Our Favorite Wine Regions
May 26, 2011, by: Stephen George
The Uco Valley in all its splendor
Spend a little time in the Uco Valley in Argentina, and it doesn’t take long to realize that not only is Michel Rolland one of the most accomplished winemakers of our time – he’s also a true visionary.
That’s a bold statement, perhaps. But once you’ve seen Bodega Rolland firsthand, situated at an elevation of 3,300 feet in the shadow of the snowcaps of the Andes, the conclusion is inescapable. The proof of Michel’s vision is everywhere you look.
You see it in the in the vineyard’s rocky, arid soils where the vines’ roots burrow deeply in desperate search for nutrients. You see it in the rugged, barren terrain that surrounds the vineyards as in every direction, offering no evidence of life beyond the occasional desert flower. View Full Post
May 9, 2011, by: Stephen George
In sports, it’s the championship game. In law, it’s the closing statement. In business, it’s closing the deal. In almost every profession, there’s that watershed moment when everything you’ve been working toward comes together in one critical effort. It’s a moment when everything is on the line, when your future hangs in the balance, when you’re making decisions that could realize your hopes and dreams or dash them on the rocks.
For the best winemakers – those talented savants who form the beating heart of the wine industry – this critical moment is harvest.
Michel Rolland's Val de Flores vineyard, moments before harvest
Naturally, the moment of harvest is shot-through with excitement. It can be tense and nerve-wracking, certainly. But for those of us who are romantics at heart, who love adventure, it’s the best time of the year. We risk-takers live for these moments, and we thrive in the thrill they provide.
So imagine our level of anticipation as we woke up before dawn, on our third day in Argentina, to head out to the Val de Flores vineyard to begin the Uco Valley’s Malbec harvest. We were a tired group – dinner the night before had ended around 1:00am, and after the customary post-dinner frivolity, most of us crawled into bed much later than that (’tis the Argentine way, we were learning!). But nary a grump was to be found on our team. We were too excited – our eyes glimmered with the possibilities of the day. View Full Post
April 16, 2011, by: Stephen George
Michel Rolland’s home in Fronsac
This is a story about Argentina. But like so much in the wine world, this story starts in France, one year ago.
During last year’s Montesquieu Winery trip to Bordeaux to taste the 2009 vintage en primeur, Michel Rolland invited us to his house to spend the evening. He lives in a beautiful old farmhouse on a hill overlooking the Fronsac appellation, just outside of Libourne on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Not surprisingly, he makes a wine there too – a terrific Merlot/Cab Franc blend sourced from the vines surrounding his home. View Full Post
April 14, 2011, by: Stephen George
Harvesting Malbec in the Uco Valley
I’ve finally come up for air.
As you may recall, roughly two weeks ago I jetted off to France and Argentina with high hopes of blogging my way through the wines of Primeurs 2010 and the vines of Mendoza. I made bold promises to provide regular updates. I expressed a brash commitment to real-time coverage.
What was I thinking? View Full Post
April 8, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
The Uco Valley, Mendoza
Argentina was destined for wine greatness—with terrain that the world’s best wine growers and wine makers have fallen in love with, accentuated by the vibrant cultural mix of Spanish, Italian and Amerindian influences. Wine lovers have responded to this region and its star Malbec with fervor, which has spurred even more investments in the area with an expansion of varietals along with it. It is not surprising that Argentina is now the 6th largest producer of wine in the world, and the largest producer in South America.
The heart of Argentina’s wine country is Mendoza, known by locals as “la tierra del sol y del vino” or “the land of sun and wine” where the country’s most famous wines are produced. Mendoza is both the name of the province and its capital city which is the case for all of the provinces in the country. The name Mendoza is a Spanish surname of Basque origin meaning cold mountain, an appropriate name as Mendoza sprawls along the eastern foothills of the dramatic Andes Mountains which are snow-capped all year long. View Full Post
March 27, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
The Heart of Italy, Umbria
Known by locals as “il cuore verde d’Italia”, or the “green heart of Italy”, Umbria is a land full of lush rolling hills, ancient medieval villages, distinctive regional wines and delicious traditional cuisine, all set in a gorgeous backdrop rich in art, culture and history.
