Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The hills of Nice - a wine region called Bellet

In the hills of Nice lies a little wine region called Bellet where vineyards and wine making are some of the oldest in France. Vineyards are terraced and the soil is full of pebble stones, sand & clay. The area is kissed by the sun and benefits from fresh winds from the Alps and in the afternoon humid winds from the sea.
Bellet was one of the first regions in France rewarded with the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) in 1941. The area covers about 650 hectares, including 50 hectares currently grown to vineyards between an altitude of 200-300 meters above sea level (650-1000 feet).
Made up of family farms, the Bellet hills count around fifteen growers sensitive to the cult of tradition and high quality.
The AOC allows for a number of grape varieties, some of which are native to the area.
For the whites: Rolle (also known as Vermentino in Italy) with a small addition of Chardonnay
For reds and roses: the native Folle Noire (meaning the crazy black grape – probably named this way as it is quite temperamental), the native Braquet (light bodied and low yielding), Grenache & 
We're offering a joinable wine tour from Nice to Bellet for small groups from 2-8 people. Join us next time you're in Nice!  http://www.nice-wine-tours.com/Nice_joinable_wine_tour.htm 

Map of the area with some of the wineries

The road circles up and down to small hills with the narrowest possible roads (no drinking & driving possible here!)

Pebbly soils (puddingstone) give origin to the high quality wines

Incredible terraces easy to spot in the fall 

The native braquet grape in late August

Vines intertwined with olives that give great extra virgin olive oil

View to the North from where the tramontane winds come in to sooth the hot vineyards in summer

View on St. Paul de Vence, West of Bellet

Chateau de Bellet, one of the "larger" wineries of the region

And the other Chateau, namely Crémat, towards late afternoon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

So nice to be in Nice...

So we've arrived in Nice, the sun-kissed and Southernmost French city (with just enough Italian feel that I could feel at home, and just enough order so hubby could feel at home and at ease).
We're going to stay here over the next 3 months as we are planning for Nice Wine Tours and an apartment we are thinking about renting out. But for that to happen first we need time actually pull together some nice furniture and make it really nice and cozy, so more about this later on...
As soon as the boys fall into the new French pre-school rhythm, we may have time to roam about and discover the areas around here for ourselves. Please stay tuned for much much more while I give you a couple of pics from around the corner of the apartment.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stars for dinner

One of the benefits of doing what we do is that we get to be guinea pigs and try things out to see if they are "good enough" for our guests. In fact, next year we are introducing a new top wine tour which will take our guests only to the very best wineries and restaurants in Tuscany. It'll be 4 days of intensive wine tasting and eating delicious foods, accommodation included (see more here). 
We never usually have the chance to go out in the evening, but luckily our fantastic day-care has started to offer pyjama-parties so that parents can go out. What perfect opportunity to try out a 2 star Michelin restaurant included in the top wine tour package - and another chance to celebrate my bday :)

A glass of Franciacorta while choosing what to eat...

My partner in crime! For him fish menu, for me veggie menu. White for him & red for me.

Langoustine, goose liver & mango (OMG! this was soooo good!)

The cabbages (just as good as it was beautiful)

Zolfini beans & onion of Certaldo

Ravioli, blue lobster, porcini mushrooms

Pumpkin, turnips, rice & almonds

Ravioli, porcini, terragon

Roots & tubers (OH thought I was dead and in heaven with this dish!)

Gaetano Trovato, the chef, artist and co-owner.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

40...celebrating those that have been and hopefully as many more to come...

This morning I awoke by a lovely email by my father who only writes me on special occasions such as this. I was quite touched of him telling me how he couldn't believe that 40 yrs ago he and my mum ran off to the hospital to have me a few hrs later...
We never really can imagine what our own kids will end up doing. We can only imagine we'll be influenced by what we experience when we or they grow up (& hope for the best!). Dad runs a small typography firm quite successfully. I still treat things quite graphically, even though that was my parents' job - not mine. He congratulated me (with hubby, of course) for our entrepreneurship in Italy and in France, resulting quite above expectations of what he thought 40 yrs ago at the hospital (but also overcoming my own expectations). Hopefully many more great years to come...

Today we went for a ride through Chianti. The weather was incredibly beautiful and just right for photography. So here are a few pictures from today - hope you enjoy!