Wine Route Final Post

“We need to verify the credit card that you used to book the flight” said a dead-eyed Delta agent at the Buenos Aires airport.

I adjusted the 6 bags on my rolling cart for the twentieth time and recalculated the time left until our departure.  “Like I’ve said twice, I cancelled that card 6 months ago.  Why do you need to see it?”

“We need it to confirm the ticket.  Without it we can’t issue boarding passes.” He stated.

“This is our 15th and last flight on the same ticket and this is the first time that we’ve been asked to produce a credit card.  You need to explain to me why this is critical to us boarding the plane.”

“I’m sorry, there is nothing I can do.”

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Kate looking appropriately annoyed while we wait for Delta agents to issue us our tickets

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Argentina: Wine, Beef, Tango, and Pickpockets!

Tango Dancers

After our long journey over from Madrid to Buenos Aires, we settled into our Palermo Viejo apartment.  The Southern hemisphere’s winter chill blasted us leaving the airport, but it felt great to escape the heat of the Canary Islands.  Our inexpensive apartment was booked through bytargentina, the country’s answer to VRBO, and had vaulted ceilings, skylights and a beautiful (but cold) terrace on the top overlooking the city.  Continue reading

Canary Islands – Our Fave!

Waiting in a long line for our Ryan Air flight to Lanzarote, we wore three layers of clothing in an attempt to make the carry-on size limits.  I was sweating bullets and cursing the never-ending check-in line, non-existent air conditioning and Kate’s “must have” hair dryer bulging out the corners of her luggage. Our turn to check in finally came and the Ryan Air attendees glanced towards our bags.  It appeared to me that they glanced at each other, confident they would collect the $150 oversized bag check fee before we boarded as they motioned towards the “ok for overhead” wire frame.  Like a lumberjack swinging an axe, I raised Kate’s bag up with two hand and slammed it down into the frame.  I really hoped I was doing some permanent damage to the hair dryer as the metal frame of the luggage checker shuddered and the bag stopped a third of the way down the frame.  I smiled assurances at the Ryan Air attendees and pushed with both hands.  Sweat streamed from my face and Kate pretended she didn’t know me as a hundred passengers looked on.  The metal wires bent—or the hair dryer broke—and…

DSC00651Guess how many f*cks this wild goat gave about the size of our luggage

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Struggling to Understand Bordeaux

We woke up before dawn to make the long drive to the grandest wine region in the world, Bordeaux.  It turns out we chose the worst day of the year to travel in France, the first weekend in August, and we found ourselves snared in some awful traffic.  Our 7 hour drive turned into 11, and we missed the first morning of tasting in Bordeaux (much to the chagrin of our charismatic Bordeaux wine guide, Bruno).

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Why is Jon smiling?  You’ll have to read to the end to find out!

I think Susan captures our tasting in Bordeaux  with Bruno well:

Bruno was an interesting character. He had a degree in viniculture, but found that the degree qualified him to work in a lab, which was boring, but not in the real world. He then got a degree in business and did many things – ran a wine-tasting school, assisted with futures tastings and now is doing wine tours. Bruno knew everything about wine in Bordeaux. From Bruno I learned some interesting history.

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Rhone Redux

As we traveled into the Rhone Valley, the sharp outcroppings of limestone replaced the rolling hills of eastern France.  Returning to this region had our wine taste buds watering.  In the farming communities of Arbois, the wine is fresh, light in body, unaltered and organic.  200 miles to the south in the Southern Rhone Valley, the wines are certainly quite different. DSC00538 Continue reading

Beaujolais!

Going back in time, after getting engaged in Paris on 11/11/11, we wandered through wine country and ended up one day at Domaine Des Grands Fers in Beaujolais.  We fell in love with their earthy gamays but our mouths dropped open when we learned that prices were ~10 euros a bottle.  Needless to say, we are still smitten with the light, low alcohol, slightly earthy charm of a good cru Beaujolais and have spent the last several years exploring wines from this region.

While in Arbois, we knew we had to make the two-hour trek over to this region. Nestled between Burgundy and the Rhone valley, the wines of Beaujolais are sometimes similar style to Burgundy but use gamay grapes instead of pinot noir and drop the outrageous price tags.  If you think this region is just good for its Beaujolais Nouveau, we’re no longer on speaking terms.  This NYTimes article points out just how great these wines can be at an affordable price.carte_geo_beaujolais Continue reading

Wine Report: Jura

Wine Report: Jura

DSC00479 (1280x960)               We’ll cut to the chase on this one: the Jura was phenomenal.  We (our good friends Courtney and Ryan joined us on part of this leg) drink lots of wines from this region at home, and we were very excited to visit the source.  For those of you not familiar with this region of eastern France, the Jura is most famous for its whites, particularly Savagnin, which can be produced with minimal aging or aged over six years in demi-muid (600 L barrels).  With time, a thin layer of yeast  (le voile de levure) grows over the slowly-evaporating liquid, yielding a wine that is peaty, slightly oxidized and deep yellow in color (hence its name vin jaune, which translates to yellow wine).  But the Jura also makes terrific Poulsards, Pinot Noirs and Trousseaus, all with refreshingly low alcohol.  If you haven’t tried these yet, you should. Continue reading

Driving through Geneva in a Hail Storm

While on our way from Piedmont to the Jura in eastern France, we drove through an epic hail storm.  It turns out that it extended all the way through to Bordeaux where it damaged a number of grape vines.  Hail is the bane of winemakers and the effects can be devastating to harvests for several years because of the damage it can do to the vine.  Estimates on the damages from this storm to wine production are estimated to exceed 100 million USD.  You can read more about it on this link.  We got some video below… Continue reading

Croatia Summary

After an 11 hour flight from Seoul to Munich, we picked up our awesome Ford station wagon (seriously better than any in the states) and started the 6 hour drive down to Croatia though Austria and Slovenia.

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Word to the wise, Slovenia and Austria both require you to buy toll road tickets to use their highways.  Though Croatia is part of the EU now, it still checks passports at the border and if you don’t have a toll road ticket when leaving Slovenia you’re going to get hit with a hefty fine (which we did).  Ouch! Continue reading