Taste: Sparkling Wine from Argentina

At the end of a long day at Mendoza’s Nieto Senetiner, my friends and I toasted a beautiful evening and the long-term partnership between viticulturalist Tomas Hughes and winemaker Roberto Gonzalez, who have been making wine together for over twenty years. We’d tasted many of their “children” — beautiful malbecs and a vertical of the best bonarda I’ve ever had — and finished the night with a lovely rosé sparkling wine, a pinot noir with a touch of malbec, topped with a bit of grappa in the bottle. Salud!

Visit: A Sheep Farm in New Zealand

It was stupid of me to wear open-toed shoes when I visited Cape Campbell Farm, a windy, mountainous property on the Pacific coast of New Zealand’s South Island. More stupid, perhaps, to volunteer to sort, or draft, the farm’s sheep, a tough, semi-wild breed that came up to my waist, but Rob Peter, the farm’s owner, had made it look so easy. I found myself standing next to a narrow channel of sheep with my hands on different gates, ready to direct them into distinct pens. They were marked with colored chalk—”Orange to your left, blue to your right, unmarked straight ahead,” Rob explained. “And careful of your fingers; they’ve got very hard heads and will be running very fast.” Then he unpinned the sheep and set the dogs barking. Large, scared, jumpy animals that they are, the sheep stumbled over each other, scrambling to get out through the narrow passage, as I tried and failed to keep up. At least my toes didn’t get trampled! 
Originally published on SAVEUR.com

Stay: La Verrière, Crestet, France

When I visited the Chêne Bleu estate in June 2013, I was deeply impressed by the care and precision that had gone into every aspect of restoring the property, including the house and its surroundings. Visitors to the area can actually rent out rooms or the entire house for periods of time (a weekly minimum during high season) for a relaxing, elegant, and deeply restorative experience, high above Provence.


La Verrière
Available for rent by room or for the entire house
Chemin de La Verrière, Crestet, France

Drink: Chêne Bleu Rosé

It was a gorgeous day in early summer when I visited the small wine producer Chêne Bleu, based on the edge of the southern Rhône and the Côteaux de Provence in the south of France. Getting to the winery at La Verrière, located atop a mountain amongst the trees of the Dentelles de Montmirail, is easier said than done: Our GPS couldn’t find the address, so we had to do it the old-fashioned way, winding along narrow roads above the town of Crestet, eyes open for small signs and roadside markers, praying we were going in the right direction as we passed by forests and hiking trails until we finally came upon the beautifully restored ninth-century estate, high above the Rhône river valley. Continue reading