March 22, 2012, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
DOC Vineyards along the Douro River
The Douro Valley in Portugal is rich in history, romance and stunning scenery, and is home to one of the most distinctive wines in the wine world—Port. This fortified wine is revered for its ability to age as well as having an unequaled range of flavor and style profiles, which makes Port a valuable addition to any well-rounded wine cellar. Every wine tells a story, and the story of Port is quite unique!
The History of Douro and Port
Declared a World Heritage Site in 2001, archaeological finds date winemaking in the Douro back to Roman times. However the development of fortified Port wine occurred during the second half of the 17th century. In 1678 Britain declared war on France and blockaded French ports, and in doing so created a wine shortage in England. In 1703 Britain and Portugal signed the Methuen Treaty that established the supply of cloth from England in exchange for Port wine, among other things. View Full Post
June 24, 2011, by: Stephen George
The splendor of St. Emilion viewed from one of its crown jewels, Pavie Macquin
“Is this the hanging tree?” I asked.
I stood on a grassy path flanked by vines on both sides, staring up at a tall tree with large branches spreading wide. Oak? Elm? I wasn’t sure, and it didn’t really matter. All that mattered was whether this was THE tree, the one that – according to legend – the townsfolk of St. Emilion used for executing criminals many years ago.
We had broken free from our tight tasting schedule in order to take up this quest. That Tuesday, our first day of 2010 tastings at Primeurs, we did Cheval Blanc and the Rolland Collection at Le Bon Pasteur, followed by Michel Rolland’s consultancies at Chateau Soutard and then Stéphane Derenoncourt’s consultancies at Chateau La Gaffelière. Wednesday brought a full morning of tasting biodynamic wines at Ch. Fonroque followed by a cross-river haul to take in the wines of St. Julien, St. Estephe and Pauillac at Ch. Branaire Ducru, and then a dash to Ch. Lascombes to sample Margaux before the day’s tastings closed. We began Thursday morning early with the St. Emilion tasting at Ch. La Couspaude before heading back to the Left Bank for Graves and Pessac-Leognan – both rouge and blanc – at Ch. Malartic-Lagravière, and then back again to La Gaffelière to finish tasting Stéphane’s wines and chat with some of our producer friends there.
If you’re counting at home, that’s over 500 wines tasted in three days, not counting bottles we enjoyed during our dinners or at the late-night producer parties we attended. This kind of professionalized indulgence is par for the course during Primeurs week, but still, by Thursday afternoon we needed a break that didn’t include swirling, sniffing or sipping. View Full Post
June 11, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
Grand Canal at Sunset
It’s no secret Montesquieu Winery is fond of exploring wine regions off the beaten track, inspired by the thrill of adventure and discovery as we seek new and exciting sources for our international portfolio of Montesquieu Wines.
That being said, we also relish the wealth of experiences one finds traveling to classic destinations such as Paris, Rome, New York, London, Barcelona and the like. Even though these cities are not wine regions, and not off the beaten track, the opportunities to be immersed in fine food and wine are great with an abundance of world-class dining and top-notch wine lists, plus in many cases wonderful wine regions nearby! Add the museums, shops, and cultural treasures galore, and you have all the ingredients that most consider essential to the art of living well. View Full Post
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
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 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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