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Twitter Quiz No. 12 – Ysios in Rioja

April 22, 2009

The most famous wine region in Spain – Rioja – has become recognized in recent years not just for the quality of its wines, but for the number of architecturally spectacular wineries in the region – almost certainly more of note than in other wine regions of Europe. The region is dominated by fairly large wineries, typically more New World size, rather than the boutique, family-owned wineries characteristic of most French and Italian wine regions, so these larger companies are more able to fund these fantastical structures by famous architects.

Ysios winery in Rioja

Ysios winery and vineyards in Rioja with the Cantabrian mountains behind.

The best-known architect-designed project in Rioja is Marqués de Riscal’s new winery building and hotel, designed by Frank Gehry, who also designed Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum just a couple of hours up the road. But, before that was opened, an extraordinary building could not fail to catch your eye driving through the vineyards of Rioja, the winery of Ysios, near Laguardia and owned by the giant Domecq wine group.

Tom Perry, an American resident of Rioja, who writes our two detailed micro-region travel guides to the Rioja wine region explains about Ysios:

The inspiration for the name of this winery was Isis, the Egyptian goddess of magic, and it is truly magical when you see the place for the first time, with its undulating aluminium roof against the stark backdrop of the Cantabrian mountain range. When you approach the winery, the roof reflected in a pool looks like a row of casks. Inside, architect Santiago Calatrava has created a simple yet functional design to make winemaking as easy as possible, with the movement of wine directly from one end of the winery to the other.

Congratulations to Katie of Chicago who magically came up with the right answer and wins a PDF guide of her choice.

Do follow me on Twitter for random notes about wines I’ve tasted, places I’ve been and updates to the Wine Travel Guides website. You might also want to check out our Facebook page – especially if you haven’ t yet participated in our poll as to which country we should focus on for our next guides. Please do make a comment on this blog or join in the conversation on Twitter or on Facebook  to discuss anything about travel in wine regions. A bonus: all Facebook fans and Twitter followers are eligible for discounts on subscriptions to the guides. We’ll do another twitter quiz soon.

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Win a Wine Travel Guide – Twitter Quiz No. 12

April 22, 2009

The twitter quiz returns after a month’s absence during which time I sincerely hope you have all been studying wine and travel facts. Reading up about wine regions is one thing, but there is nothing to beat visiting a wine region to really learn about what is behind a wine label. The great thing with learning about wine, and why those of us with connections to wine education dedicate many years to the quest, is that the subject of wine covers everything from history to microbiology, touching on geology, climatology, agriculture, chemistry and more in-between. If you add in a sense of place, which is where travel comes in, then there’s even more to discover. Our twitter quizzes are designed to make you think a little about some aspect of wine and/or travel in wine regions … today’s answer should be pretty easy to discover and the answer will be elaborated on in a post after the winner has been declared. Read carefully to win:

Weekly Twitter Quiz No. 12 – Question
Which new wave architect-designed winery in Spain has magical connections?

You must follow me on twitter to compete. The first correct answer that is replied to @WineTravel wins the prize of your choice of PDF from the 50 guides to wine regions in France, Italy and Spain.

I will announce the answer and name the winner on Twitter first and then on a new post here.


Twitter Quiz #11 – Montbéliard Cows and Sausages

March 18, 2009

It’s time to confess: I’ve never been to Montbéliard in the French department called Doubs, though it’s only just to the north of the Jura, a region that I know very well indeed. What singles the town out for me is that it gives its name not only to a breed of cow that grazes the mountain pastures of the Jura and beyond, producing some of France’s finest cheeses, but also to one of the delicious smoky sausages widely served in the Jura.

