very nice , Bouhin Stephanie, recommended I talk to to Domaine d'Ardhuy , Clos des Langres, 21700 Corgoloin , 03 80 62 98 73. But they are closed until Jan :(
Afternoon :

Natalie Vigot in Vosne Romanee

Visited domaine Natalie Vigot in Vosne Romanee. Pick up in office du tourisme. She has 1 hec (10,000 sq m) but only cultivates 1800 sq m in Vosne Romanee Village and 1800 sq m in Vosne Romanee 1er Cru. Her lot is a little higher on the hill and very close to Romanee Conti, of course. Got some 1er Cru , 3 bottles, of 2 different years. At 45 Euro they look like a good deal. She makes a living from this little winery and does everything herself.

Jacques Francois in Nuits-Saint-Georges

On the way back to Beaune stopped at the wine shop Jacques Francois in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Tried some Marsannay, and bought some Marsannay from Roty winery. Also some Bousselots Les Saint Georges, 1er Cru, et Nuits St Georges Village Christophe Chevaux.




On Friday skipped caves Patriarches, I hope to go back maybe.
But had a very nice lunch in Beaunes where I had a Maranges , La Fussiere 1er Cru.
In the afternoon did 3 wineries :
Caveau Moillard , also center Nuits-Saint-Georges. Had some amazing Chassagne-Montrachet, white of course. Then tried a few reds but only really liked the Hautes Cotes de Nuits red, which was very rich in Cassis , even maybe Cassis gem. The interesting part is that here you can self-tour the winery facilities.


Then I drove around and randomly ran into domaine Gavinet. Since 1880 , in Nuits St George, for 4 or 5 generations. They do their wine as 3 family members. They had a nice selection but I didn't like it much. 1 white, Haute Cote de Nuits et 4 reds, among which a Grand Cru. I didn't try the Grand Cru, but the rest were very well priced but I didn't like them too much, just bought 3 bottles of Nuits St George Village at 15 euro each. I wish I could have tried the Grand Cru :)


And the last visit of the day was the Domaine Dufouleur, also downtown Saint Georges. They are part of a large family , their branch sells the wine and their cousins make it. They have it staged for visitors, and have a cute tasting room. Upfront they will only offer to taste the 4 cheapest options of wines in the region : Hautes Cotes de Nuit , Red and White, and Nuits St George Village red and white and only 1 Nuits St George 1er Cru. We also got to try a Volnay les Caillerets 1er Cru 2006 which happened to be open. However, all these "cheaper" wines were all 2008 or about 6 years old and we were very surprised by the quality, once again mostly by the whites. So we left with a case of the Nuits St George Village white and a few bottles of the Volnay and Nuits St George 1er Crus.
Today, we have plans for Chateau de Pommard, Domaine Gauffroy et peut etre le Marche aux Vins a Beaunes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Our trip details if we need them later

Direct flight from New York to Venice, daily , on Delta

Arrives at Airport Marco Polo.  Bought this on , I would say about $1000 in economy,

We rented an economy car from Marco Polo using also . It was about $150 for 4 days.

We drove from Marco Polo upon arrival to the hotel where we stayed near Venice.

It is called : Villa Cordevigo.

It is a 5 stars hotel, check the website, it is AMAZING. It was about $300 per night for one of their best twice upgraded rooms.

Pictures and reality is even better. They have on premises a 1 Michelin start restaurant... And their attached winery Villabella actually has amazing wines !!1s0x4781efbfeef4ec1f:0x2827d7ad0b24397c!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e1!4s!5svilla+cordevigo+-+Google+Search&sa=X&ei=gLdYVPrYAcSqyAS75YGoCQ&ved=0CLEBEKIqMAo

Day 1-3 we visited wineries near Verona in Valpolicella. Here is what we visited and what I thought of them :

Then on day 4 drive back to Marco Polo airport, drop off car, and go to Venice  :

Taxi 40 Euro to Piazzale Roma,

From there take Vaporetto to where you are staying.

We used and we payed 168$/night to stay in this apartment that was amazing.

If you stay there take Vaporetto to St.Maria Giglia, Vaporetto Number 1. It is the next stop after Academia.

Here is where we stayed :

The apartment is very well located. Really amazing , and much better even then the pictures. I loved the art in the apartment. Only draw down is 3rd floor and no elevator.

In Venice we recommend to eat at :

Meals are not cheap but at least in these authentic places they are amazing.

Let me know if I can help with anything else.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1st Visit of Valpolicella , wine region around Verona

Hi all,

After trying some Amarone, Ripasso and other wines from the winery l'Arco at the wine bar La Nuit Blanche in Tokyo for the 1st time, I liked them so much that I wanted to go try more of them and of course secure some for the years to come.

