It looks like a good vintage

vintage-2017Despite a rubbish summer our shared grapevine is doing well and is covered in grapes in various stages of ripening. The vine now runs the length of our boundary fence and still seems to keen stretch further.

Based on the last few years we should have many, many grapes available for friends and family in late March or early April.

Cloudy Bay meet Positano

Italy produces some great wines some of which we’ve sampled over the last few weeks, but on this trip we couldn’t resist bringing a little bit of New Zealand to Positano.

When we left the country we purchased, duty free, a couple of bottles of Jean’s favourite drop – Cloudy Bay’s iconic Chardonnay.

So evenings on the verandah have been spent with the two of us and, when we felt like it,  a friend from home.

A great vintage

Grapes 2013

One of the advantages of a long, hot and dry summer is that the country has many happy vintners. The 2013 vintage is shaping up as a cracker right across the country so if you’re a fan of New Zealand wine keep an eye out for some fabulous treats.

At our place we share a very old vine with our neighbours. Over the years it has spread it’s way down the boundary fence and now covers about half the length bringing that Italian feel from our back yard right down to the front door.

Every year it produces eating grapes and usually they are, how would you put it – sour, really sour. This year the long dry spell has been their saviour. Rich and sweet they have been a hit with our friends and rellies – so much so that friends planned  a pick and run mission last weekend to clean out the last remaining bunches.

As a result, our grapes may not be up for grabs this year but any bottle of wine from New Zealand with 2013 on the label will be worth grabbing – believe me.

A wee slice of New Zealand – Part 1

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This gallery contains 9 photos.

Over the last few days I have had the chance to travel down the east coast of the South Island from Picton to Christchurch. Along the way I called into Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine region and … Continue reading

An autumn night in the Campo

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This gallery contains 8 photos.

Siena is full of restaurants and most of these are either fully or partially outdoor.  This is particularly true of those that ring the Campo. In summer outdoor dining makes perfect sense with umbrellas or awnings giving protection from the … Continue reading

Tuscany in three and a half days – day one and a half

Charlie and Isabel arrived on Saturday afternoon having travelled from north of Florence.  I had suggested they text us when they got close to our place which, in this case, meant texting from the carpark “I think we are here”.  The 3kms of dirt road make you wonder where the hell you are the first time you arrive.

We ambled out with the dogs and found them looking around wondering if this was our place or the home of some local family.  Either way they would have been made to feel welcome.

Dinner that night was at our local Pizza restaurant Le Campannia (other summer visitors will know this restaurant) which does excellent pizzas and provides endless free entertainment watching the antics of the locals.

Next morning was the All Black quarter final game so the entire team headed to the Campo at 9am to watch the game.  Clearly word about our World Cup venue is getting out as there were already two holidaying kiwi couples waiting for the game – and with us that meant the crowd swelled to a record eight people.  Nine counting an elderly Italian gentleman who joined us to support the French. He was a day late but still enjoyed the game.

Ninety minutes later it was “job well done” by the lads.  Well sort of well done as there is still some work to do before meeting Australia – and a chance for a wander around Siena before lunch in the sun at Osteria del Bigelli which, once again, did not disappoint with the food.

Jean made her famous kiwi roast pork with gravy for dinner and we washed it down with a very nice Chianti courtesy of our guests.

Rugby, beer, wine, sightseeing and roast pork with gravy.  A top day and a half.

Visiting Buonconvento and other things

In the last few days summer has really arrived in Tuscany. Temperatures have been around 30 degrees and the pace of life has slowed accordingly. Today we spent the middle of the day beside the pool and only when the temperature had dropped in the early evening did we venture out.

Jean and the girls at a cafe in Buonconvento

About 15 minutes down the road is the town of Buonconvento, a delightful place with an old town centre that has been developed over the years. We stayed in a villa only a couple of minutes from the town in 2004 and remember the town as utilitarian at best. Now it is a thriving tourist and artistic centre and definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.

The trip there and back is through farmland much of which is now planted in Sunflowers which are starting to bloom. When our visitors arrive in mid July, they should be looking great.

The girls

When we arrived back at the cottage the daily display that is the sunset was well underway. Although a camera can never do justice to this spectacle, here’s my best attempt.

Sunset over Siena - June 28