A tour of the Piemonte (Piedmont) region of north-west Italy, once part of the kingdom of Savoy and at the forefront of Italian unification in the mid 19th Century, is a fascinating and amazing journey into an attractive landscape that bursts with distinctive flavours of its produce, from wine to hazelnuts, from chestnuts to truffles, from cheese to breadsticks. Whilst the food products merit a visit in their own right, it is the allure of the great wines of the region that attracts many and it is this that is the focus of our 4 night wine appreciation tour. Barolo and Barbaresco, two of the most revered red wines in the world, hail from the heartland of this region, both produced from the ‘Holy Grail’ variety of Nebbiolo grape (named after the morning mists that hover atmospherically over the vines here during harvest time). In addition to these, there are other high quality wines to tempt your palate including Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato. One of the most appealing and fascinating aspects of the wines of Piemonte is their variety and how this exists within a very small geographic area, with small, individual differences from how the producer decides to vinify, whether more traditional or modernist, the influence of the climate and soil when the vineyards are at slightly different altitudes and facing different directions. The estates we visit in this tour will demonstrate how many factors contribute to the subtle difference in the wines, from multiple award winning, small boutique family-run wineries, through to one of Italy’s leading wine co-operatives. The tastings we include will show you a range of wines including some of the Reserve and Cru wines as well as the intriguing Barbera, the early ripening Dolcetto, considered less complex and easy drinking and Freisa and Grignolino. It is not only these classic red wines that are produced in Piemonte but Arneis is a herby white with notes of almonds, the classic Gavi di Gavi, Timorasso with its peach and apricot notes and of course the frothy Moscato d’Asti, a wine that actually smells of grapes but also elderflower and with its fizz and naturally low alcohol is the ideal wine to liven your palate at the end of a meal. Quite rightly as befits any exploration of Piemonte, home to the Slow Food movement, we will also be introducing you to local produce with a chocolate tasting and a visit to a local cheese producer as well as providing you with Piemontese specialities at included lunches and dinners.
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Day by day itinerary
Day one: Arrive in PiemonteYou depart London Gatwick on the BA2578 at 13.15 and arrive in Turin at 16.05. There you will meet Cindy-Marie Harvey, your tour guide, for your onward coach transfer (journey time just under 2 hours) to your hotel in Piemonte. This evening you will dine together at the hotel in their Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant, enjoying a 4-course menu. Cindy-Marie will pair the menu with a selection of wine as an introduction to the principal wines of the region, chosen from the hotel’s cellar, housed in a deconsecrated chapel in the courtyard.
Day two: Barolo dayAfter breakfast, you travel through the rolling hills of the Langhe, covered with their famous vines, towards the vineyards of the Barolo classification. Known as the ‘King of wines’, Barolo has a world-wide reputation for having great depth and complexity, with aromas of roses and tar. It’s about 45 minutes by coach to our first stop, at the family-run, multiple award-winning wine estate of G D Vajra where you discover what makes these wines so different in style according to where their vineyards are situated. The Nebbiolo grape that produces Barolo can be compared to the Pinot Noir of Burgundy in its combination of fickleness and divine qualities. Barolo is produced only from a handful of villages and you continue through the Barolo heartland to your next visit at Cordero di Montezemolo. The estate is easily recognisable by the ancient Lebanese cedar tree that overlooks their vineyard. Here you will taste their range of wines, paired with a simple but delicious home produced lunch, which may include their Grandmother’s recipe for pickled vegetables. After lunch it is just a drive of about 30 minutes to the small hilltop town of Cherasco, famous for two things – snails and chocolates. There will be time for a stroll before a chocolate tasting at one of the most traditional producers, which will include some inventive flavours as well as the famous Baci di Cherasco, or ‘Cherasco kisses’ made from chocolate with local hazelnuts. Back at the hotel in the evening there is a light supper of local salami and cheeses, bread and grissini and local hazelnuts accompanied by a selection of three local wines, perhaps a Roero Arneis, a Barbera d’Alba and a Langhe Nebbiolo.
Day three: Barbaresco day and AlbaToday after breakfast it is just a short drive of about 30 minutes to our first visit of the Barbaresco day. The vineyards of Barbaresco are less than 25 kms from those of Barolo, they take up about a third of the land of Barolo vineyards and are very different in style. Barbaresco is often seen as the more feminine side of Nebbiolo, with a seductive aroma of violets, roses and cherries. Your first visit is to the Produttori di Barbaresco, a leading example of how to be a co-operative producing quality rather than quantity. Their wines have won numerous awards and show the attention to detail in the vineyards owned by their 50 plus members in some of the best Barbaresco Crus including Ovello, Montestefano and Pajé. You will taste some of their wines at their cellars in the heart of the village of Barbaresco. Then you continue to the opposite end of the village for a lunchtime appointment at Marchesi di Gresy, whose cellars sit in a dramatic amphitheatre of vines. They make a couple of whites from international varieties, but it is their Barbaresco from the Martinenga hill that claims the attention of the wine world, as you will discover when you taste a range of their wines over lunch on the estate. After lunch you return to the hotel for some free time before venturing out late afternoon for Alba, the main town of the Langhe, whose narrow streets are lined with a cornucopia of shops, selling of course wine but also many gastronomic delights to take home such as salami made with Barolo or tuma cheese marinated in truffles and olive oil. There is time to explore for a while before meeting again for dinner at one of the Slow Food’s restaurants, where you will pair a selection of wines to go with dinner, possibly starting with the local Agnolotti del Plin, silky parcels of stuffed pasta served with butter and sage. You return to the hotel after dinner.
