Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Trip to Poggio Antico in Montalcino

While staying at the lovely Palazzo Ravizza in Siena, the front desk person recommended a visit to Poggio Antico to taste some of Montalcino's famous Brunello wine.  We drove south on SR2 through small villages, enjoying the rolling hills and soft scenery of Tuscany for about an hour.  As we approached Montalcino, the scenery became much more amazing, almost jaw dropping, whichever direction we looked.  After spotting the sign for Poggio Antico, we drove down a long, unpaved cypress-lined driveway and arrived at the 500-acre estate which was spectacular!

We joined a very small tour group (six people) in the winery's office and set off to learn how how wine is produced at Poggio Antico.  The grapes at the winery are of the Sangiovese variety, which are called Brunello in Montalcino.

First stop: choosing the grapes, which go through a three-step pruning process during the growing year. During the third step, staff actually inspect every bunch of grapes and decide which ones will receive the last days of sunshine and nutrition.  We admired the grapes along with a few thirsty bees, and we each tasted one or two, which were absolutely delicious!

Next, we went indoors to learn about how the grapes become wine.  Our guide explained the winery's process for producing its wines which include the following wines:

Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G.
Altero - Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G.
Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G. Riserva
Madre, I.G.T Toscana
Lemartine, I.G.T Toscana
Rosso di Montalcino D.O.C.

We were surprised by the very modern technology in the cellar with its 23 cone-shaped stainless steel tankes with removable lids.  We followed our tour guide up a ladder and she explained the fermentation process in depth. 

After leaving the cellar, we then learned about how the wines are stored, corked, bottled and then stored again. 

At the end of the tour, it was time for the tasting! We headed to the La Bottega di Poggio Antico, a small shop on the propery which serves as a sun-filled tasting room.  Each taste was better than the last, and we bought a special bottle which we recently enjoyed on our first wedding anniversay.

There's a restaurant on the property, with some very amazing views, but we wanted to explore Montalcino and headed into town for some lunch.  After reading reviews about the Ristorante di Poggio Antico after, I wished we had stayed for lunch, what an amazing place. Here's the view.

While in Montalcino, I highly recommend a visit to Poggio Antico.  To learn more, click here. To read more about my travels in Tuscany which include Orvieto, Montalcino and Siena, click here.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Photo Blog: Amsterdam's Canals

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has been called the "Venice of the North" for its more than 60 miles of canals, approximately 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, dug in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, form concentric belts around the city, known as the Grachtengordel. Alongside the main canals are 1550 monumental buildings. 

Below are some photos I took of various canals during my week-long stay in this wonderful city. I look forward to staying in a house/hotel boat on a canal when I return to Amsterdam someday!  

Enjoy, and to learn more about Amsterdam, click here.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

My favorite Caribbean beach bars!

We just had our first snow fall in Boston which made me yearn for warm island sun.  With my January trip to Virgin Gorda booked, I am consumed with researching the island in search of cool spots to grab a cold drink and enjoy a fabulous view.

Here are a couple spots I have enjoyed over the years.  What's your favorite beach bar?

Kali's Beach Bar, Friar's Bay Beach, St. Martin
Grab a palm-covered "booth" on the sand and a cold drink and enjoy!
Sunset Bar & Grill, St. Maarten
Watch planes taking off and landing from the airport while enjoying an ice-cold beer.  Great vibe!
Mr. Busby's Beach Bar, Dawn Beach, St. Maarten
Ice-cold Caribs are delivered to you on the beach, for cheap! Great food too.
Yellow Beach Restaurant, Pinel Island, St. Martin
Pinel Island, a 10-minute boat ride from Cul-de-Sac.  Click here to learn more.  Pina coladas, mmhmm!
Pirate's Bight, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands
Also known as Treasure Island and famous for its Bushwackers!
Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Home of the Painkiller, on a most amazing beach!  No dock here, so you must swim to shore, hence the soggy dollar.
Mr. Delicious Snack Bar, Miami Beach, Barbados
 Not exactly a "bar", but good food & cold drinks while you're lounging.  Try a roti and a Banks beer!
A Collection of Tiny Beach Bars on Accra Beach, Barbados
Colorful beach bars, located on Accra Beach, at the end of the Hastings boardwalk.  Delicious rum punches served!
Sun Beach, Negril, Jamaica
How can you not love these swinging plastic chairs, accompanied by a cold Red Stripe???
Rick's Cafe, Negril, Jamaica
Watch folks diving off the cliffs while enjoying drinks, food and live music.  A perfect spot to watch the sunset!
Bar at White Sands Hotel, Negril, Jamaica
Amazing drink specials every day, friendly people!  Grab a bar stool or a lounge chair and try the Dirty Banana!
Tony's Hut Bar at Gatehouse Villa, Negril, Jamaica
Swings, hammocks, Connect Four at the bar and friendly service! 
La Playa at Xpu-Ha Beach, Mexico
Located between Akumal and Puerto Aventuras.  Guacamole, salsa, hammocks...need I say more??
The Beach Bar, Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI
(Photo courtesy of Amazing villa, check it out!)
Live music, tasty drinks, great food, much fun!
Thanks for reading!  And don't forget to tell me your favorite beach bar in the comments section below!  And any tips on great spots on Virgin Gorda will be appreciated too!