My Favourite Wines, Top Discoveries and Experiences of 2011

I feel like a respite from all the self indulgence that the Christmas holidays force upon me and feel my thoughts turning back to wine. As the New Year is coming up fast I thought that I would attempt to tell you about my wine highlights for the year.

Most of my top wines have been written up here on my Wine Page, but some have slipped through the net and are new today. Please always remember that this is an entirely personal list, but I hope you enjoy it and that it gives some food for thought.

Sparkling Wines

I was really spoiled for fizz this year, 2 Champagne tastings stand out in particular:

Champagne:

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Non Vintage based on the 1953 vintage
This whole tasting was extraordinary and provided a wonderful insight into a type of Champagne that it is all too easy to take for granted – read about it here.

1995 Perrier Jouët Belle Époque
In February I was lucky enough to taste four different vintages of Belle Epoque out of jeroboams, the 1995 was the standout wine for me, but they were all superb – read about it here.

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Mastering the vernacular – Getting to grips with Vernaccia di San Gimignano

San Gimignano

My recent trip to Tuscany included a wonderful visit to San Gimignano. I had long wanted to see this place and it certainly lived up to my hopes – it is very beautiful and quite extraordinary. I loved the town, the sense of history, the dramatic, almost bizarre buildings and the feeling that I was in a complete medieval town with nothing of the 21st century around me.

As lovely as the place was, I was there to try the local wine and I did not really know what to expect. It is an oddity in Tuscany as it is white and made from a grape peculiar to this place – Vernaccia. Of course there are many other wines called Vernaccia dotted around Italy, but it seems that they are all unrelated to each other – indeed a couple of them are even red. One reason is that the word Vernaccia comes from the same linguistic route as the word vernacular and simply means local or indigenous. However, I have heard it claimed that the Tuscan Vernaccia and the rarely seen Ligurian Vernaccia may well be closely related. Continue reading

Lovely Lucca – lovely lunch

I just wanted to share a little hedonism and a rather splendid lunch with you.

Lucca is a very beautiful town, everywhere you look there is something wonderful to take in. My recent trip to Tuscany ended there and I took the opportunity to see this amazing place. It is perfect to enjoy on foot as the centre is theoretically a car free zone – although some of the locals seem unaware of this fact and also appear to take very little care when riding a bike, but as long as you keep your wits about you this is a small price to pay.

Wine Map of Tuscany showing Lucca - click for a larger view

Lucca from the air - you can clearly see the walls and fortifications - click for a larger view

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Tenuta di Capezzana – the beating heart of Carmignano

Tenuta di Capezzana

Carmignano is a village in Tuscany that produces D.O.C.g wines and my recent trip to Italy included a visit to the leading producer – Tenuta di Capezzana – which can boast a long and noble history.

Wine Map of Tuscany - click for a larger view

You can be forgiven for not having come across it before as it is a small wine region of barely 100 hectares and 20 producers in a beautiful valley 16 km west and slightly north of Florence. Continue reading

It Shouldn’t Happen to a Wine Blogger – the perils & frustrations of blogging while on the move

The view from my hotel room in Florence - lovely, but no wifi!

I hope you can forgive me for writing a piece that is about the medium of blogging rather than my subject – wine, food and travel.

I do not really regard my Wine Page as a blog in the traditional sense as it is not a web diary, I hope my articles are more considered than that. However, I call it my blog by way of a shorthand explanation as to what it is. Therefore I am a wine blogger and that is sometimes a very frustrating thing to be.

When out and about it is often absurdly hard to stay connected and therefore to be able to publish articles. I find it very strange that it is so difficult, to me it defies logic. I have an excellent internet provider and wireless network at home, so surely hotels could have the same thing? Continue reading