But before I talk about the wineries we visited and what we thought of them, I have to point out that we stayed at the Villa Cordevigo hotel which was an amazing , absolute perfect choice for our trip. It is as charming as you can imagine , located in a nice country side environment, and exactly the way you imagine it.

A little bit more about Valpolicella : the name comes from historic times and latin of course as explained to us by Luca from l'Arco. Val means valley. Poli means many. And cella is the root of cellar or wine makers. So in other words even during the latin times this region was named to be the region with many wine makers. This does looks promissing. The village itself that is kind of at the heart of the traditional Valpolicella region, Negrar, is named so after the many African slaves that were working the vineyards. Apparently it is a hard work, cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and it is hard to find people willing to work in the vineyard. Many workers now come from Eastern Europe in fact.



Villabella wines tasted at Villa Cordevigo

The Villa Cordevigo owners also own a winery called Villabella, and while one may be put off by such an association and have a preconceived idea about the Villabella wines, we were plesently surprised with the quality of the Villabella wines in general. It happens that they bough the winery 1st and they focused on the wine and 12 years later only they opened the hotel. For the best wine tasting , even if you are not staying at the Villa Cordevigo, go to the hotel bar and ask for Paolo , the sommellier. He will organize for you a usually-free tasting, and explain in detail, as much as only Italians can, everything you want to know (or not) about the wine, region and so on. He also advised us to visit a few other wineries which turned out to be great advice. Here you must try the Villa Cordevigo Rosso and Villa Cordevigo Bianco. I know the names make them sound like entry level stuff, but trust us, it's amazing , at least for us.




The main reason and the 1st contact we had with Valpolicella was l'Arco wines in Japan. So I knew a little bit what to expect from the wines but no idea about anything else. 1st and most important, there are 2 streets who contain Roverina in their name in Negrar : Via Roverina and Via Strada Roverina. Of course we went to the wrong one. And 2nd and also very important, which we noticed later to be the rule in fact, none of the wineries, which for most of them are large houses turned into wineries, have any sign what so ever signaling the name of the winery, or that any wine is being made there. So with some help from Luca Frederico, the owner of l'Arco, we managed to find the house.
Luca took us to his basement where we tried , in a half lit barrel room, with a large oak table and under a soft police interrogation lamp, all his wines. This is certainly worth a visit even for people who never heard of l'Arco. Luca explained to us that the 1st winery, or maybe just the most famous one,  that researched quality was Quintarelli. And that unfortunately Giuseppe Quintarelli , the grand father of the present operators, died 2 years ago. That his main wine maker was Romano Dal Forno, who married in the Quintarelli family. Then the following second Quintarelli student was Zyme. And him , Luca Frederico, was the third and married a niece of Signor Quintarelli. So as such we can trace most quality Amarone and wineries making it to a Quintarelli origin and many known wineries have familly connections which certainly helps.
About the wines, I personally preferred the Rubeo, named after Ruby, which is about half typical Amarone mix and half Cabernet Franc also processed as Amarone grapes; Luca's personal touch. I am familiar with the Pario but I found it better in La Nuit Blanche in Tokyo. We also discovered the Reciotto , which is the local and historic wine.  Do not worry, we did leave with a case and we look forward to trying them at home.
Luca also explained that normally one stops the Reciotto fermentation when about half the sugar is fermented but some day somebody failed to stop it and a fully fermented Reciotto became Amarone.
And last but not least, and we found this to be the key for most outstanding wineries , like L'Arco : most wineries don't make Reciotto or Amarone every year. Just during the years when the grapes have enough sugar. So in practice Amarone is made every other year on average by respectable wineries. And Reciotto, Luca only made it twice in 10 years. And this 2014 harvest is particularly terrible.
As we left we asked to buy three Reciotto from Luca but he could only sell us one. I think that says enough. The Amarone is about 35 Euro at L'Arco and the Rubeo about 25 from memory. So I think this is probably among the best ratio of quality to price.



