Listz in the cellar, visiting the Kirnbauer Vineyards, Austria

I´ve heard of abattoirs in the UK that play classical music to the animals while they are waiting for the chop and  on a more pleasant note, people have been known to play classical music to their unborn children but classical music in a wine cellar? For the barrels? Well, why not?  They are slowly “growing up” as the French refer to maturation (elevage)  in the barrel. We were listening to the soft strains of Listz while down in the very modern wine cellar of  Kirnbauer Vineyards just outside Duetshkreuz, Mittleburg, Austria. Their cellar is very new replete with a plexiglass walkway above the cellar so you can look down and see the barrels while walking above them. Conversly, Markus says in summer, it’s also fun to be in the cellar looking up….the boys seemed to agree with that statement…but anyway… Listz was born just 5 kms away and the winemakers thought it would be nice to have local boy playing along to the local grapes. Kirnbauer is a family owned and operated  vineyard near the town of Deutschkreuz, amongst the hills of Mittleberg and close to the Neusiedlrsee.  Together, they create a unique microclimate that allows for the grapes to flourish, the hills protecting them from the winds and the shallow sea creating a warm pocket for the grapes to grow. An interesting tidbit I picked up on my trip to Burgenland with a group of winebloggers after the European Winebloggers Confernce in Austria recently. Kirnbauer specialize in blaufrankisch and, indeed the area is known as blaufrankischland because it grows so well there. A red varietal that is the specialty of Austria, blaufrankisch is a mineral laden red wine that comes from mostly the East of Austria in the area known as Burgenland. Often sporting boysenberry and red berry flavours, spice and slate notes with, depending on the area and style, either mouth coating tannins or round and elegant, it´s  red wine that´s hard to ignore. While I was in Burgenland, I tried many different blaufrankisch and many of them...

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Lunch in the Douro at Quinta Vale do Meão

After the ’09 EWBC ended in Lisbon, myself and about 20 other winebloggers were invited to visit the Douro Valley by the Douro Boys. The Douro Boys are 5 Portuguese wine makers who have come together to make exciting  still table wines from the Douro Valley and to show that there’s a lot more to Portugal than Port. The first quinta we visited was the Quinta Vale do Meão. It was founded by the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaida Ferreira in 1877 when she purchased  260 hectares and began construction of a quinta and cultivation of the vines. Her great-great grandson, Francisco Javier de Olazabel now runs the estate along with his son, the estate winemaker, Francisco Olazabel. The produce both red and white table wines. We got an extensive tour of the winery and then off to the quinta for snacks and a very late lunch. We were starving because the epic journey from Lisbon had taken us about 6 hours and only one coffee stop all day. We fell on the food like vultures. Must have spent about 45 mins eating and drinking their delicious white wine and then lunch was served along with their robust red wines in the main house. By the time we left, the sun was setting and we still had a train ride along the Douro to the next winery we were scheduled to visit that day and dinner! Below is a brief slideshow of the Quinta Vale do Meão winery and estate and our train ride along the river, featuring various winebloggers, of course! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Daytrip from Lisbon to the Quinta do Sanguinhal, D.O.C. Obidos

Before the EWBC ’09, I was speaking to a friend of mine, Miguel Leal of Casa Leal, importers of premium Portuguese wine to the UK, and he invited me to visit one of his favourite wineries in Portugal, the Quinta do Sanguinhal in the D.O.C. Obidos region. Situated about an hour north of Lisbon, Quinta do Sanguinhal was established in 1927  and also encompasses the Quinta de San Francisco and Quinta das Cerejeiras. The region has been producing wine since 1153 when King D. Alfonso Henriques donated large estates in the area to the Cistercian monks. I took a tour of the vinyards and had a winetasting of the estate’s wines with one of the owners, the genial Carlos Joao and his lovely niece, Ana – who also doubled as our vineyard tour guide. Carlos and I had a very tasty lunch beforehand, drinking the Quinta de San Franciso 2006. A rustic wine made up of primarily touriga nacional, I enjoyed it immensely, nothing complicated but nice dark fruits and great tannins to complement the flavourful lunch. They primarily grow touriga nacional,  aragonez and syrah, among other international varietals as well as a variety of indigenous and international white varietals. After lunch, Carlos put me in Ana’s capable and knowledgeable hands for a tour of the vineyard. The day ended with a tasting in their lagar room where they crush the grapes by foot. The quinta is open to tours as well as tastings and I was joined by a group of Swedes on my tasting. They all loved the wines and I’d have to agree. I took about a thousand pics that day, below are some of them. Mouse over them for pic info. For more information on visiting Quinta do Sanguinhal, go to www.vinhos-sanguinhal.pt Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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I could get used to this…Aquapura, Duoro Valley

After the European Winebloggers Conference 2009, a number of us bloggers were driven what seemed like forever through windy, mountainous roads to get to the Douro Valley and visit the Douro Boys to taste all their fantastic wines. I’ve got loads of pix and I’ve made a couple of slide shows but I just wanted to devote a few pix to the Aquapura Spa and Hotel. Nestled in the groove of winding hills that make up the Douro Valley, the spa is perched halfway up a hill overlooking the Douro River and surrounding hillsides. We arrived near midnite but Iwasn’t going to miss the chance to take a bath in a bathtub as big as my bed, all while sipping the complementary vintage port and puffing on a Cuban cigar I had bought in Lisbon. Yeah, I could get used to this….except for the very confusing light switches, had to call room service for a walk thru on how to turn them off! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Cork Forest – Portugal, EWBC 2009

Another European Wineblggers Conference has come and gone….sigh…it just flew by! Before I knew it, I was back winging my way back to Heathrow. But in between landing and take off at Lisbon’s Portela Airport I met some of the nicest people, saw the most amazing scenery and had some pretty good wine to boot! For me, the highlight of the weekend, not including the tour of the Douro Valley which was AFTER the conference, was the visit to the cork forests north of Lisbon, hosted by the Quinta do Lagoalva in the Tejo appellation and sponsored by Amorim, who produced a quarter of the cork in the world, something like 60 BILLION corks a year and that’s not even counting all the other things that can be made out of  cork. We left Lisbon early Saturday morning a bit worse for wear not having had our morning coffee and set off for the province of Tejo and the old cork forests scattered about. To call them forests is a bit of a misnomer as they’re more like orchards, the trees being oak and planted in more or less straight lines but they are old, most of the trees over 100 years old and most live up to 200 years or more. Cork trees are fascinating. They’re only harvested after they reach 25 years of age  and the cork ,called virgin cork, is not of suitable quality to be used for as cork stoppers. The tree is then harvested periodically, every 9 years until it reaches around the age of 40 when the cork can finally be used to make cork stoppers. The cork from the previous harvests is not wasted but put to use in a myriad of other items, including tiles on the Space Shuttle. Pretty cool, cork is  used to insulate the Space Shuttle on re-entry. Our guide from Amorim, Carlos de Jesus was a font of information regarding cork and told us that cork has a very high tolerance for heat, the bark protecting the inner tree...

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