montbeliard-cow-for-blog1The Montbéliard breed of cow (sometimes in English seen with an ‘e’ on the end and also known as ‘The French Dairy Simmental’) is hardy and can cope with mountains pastures. Only the milk from this breed is allowed for the famous Comté cheese of the Jura that goes so well with Vin Jaune. If you’re not familiar with the cheese, it’s a Gruyère-style hard cheese and, as Fiona Beckett of Matching Food and Wine says, it can also go well with some, soft ripe reds such as Spanish Tempranillo-based wines. You do find this breed of cow in Savoie too, where, alongside the hardier breeds of Abondance and Tarine it’s one of the permitted breeds for Reblochon cheese and Beaufort. Funny, before I lived part of the year in the mountains of France, I could never have believed that I’d learn about breeds of cows and cheeses – I thought I’d just stick to grape varieties and appellations.
saucisse-de-montbeliard-for-blog

Now we come to the Saucisse de Montbéliard, a Jura speciality. Pure country pork, it’s usually smoked, and often cooked in the Jura with white wine and vine cuttings for extra flavours. You can slice it up to serve cold in salad with potatoes, or serve it with lentils, but typically in the rural Jura, it will be served simply with potatoes and a light red Jura Poulsard wine to drink with it.

If you are visiting the Jura, then as well as arming yourself with our two travel guides to the Jura wine region, do check out the website for the Routes du Comté and plan a visit to see the Montbéliard cows and check out how the cheese is made. You’ll find the saussice on many restaurant menus.

So, congratulations to wine lover Fred Swan of California who jumped in with the right answer after we’d been through answers ranging from Guernsey to Toulouse, with the closer gueses of Tarine, Charolais and Aubrac as well.

Next week, there will be no Twitter quiz as I’m taking a few days off from social networking and spending a few days skiing with family. But, the website keeps going on its own, so do visit it please and spread the word to anyone planning a private wine tour.

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Win a PDF Wine Travel Guide – Twitter Quiz #11

March 18, 2009

Where does the week go? Have been updating the last of the Bordeaux guides, tackling some Burgundy updates too, planning a week away (no Twitter quiz next week, sorry!) and generally continuing to try to get the word out about our wonderful Wine Travel Guides website. Also, doing some minor corrections to our Tuscan guides following a brilliant ‘warts and all’ review from a very professional travel journalist. So, here we are again, offering you a chance to win a PDF travel guide to one of 50 wine regions (well, 49, because one of them you can get free simply by registering on the site).

Weekly Twitter Quiz #11 – Question
What eastern France town gives its name to a sausage and to a breed of cow?

You must follow me on twitter to compete. The first correct answer that is replied to @WineTravel wins the prize.

I will announce the answer and name the winner on Twitter first and then on a new post here with the answer and some extended explanation.


The Weekly Twitter Quiz #10 – Château de La Brède, Graves

March 11, 2009

Travelling in wine regions is not all about wine; certainly in Europe, it’s easy to add in some cultural elements to a wine tour. Many wine regions have interesting ecclesiastical relics, old forts and art museums as well as châteaux with stories that may be nothing to do with wine. This week’s answer to the Twitter quiz is one of the latter.

Château de la Brède, south of Bordeaux

Château de la Brède, south of Bordeaux

Jane Anson, who lives in Bordeaux, selected Château de La Brède, as one of the key non-wine attractions in her guide on the southern Graves and Sauternes. For many centuries owned by the family of the philosopher Montesquieu she describes it as follows:

One of the few moated castles in the area, and extraordinarily well preserved, the château is also surrounded by English-style gardens. Expect plenty of proud displays of Montesquieu’s musings.

My Twitter followers are a clever bunch. Richard who was last week’s winner got the correct answer right away but reveals he studied philosophy – Doug of AbleGrape was there too but then he always finds the answer on his very own specialist search engine. So, my first real congratulations and choice of PDF guide must go to Dave Mcallister of Redwood, California who was very persistent and came up with an equally right answer – Château Peyredoulle in Blaye, which it seems belonged to the family of Italian philosopher and humanist Pic de la Mirandole. Further congratulations are also due to Mark Manning of Seattle who was convinced the answer must be the illustrious Château d’Yquem in Sauternes due to its links with the French writer and philosopher Montaigne. The French love philosophy – ever heard them discussing the philosophy of wine? So, no surprise there are plenty of connections.

