Château Gruaud Larose, Saint Julien, France

I’d never tried a Gruaud, but during research this château came up a few times as producing solid, well-regarded wines. That sounded good, then I discovered that it is an organic winery, which set it apart in this region where production is steeped in tradition. Our tour group had eight people, and we received a […]

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Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac, France

We were looking forward to visiting at least one Premier Cru in the infamous Médoc region, which is about an hour northwest of the city of Bordeaux. Since two of the three first-growth châteaux were closed (Lafite was closed until October and Latour was closed for renovations), Mouton-Rothschild it was. Visiting a top château in […]

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Bordeaux, France

The main purpose for visiting Bordeaux was to run the Marathon du Médoc, but visiting wineries, or châteaux, was a priority. The area is overwhelmingly vast, with châteaux and vineyards stretching in every direction. We knew we wouldn’t be see many regions, so we aimed to get a general overview of the area and dig […]

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Bologna is a sprawling, gritty city full of red-brick palazzi, Renaissance towers, arcaded porticos (24 miles’ worth, actually) and vast squares. Though it is a wealthy city that serves as the road and rail hub of Northern Italy, it has a very lived-in feel. Bologna is home to Europe’s oldest university, University of Bologna. The […]

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We swung through tiny Montalcino to visit a winery and have dinner. It was a quick, but rewarding trip. The town is on a steep hill overlooking the Orcia valley, full of vineyards, orchards and olive groves, surrounded by walls and overlooked by a castle. The many enoteches offer tastings and will sell you as […]

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La Bottega del Nobile, Montapulciano

This was our favorite wine shop in tiny but saturated Montapulciano. La Bottega del Nobile carries more than 300 labels of Tuscan wine- everything from Vino Nobile dii Montepulciano to Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico, Super Tuscans and more. The young sommelier owner, Cesare, was eager to talk about local wines, show off his wares […]

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I’ve always enjoyed Montapulciano wines, so I was really excited to go to the source of beloved Vino Nobile! It wasn’t surprising that this small town (14,000 residents) was saturated with wine shops, wineries, wine accoutrements and restaurants serving wine. As the town is mostly pedestrians-only, we parked right outside the town walls and walked […]

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Poggio Antico, Montalcino

Poggio Antico produces what Montalcino is most famous for – Brunello di Montalcino. We tasted two Brunellos and a Super Tuscan. The microclimate, high altitude and winemaking process contribute to turning out elegant, complex wines. Poggio adheres to the traditional method and refines the wine in barrels for at least three years and in bottles […]

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San Gimignano, Italy

I knew San Gimignano, a walled town in the province of Siena, was best known for its skyline medieval skyscrapers, but I was still surprised to see them in this otherwise pastoral area. Of 72 original towers, 14 have survived. Most of the towers were built in the 12th and 13th centuries and were symbols […]

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Palazzo Communale, Siena

13th-century Palazzo Communale was built as Piazza del Campo’s centerpiece. Its concave façade mirrors the piazza’s opposing convex curve. The structure was built to house the government. Today, the council still offices in the upper levels, but the main rooms house the Museo Civico. The marble chapel at the base of the tower, the Cappella […]

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