Travel

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Tasting at Antic Wine in Lyon

Georges and I taking a picture to send Dirk Niepoort

These days it’s rare that when I’m traveling it’s not for work and work trips are thick with scheduling. So, when I do happen to have a day or two on my own I prefer not to plan anything and instead take the time to do whatever happens to happen. I’m in France for the week and ended up with a day and a half on my own in Lyon here at the start of it. So, all day yesterday I spent just walking around the city until I happened upon a wine shop that looked interesting. It turns out my spontaneity unexpectedly hit gold.

Georges Dos Santos hosts what at first glance looks like a little shop, Antic Wine, in the heart of Lyon only a few hundred meters from the Saône River. The shop is brilliantly designed with all the choicest, affordable, quick grab morsels – this time of year that’s a lot of rosé – near the entrance, moving to progressively more esoteric wines further back. The whole upper floor though (at first glance) stays rather affordable with wines for the most part below 40 €. (It turns out at the very back there is a bit of a specialty room with old Sauternes, and often asked for higher end wines from the Rhone, Burgundy, and Bordeaux.) In the midst of it I found myself a favorite Chablis producer that does go into the United States but in such small quantities it’s almost impossible to find. It turned out my selection impressed Georges, which then led to our chatting for a moment. He invited me to look downstairs where serious treasure is kept.

The basement of Antic wine is full of Grand Cru, Premiere Cru Burgundy, magnums of Champagne, and select Rhone wines. Stepping back upstairs we chatted a bit more, which led to our realizing we know some of the same people in the wine world (see the photo above we sent to Dirk Niepoort as one such example), and the next thing I knew we were deep into an impromptu tasting of wines Georges likes and thought I would enjoy. That led to our then tasting through sample bottles he is deciding whether to carry in the shop, and then we were onto Champagnes that don’t enter the United States, obscure sake he hand carried back from Japan, 170 year old port, 70 year old sherry. Eventually I discovered the tiny shop also has a big storage room with some of the hardest to find bottles in the world. He doesn’t always open so many wines but my timing was perfect as he was also going to be hosting friends later who could help drink the wines.

The whole experience was a great example of the friendliness of the wine world and the benefits of being open to spontaneous experience. Though we tasted an impressive amount of wine over the course of five hours there are three I want to be sure to mention.

As many of you know, the last couple vintages in Burgundy have been brutal leading to some producers losing 100% of their fruit. In Chablis, Thomas Pico of Pattes Loup was one such vintner who lost all of his fruit in 2015/2016. To compensate slightly for the financial hardship of the lost vintage, he created a special small production, declassified cuvée made with fruit from other parts of France. Friends supplied him with what they could and he cofermented Chardonnay, Chenin and Clairette. Though the label says Chardonnay the wine tastes anything but – it’s fresh, energetic, herbal and naturally spiced with the viscosity of Chenin but the bones and length of Chardonnay. Utterly fascinating wine and absurdly affordable at less than 20 €. Unusual wines like this occur from necessity and are well worth supporting. It turns out Polaner brings it into the States in small quantities.

Dirk Niepoort has joined forces with his son Daniel, and winemaker Philipp Kettern to make Riesling from Mosel under the label Fio Wines, and it’s awesome. The Cabinett is, as it sounds, inspired by Kabinett style wines with just a hint of sweetness to balance the midpalate on an unbelievably long fresh wash of pure, bright acidity. That sense of purity is the real hallmark of both of the Fio Rieslings (there is also a third but I didn’t taste it here). The Cabinett is utterly drinkable and begs you to run down the street to grab spicy Thai food as it would keep that palate of yours sparkling alongside lemongrass, lime, and basil flavors with the touch of residual sugar balancing the heat. The Fio, the top end of the three Rieslings, is a mind bender – it’s utterly flinty on the nose and then full of slate minerality on the palate. Totally dry with an impressively long finish – you could run down the road, order your Thai food to go with the other wine, wait till they make it, then slowly walk back to eat it at home as if you haven’t a care in the world and so much time, and the Fio finish would still be going – but most of all it’s the purity. The Fio is one of those wines I’ll be thinking about for a while. The Cabinett was 28 € and the Fio around 40 € but in case you’re looking for it Antic is the only shop that will have it in France and distribution outside Germany will be minimal.

Next time you’re in Lyon be sure to visit Georges at Antic. It’s one of those finds that’s so good I’m probably breaking some kind of industry secret by telling you about the place. If so, that just reconfirms it’s worth the visit.

Copyright 2017 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

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the Kawarua River in Central Otago

As any of you that have followed me for a while know, after in depth trips through a region I like to compile my Instagram photos from the excursion here so that the collection is easier to locate. It’s something various people have asked me to do and has proven fun to revisit.

