A Valentines Day special For Lovers who love Chocolate

Chocolate and wine are perfect partners for Valentines day, or any other day for that matter.

Try white chocolate and Prosecco, or chocolate truffles with one of the wonderful red wines , all available from our Tenuti (Vineyards).–  a perfect present for your special person on Valentine’s Day.

When your love is written in the stars and you want to give him/ her a special gift for Valentines Day, give them this chocolate lovers 4 or 5 day trip to be held in October . If you wish this can be extended to a week to allow you time to explore for yourself this wonderful atmospheric part of Italy.

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  • a visit to the Perugia Eurochocolate Festival
  • a guided tour to the famous Perugina Chocolate factory
  • a chocolate masterclass  “the Queen of Chocolate”  at the Perugina Casa del Cioccolato
  • Chocolate liqueur making with a bottle to take home
  • day long wine tour (5 day only)

The Perugia Eurochocolate festival is held from 16th Oct-25th Oct and it is the biggest chocolate celebration in Europe. Held throughout the streets of medieval Perugia this sweetest event attracts a lot of visitors to the beautiful Umbrian city.

It will be an exciting experience with a huge quantity and variety of chocolates from many different countries. There are chocolate tastings, chocolate sculptures and chocolate workshops organized by the manufacturers.

Perugina e la Casa del Cioccolato

On the outskirts of Perugia lies the Perugina chocolate factory which is an extraordinary place for visitors to discover and delight in all of the pleasures of chocolate.

CNN named Casa del Cioccolato one of the top five destinations for chocolate lovers and the New York Times listed Casa di Cioccolato as a must see for anyone who’s in the neighbourhood of Perugia.


Day 1 arrival –free time to settle in then in the evening enjoy a romantic meal at a traditional Umbrian restaurant

Day 2 morning – tour of the Perugina factory, visiting the ‘Wonka-esque‘ world of Perugian chocolate, a 1¼-hour guided tour in English.

Lunch  Afternoon- chocolate cookery Masterclass “ the Queen of Chocolate”

Day  3  – day trip to Perugia Eurochocolate festival

Day 4 –  Make chocolate liqueur at Podere Buongustaio with Adje Middelbeek,  lunch on goats cheese & beetroot salad with walnuts and a chocolate-dressing,  followed by chocolate dessert.  Afternoon tea visit to a wonderful Patisserie ‘Michele’ in Castiglione del Lago

Day 5 -1 day wine tour.

The programme will be as above  but certain days may be changed around dependant on 3rd party availability.

Slow wine

Advance notice slow-wine-2014 


To celebrate the launch of the second edition in english of The Slow Wine Guide, the innovative guide to Italian wineries rated as “good, clean and fair” by Slow Food Italy; Slow Wine is hosting a grand tasting in San Francisco on February 4th featuring over 55 selected producers from 15 Italian regions.
Slow Wine uses three symbols in the guide to evaluate each winery:

The Snail, the Slow Food symbol, signals a cellar that has distinguished itself through its interpretation of sensorial, territorial, environmental and personal values in harmony with the Slow Food philosophy.

The Bottle, allocated to cellars that show a consistently high quality throughout their range of wines.

The Coin, an indicator of great value.


Pasquarella in Umbria

Last Sunday we went to visit Cascia the birthplace of St Rita in the heart of the Sybillini mountain area to enjoy a very old tradition – a competition (Rassegna) between groups of Pasquarelle.


 Pasquarelle are groups mostly from the Umbrian villages around Norcia but also Le Marche, who visit homes and farms in the area, dancing and singing stories (in dialect) announcing the birth of Jesus – all accompanied with  ancient musical  instruments such as  fisarmonica, tamburelli (a type of drum) a triangle and wearing traditional costumes based on  historical local farming attire. Traditionally they carried with them a chest for the donation of food for supper  but today they are more likely to be sharing good food and plentiful wine together with the villagers.

This year was the thirty-eighth edition of the competition.  The formula remains the same –different groups of ‘pasquarellari’ process through the Town in traditional costume, singing as they go, before making their way to a stage set ip in the main square.  It is colourful and riotous and there is an accompanying market and demonstration of traditional skills and crafts


We were lucky enough to join some Pasquarelliari for lunch, so enjoyed a lively time with much singing and dancing, fuelled by good food and in their case, healthy doses of Grappa –to keep out the cold I was assured.


