Chateau Charlemagne

The Thursday morning after sangria rolled around sooner than any of us wanted, but class (and group presentations) started at 8:30 so we all moseyed on down to Severini (the building our class was in). The group presentations all went well and were actually pretty entertaining to listen to. My group was assigned the region of Burgundy in France. This region is most well known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, so we ended up “creating” a special occasion Chardonnay (aka more expensive), an everyday Chardonnay (slightly cheaper), a special occasion Pinot Noir, and an everyday Pinot Noir. I was the Marketing Director, so one of my responsibilities was to design the labels which I really enjoyed. Despite Dr. Frank telling us our prices were out of range, I think we did a great job 😉 We ended up creating a winery + bed & breakfast located in Cote de Beaune called Chateau Charlemagne that was “family owned and operated since 1901”. Outside of my responsibilities for the project, we also had an Owner, Viticulturist, and Enologist. The Viticulturist was in charge of the growing of the grapes, including determining the terroir (basically the conditions–environmental and human–that effect how a grape is grown), soil, temperature, and disease susceptibilities in the region. The Enologist was then in charge of describing the process of how we turned the grapes into wines. This included any pressing of grapes, maceration, fermentation, or aging. The Owner just oversaw everything that was going on, helped make decisions, and put the final paper together. Needless to say, we were all happy to see Thursday afternoon come, as that meant our project was officially DONE.

Our everyday Pinot Noir

Our everyday Pinot Noir

Our everyday Chardonnay

Our everyday Chardonnay

Our special occasion Chardonnay

Our special occasion Chardonnay

Our special occasion Pinot Noir

Our special occasion Pinot Noir

We broke for a lunch break around 11 am and all went down to Enoteca Molesini (the main wine shop) to order cases of wine to ship back home!! Marco gave us a really good discount, something like 15% off each bottle, so I ended up getting four bottles to send home that aren’t in America. I ordered the O’Lillo! from Baracchi Winery (the winery we went to with the guy with the white Prada pants), a Azienda Lisini Brunello di Montalcino (insert heart eye emoji here), Mazzei’s “Philip” Cabernet Sauvignon for my dad, and a Chianti Classico for my mom. I ended up very happy with my purchases 🙂

We headed back up to class in the afternoon to finish up one last group presentation before having our last wine tasting lab (!!!) of red blends and super tuscans. I personally really enjoyed this lab, probably because it was all red wine.

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A peak into what lab tasting looks like! Wine, wine notebook, and food

A peak into what lab tasting looks like! Wine, wine notebook, and food

Since this was our last Thursday in Cortona, we decided to go to the weekly free wine tasting that Marco had in the main piazza…but let’s be honest, we would’ve been there even if it wasn’t our last Thursday. After the tasting, we headed to dinner at Tonino’s, then naturally Lion’s Well which ended up being quite an…interesting…night as the Tonino’s waiters came as well. Hey guys, if you’re reading this…and understand English.

 

Just hanging out at Lion's Well. Innocent fun.

Just hanging out at Lion’s Well. Innocent fun.

Sangria In the Park…

Wednesday the 28th we had lectures over how to make dessert wine and sparkling wines, then later tasted four of them in lab. We had a sparkling wine made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, a rose made from both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, a super sweet wine made from a blend of grechetto, trebbiano, procanico, and sauvignon blanc, and a vin santo that I absolutely despised. My favorites were the first two, with the third being my third favorite and the final clearly being my least favorite. The third wine, Calcaia, is actually produced from grapes that have undergone botrytis rot, which is a rot that attacks the acid in the grape, allowing the sugar to grow.

We were assigned a group project a few weeks prior that had the final paper due on Wednesday. Each group was assigned a region somewhere around the world that is known for wine production. We were to learn about our region, what types of grapes are predominantly grown there, and come up with some type of business/vineyard/company that sold at least four different types of wines. It was a pretty fun project, but a bit much for only having two weeks to do it. I was assigned the part of the “Marketer”, so I was in charge of creating the marketing plan, describing sensory characteristics, creating labels, determining prices, and working with the other members (Owner, Viticulturist, Enologist) with everything else. More on that later. We turned in our paper Wednesday afternoon which was a huge relief!

After the nightly dinner at Tonino’s, our TA had planned for us to have a little sangria in the park with all three Maymester groups. We each brought a cheap bottle of wine and some fruit and dumped it into the community sangria bucket, and it turned out to be pretty good! We probably had a little too much fun for a Wednesday night, but we decided to stop by the Lion’s Well for a little bit after we grew tired of the sangria. Group presentations were in the morning, but if our TA was out with us it wasn’t that bad, right?..at least no one danced on top of the bar!….

Sangria in the making

Sangria in the making

Favorites

Favorites

 

La Braccesca

Monday the 26th was the start of our third (and final!!) full week in Cortona, which was crazy to think about! We learned about food and wine pairing in our morning lecture, sangiovese wines in our afternoon lecture, then tasted Tuscan red wines in lab. Tuesday we had a field trip to Antinori-La Braccesca vineyard and winery, which was beautiful. The land was so green and looked so fresh, and the decor on the inside of the building we had our wine tasting and lunch in was just so relaxing and homey it would be impossible to be in a bad mood. We had a tour of the facilities where grapes are crushed, destemmed, fermented, and aged before going into the tasting portion of our visit. I felt like we were in a very modern version of a ski lodge, which is weird. it was just all so sleek and clean, but had wooden accents that were the perfect mix between swanky and homey. We taste six wines, four of them were served with our lunch. The lunch was amazing, we had a nice selection of antipasti options, a great primi pasta plate, and an arugula salad with beef. The dessert was the icing on the cake, fresh strawberries topped with strawberries and cream ice cream. Divine. This was one of my favorite field trips we went on thanks to the relaxing environment, wonderful view, and delicious food and wine. After lunch we headed to the terrace overlooking the vineyard to take some pictures before heading back to Cortona. We got back to Cortona for dinner and to watch the UGA Theater program perform their version of Taming Of the Shrew in the local theater, Teatro Signorelli. The theater was intricately decorated and relatively small, which made for a more intimate setting.