Romano dal Forno

We started the day with probably the most expensive wine and impressive winery. The visit is lead by the family itself. Mr. Romano was walking around doing things and offered to shake hands if his hands weren't so dirty he said. His wife, which only speaks Italian, kept us company, while we were trying to guess how to say things in Italian using our French , Romanian and Spanish knowledge and adding Os Is and so on at the end.  She was very patient and appreciated our creative Italian I guess. And at last her son showed us the winery. We have seen many wineries but this was certainly among the most interesting. They have designed , engineered and built the vinification room with a lot of science. Everything is automated , they custome built fermenters with electronically controlled electric motor-powered pistons without any oil lubrication to mix the skins and the jus during the fermentation. All the pistons for each fermenter are controlled by a computer which can set a frequency of mixing, once an hour for example, and a pattern , how to use the 4 pistons in which order and so on. Then in the secondary fermenters they use are from the diary industry. Fermenters which they only clean with water, automatically, with a robot that comes down from the room which sprays water at 75 degrees C, at a certain pressure of course. In fact they use custom built diary-industry inspired tanks that have been outfitted to support some vacuum because they use nitrogen and vacuum to prevent oxygen from oxydizing the must as much as possible. But also because the diary-type tanks allow them to separate the different sections of the must, more or less full or particles, to help clear the wine. They do use wine clarifiers though, which I was not sure at first.
Anyway, and the same detailed approach goes in everything they do , from the grape drying room to the way they clean, nitrogen , refill and serve you a wine taste from the barrells in the very impressive barrel room in the cellar.
Little will you be surprised if I told you that they only make 3 wines, Valpolicella , around 70 euros a bottle, Amarone , around 245 euros a bottle and their version of Reciotta which can not legally be named Reciotto for much much more.
The visit it totally worth it, and we did buy two bottles of Valpolicella as we do not have infinite money, unfortunately.


This is brand new and the tasting room has an amazing view over the plain. They are very much into art and they will take some time to show you their modern sculpture and all kind of media graphic art collection inside their authentic and historic building. They were very nice and in addition of the wine they also served us some cold meats, some parmegiano straight curved from the wheel and even some biscotti with the desert wines. I think their Amarone was very good and in general their wine selection was a great value to price ratio and worth visiting.


Quintarelly is quite the patriarch of Amarone wine in general.  As I mentioned many wine makers can trace their origins to Giuseppe Quintarelli, both from a technical and profesional relations but also most of the famous ones are related to Giuseppe Quintarelli. There are now 9 cousins who are grand sons and daughters of Giuseppe and many of them work in the wine busines. Giuseppe himself unfortunately died 2 years ago.  The most surprising part is that the Quintarelli winery is in fact nothing more, at least from the outside, then a large villa. They were doing construction when we visited. And of course, like in many other places, there is absolutely no sign so one has to drive in and ask to make sure it is the right place. We were shown around by one of the cousins who works there full time and we saw their new barrel room, barrels, drying room. Nothing exceptional as a visit except maybe for historic reasons. We tried their wines in a dark room also that was clearly historic. I think their wines were very good but also extremely pricey so hard to really evaluate. Probably worth visiting for historic reasons but I have hard time enjoying a 200 USD bottle of wine that I pay for.

Allegrini / Villa del Torre

Allegrini is much larger and I think has no connection to the Quintarelli family. The familly has been inhabiting the Villa del Torre since the 1600s apparently and of course there is no sign for Quintarelli so make sure you look for Villa del Torre. They are a much larger operation, probably 30 mil USD per year in revenue. They have wineries in Tuscany also but you can taste all their wines in the Villa del Torre wine shop. We did not take the winery tour and focused on the wines. To us their wines seemed to be the best ratio of quality to price and we left from here with 2 cases and 1 full case of Amarone. And those Monday came to a well deserved and appreciated end.




For Tuesday we had a light program. We first cancelled the visit to Bertani which was going to be 100 EUR for 2 as we had no need to taste more 200 USD bottles and pay 120 USD just for the visit.
We kept the visit to Zyme and in the afternoon after we had plans to buy wines from  Villa Bella winery to take care of the shipping.


Zyme , who was also wine maker at Quintarelli, who also married in the Quintarelli family, has had his own winery for 12 years now. We first didn't want to visit it but Marco, one of the Quintarelli familly cousins, did insist to show us around and we didn't regret. We found the winery to be very interesting, a little for its technical innovations, but also for it's architecture, being quite interesting. I will not spoil your surprise, check it out. Marco was also particularly fun to tour with. And last but not least we tried about 8 of their wines and we were really very pleased to see a nice selection of quality , Quintarelli style 160 EUR reserva Amarone, but also 20-30 EUR wines that were unique and interesting. They are very creative in term of wines and I strongly recommend visiting and trying their wines which are also priced very reasonably. 