Christmas Newsletter

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San Martino Day

Ask any home wine maker or professional vintner about the significance of November 11th and you will likely get the response that this is the Feast Day of San Martino, patron saint of wine and wine making, the day when traditionally the first sips of ‘vino novello’ can be tasted. Ironically he is also the patron saint of alcoholics!

It is said that at San Martino “ogni mosto e’ vino” (every juice becomes wine), therefore it is time to pour a glass from the vats in which the juices have been fermenting for approximately two months and get a taste of the fruity, juicy immature wine. This taste treat is an indication of the quality, and characteristics of the year’s vintage and a preview of what’s to come when the wine ages and fully matures. It is also the perfect excuse to throw an autumn party where the new wine can be enjoyed with bruschetta doused with newly pressed olive oil and fire-roasted chestnuts among other traditional delights.

Sagras dedicated to chestnuts and new wines are celebrated throughout Italy and in particular in Venice, where the festa of San Martino is hugely celebrated. Children and adults alike will dress like the saint in crowns and red capes. The children will clang pots and pans to make noise while travelling throughout the city asking for money and candy and reciting a rhyme about their revered patron:

The legend of San Martino

The legend of St. Martin says that he was one of the Church’s first non-martyred saints to be beatified. Born in a Roman province in modern-day Hungary, his father was an army officer in the Imperial guard. St Martin himself was pressed into service and was attached to a ceremonial cavalry unit assigned to guard the Emperor. According to lore, St. Martin was riding through the gates of the city of Amiens, on a frigid evening in November, when he came upon a poor, freezing beggar. In a generous and humble gesture, St. Martin cut his military cloak in half and shared it with the man for warmth. That same night, Jesus appeared to St. Martin in a dream wearing the half-cloak and thanking him for his compassionate gesture. The legend further tells us that at the moment that the saint shared his cloak the sun came out which is why for a short period in early November we have what is called Estate di San Martino (summer of San Martino) when the weather is unseasonably warm.
Thereafter, San Martino gave up his commission as an officer to become a monk and live a humble life of service to God. Despite this he is also the patron saint of soldiers.
Why is he the patron saint of Vinters and alcoholics? It is said that when the Emperor offered St Martin the wine cup before himself, he handed it instead to a poor priest standing with him, thus showing that he counted the humble servants of God before the greatest rulers. Secondly November 11th or Martinmas was originally the feast of Bacchus among the Romans and when the Christian Church subsumed this into the feast of Saint Martin, the countrymen working in the vineyards continued to celebrate the day and came to look on Saint Martin as their Patron and drunkards were advised to invoke him to save them from their sin.

Current times

To celebrate this Saint’s day the ‘Strada di Vino’ organisation here in Umbria has created a second ‘Cantina Aperta’ day so that patrons can visit their favourite vineyards and taste the new wine. In this region Madrevita at Vaiano, Il Castello at Montegiove and several vineyards at Torgiano, Perugia and nearby Montefalco are opening their doors, so raise a glass (but not too many!) to San Martino (and to me if you like because it is also my birthday!)
Jan Julian
(Jan Julian & Adje Middelbeek run 1 day wine tours across the ‘confine’ between Umbria & Toscana).

Buon Gustaio Tours

Buon Gustaio Gastro Tours –a business in the making?

One day, Adje and I hit on the idea of organising one day wine & food tours along the Umbria/ Tuscany ‘border’.  Like all good ideas hatched over a glass or two, the idea seemed simple and a winner in the making.

First came the research, several  very pleasant days were spent driving round the countryside visiting different vineyards, restaurants, Frantoii & gourmet outlets  – of course sampling as we went and coming away with an amazing number of free bottles of wine!  We visited hire car companies to discuss daily rental charges & insurance and after this leg work finally narrowed our choice down to three basic tours with a bespoke option.  Of course the website side of things fell well behind whilst we were ‘researching’ but we did create a Facebook page, make an application to Trip Advisor and create three stylish presentation documents.