The last two-plus weeks I’ve been traveling New Zealand wine countries. The New Zealand Wine Growers have put together a truly incredible itinerary. It’s been remarkable. There has also been enough to do in each area that I’ve decided it’s too much to put into just one New Zealand Instagram collection here. Instead, I’ll go ahead and compile the photo collections here by region starting where my trip started, with Central Otago. Between Instagram collections I’ll also post write ups of the associated place and the wines we tasted. Be sure to check out the three pieces already posted here on Central Otago wines. They’re linked below.

Really lovely wines made by a lovely winemaker. Beautiful intensity and intelligence housed in a delicate, pretty, finessed wine with a light palate and pleasing texture. Here Paul Pujol of Prophet’s Rock making wine from a moderate elevation glacial terrace with underlying chalk and lime in Central Otago. He destems his Pinot then avoids punch downs or pump overs keeping the cap wet with a light sprinkling from a watering can in order to allow delicate fruit expression with balanced structure. As he explains, working harvest in Musigny, he learned the lesson that “a mineral terroir supports no extraction.” Having already seen something like this from his site here in Bendigo the comment clicked and when he returned his approach shifted. Pinots all unfined, unfiltered and lovely. #nzwine @nzwinegrowers @paulpujol @nzwineusa

A photo posted by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on

Mountains of schist through Central Otago. #nzwine @nzwinegrowers @nzwineusa

A photo posted by Hawk Wakawaka (@hawk_wakawaka) on

To read more on my travels in Central Otago here are three articles I’ve posted here so far.

Stand out Rieslings in Central Otago: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2017/01/24/two-stand-out-rieslings-from-central-otago/

A subregions Pinot noir Tasting: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2017/01/25/pinot-noir-in-central-otago/

Vintage Variation and the History of Central Otago: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2017/01/25/vintage-variation-and-the-history-of-central-otago-pinot-noir/

Cheers!

Copyright 2017 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

For our holiday gift this year, Jr and I decided that instead of buying each other stuff we’d do something really cool together. So, I called up Captain Bob at Coastal Air Tours and arranged for us to take a flight around the San Francisco Bay and over Sonoma in a 1926-biplane. Old Blue even still has its original motor and original 104″ prop – the same type of motor and plane used by Lindbergh to cross the Atlantic.

Getting ready for the biplane flight

We flew in Old Blue but Captain Bob has another biplane from 1929 as well. He works on both himself and said that with planes of that era the maintenance is primarily focused on keeping things in good condition and well oiled rather than on replacing parts because most are so sturdy. He even loaned us flight jackets to stay warm.

in flight

Biplanes are piloted from the backseat. The front, where we sat, was just wide enough for both of us side-by-side. Sunglasses are a must-wear since your eyes need the air shields and it’s so bright out. We flew Sunday of this past weekend. It had rained hard on Saturday so our trip was unbelievably clear and everything down below was a brilliant green.

over the San Francisco Bay

As much as I knew what we were getting ourselves into when I made our plans for the biplane ride it is still completely overwhelming to look down after takeoff and realize you are looking *over the side of the plane straight to the ground below unobstructed* because when flying in a biplane you are of course also sitting outside. My mind is still sort of blown over that fact – we flew around the Bay Area while sitting outside.

the city on the right the Golden Gate on the right

While Captain Bob will do flights all over wine country or up the Pacific coastline, we asked if we could fly around San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge. Remarkable to have them both come into view.

the Golden Gate Bridge

Unbelievably beautiful – the Golden Gate Bridge.

approaching San Francisco

Getting ready to circle San Francisco.

San Francisco

Circling the city over San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco

We flew over the Bay Bridge then did a circle and came back along the Bay side of the city. Here, looking back as we flew on towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

the Bay Bridge in the background

The Bay Bridge in the background.

flying towards the Golden Gate Bridge

Heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

the city behind us

San Francisco and Captain Bob behind us.

we just flew over the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge behind us.

flying back to Sonoma low over the slough

After flying over the Golden Gate Bridge we circled around Marin and then came back over San Pablo Bay and flew towards Sonoma hugged close to the ground over the slough. It’s a trip to see what you can learn about a region from touring it by air. For example, did you know San Quentin Prison has tennis courts? Or that there is a rather deep quarry in Marin right on the edge of the Bay – I kept thinking it was close enough to the water that it wouldn’t take much for it to fill with water. Or, in Sonoma there is so much low-lying ground full of clay from San Pablo Bay and its flood zones. Most of all though it was all just stunning.

flying over Sonoma wine country

Once we reached Sonoma country again, Captain Bob flew us over the southern parts of Sonoma wine country before we headed back to land in town of Sonoma.

coming in for a landing Coming in for a landing.

If you’re interested in taking your own biplane ride, Captain Bob was fantastic. He does flights around the Bay Area, up the Pacific Coast, or over Napa and Sonoma wine countries. It’s pretty crazy sitting outside flying around in a biplane but it’s also fantastic and an utterly unique, special experience. It’s worth checking out.

Here’s the link to his website: http://coastalairtours.com

You can also call or email him for more information or to make a reservation. His info is on the website.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Copyright 2016 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.