Monthly Archives: September 2018

Driving the Champagne Route in France

Do you know the way to Épernay? A happy bubbly road!

That One Point of View

Champagne Route by That One Point of View

Champagne is serious business in France and can only come from the very distinct Champagne region in the north of the country; everything else can be called sparkling wine, cava, prosecco, sekt, ect.  The most spectacular part of the harvest in this region is the 18th Century tradition of manually picking the crops and hand spinning the bottles still remains today. There are four different routes in the Champagne area to choose.  We did some research and decided to drive the Montagne de Reims route starting in the Champagne capital of Reims and heading towards Epernay as there was a nice mix of large and smaller champagne houses to explore.

2 – 3 DAYS


at a glance…
Pick a home base city, it is easy to do any of the four routes in one day
Visit in May and June for those looking to skip the crowds
Visit in August and September for those looking for grapes ready to…

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Celebrating Cava at Parés Baltà Winery in Spain

It is a pleasure to co-host Fiesta Friday with my co-host Catherine today. Please visit Catherine’s blog: I’ll be sharing interesting tidbits from the Fiesta Friday link-up throughout the day on Pinterest, Instagram (bubblybeeboop), Facebook (bubblybee) and Twitter.  

“Bacchus opens the gate of the heart.” … Homer

While visiting the Catalonia region in Spain I couldn’t wait to visit the wineries that make Cava. One of my favorites is Freixenet.

The first bottle of Freixenet was released in 1914, the creation of a couple named Pedro Ferrer & Dolores Sala who were both from winemaking families.
In 1889, Pedro Ferrer married Dolores Sala, whose family had been making wine at their Casa Sala property since 1861. Pedro’s nickname was “El Freixenet”, named after his family’s ranch “La Freixeneda”, which means ash tree grove in Catalan. Dolores’ keen interest in the winemaking process was easily complemented by Pedro’s business savvy and sense of community.
Their marriage coincided with the arrival of the Phylloxera plague in Spain, which wiped out most of Europe’s vineyards. Far from being deterred, the couple replanted their decimated land with white varietals to make sparkling wine. In 1914, the first bottles were released with Pedro’s childhood nickname on the label. Freixenet had been born.
The Ferrer family continues to own and manage Freixenet today. Salut!

Motorcycle made in the shape of a Freixenet Cava bottle!

Driving towards Cava Heaven…Parés Baltà Winery

“A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns to wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”  … P.J. O’Rourke

Parés Baltà Winery, Pacs del Penedes, Catalonia, Spain.

Since 2000 the winery has been managed by two grandsons of the original owner Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol.

The wives of Joan and Josep, Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas are the winemakers and oenologists.  Parés Baltà has been certified organic since 2004.

All of their wines are certified as organic and their vineyards as biodynamic. They do not use herbicides, pesticides or any chemical fertilizer. They have sheep that fertilize the vines after the harvest and bees that pollinate the vines during the flowering season.

They use organic manure and special herbs in their compost (as well as cattle horns) but they also plant, and trim vines and harvest according to the phases of the moon.

“The juice of the grape is the liquid quintessence of concentrated sunbeams.” … Thomas Love Peacock

Cava is the Catalan word for “cellar.”

We asked about these moldy bottles in the wine cave. Our guide told us that they no longer use those bottles. They are just for show. They call them “cemetery bottles”. I call them creepy!

cava caves

Our guide explained about the “Mother” in the Cava:  This sparkling wine is made with the traditional method, an aging system similar to that of “Methode Champenoise” which is used when making champagne. As the bottle is turned upside-down and rotated, the “Mother” of the Cava, in small filaments, slides to the neck of the bottle. The “Mother” is expelled from the bottle at very high pressure, in a process known as “Desgorche”.

Rosa cava

Our winery tour included a chocolate and wine tasting. The first taste was Rosa Cusine (the last name of the winery owners is Cusiné!) (100% Garnatxa)  2013 with white chocolate with tiny bits of strawberry in it. The smooth creaminess of the white chocolate was perfect with the bubbles and the strawberry flavor made the rosé pop!