Almost as an afterthought I approached the Tourist Office to ask what we needed to do to register with ‘THEM IN CHARGE’ and hit not just a snag but a dirty great boulder.  Apparently in order to do the tours on a regular basis we need to be registered tour guides, which involves a year long course, no doubt a sizeable fee and worst of all a written exam –eeek!  Also these courses may not run every year and we need to enquire again for 2014!  We were told that there was some kind of ‘get out’ for occasional tours which we need to follow up with a Commercialista, or we could try and find a friendly travel Agent who will let us use their registration as umbrella cover.  In desperation we could also use the time honoured method of trying to remain under the radar.

wine tour 1In the midst of all these deliberations we got our first booking –three South American ladies wanted our Fabro to Montegiove tour. We confirmed everything, did a dry run to check timings and spent hours cleaning our cars (anyone who knows the state of Adje and my cars will fall about laughing at this point).  We had a last minute panic when one of the party informed us they only drank white wine and our selected vineyards produced only reds, so we had to nip out and purchase several whites from other vineyards so she could participate in the wine tasting.

On the day we filled freezer bags with iced water, provided first aid kit, glasses, wet wipes, itineries  maps etc , got up at the crack of dawn and arrived early (yes, really I got there early) .  Surprisingly the tour went really well.  We took them first to a little gourmet shop at the foot of Fabro where they feasted on truffle Bruscetta, cheeses and pastries from the local baker.  Luckily they repaid the generosity by buying lots of goodies.  From there we travelled through Ficulle to the VitaLonga Estate where they toured the vineyard before sitting down to a delicious three course meal paired with the estate wines, all charmingly explained by one of the proprietors. A pretty drive later we arrived at the Il Castello vineyard in Montegiove where our guests again toured the Cantina and tasted the wines, hosted by the handsome Il Conte.  Helped by the wine no doubt, there was a great deal of flirtatious banter going on.  Finally prizing them away from Il Conte we ended the tour with a visit to a sheep farm near their hotel where they bought Ricotta and the best Yoghurt ever.

Feedback from the tour was very complimentary –well organised and professional -we were thrilled, now all we need are more clients.  (Click here for more on Jan and Adje’s Tours )

Tre Bicchieri Awards

Tre BicchieriGambero Rosso, Italy’s prestigious organisation committed to quality wines, olive oil, restaurants & coffee recently published its ‘Tre Bicchieri’ 2013 awards for wines. Before detailing their Umbrian selection they had this to say about our Umbrian wines –
There are many good, even excellent wines, but there is a concern that in the quest for producing quality wines the local identity, originality and personality of the wines may be lost. They particularly appreciate that traditional vines are being re-introduced – Sagrantino, Ciliegiolo, Grechetto, Trebbiano Spoleto and the Trasimeno Gamay for example and see this as the way forward.
Palazzo VecchioThey gave special mention also to the wine ‘L’Andrea’ Colli Perugini Rosso 2008 which is produced by The Old winery, Il Castello, Monte Vibiano which this year won the Award for Sustainable Viticulture www.montevibiano.it. Situated near Mercatello between Castiglione della Valle and Marsciano it is the first vineyard to claim zero CO2 emissions and is committed to sustainable high quality production.
Montevibiano2Reproduced below is Gambero Rosso’s ‘Tre Bicchieri’ Umbrian selection –
Cervaro Hall 2010 Castello della Sala
Andrea Colli Perugini Rosso 2008 The Old Winery Castello Monte Vibiano
2008 Antonelli Montefalco Sagrantino
Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni 2008 Caprai
Montefalco Sagrantino Field to Cerqua Tabarrini 2008
Montefalco Sagrantino 2009 Colleallodole Antano Miltiades – Larks Hill Farm
Montefalco Sagrantino Well the Cure 2009 Villa Mongalli
Orvieto Classico Superiore IN 2011 Decugnano dei Barbi
Orvieto Classico Superiore Terre Vineate 2011 Palazzone
Torgiano Rosso Vigna Monticchio Res. 2007 Lungarotti

So if you want a particularly nice wine to go with your Turkey this Christmas there are several vineyards within easy travelling distance and some delightful wines to choose from –Salute.