 

Having fun with the owner, enologist, and helper

Having fun with the owner, enologist, and helper

 

Room where we tasted two wines before lunch. Smelled like cedar. Yum.

Room where we tasted two wines before lunch. Smelled like cedar. Yum.

Pasta + Wine

Pasta + Wine

The vineyards of La Braccesca

The vineyards of La Braccesca

Barrels on barrels on barrels in the aging room

Barrels on barrels on barrels in the aging room

175 Euros For A Fish

We had class and lab tasting for oak aged wines on Thursday the 22nd, which was one of my favorite days. We tasted 2 Chianti Classico wines, a Rosso di Montalcino, and a Brunello di Montalcino, which was one of my top 5 favorites for the whole month. Marco had a free wine tasting at the piazza, so naturally we went to that before dinner at Tonino’s. It turned out to be Marco’s birthday at midnight, so despite having a test the next afternoon, we ended up going out to The Lion’s Well to celebrate. In the end it was definitely worth it, because I ended up making a 100 on my test 🙂

Do you think I enjoyed the Brunello?

Do you think I enjoyed the Brunello?

Wine tasting on the piazza

Wine tasting on the piazza

After our test on Friday afternoon we were free for the weekend. The town had some sort of wax ceremony on Friday night in the main piazza that involved a play of some sorts, dancing, and a marching band. That went on for about an hour and a half, then we headed to The Lion’s Well to ring in Margaret’s 21st birthday at midnight!

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We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to leave for another weekend trip, this time to Cinque Terre!! Three train rides later, we got in around lunchtime to Riomaggiore, where our hostel was. I was itching to hike one of the trails that ended with a beautiful view of the neighboring town, and thankfully a few others wanted to do the same! Macey, Hoopie, Caroline, and I set out to hike to Manarola from Riomaggiore, which wasn’t too horrible. The hike ended up taking us about an hour and a half or so, water breaks and picture-taking stops included. The weather was great, perfectly sunny and not too miserably hot, which made for a more enjoyable hike as well. Reaching the peak of the small mountain was one of the coolest views I have seen in my 22 years of living. After trampling down the other side of the mountain into Manarola, we then took the ferry to Monterossa where the rest of our group had found a nice beach to lay out on. Talk about a nice reward after a long hike, I have never been so content with life. We headed back to Riomaggiore by train around 5 to get ready for a birthday dinner for Margaret back in Manarola. The five towns of Cinque Terre are all about a 2-5 minute train ride from each other, so travel is relatively quick when you time the train rides correctly. We got showered and ready in record time (I think it took me all of 12 minutes), before hopping back on the train to Manarola where we had a dinner reservation at Trattoria del Billy. The beginning of dinner was interesting, as the owner essentially came to our table and told us what to order with almost no option…we were all a little taken aback, but it turned out to be one of the best meals I had in Italy. Five or six antipasti plates, zucchini pasta, lobster pasta, roasted potatoes, and the biggest cooked fish I have ever seen. Seriously, the fish was at least 2 and a half feet long…and also 175 euro. Since it was Margaret’s birthday, the waiters felt it was necessary to bring out not only limoncello, but strawberry grappa and some type of licorice drink that tasted like tar. It turned out to be a great night, and we had an amazing view of the sunset from our private room to top it all off.

The next day we were able to sleep in until 9 am! We grabbed breakfast before heading off for the day’s adventures. We took the train to Vernazza, where I opted to take another hike up a mountain in hopes to finally see the view that I have seen from so many of my friends’s instagram pictures. Margaret, Hoopie and I trekked up the hill, then paid the 7.50 euro price to trek the rest of the way up the mountain to get the best view. It was worth every sweat drop and every euro spent, as the view was spectacular. Actually, spectacular doesn’t even cover it. Despite being flooded with other tourists and backpackers, the hike was an enjoyable time, and actually very relaxing. After snapping about 80 pictures at the top, we headed back down to Vernazza to meet up with everyone else for some shopping, beach time, and food before we headed back to Cortona around 4.

This was probably my favorite weekend. Yes I have wanted to visit Cinque Terre for myself for over a year, and yes, it lived up to what I thought it would be, but it was just awesome because it was literally a group of about 16 of us from the Viticulture group that decided to still spend the whole weekend traveling together. Our group throughout the whole month was so awesome, so it was great that we all wanted to travel on weekends together as well. Okay, picture time:

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Fishes fresh and ready to eat off the boat

Fishes fresh and ready to eat off the boat

Day 1 hiking crew

Day 1 hiking crew

View of Manarola after hiking from Riomaggiore

View of Manarola after hiking from Riomaggiore

Zucchini & shrimp pasta. Unreal.

Zucchini & shrimp pasta. Unreal.

Me and the birthday girl!

Me and the birthday girl!

We made it to the top!

We made it to the top!

Pinch me. Vernazza in all its glory

Pinch me. Vernazza in all its glory

Vernazza

Vernazza