Villabella Winery

And last but not least we wanted to visit the actual Villa Bella Winery. I think it was interesting in that it was extremely large and industrial and I had never seen a winery that makes both high quality wines in the brand Villabella but also lower quality 3 EUR bottles of wine , of which they make 500,000 bottles a year. They can put the grapes in the destemmer straight from the truck ! And they have tens and tens of 60,000L tanks around the property. Quite impressive. Maybe worth visiting for that but probably trying their wines in the Villa Cordevigo environment will be much more pleasant.

Shipping wine

And now that we have all these wines we were quoted 20 EUR per bottle to ship it back to New York. Our research on did not yield anything better unfortunately.
So, the drama is not over as we still need to find a solution before we leave tomorrow Wednesday. We are not sure but we may have found probably an alternative and better solution for wine shipping back to the US with Caratello :
We are still waiting for confirmation that they can pick them up and they can do if for about help that price. We will be happier when the wine will be home.

I hope you will find this useful for your trips, enjoy !

Monday, October 27, 2014

Visit to Mendoza in Argentina

Hi all,

In January 2014 we visited Mendoza Argentina. We got there via Santiago in Chile, where we went to a local wine bar that had such an impressive selection of Chilean wine that a wine trip to Chile alone is warranted. But that is another story.

In Mendoza we discover of course the Malbecs. Caramel, dark fruits, licorice but interestingly quite price effective.

We visited a few wineries and here are my thoughts :

Day 1


While this was back in the days a very commercial winery ( had the train stop in their winery to load wine ) it had closed before opening again. It is now a historic winery that is worth visiting. We were however very surprised to see that they had a very nice selection of wines for very reasonable prices. We loved their wines and even after they were shipped back to us, the quality was still the same. We would go back and buy their wine any time. Maybe we will buy 2 cases next time.


 Carinae was founded by an alumni from my school in France, Supelec. It was great meeting them and it was the quintessential family winery experience. They do not have the size and variety of other wineries but it was great to meet another alumni. We haven't had much of their wines we shipped back so we still need to see how their wine ships and drinks after some time. Here we discovered the local famous Torrontes , with its Sauterne nose but dry body. A must try, a unique and extremely pleasant combination. We love it ever since.


We had lunch at a restaurant/winery accross the streeet from Familia Zuccardi and it was amazing. We recommend going despite forgetting the name of the restaurant.

Familia Zuccardi

Here they have quite a few unique wines from local grape varieties that we had never hear of before or since. Later on in a restaurant we tried the Zuccardi Zeta which did end up being amazing but we were unable to try it at the winery as far as I remember (or maybe we didn't appreciate it enough, not sure). In all cases we left without any wine from here I think, or maybe just a little as more often then not there are reasons why local grape varieties are not that famous (unlike the Torrontes of course). 

 Day 2


 We started day 2 at Cobos which is a local winery developed in a partnership between a Napa wine maker and a local Argentinian wine maker. So it presents as a Napa winery, it looks like a Napa winery and at first we thought the wines were just excellent :) When we saw the prices , especially compared with the rest of the wineries and compared with their wine price on the internet which we also checked, we weren't so sure that we wanted to buy any wine from them. However we did buy a case by the end and, weren't we surprised when this wine turned out to be the best wine after we shipped it home, unlike the wine from Melipal....


Now we have very mixed feelings about their domain. We loved the domain, and more importantly when we tried their wines in their tasting rooms we found their wines to be our favorite from all the wineries in Mendoza. They were also reasonably priced unlike Cobos. However , while they did warn us that the year we tasted and the year they had for sale were different, little did we expect to be shocked by such a quality difference. Once our case got home, the wine we had was really unpleasant, a few went down the drain. What a waste but more importantly what a disappointment. We couldn't wait to open them, and then we couldn't drink them. A very sad story.

Dominio del plata

Here we had lunch again and it was very good for sure. And guess what ? It is of course a winery also. I do remember we loved their wines, and quite a lot, but we ended up not buying anything at all because their wine was much cheaper in their own restaurant then the price at which they would sell us the bottles. We found that to be very offensive, they were taking us for stupid so we got offended and we didn't buy any wine. Yes, we sometimes will act out of pride... On the bright note they had interesting , and un-usual, Mendoza Pinot Noir and a few other ones. So a must try if we are psychologically prepared to the fact that they will sell you the same product for 2 different prices when they think they got you hooked.

Achaval Ferrer

Ah, and Achaval Ferrer, well, is supposed to be among the best in Mendoza. We found it to be good for sure. But not worth the exorbitant price they were charging. So we didn't buy anything. The visit was interesting for sure, probably one of the best as they let you try wine from the barrel in their cellar to compare qualities and understand the wine evolution. Quite interesting as a visit. Probably a good winery to finish with because you will know by then the quality and price of the average winery in Mendoza.