Gusto's Umbrian Wine Adventure

(Umbrian)Wine, (Umbrian)Wine and more (Umbrian)Wine Please!

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on September 6, 2010

Whoever said that moving was one of the most stressful things you can do in your life was so right!

Anyone else who has been through the same thing recently will forgive me instantly for not writing for months!

Even writing this has taken something like 2 weeks because I’m trying to catch up with 101 other things now that we have internet in the house – finally!

Ok, moan over – probably!  Lets talk about wine – I think we need to introduce everyone to the delights of Cantina Tabarrini – I’ve probably mentioned them before, but they are, to our mind and taste, one of the best, most innovative,  local producers Umbria, or even Italy, has to offer.

Some of the Tabarrini vines

The wine-maker is the owner – Giampaolo, he, together with his lovely wife Federica form a terrific team.  A lot of the cantine tend to stick with tradition and, don’t get me wrong,  make fabulous wine -however,  Giampaolo breaks with tradition and innovates, with amazing results.

Think of any wine related question or idea and Giampaolo has thought of it years before and either discounted it or incorporated it in his wine-making!

He is one of the few wine makers here in Umbria who make a Rosè – Boca di Rosa – from 100% Sagrantino grapes, with spectacular results.  The other day Mark hosted a visit to Tabarrini with Jody Ness from Wine Portfolio – a  TV programme that goes out world-wide on World CNBC.  Jody is a sommelier and a restaurateur and he found it difficult to categorise this wine – it’s  powerful ; on the bottle the strength is put at 15% but really it’s 16.2 %!   The surprise is that it’s dry and fruity, looks like a Rosè, has a bouquet of a white,  yet tastes like a red.

The aftermath of a tasting at Tabarrini!

Jody said that as a restaurateur he habitually tries to pair the wines he tastes with a dish – with this Rosè he couldn’t, because it would go with anything!  Fish, cheeses, meats or even dessert.  A wine that could take you through a whole meal.

Tabbarini also make Sagrantino, well, actually they make THREE – make that FOUR if you include the dessert wine – Sagrantino Passito –   I’ll pass to Mark to fill in the info on these!

Boxed and ready to go!

Colle Grimaldesco – The so called entry level Sagrantino – still enough to make you grin when you’re handed a glass tho and only released after four years of being refined in French barriques and in the bottle!

Campo alla Cerqua –  The most approachable of the trio, produced from a single vineyard with lighter, looser soil than the others, this has great balance and well controlled tannins as this wine is aged only in large French oak barrels for four years. It has a very limited production of less than 2000 bottles a year.

Colle alle Macchie –   – This is the big boy – not one for the faint-hearted, with a spectacular bouquet and endless finish.  25 -30 months in French Oak.  Then around 3 years refinement in the bottle. You won’t see this one until a minimum of 6 years after harvest!

Colle Grimaldesco Passito – Love this! Smooth and totally moreish! I take a great deal of pleasure from seeing the grapes drying on the special racks in lofts exposed to the elements to allow fresh air to circulate around the grapes for a natural desiccating process.  90 days of this, and you don’t have much juice left, but what is there is the nectar of the gods!

Plus, and I’m sure Giampaolo won’t mind me blowing his trumpet – Robert Parker has reviewed Tabarrini’s Sagrantino family and they all got over 90 points  – Campo alla Cerqua & Colle alle Macchie were both awarded 93 points!  Way to go Giampaolo!

The star of the show - Giampaolo Tabarrini!

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Up close n personal with the Vendemmia…

Posted in Uncategorized by gustowinetours on September 5, 2010

'Our' vineyard!

I couldn’t believe my eyes on the 1st September – there I was wasting time on the computer as usual and, of course, occasionally gazing out the window – I do have a rather spectacular view of Montefalco and the rows of vines at the back of the house – when suddenly there appeared a tractor with a big trailer and a few rustic guys n gals with old plastic buckets outside my window.

Skilful driving around the tight turns around the rows!

They had a short laughter-filled meeting and then separated and scurried down the rows of grapevines armed with their buckets and with the tractor slowly making it’s way up through the middle of the vines so that the folk could empty their buckets of glorious grapes into the trailer without having to walk too far.

