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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.


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 )