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Posts tagged ‘Vineyard’

Red Wines, Autumn Vines; The José L Ferrer Bodega

If Mallorca had been lacking the rich tones of autumn when I shared the last glimpses of green a few weeks ago, those colours were in no way lacking on my recent visit to the José L Ferrer vineyard and wine cellars. There, vine leaves had turned blood-red burgundy and an earthy shade of umber while among them voluptuous ripe grapes hung in thirsty wait for their conversion into wine. Meanwhile, the ground glowed an equally striking shade of russet red, while above and around, amongst the stunning surroundings of the Tramuntana mountains, thin horizontal strata of clouds seemed to echo the mountain range, extending the rocky folds into the sky.

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Founded in 1931, the José L. Ferrer vineyards and bodega were founded by its namesake, and the bodega’s distinctive orange-labelled red vintage has become an icon of Mallorcan wines. But beyond the standard red, the 98 hectares of red Manto Negro, Callet and white Moll vines produce an impressive array of different wines which exhibit all of the earthy character of the mountainous landscape and the exquisite aroma of the Mediterranean.

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And of course I speak from experience, as beyond exploring the beautiful landscape full of ripe and recently-harvested vines, the highlight of the day had to be wine tasting itself… I mean you know you’re onto a good thing when a row of 5 gleaming wines are laid out before you, along with a large platter of local cheese and a creamy intense olive oil produced from the same land. Amongst those we tried, my favourite had to be the Veritas Roig, a fresh and perfectly balanced pale rosé loaded with the aromas of rose petals, white fruits and citrus. A veritable burst of summer in a season now fully metamorphosing into autumn.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Tuscan Town Triple: Numero Tre – Monteverdi and the Vineyards of Donoratico

Monteverdi Marittimo is, on the map at least, mere kilometres from the little Tuscan Town of Castagneto where we journeyed on yesterday’s Daily Norm. But as the name suggests, Monteverdi rests atop a very green mountain, and the map does little to betray the extensively meandering length of road which takes a good half an hour to wind round and round the ascent of that mountain to reach the town on the top. As you do so, it is interesting how the air becomes yet clearer still, and the surroundings greener and more forested than ever – this is after all the terrain of the wild boar and the various huntsmen who annually go in their pursuit. 

Upon our eventual arrival in this tiny town, the spirit and feel of the hunt was very much in the air. The town has an altogether more “gamey” feel to it. Take away the sun and you might have been in Scotland, its old stone cottages and streets looking somewhat hardened by the elements. In fact I half expected to find stags heads and hunting rifles at every turn. Instead I found a atypical Tuscan town metamorphosed into an altogether more robust version of its normal romanticised cliche.

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Here the green shutters of the lower towns had been painted a muddy shade of brown; from here the views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside were so much lower down in altitude that they had become misty with distance. But despite the very beautiful results of old town against winning views, the town lacked soul. It’s streets were empty – we didn’t see a soul – almost as though the whole population had heard of an oncoming disaster, something of which we remained blissfully unaware, that is at least until we had lunch at the Trattoria del Pettirosso whereupon a disaster really did unfold – a gastronomic catastrophe of chewy badly cut ill cooked steak tagliata and a vino rosso so foully fizzy that the thousands of local wine growers around the town must have had a moments reflex of stomach-churned disgust. 

Still, there was no denying the abundance of verdant countryside between Monteverdi and the sea, and as we descended back to ground level, we had the opportunity to wander amongst olive groves and vineyards full of the plumpest sweet grapes, taking the opportunity to sneakily taste one or two – for any day now these will be picked and harvested to make their way into a hopefully far superior wine than the horror which had ensued at lunch. 

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Tuscany Part II: Cooling pines, perfect vines and fine Tuscan wines

While the sea may refresh and the sand bounce sunlight upon pleasure seekers and sun worshipers, the real attraction of Tuscany for me is its stunning countryside. Rolling green hills interspersed with meandering roads and picture-perfect villas, extensive vineyards painstakingly laid out across slopes and valleys with mathematical precision, and pine trees and cypresses majestically crowning the landscapes, proudly lining driveways and cross-country roads, and providing visitors and residents alike with a naturally regal sunshade unsurpassed by the multi-coloured parasols along the coast. This greenery is emblematic of lush, bucolic Tuscany, playing host to the hundreds of cicadas whose relentless chirp readily informs that you are enjoying the hotter climes of continental Europe and presenting, at each turn of its snake-like roads, a vast array of sensational vistas and uplifting, awe-inspiring views.

The cypress trees of Bolgheri

A typical Tuscan landscape

Such is my obsession with the countryside spectacles all around the Tuscan region, that my partner’s family became all too accustomed to my relentless requests to stop the car so that I could take countless photos, both for their own sake and as pictorial research for the Tuscan paintings already building in my head. Having been fully satisfied of my desire to mingle amongst sunflowers, my next wish was to fully immerse myself in the vineyards for which the region is so famous. Often closed off behind large elegant wrought-iron gates, and cordoned off from the public, more to prevent the feasting ravage of the local wild-boars than the trespass of passers-by (I’d get in if I could!), I have gazed in wonder at so many perfectly-planted vineyards, but never been able to walk amongst them. This year however, I realised my wishes and more.

On our first vineyard outing, to a vinery close to the tiny castle-topped town of Bolgheri, I was treated to sensational views of the rolling vineyards below, from a platform build under the shade of a magnificent old oak-tree which, in Harry Potter style, bore the scar of an attack of lightening some years before.

On our second vineyard outing however, we were treated to the ultimate in winery indulgence – a personal tour around the vineyard, the vast cellar where they make the wine, and an exclusive tasting of some of the vineyard’s most celebrated wines. The vineyard which played host to this unique insight into the manufacture of Tuscan wine was the Tenuta Argentiera estate, situated above the Alta Maremma coast just along from Donoratico and owned by brothers Corrado and Marcello Fratini. As wine manufacturers go, the Tenuta Argentiera estate is fairly new. As recently as fifteen years ago, the estate was all but barren. However, only a few years after acquiring the land, some 60 hectares was cultivated with row upon row of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, grape varieties which are said to achieve outstanding quality in the Bolgheri area. But that quality is assured not just by local conditions. The estate now boasts a fit-for-purpose stunning fortress-like cellar, with huge thick walls guaranteeing the natural thermoregulation of the cellars. Inside, huge stainless steel tanks ferment and macerate the freshly-picked grapes which reach these sifi-resembling machines within 20 minutes of picking. Thereafter the wine is stored in French oak Barriques, where the vinification process is completed, bottled and sent out across the world.

Vineyards with a stunning sea view

The intricacies of this process, and the care taken in the manufacture, is obvious from the sublime flavour of the wine. Our tasting enabled us to indulge in three truly thrilling wines, from the highly drinkable entry wine Poggio ai Ginepri, to the smooth, fresh Villa Donoratico and the deep and complex Argentiera Bolgheri Superiore as well as a sample of an exquisite extra vrgin olive oil, also manufactured from produce grown on the estate.

The wine making process revealed

Those immaculate barrels

We left Tenuta Agrentiera with bags several bottles heavier and our heads certainly, indulgently, lighter, to face another afternoon in the intense but all-embracing Tuscan sunshine. La Dolce Vita? Indisputably so.

All photos are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2012 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.