The vendemmia in action

Our landlord sells the grapes to a local cantina about 2 km away from here Il Poggio Turri ….

Cantina Poggio Turri

Getting into the swing of things now!

There’s a mix of white grapes on the 7 vine rows – Grechetto, Malvesia and Pinot Grigio – with a streak of an unknown red grape – probably Sangiovese

All done - heading off to the cantina now!

A few days ago our landlord gave us a bunch of the pinot grigio grapes, I have to say, they were delish!

So now we will HAVE to visit this cantina again, knowing that the grapes from our own back garden go into their wines!

L’Infiorata – An amazing flower festival.. With a twist!

Posted in Uncategorized by gustowinetours on June 23, 2010

L’Infiorata di Cannara

ooh! My head!

The community effort of the Infiorata in Cannara is truly something special to see!  We were introduced to the Infiorata back in 2002 when we were in our campervan and staying by lake Trasimeno.  A fellow camperisti told us that we simply MUST see the flowers and that there would be a very large ‘Raduno’ of camper vans there (camper rally) With our vague grasp of Italian we were amazed to even understand WHERE this event would take place – let alone what it was….We arrived at the Sports Centre in Cannara and managed to shoehorn ourselves into  the last available space – there were hundreds of camper vans!  We’d been told the festival was on the Sunday, but we missed the important detail of when & didn’t realise it was specific…. So, we sauntered into town after our lunch at about 3pm, and of course, everything was long over with the remains of the gorgeous designs still visible but the wind had scattered the flower petals in all directions.  Oops!  We vowed to get it right the next year, this looked too good to miss!

So, over the years since then we’ve visited the Infiorata at both Cannara & Spello and seen displays in Perugia (Piazza IV Novembre), Assisi and Montefalco – they all had one huge religious design each in front of their churches.  Assisi was a pretty event, they filled the fountain in the main Piazza with flowers – it looked beautiful.

We’ve never had the stamina to see just how much work went into producing these stunning yet temporary designs.  Last year we got a glimpse of the final part of the enormous effort the whole community goes to for the Infiorata.  We wandered through the streets of Cannara on the Saturday evening just as the designs were being started then the following day we met with friends in Spello to view the amazing displays there.  Undoubtedly beautiful – but – and this is necessarily a personal view – we feel it’s spoilt by the hoards and hoards of people descending on the little town making it very difficult to move about and almost impossible to see the designs!  It’s not as crowded in Cannara, and we think it’s less commercial too.

Then, and this makes me snort with laughter…. Imagine… You have been working on your spectacular design ALL NIGHT – on the pavement, painstakingly building your display.  Finally you finish – stand up rubbing the small of your aching back and look proudly at what you have achieved together in the many hours of detailed work – You feel very pleased with yourself, give yourself an imaginary pat on the back…  Then at 11am the procession from the church begins (This is a religious festival after all!  To mark Corpus Domini.) The Bishop with his ceremonial robes of white and gold emerges from the church surrounded by his entourage who are holding a canopy over his head and a gilt mask in front of his face – all pomp and ceremony – they then proceed to walk ON all the flower designs… AND sing while they do this….  If I had spent the best part of 12 hours or more working on my precious design, I wouldn’t be all that pleased with this part of the day.  Singing was nice though! And, no-one else seemed to mind…

It’s a wondrous festival, certainly not unique in Italy, but each community makes an effort to create a unique event, year on year – one of the sights to see if you find yourselves in Italy at that time of year!

Design 2009

Coming soon… Read our account about this year’s Infiorata in Cannara on Umbria Lovers site –  http://umbrialoversblog.blogspot.com

The Big Wine Adventure….. Continued…

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on May 17, 2010

Spring vines

WINE has been with us for thousands of years, and, fortunately, shows no signs of going away soon.

But the way we drink and see wine has changed quite dramatically.

A few hundred years ago, it wasn’t unusual for an English breakfast to consist of a lot of roast meat, washed down with a flagon of beer or a bottle or two of wine, imported from France or Portugal, depending on political relations (i.e., who we weren’t killing at the time) and the fashion at court.

