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Wineseeker Blog

Saturday, 20 December 2014 - 9:30pm by Michael Hutton

 

Christmas is upon us, whether we would risk it or not. This usually means copious amounts of good food and ample quantities of wine. The temptation to overindulge is a constant, coupled with a new gym membership and at least 3 days of abstinence come January. As the saying goes from Oscar Wilde, the only way to deal with temptation is to yield to it. Everything in moderation including moderation itself!

With the new drink driving limits in place, it doesn't pay to take risks. By all means have a great time out but please ensure you have transport plans. 

Have a tasty and indulgent time, if you haven't finished your Xmas shopping, or if you need some great wine for the break away, hopefully we'll see you in shop.  Check out our extended xmas hours... Otherwise we will see you with more tasting events, more specials and more wines from around the world in the new year. 

Friday, 7 November 2014 - 8:00am by Michael Hutton

1. France makes possibly the best pastry, foie gras, and cheese in the world.

2. Better to buy cheap wine than expensive coffee (honestly, the only decent cuppa we had was made by an Australian in Paris at €4 each) 

3. Make the effort to learn some basics of the language - seriously this is a massive game changer, we had been warned about how rude French people were and we experienced completely the opposite.

4. Plan ahead for lunch, boulangeries, charcuteries, epiciers and other food type shops often close down from 12.30pm to 2.30pm (so THEY can have lunch). 

5. Buy local - bistros and restaurants put a lot more thought and choice into wines sourced from the nearby area, and menus made from seasonal fresh produce can be exceptional.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 - 8:30am by Michael Hutton

It took less than 24 hours for us to realise how different the city of Barcelona is compared with Paris.  While there is an immediate charm and Old World Elegance to Paris, the centre of Catalonia in Spain is more wrapped up in a passionate chaos. From the fervour in traffic, the heated political climate and the flavours of the food and wine.  The politics of the city is keenly felt - much of Barcelona favours independence for Catalonia from the rest of Spain, with virtually every apartment building sporting multiple separatist banners.  

Saturday, 25 October 2014 - 8:30am by Michael Hutton

Our journey in France comes to a close in the Southern region of Languedoc - on the edge of the Mediterranean, and a land stepped deeply in history. We are staying in Narbonne, what used to be the Roman capital of the region, and reached its heyday as the trade crossroads between Spain to the West, Provence (and Rome itself) to the East, and the rest of Gaul to the North. 

The fortress of Carcasonne is a good example of the many layers of history here.  Initially a Roman outpost, then a small keep and citidel defended but surrendered by the Cathars in the 1200's, and an Impregnable walled fortress city on the border of France and  Aragon until the 1600's - at which point Roussillon became part of France, the shifting border making the fortress somewhat obselete.  Restored to beauty and grandeur to its medieval prime in the 1800's and now a major tourist attraction. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 - 6:30am by Michael Hutton

And so we arrive in the South of France, and settle into the stunning but sleepy town of Menerbes.  This is one of a number of idyllic hillside fortress towns, with earliest remnants going back to Roman times. The town is better known for two events of different ages. Firstly, during the French Religious Wars in the 1500's the Protestants built a fortress on the site, augmenting an old convent and villas from around 1250AD.  This was deliberately to antagonise the Pope, and lead to 5 years of siege over which a huge amount of ordinance was heaped opon the battlements.

Friday, 17 October 2014 - 8:45am by Michael Hutton

Today was our first in the Northern Rhone, in a small town called Saint-Peray... A small working class area near the town of Valence, known for inexpensive sparkling wines, and the ruins of a 12th Century Chateau looming immediately above the town.  What the region is really famous for, are the wines from the steep hills surrounding Tain l'Hermitage, and further north from Cote Rotie and Condrieu.  

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 - 6:00am by Michael Hutton

And so we arrive in Beaune, the home of the wine industry of Burgundy, in the middle of the Cote d'Or - the home of some of the most legendary (and expensive) wines in the world. Immediately to the South lies the Cotes de Beaune - that makes arguably the world's best Chardonnays, and some excellent Pinot Noir. Cote de Nuits lies to the North, virtually entirely Pinot Noir.

Saturday, 11 October 2014 - 5:15am by Michael Hutton

Our time in Rheims concluded with a trip to Taiitinger Champagne, based near the Bascilica of St Remi. This included a tour of the cellars, the oldest of which reach some 20 meters under ground, in ancient Gallo-Roman chalk mines from the 4th Century.  The old abbey that lived above the cellars was destroyed in the French Revolution, but the caves below remained intact. The limestone-chalk walls absorb humidity, and keep the cellar between 10-12 degrees all year long, ideal for cellaring Champagne. These are the oldest cellars where the top end Compte de Champagne and larger sized bottles are stored, as there is only room for a paltry 2,000,000 bottles here - the house champers that we are more familiar with are made and stored offsite.  This photo is a stack of 72,000 bottles of the good stuff!

Thursday, 9 October 2014 - 7:45am by Michael Hutton

This morning we reluctantly left The City of Light, walking 1.5km in light rain to the Gare de l'Est where we picked up our comfy rental car and braved the Paris traffic.  Maybe it was the rain or some strategically placed roadworks, but it took us an hour to drive a few blocks to the motorway.

Once there we were off, sailing away on the Autoroute. The A4 is part of the European E50 route that traverses virtually all Western Europe, and winds through the countryside at brisk pace.  We passed the village of Meaux, searching in vain for the baby Brie cheeses growing in the fields. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014 - 5:00am by Michael Hutton

Our  first day in Paris was a triumph. After a wet summer, the city is now enjoying a brilliant Indian Summer, today was brilliant sunshine and 23C outside. Staying in the Marais, a very trendy area stuffed with boutique shops, tiny restaurants (some of only 3-4 tables) all in a stunning setting of pre-revolutionary buildings. 

Our days start at a small boulangerie - the pastries here are stunning, there hasnt been a day that we have not indulged in a number of these for breakfast. Why is it that croissants are so much better here?? The streets in our neigbourhood seem to have a bread shop, a wine boutique, and/or a patissier or fromagerie. Could easily survive here within one city block - what else does one needto live?

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