Jane Anson keeps everyone up-to-date on what’s happening in the region with her new Bordeaux blog and has just updated the eight micro-region guides to Bordeaux for Wine Travel Guides. Why do we have eight? Well, it’s a huge region and if you are just planning a visit for a couple of days, you might only want one or two guides – that’s the great thing about on-line guides, you can just print a few pages of just what you need, and what’s more, being on-line they should be bang up to date. Move over guide books, on-line guides are here to stay.

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Twitter Quiz #10 – Win a Wine Travel Guide PDF

March 11, 2009

Into double figures, where does the year go? Have you planned your next wine tour yet? Here’s your chance to win a micro-region guide from our choice of 45 wine regions in France (46 if you include the free guide available when you register), 2 in Tuscany and 2 in Rioja (see this independent review from a Rioja fan). I am trying to alternate the quiz questions between those that are resolutely for wine geeks (last week’s perhaps) and those that require sleuthing wearing more of a travel hat. Inspiration often comes from the guides, sometimes from my own experiences. So, read on for today’s little challenge.

Weekly Twitter Quiz #10 – Question
At which Bordeaux château would you likely have a philosophical discussion?

You must follow me on twitter to compete. The first correct answer that is replied to @WineTravel wins the prize.

I will announce the answer and name the winner on Twitter first and then on a new post here with the answer and some extended explanation.


The Weekly Twitter Quiz #9 – Satigny in Geneva

March 5, 2009
Vineyards near Geneva with the Jura mountains

Vineyards near Geneva on the foothills of the Jura mountains

If you’ve ever flown in or out of Geneva airport in Switzerland, you will have most likely flown over the gentle, rolling vineyards of the village Satigny, which has the largest vineyard area of any Swiss village, around 480 hectares or just over 1,000 acres. The French-speaking canton of Geneva is the third largest in Switzerland for vineyards after Valais and Vaud and there are some increasingly interesting wines to be found there from a vast range of grape varieties.

On my last visit there, we visited the wonderfully-named Domaine du Paradis, a producer growing over 20 different grape varieties in 40 hectares of vineyards in Satigny and the surrounding villages.

Roger Burgdorfer of Domaine du Paradis

Roger Burgdorfer of Domaine du Paradis

Owner of Domaine du Paradis Roger Burgdorfer and his partner-winemaker Didier Cornut share a wacky sense of humour which is reflected in their highly decorated tasting room and on their wine labels. The wines, though, show a serious level of quality and originality, with an eminently drinkable Pinot Blanc, an outstanding oak-aged Viognier named Le Pont de Soupirs Blanc; and in reds not only a good example from the local curiosities Garanoir and Gamaret blended with Merlot called Le Noir Divin, but also a surprising star from Zinfandel.

You can easily do a wine tour in Satigny and neighbouring villages directly from the city of Geneva as it’s only 20 minutes drive away. The village has good choices for eating with the large decent quality village restaurant named Auberge de Satigny and just down the road in the hamlet of Peney, the rather upmarket Auberge de Châteauvieux. On our visit, we met up with friends who were actually staying at Châteauvieux and they enjoyed an excellent evening meal in the restaurant.

Café de Peney

Café de Peney

For lunch on our visit we went to the Café de Peney under the same management. Being summer we could sit outside and enjoyed a relaxed meal with outstandingly presented food from good seasonal ingredients. The wine list too included a careful choice from the canton of Geneva and further afield in Switzerland and beyond.

Congratulations to Richard from Massachusetts who first guessed Sion in Valais, then Lavaux in Vaud (both major wine-growing areas, yes) and on the third attempt correctly guessed Satigny in Geneva, not an easy one.

Now, I can go and open a bottle of Le Noir Divin purchased on our visit. Follow me on Twitter for some more detailed impressions on the wine later this evening. And, if you are reading this on another day, you’ll find that my tweets include a wide range of comments on wine and travel related themes plus a few more snippets.

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