Our next taste was Hisenda Miret Garnatxa 2015. 100% Garnacha grapes. On the palate, there are flavors of cherries and blueberries with an accompaniment of spicy toast. It is a silky smooth wine with a lingering finish.

cava vineyard and olive oil

And for “dessert”…dark chocolate on baguette drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Served with  Gratavinum Dolç d’en Piqué. This wine is deep ruby in color,  soft and velvety. Intense aroma of dry fruits combined with vanilla and toasty notes from the barrel.

b cava

When I returned home I purchased Parés Baltà b Brut Cava at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op.  $15 range.  Blend of 62% Parellada, 22% Macabeu, 16% Xarel·lo grapes. Creamy and elegant, with a bright mineral finish. Notes of fresh green apple with a hint of almond. Crisp and refreshing.

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Bollecine! An evening of wine tasting with three different sparkling wines

Bubbly and food pairings – my favorite pastime. Zucchini Flower Risotto with a reserve Brut champagne – fabulous!


“Bollecine” means “bubbles” in Italian. It’s a word Italians use to talk about sparkling wine, like an English speaker would say “bubbly”, and for my first wine tasting event, I thought a bit of bubbly would only be appropriate. (As I’m based in Italy the event was in Italian).

Most of my guests were not very experienced wine drinkers, so I prepared a small booklet with some information about the wines to read at their own leisure. I was surprised to find that they were actually very curious and full of questions, making the evening all the more engaging. We eat and drink so often that we rarely take the time to think about and reflect on it, but it’s truly magical when you do because everything becomes exalted.

Here’s how the evening went…

Booklets for guests with evening’s menu and information about the wine Booklets for the guests with the evening’s menu and information about the wines

Information about the differences between the Martinotti method and the Champenoise method Information about…

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Million Dollar Cocktail

There’s lots to love about Rosé Cider.  Read about my favorites ciders with tasting notes in the Roanoker Magazine behind the page:

Million Dollar Cocktail

I love any recipe that is named “Million Dollar”. This Million Dollar Cocktail recipe is worth its weight in gold!  Absolutely divine!

Place Nick and Nora style cocktail glass in the freezer to chill while you prepare the cocktail.

For each cocktail:

2 fl ounces Gin (Sunset Hills Gin, made in Virginia, is my favorite gin of the moment.  Light and delightful, it does not have a strong juniper taste.)

1/2 fl ounce freshly pressed pineapple juice (I blended fresh pineapple in my blender to make “juice” which was more like a thin puree.)

1/4 fl ounce Grenadine syrup

1/2 fl ounce pasteurized egg whites (find these in the refrigerated egg section of the grocery store)

A few drops of Blood Orange Bitters

Pineapple chunk garnish

Shake the gin, pineapple juice, Grenadine syrup and egg whites with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Place a few drops of blood orange bitters on the top of the cocktail.  Garnish with a pineapple chunk.

bright bubble color flatlay

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DRIVE! Iconic American Cars and Motorcycles


Iconic American Cars and Motorcycles

September 8, 2018 – February 3, 2019

Taubman Museum of Art

Roanoke, Virginia

Our evening began with Ahi Tuna Wontons at Billy’s Roanoke on Market Street in Downtown Roanoke.

Miso-marinated Ahi Tuna served atop Wonton Chips with Housemade Thai Chili Sauce and a Citrus Salsa. Delicious!

Then on to the show…

Our friend Rosalee volunteers at the museum and she encouraged us to attend (we are so glad she did!). Here we are outside the museum in front of a Super-Eight Packard.

There are almost two dozen antique cars and motorcycles spanning from 1912-1965 in the exhibition.

1947 Harley-Davidson Model EL “Knucklehead”

The knucklehead engine valve covers have contours resembling knuckles on a person’s fist that give the knucklehead its name.

1934 Edsel Ford Model 40 Speedster

I am posing in front of the 1937 Tom Mix Phaeton that belonged to the cowboy movie star Tom Mix.

