Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tuscan harvest 2014

So we're right in the midst of harvest now. Finally, after an agonising summer (at least for grape farmers here) of relatively cool weather and more than a fair amount of rain (and storms in some places), the weather gods have given us a few days of truce to allow us to enter the vineyards and start harvesting.

Harvest by hand allows for selection - very much needed this year where some grapes may be damaged.

 It's a tiresome job in the vineyard with wasps ready to sting and possible encounters with snakes...

The weather of 2014 was characterised by a cooler summer with more rain than usual and hence less sun hours. This increases the risk of mould, damaged grapes (especially if hail hit), deluded grapes, and unripe grapes.

But harvest time is still beautiful...

 2014 is going to be a challenging vintage for vintners. This is when the wine-making becomes fundamental to the result in the wines. It is said that in great vintages it is easy to make good wine and difficult to mess it up, whereas in difficult vintages the great wine makers will stand out as it is much more of a challenge to make something good.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nice is a nice place, too!

To choose another place than Tuscany to be a favorite place is a tough thing to do. In fact, it often is a bit disappointing to visit other places around because not as stunning in beauty, historically, culturally, where we live.
But our other favorite place is Provence, in particular Nice - a city that offers a bit of all things that are nice (sea views, mountains, city life) and is a great place to be based to visit the rest of Provence.

Nice is full of open spaces like parks or piazzas where you can hang out and daze under the sun, or entertain younger kids with games and water fountains (some will even cool you down during the summer). Speaking of the weather, it is always nice in Nice! So many sun days and fresh sea air to keep just the right temperature.

The typical cuisine is inspired by the products of Provence and the vicinity of the sea. Rosé is the wine to go with, especially for the Aperitif and is usually accompanied by locally grown olives.
Socca is another curious speciality of Nice - a humongous chickpea pie cooked like pizza in a wood-fired oven and served warm and crispy.

Fancy a stay in Nice? Check out our apartment, situated right next to the Port and with all the comforts you would need:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

From vineyard art to real art!!!

This will be one of my shortest posts just to celebrate that one of the pics I've already shared with you and that I myself considered a beautiful piece of artwork from nature has been immortalised in painting by Laura Thompson. Maybe I'm biased but I think it's magically beautiful and that she captured the light just right - this needs to be shared with you!

Really really well done, isn't it?!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Enotria - Land of Wine

The Etruscans were a fascinating civilisation that inhabited central Italy before the Roman Empire. They were probably the first to grow vineyards in Tuscany and to make wine on our territory, making them the pioneers of Tuscan wines. Wine became so important in their culture that they named their country "Enotria" (land of wine) and had a God for this divine drink called Fufluns.

Etruscan wine didn't just stay locally but was traded and exported on vessels around the Mediterranean as findings on a sunk ship outside Antibes, France have found. 

The vineyards looked a bit different than they do today - probably something like this where the vine is growing up "alberello style" around an elm tree or similar.

Surely wines were made in terracotta Amfora and stored in them, as well. Perhaps adding olive oil on top to ensure the storage? Sulphites surely didn't exist so the wine could not have been very long lasting and was probably of an oxidised character. 
These are modern day Amforas used for wine also - perhaps the Etruscan ones looked similar?

The following pictures are from the Etruscan Museum in Castellina in Chianti showing the local findings proving the production of wine

Wine was typically deluded before drinking with two thirds water, adding a bit of grated cheese (!!), honey and spices.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Natural Vineyard Art

I can't paint or draw, unfortunately, but I love to look at art around me either by the hand of a talented artist or in form of what mother nature gives us so generously. I've always been a small camera enthusiast lately with a very nice camera (with all sorts of buttons I know little about). When it comes to taking photos in vineyards of people or vats or vines, I get very very excited :)
I think that one of the facts that fascinates us all about wine regions is their incredible beauty that most of us enjoy from a distance driving past wineries and vineyards, but sometimes it's also worth it to stop up and look at the details...
I especially love the colours of the vine, of its leaves and its grapes and have always enjoyed taking endless (and a bit useless) pictures of them for my own enjoyment. But hopefully some of you could enjoy these pictures with me, so here you get my top 12! (wanted to do a top 5, but just couldn't discard any)

Which photo is your favorite?

(Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico, Italy)

(Bellet, Nice France)

(Vecchie Terre di Montefili, Chianti Classico, Italy)

(Vecchie Terre di Montefili, Chianti Classico, Italy)

(Vecchie Terre di Montefili, Chianti Classico, Italy)

(Bellet, Nice France)

(Vecchie Terre di Montefili, Chianti Classico, Italy)

(Montemaggio, Chianti Classico, Italy)

(San Polino, Montalcino, Italy)

(Cappella Sant'Andrea, San Gimignano, Italy)

(Anonymous beautiful fall vineyard, Tuscany, Italy)

(Anonymous beautiful fall vineyard, Tuscany, Italy)

Do you want to take photos in the vineyards, too? Join us in Nice, France or in Tuscany, Italy - best months for vineyard photos are from August to November.