Bordered by Tuscany, Marches and Latium in the heart of the country, Umbria is the only region in Italy to be completely surrounded by Italian land. Although long overshadowed by its more famous neighbor Tuscany, the wine world is starting to take notice of Umbria and its many treasures, much in the same way that the nearby Marche region has gained attention recently. View Full Post
March 23, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
Fonda Hopkins and Helene Mingot bid for Levy & McClellan at Premiere Napa Valley
Montesquieu Winery recently acquired one of the top lots of the day at last month’s 15th Annual Premiere Napa Valley Auction in St. Helena, the annual event that serves as a barometer of the domestic wine market and a window into emergent winemaking trends. Montesquieu Winery viewed this lot of 2009 Levy & McClellan Napa Cabernet Franc – the highly-anticipated Auction debut from husband-and-wife winemaking team Bob Levy (of Harlan and Bond) and Martha McClellan (of Sloan and Blankiet) – as the most impressive of the tasting. This view was shared by many others, whose vigorous bidding propelled the wine to the highest sale price for a non-Cabernet Sauvignon in the Auction’s history.
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March 17, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
View of Dordogne River from Chateau de Beynac
With En Primeur week just around the corner in Bordeaux April 4-8, it seems a good time to share one of our favorite regions for wine lovers who relish exploring a bit off the beaten track—the Dordogne in the Aquitane region of southwest France.
This charming area, just inland from Bordeaux, is a treasure trove of remarkable beauty, historical sites, lovely cuisine and the interesting lesser-known local wines which include Bergerac, Monbazillac and Pécharmant. If you base your stay in the area surrounding Bergerac, you can easily reach the En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux. Just follow the road west that hugs the Dordogne and you will pass through Côtes de Castillon and St. Emilion. These right bank gems—with their delectable wines and rich history—are not to be missed, so make sure to allow ample time to explore! View Full Post
February 10, 2011, by: Tony Connell
Architectural Treasure Santa Maria della Rocca in Offida Pecorino
Imagine yourself on a white, sandy beach admiring the view of a rocky coast dotted with quaint fishing villages and weathered trading posts. Looking away from the water, your gaze turns skyward to catch a glimpse of the green, rolling hills covered with patches of Cyprus trees, ancestral vines and olive trees. These picturesque hills seem to protrude straight out of the Adriatic. Everywhere you look as you stroll leisurely through these coastal towns, you see a population committed to preserving a local culture centered on the pleasures of food and wine. This is the essence of the Marche region, an unspoiled Italian treasure brimming with culinary delights and a kaleidoscope of wine styles – red and white, traditional and modern. Wine critics and writers have long ordained this micro-region the ‘next Tuscany.’ However, a closer look reveals this magical food and wine culture is happy just being itself, and is just the kind of hidden treasure that Montesquieu loves to share with fellow wine lovers.
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February 7, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
Exploring the Steep Terrain of St. Joseph
It is no secret that Montesquieu has long been enamored with the Rhône Valley, a classic destination for wine lovers boasting an abundance of charm and diversity. A journey to the Rhône offers a rich tapestry of experiences, spanning from the village of Vienne just 20 miles south of Lyon, to Avignon in Provence. It is home to some of France’s oldest vines and most interesting history which has been greatly influenced by the extensive trade and transportation on the Rhône River, dating back to Greek and Roman times.
The Rhône River has shaped the entire region and beyond, with its wares and stories meandering up and down for century upon century. It seems that the rich gastronomic influence of Lyon just to the north trickles south through the Rhône, imparting luxury and finesse as it flows, and in turn the relaxed, sunny demeanor of Provence has made its way north adding a rustic and approachable ambiance to yield a very pleasant balance of refinement and warmth all throughout the valley.
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