Chianti Classico

Back in Europe again, I spent a few days last week at Le Miccine, in Gaiole, the heart of the Chianti Classico region.  It was a great experience, I tasted a lot of Chianti wines, and learned to appreciate this high acid, robust yet elegant red wine, as well as some whites from the absolutely gorgeous region!

The black rooster, symbol of Chianti Classico.

The incredible Enoteca in Greve (Le Cantine de Greve), where you can taste over 140 wines from Chianti and beyond (I got through 15 for my personal Italian wine  crash course, in hopes of deciding where else to go on this little whirlwind tour).

(Appropriately science-y themed shirt.. )


Tiempo libre

Here’s a quick peek at some of the things I’ve been up to lately while not at the winery…


(descubando – okay this was at the winery, but not something I do regularly)

(llama on the beach – Pichilemu, Chile)

(Fresh fish for about US$4 per kilo, sold directly from the boat that was towed ashore by a pair of tractors)


(Punta de lobos, Pichilemu)



(football match – equipo O’Higgins de Rancagua)

Stereotypical New Zealand

More soon on wine science from Lincoln University, but for now, everything you would expect to find in New Zealand (except an All Black and a kiwi bird, both of which I am still waiting to see in person…)

(yes, really, they are everywhere)

(kiwifruit grow on a vine! photo taken at lovely and organic La Marguerite Orchard in Katikati)

(kiwifruit buds.)

As cool as it was to learn about kiwifruit production, it is also important to note that there is currently a lot of apprehension amongst kiwifruit growers in NZ, as the incredibly harmful Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa) bacteria has begun to spread across kiwifruit orchards in New Zealand.  Though the bacteria carries no risk for humans (you do NOT have to worry about getting sick from kiwifruit!), it is devastating the vines in New Zealand and an effective treatment has yet to be found.  An unfortunate and forceful reminder of how much risk is involved in any agricultural work.

On a lighter note, some spectacular views to round out this series of photographic proof that everything you hear about NZ is true:


(Mount Maunganui)

(even from a bus the scenery is incredible)







(Obligatory Eiffel Tour photo)

(Bookshopping in le Quartier Latin led me to find this perfectly appropriate title, which will hopefully also help me to continue working on my French)



(The rotating exhibit is currently one of contemporary furniture placed alongside furniture from Versailles in its heyday, and I had to include this tapestry that depicts cloning because, though unrelated to wine, it is certainly an interesting marriage of art and science – also along these lines, I learned that the theme of both the King and Queen’s antechambers was chosen to be a depiction of the god Mercury, protector of the sciences, spreading his influence over the arts – perhaps the Romans were on to something there… Something I plan to explore more!)

(the perfect sign that it is time for me to move on to my next destination!)


Dijon – home of mustard, pinot noir, and a very famous owl

As part of my whirlwind tour of France before I head to the home of the rugby world champions, I stayed for two nights in Dijon (my first couchsurfing experience – so far, I am a HUGE fan! Had a great time with my incredible host!).  Specialties of Dijon include Dijon mustard (of course), pain d’épices (gingerbread), boeuf bourgignon (made famous in the US by Julia Child –  and which I had the pleasure of eating on my first night in Dijon) and Crème de Cassis (liqueur made from blackcurrants and often mixed with white wine as an apertif).  I came, of course, because Dijon, along with Beaune, are the two cities that are part of the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region, famous for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.  As an Oregon native, Pinot is one of my very favorite varietals, and since it is arguably the most important red grape in New Zealand as well, it was imperative for me to visit its homeland in order to have a basis for comparison.  Well New Zealand, the bar has been set very high – I fell (even deeper) in love with Pinot after tasting just a few wines on the Route de Vin (also known as La Route Touristique des Grands Crus de Bourgogne).

(typical street in Dijon)

(one of the cathedrals in Dijon, this one with a toit bourguignon, the tile roof typical of this region)

(la chouette, or owl on the Cathedral de Notre Dame in Dijon – this owl is a good luck symbol that one is supposed to touch, hence the reason she no longer resembles an owl of any kind)

(gorgeous fall day in the vineyards of Bourgogne!)