Day four: Cheese, Cuneo and CastlesThis morning after breakfast you drive about 45 minutes to the first appointment of the day: with a local cheese maker, Beppino Occelli. Thanks to the cows having the freedom of high altitude pasture in the Alps around Cuneo in the south of the region, the milk they provide produces fabulous cheeses, some of which are aged in their cellars before being sold. Beppino Occelli is a great believer in the Slow Food movement and philosophy and this is reflected in the quality of their cheeses, such as the award-winning soft Paja Tuma, or maybe La Gran Reserva, an aged cheese coated in Barolo as well as truffle-infused cheese. You taste a selection of their cheeses this morning before continuing to the county town of Cuneo, situated between the Gesso and Stura rivers. There is time to relax and explore at lunchtime. Lunch is not included today but there are numerous cafés and restaurants to tempt you. The town is dominated by the large Piazza Galimberti lined with porticoed walkways and shops selling the local speciality, Cunesi – a chocolate truffle laced with rum. You then return to the hotel for a rest and time to freshen up before you depart in the evening for a visit to one of the most imposing castles of the region at Grinzane Cavour. This castle was home to the Count of Cavour, a prime minister of Piedmont who was instrumental in the process of the unification of Italy. You visit the castle with its displays relating to the history of food and wine in the region and then enjoy an aperitif in the cellars of the castle, now the regional Enoteca before dining at the restaurant inside the castle. You return to the hotel after dinner.
Day five: Wine estate for lunch and flight homeCheck-out of the hotel after breakfast and head to your final wine tasting at the estate of Marchesi d’Alfieri, who have been making wine since 1696. This is an estate immersed in the history of the region and its wine-making, situated in the hills between Alba and Asti. They are respected for their wide range of Barbera but they also make Grignolino, another indigenous variety, a lighter red, often drunk young with tones of cherry. You discover the appeal of their wines over lunch before your onward journey to Turin and the flight back to Gatwick, the BA2579 departing at17.05 and arriving at 17.50.
Your tour leaderCindy-Marie Harvey tells us that having discovered a love of Pinot Noir at an early age, she seemed destined for a life in the wine trade. However, her love of languages led her to work in Italy. After living in Piemonte for five years, discovering the delights of Nebbiolo and whie truffles, she returned to the wine trade in the UK. She has spent the last 20 years planning and escorting wine tours to all the main wine regions of the world, from South America to Burgundy and Bordeaux. She now shares her passion for food and wine on her own website, Love Wine Food Ltd as well as in her own kitchen where she is often found surrounded by recipe books in Italian, French or Spanish. She looks forward to sharing her passion for the region of Piemonte with you.
Dates and pricesThis tour departs on the following dates from London for these prices per person sharing a double or twin room:17 May 2017 £24504 October 2017 £263014 May 2018 £2630 Supplements: Single use of double £380 per personDeposit payment: £400 per person
We include● Flights with British Airways London Gatwick to Turin, Euro traveller. Club upgrade available on request at a supplement.● Transportation from Turin airport in a small luxury coach for a maximum of 14 people, with one piece of luggage per person.● English-speaking tour guide with knowledge of the wine and food of Piemonte.● Four nights’ bed and buffet breakfast in double or twin rooms at the Relais Villa d’Amelia. Superior rooms are included in May and deluxe rooms are included in October.● One 4-course dinner at the Villa d’Amelia on day 1 in the gourmet restaurant with wine● One simple supper at the Villa d’Amelia on day 2 in the bistro with wine● Other meals included as follows: Lunch with wine on day 2, lunch with wine on day 3, dinner with wine in Alba on day 3, dinner with wine on day 4, lunch with wine on day 5.● Entrances and wine tastings as mentioned in the itinerary
Relais Villa d’Amelia, BenevelloThe four star Relais Villa d’Amelia, member of the Small Luxury Hotels, sits amid 7 acres of parkland and hazelnut groves about 20 minutes’ drive from Alba and about 35 minutes’ drive from Barolo. In its transformation from estate villa to hotel, it has retained its traditional features, which blend in with contemporary furnishings of its 37 bedrooms. The Villa d’Amelia has a Michelin-starred restaurant whose chef Damiano Nigro trained with Gualtiero Marchesi, an outdoor swimming pool and wellness centre. We include the hotel buffet breakfast with a wide choice of items. Cooked eggs and freshly squeezed juice can be ordered A la carte at a supplement.
Optional additionsExtend your holiday with a few days in the regional capital, Turin. This is a great city to explore on foot thanks to seemingly endless porticoed buildings in the historic centre. Sections of the old Roman walls remain and are located close to the Porta Palazzo, where the vibrant open air and covered foodmarket is found. Turin possesses numerous baroque cafés, where you can indulge in the local bicerin, a blend of espresso and hot chocolate or find your way to enjoying a local aperitif, Vermouth. There are all sorts of museums and galleries, from Egyptology to Fiat cars, Flemish and Dutch masterpeices to the cinema museum. We recommend that you stay at the 4 star Grand Hotel Sitea or the 5 star Principe di Piemonte.
Different travel arrangementsIf you want us to arrange flights on different dates and from UK regional airports, or to extend your holiday with a stay elsewhere in Italy, just let us know. If you are not arriving from the UK, then we can give you a price that excludes flights and perhaps with extra transfers included. We will adjust the details and the price accordingly.
Terms and conditions This tour is based on 14 people participating. If there are fewer than 14 people participating we may modify the tour (smaller coach but the visits would remain the same). We do reserve the right to alter the itinerary if we cannot be accommodated at any of the venues for any reason closer to the date of departure. Holiday insurance is not included but it is absolutely essential that you are fully insured.
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