Yes, it does mean we were probably alcoholics, but it was also because at that time, drinking the water could make you very ill indeed, or kill you. Dead.

Breakfast time in Medieval Britain!

Italian wine had a terrible reputation in England in the seventies because the growers , quite rightly, thought we would buy just about anything they produced. Accordingly, they planted vines close together, made wine from every bunch available, and thanked God for their climate and soil.

But, as package holidays introduced the Brits to all the GOOD wines available in Europe, it created a market for these wines inside the UK. Cheap, mass-produced plonk was no longer good enough, the bottom fell out of the market and the European Wine Lake was born!

It took a lot of persuading for the wine-growers in Italy, especially the south, to accept that pulling up half their vines would actually result in a net profit.  It has finally become common knowledge, and the world is now starting to appreciate the huge variety of good quality, local Italian wines that are now readily available in supermarkets and independent wine-sellers in the UK.  A raft of legislation and more competition than ever before have concentrated the Italian wine-makers’ minds like never before and the results are joyous.

Such variety!

Many of the cantinas in the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG area of Umbria used to sell all their grapes on to bigger producers or to a co-operative. Marco Caprai changed all that. New wine-making techniques, barrel-ageing to control otherwise overpowering tannins, and savvy world-wide marketing of this difficult-to-tame grape bucked the trend and so a lot of the Sagrantino producers have relatively new cantinas, even though they’ve been growing grapes for generations, and are finally bottling and marketing their own wine. A powerful respect for the land and local traditions, coupled with state-of-the-art equipment and techniques now combine to produce a range of wines that I think can compete with any wine in the world.

Sagrantino Secco pioneers.

The land here is great for vines- high enough to be cooler at night than at day; hot summers and frigid winters; pebbly soil on slopes which provide good drainage. These factors play a huge role in balancing a wine’s acidity, sweetness, fruitiness and tannins.

In wine-producing countries, wine consumption has dropped considerably in the last few decades, as clean drinking water,  working, driving and economical considerations all combine to change drinking habits.

Yet, for the reasons stated above, (cheap travel etc) wine consumption in the English-speaking world has risen by 500% in the last 40 years!

Three cheers for the Brits, Yanks and Aussies!

Cheers!

Valle di Assisi – A dinner in elegant surroundings.

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on May 9, 2010

A different way of doing business….

Sometimes we are struck by the little differences we see living here in Italy as opposed to when we lived in England.

The barter system is very much alive and living in rural Umbria.  The longer we live here, the more we see of this very sensible exchange.

Nothing is perfect – as with all systems – the Italians seem to believe that all exchanges should result in a swap of goods, usually with the giver getting even more from the givee!  Unfortunately this seems to run to when actual gifts are given – for birthdays for instance – give a little token gift for someone’s birthday and be prepared to be given a  gift right back at you!  Same for celebrating the birth of a friend’s baby… We took a little gift to some friends for the birth of their first baby and left a couple of hours later, full of cake, ice-cream and with a fine bottle of Sagrantino!

Many times we’ve been guilty of sneaking up to our friends front doors and leaving gifts for them on the door-step – just so that we can give without being given to!

However, when the barter system is used for a bit of work – that’s a different matter!

Happy Birthday Mark!

Mark did some translation work for the descriptions of the wines of Valle di Assisi a while back and decided that a meal for two in their elegant looking restaurant – Recanto – would be a perfect payment for the work.

So, finally, last night we got dressed up and headed to Valle di Assisi on the road between Santa Maria degli Angeli and Tordandrea.

The hotel is new and very well appointed with a mixture of modern and antique with, we couldn’t help noticing, gorgeous Persian rugs scattered almost carelessly around the foyer!  When we asked at reception where the restaurant was, we were guided back outside again and given a map!  The restaurant was not even visible from the hotel!  So, fairly large grounds then, we thought!

