For several years I organised and personally escorted tours abroad, with most of my tours being to regions in Italy. My area of specialisation was food and wine and without doubt the best places to visit in Italy for gourmet style tours are in Tuscany and Piedmont regions. The tour here is combining the best of Toscano and Piemonte, mi scusa but I like to use the Italian names they roll off the tongue beautifully.
Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith is the perfect person to consider as tour host if you are thinking about a tour. Peter is a friend of long-standing (should never say old friend) and his background before he became a premier winemaker and Master of Wine is food science. There is nothing like having a food and wine person design a tour, it is the way I used to do it. Another similarity is that he is keeping the numbers limited to 12 people. Small numbers work well as you are always treated like a guest or even family and particularly when you go along with someone who knows his business so well.
I see Peter is visiting an Antinori estate. On one of my tours we had a wonderful half day with the Antinori family on the property they have in the Bolgheri region, we felt really spoiled and were even taken to see the rare breed of pigs that Allegra Antinori was rearing. These visits are usually only for people in the wine industry and Peter with his credentials has pulled off a private visit for mere mortals who wish to join the tour.
What about this mouth-watering veal carpaccio at 1 star La Ciau del Torneavento in Treiso, Barbaresco. I have found that there is much sophistication these days in presentation in Italy, it puts some of the Italian restaurants here to shame, they should return regularly to Italy for inspiration. My guests were always impressed with my choice of restaurants for their authentic dishes presented so stylishly and I can see Peter is on the mark here.
Tenuta Tignanello is a famous Antinori estate for its wines including Tignanello-Super Tuscan – 100% Sangiovese.
The Italians are design conscious and can even make a stack of cartons catch the eye.
Gina Stipo at old granary (flour mill) cooking school Ecco La Cucina south of Siena. We all know women make the best cooks, it is a fact I have proved over and over. I have asked many times to be allowed into the kitchen and there they are doing most of the work, schlepping for the male chef who gets all the credit.
Cannot talk to you about a wine tour without the obligatory vineyard shot, this one is of the Barolo grapes in Piemonte. Barolo wine comes from the town of Barolo and is also the name of wine but the grape used is still Nebbiolo. A standard Barolo is aged for two years in the barrel and one year in the bottle where the Riserva Barolo is aged three years in the barrel and one in the bottle. My mouth is drooling, why because Barolos are deep red, thick and complex with flavours of roses, violets, licorice and possibly oaky. They are among the most expensive wines from Italy and now I have a deep yen to return just writing this post.
Here is a typical shot of the romantic hills of Toscano, a Solaia vineyard. Solaia is a wine produced by the famous Antinori dynasty. It is a Cabernet-based blend made from their Solaia vineyard on a unique terroir. A relatively new wine, for the Antinori’s. It was in 1978 that there were enough grapes to form a vintage and not long after it was Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2000. If you want to taste or know more about a Super Tuscan wine this is the tour for you.
Visit Peter’s website for more details on the itinerary and for bookings. My last word is that the price is so reasonable.
Photos courtesy Peter Scudamore-Smith.