Michael Palij MW and Mark Powell FRGS
This is a tour for wine and food enthusiasts who want to go behind the scenes with one of the world’s leading authorities on Italian wine. The experience is about authenticity rather than ostentation; nothing has been chosen simply because it is the most famous or the most expensive (although sometimes it is). You will taste with winemakers who never open their wineries to the public, people Michael has known for years and sometimes decades. The accommodation will be in boutique, hard-to-find hotels. The food will be a combination of Michelin-starred cuisine and authentic home-cooked meals. This is an experience it would be impossible for any other company to replicate as it draws on connections Michael has made during 20 years of searching for the real Italy.
- Personal wine tasting tutorial with one of only 300 Masters of Wine in the world
- Truffle hunting with Piemonte’s champion truffle hunter
- Selected wines from Michael’s private cellar
- Tour of Vicenza with a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
- Six Michelin-starred restaurants
- Fully chauffered with access to a second vehicle for additional flexibility and security
- This tour costs £4,000 per person. It does not include travel to Italy but includes everything else: ALL food as outlined including truffles, ALL (extremely fine) wine, ALL gratuities, ALL travel from airport-to-airport, ALL everything.
- The tour is limited to four couples
Day 1: Saturday 26th October 2013
- Arrive at Verona Airport
- Travel to Hotel Tamasotti by chauffeur-driven MPV (40 mins). Tamasotti is a boutique hotel in a stunning location overlooking the vineyards of Corte Sant’Alda and will be our base for 4 nights (www.itamasotti.it).
- Welcome dinner at the hotel cooked by Luisa Brusco, a formidable chef specialising in the wonderful kitchen of the Veneto. Dinner will be accompanied by wines from Michael’s personal cellar.
Day 2: Sunday 27th October 2013
- We will spend the morning looking at ‘how to taste’ in preparation for the days ahead. The session starts with ‘first principles’. Luisa will prepare a light lunch.
- In the afternoon we will visit the vineyards and winery of Corte Sant’Alda (10 mins from the hotel). In common with all our estates, Corte Sant’Alda is not open to the public but we will be given a guided tour and tasting by Marinella Camerani, the estate’s founder and recent winner of Gambero Rosso’s ‘Grapegrower of the Year’. The estate is unique in preserving the ancient techniques of both air-drying and wood fermentation.
- Dinner with Marinella: an authentic Italian meal with one of the Veneto’s great viticultural personalities.
- Return to Hotel Tamasotti (10 mins).
Day 3: Monday 28th October 2013
- Travel to Sirmione (1 hour), home to the fabulous ruins of the Grotto di Catullo. We will explore the palace of the ancient Roman ruler in the company of Mark Powell FRGS before lunch at La Rucola – one Michelin star and a member of the Jeune Restaurateurs d’Europe; it’s one of the richest culinary finds in the Veneto.
- After lunch we travel to Bardolino (30 mins) to visit the lovely Giovanna Tantini and taste her award-winning wines before continuing on to Verona (30 mins)
- Mark Powell will also be our guide for a pre-dinner perambulation through the historic streets of Verona. We’ll dine at two-starred Il Desco in the heart of the old city before returning to Hotel Tamasotti (30 mins).
Day 4: Tuesday 29th October 2013
- Drive to Vicenza (50 mins) for a morning touring this remarkable Palladian city with Mark Powell and lunch at Ristorante Da Remo.
- Afternoon drive back to Stefano Inama, Soave’s most dynamic and charming producer (30 mins). Stefano himself will take us on a tour of the winery, his vineyards in Soave, and also his new estate in the Colli Berici.
- Dinner at the nearby La Peca, a two Michelin-starred restaurant specialising in local cuisine.
- Return to Hotel Tamasotti (30 mins).
Day 5: Wednesday 30th October 2013
- Depart Hotel Tamasotti and travel to Vignetti Massa, near Tortona (2 hours 30 mins).
- Walter Massa is one of the wine world’s greatest characters. Passionate about his beloved Timorasso (he is one of only two producers in the world still cultivating this ancient grape variety) and passionate about what makes a wine ‘real’ he will be our host for a vineyard tour, tasting and lunch at La Corona a local trattoria where time appears to have stopped.
- Afternoon drive to La Zerba, our Gavi estate (50 mins). Their old vine cuvée made from a tiny parcel of Cortese will be just the thing to wake us up before a light dinner at the winery. Paola is a brilliant cook!
- Travel to Villa Beccaris, Michael’s favourite hotel in the Langhe (1 hour 30 mins). We will stay here for four nights (www.villabeccaris.it)
Day 6: Thursday 31st October 2013
- We see two wineries this morning starting with Mascarello (10 mins), one of the finest Barolo producers. Michael has a long history working with this producer and has seen the wines rise from relatively obscurity to cult status.
- Pecchenino is a short drive away (10 mins)and offers top class Dolcetto and a great story.
- Lunch in La Rosa dei Vini (30 mins), a restaurant long since immune to Michael’s constant rummaging in their cellars. Great food, an apparently endless supply of Langhe classics, and a dining room that looks out over a spectacular panorama of the vine-covered hills of the Langhe.
- We visit Bovio in the afternoon (20 mins) to taste more top quality Barolo and Dolcetto grown in the hills around La Morra.
- Dinner at Osteria Bovio (5 mins), the restaurant run by the same family we visited earlier. Be suitably armed for an evening of truffles and Barolo.
- Return to Villa Beccaris (20 mins).
Day 7: Friday 1st November
- Drive to our truffle hunting location (40 mins) where we are guided in our search for the world’s most expensive food by Piemonte’s champion truffle hunter, Ezio. You’ll need Wellies for this and warm clothes depending on the weather.
- Lunch at Tra Arte e Querce, the hotel and restaurant run by Ezio’s wife, Clelia. She’ll prepare suitable dishes onto which we can shave our booty assuming we are lucky enough in the morning.
- The afternoon will be occupied by a visit to Angelo Gaja (30 mins) who really needs no introduction.
- Drive back for a Michelin-starred dinner at Da Guido (30 mins), accompanied by – you guessed it – truffles and Barolo.
- Home to Villa Beccaris (20 mins).
Day 8: Saturday 2nd November
- Free morning to either relax at the hotel or, if preferred, we will drive to Alba (30 mins) to explore and make any last-minute truffle purchases.
- Late morning departure for Canale for lunch at the 1-starred Enoteca (40 mins).
- We spend the afternoon with the wonderfully modest Marco Porello (5 mins from the Enoteca), who will be our host for our final dinner together. He is regarded as one of the bright young things in the Roero and his wines have developed a very loyal following around the world. We round off the week at the 3-starred Piazza Duomo (20 mins).
- Return to Villa Beccaris (30 mins).
Day 9: Sunday 3rd November