It had been a long day in the car – my mother driving, me navigating, and my long-legged brother in the back seat trying not to get car sick – as we drove up from Agrigento in the southwest, through Enna and Piazza Armerina, home to the lovely and well-preserved Roman mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale. With Mt. Etna’s peak long looming in the distance, we were happy to finally have arrive on the lower slopes of the volcano. Just past the tight, black stone-cobbled streets of Santa Venerina, we stumbled upon the road sign leading the way to our destination, the hotel Monaci delle Terre Nere.
A visit to the French region of Champagne, visiting houses and growers, caves and restaurants, offers a little glimpse into the places that make these very specific wines. With their somber countenance and chic looks, the Champenois embody the seriousness with which Champagne is produced and marketed. No region in world is known so much for such internationally acclaimed brands, whose producers seek to create the same quality and style of wine year in and year out. They painstakingly blend grapes and vintages for the perfect base wine, and then they wait. The patience that is required to make these wines, letting some age for up to ten years, is the ultimate expression of refinement. Continue reading