Beautiful car with a sad story. Tom Mix was killed while driving this car in 1940.   The car overturned as a result of the crash and a heavy suitcase in the back of the car fell forward and hit Mix in the head breaking his neck. The car is now owned by a family in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Hand-tooled leather stone guards fitted to the rear fenders.

1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106 Sport Coupe

Drive! is definitely an exhibition worth seeing. We thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Nightcap at River and Rail Restaurant.  Appalachian Tonic created by mixologist Nexus Watts. Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin, Cardamaro, Spice Bush Tonic Syrup, Lemon, Soda. Warm spice and cardamom notes. Built and served on ice. London Gin Martini with a lemon twist in a Nick and Nola glass. 

Nora Charles: “I’ll be with you in two shakes of a cocktail.”
Nick Charles: “Cocktail? Cocktail? Think I’ll try one of those things.”
The Thin Man (1934)

The Nick and Nora glass is a smaller cousin of the coupe (5 – 6 ounces).  I like these glasses because, at least for me, they are easier to sip out of than a standard martini glass and a smaller amount of martini is preferable to my taste.

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TGCC of 2018

This sounds like a fabulous champagne tasting!

Claudinha's Personal Musing und so


Over the last couple of months, we conducted

The Great Champagne Challenge of 2018

in our dining room. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t casual, hell, no, it was damn serious, it was a true challenge. Just look at all those bottles!

We don’t actually drink champagne often. Mostly on St. Sylvestre, as New Year’s Eve is called around here, maybe to celebrate a birthday or to welcome houseguests. Let’s say we’re special occasion champagne sippers.  It all began with an idea earlier this summer. Keeping the keyword “special” in mind, we asked ourselves, shouldn’t we have our own special house champagne? A champagne we both enjoy equally and which would become “our” signature champagne at C2L, our home in Cognac* called Chez Deux Leons.

[* We already have two House Cognacs, but that’s a different story 😉]

One of those two lions in our house promptly began exhaustive online research…

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Happy 8th Birthday Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, Virginia

On Saturday, September 8, 2018, Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar in Roanoke, Virginia, celebrated the cellars 8th birthday. Pictured above: Mr. Bill and Rebecca at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.

I always enjoy the signs that greet guests outside their front door.

We celebrated with a tasting of Francois Montand Brut Blanc de  Blancs. ($15 range) In the 1940’s Francois Montand moved from his beloved Champagne to the Jura, some of the oldest vineyards in France. He continued to use his expertise in champagne to make bright flavorful sparkling wines made according to the traditional bottle double fermentation method.

Consistent bubbles dancing in the flute with bright notes of golden delicious apples and Meyer lemons. Makes a delightful aperitif. Delicious pairing with Ceviche.   

It’s almost Cider Season so I picked up a bottle of Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche. This wonderful French cider is made with red fleshed apples which gives the cider a pink hue. ($12 range) Notes of red apple and just a touch of cinnamon with just the right amount of effervescence.

clear glass mason bottles with apple juice

Photo by on

Thinking of cider, some dear friends gave us some of their homemade hard apple cider when we visited their farm earlier this year.  It’s made with Granny Smith, Yellow Delicious and Stayman apples.

close up photography of wine glasses

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on

Weingut Schwarzböck Gruner Veltliner ($17 range) was one of our favorites that we tasted that day. This Australian wine is crisp and refreshing with plenty of lively acidity. Notes of lemon and lime and a touch of white pepper. Perfect pairing with spicy Asian food. 

glasses of rose wine

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Bernard Magrez Bleu de Mer  Rosé 2017 is one of our “house Rosés”…we keep a bottle in the refrigerator to serve to last minute guests. $12 range. This French rosé is bright with strawberry and cherry flavors.

Yves Guégniard Domaine de la Bergerie Sous La Tonnelle. $16 range.  ‘Sous la Tonnelle’ means ‘Below the Rainbow’. Blended 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. This French white wine is deliciously crisp with notes of white peach, apricot, pears and mango.

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for Behind the Scenes posts including recipes and wine tasting notes from the Roanoker Magazine

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On my Instagram tonight ~ Perfect rainy Monday night dinner ~ recipe for slow cooker Mississippi Pot Roast!

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