Luckily for us, as we approached the car again to drive to the restaurant, a man came up to us and asked if we were going to the restaurant and if so, could he hitch a ride with us – sure, do you know the way, we ask – Of course, he says, I’m the owner!  So Giampiero Bianconi hopped into our little English Peugeot 306 and guided us to the right place! Mark had been dealing with Giampiero’s daughter, Susanna, regarding the wine descriptions.  We hoped we’d see her at the restaurant but according to her dad, she’d had a very long day and was at home!  Ah well, perhaps she’ll read this!

The experience.

We sat so that we could check the room out while eating!  The young waitress bought us some delicious Prosecco to drink with some bruschetta and some onion covered pizza bread while we looked at the menu.  As we don’t really like the ‘fizzy’ stuff, we surprised ourselves by enjoying this Prosecco!

Un brindisi con Prosecco e bruschetta

Cheers!!

The wine –

We chose their very good Recanto (same name as the restaurant) a 50-50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet.  Big without being over-powering, very smooth and perfect for the dinner we chose.

2007 Recanto - Rosso del Umbria.

Gli antipasti

Finally, we made our decisions and Mark started with a  bowl of creamy scrambled eggs topped with shavings of Norcia black truffles.  I chose stuffed radicchio rolls with lardo di Norcia and Taleggio cheese inside. Both delicious!

Uova strapazzata con tartufo di Norcia

Involtini di radicchio con lardo di Norcia e taleggio

Next the primi –

We had to get my little mobile Ita-Eng dictionary out for Mark’s dish, we’d asked the waitress what it was and she said it was a type of meat – yes, but what type? we ask …. Um, I can’t explain she replies!  Turns out it’s young deer – yes, Mark ate Bambi!  I was a tiny bit disappointed in my choice – Cappaletti filled with ‘meat’ with a Norcia truffle sauce.  They were a bit dry and rather too al dente for my taste.  But the sauce was very good indeed!

Pasta con Daino (Yes, bambi to you and me!)

Cappaletti ripieno di carne con salsa tartufo di Norci

Then onto the secondi –

Mark – always a sucker for lamb, chose the lamb cutlets with a pistachio crust with a side of sliced roasted potatoes.  My choice was ‘off menu’, one of the specials of the day, a braised beef steak topped with crispy artichokes and served with oven cooked potatoes.  Beautifully pink in the centre, so perfectly cooked for me!  The wine went very well with this course.

Agnello incrostato con pistacchi

Bistecca di manzo brasato con carciofi croccante e patate al forno

An aside..

Giampiero and his wife Liliana were having their dinner at the table next to ours and he offered us a taste of the 2007 Grechetto they were both drinking.  Again, their own production.  Not pure Grechetto, but a little note of Viognier grape as Giampiero decided that this blend worked well together.  Very citrus led, a bit too sharp for our personal taste, but a good summer wine.

The Wine Ceremony!

'07 Valle di Assisi Recanto

And finally – i dolci

It was a close run thing with our competitive streak as far as what we order goes… Mark’s hot chocolate and almond souffle with a side of physilis fruit and chantilly cream ALMOST beat my home-made creme brulèe with grilled caramelised strawberry, kiwi and banana – but I think I pipped him at the post!

Soufflè di cioccolato e mandorle, crema 'chantilly' e frutta di physilis

Creme Brulèe con frutta caramelizzata - TOO good!

All in all a lovely meal.  It just missed being superb – it wasn’t busy but the waitress was struggling to keep up with 3 tables.  My pasta was too al dente, Mark’s lamb was the tiniest bit overdone – not pink at any rate.  We’d ordered greens to go with the mains, they didn’t turn up  (We decided not to say anything because we knew we would be too full if they did arrive!)  On the bigger plus side, the setting is lovely, the staff very attentive, the wines were good, and my main course was a different combination that worked very well.  And the owners are delightful!

I have to put a p.s on this blog (and it goes for all the others) Why doesn’t the actual blog look like the draft?  Why can’t you just have it EXACTLY how you want it??  Answers below please.  So what I’m trying to say is sorry it looks SO messy, but it’s the program, not me!

A wonderful Spring day for a Gusto Wine Tour!

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on May 1, 2010

A Great Gusto Day Out!

We’d  been waiting for what seems like a life-time for some good weather, the winter seemed to be so long.

We hoped and kept everything crossed…. and it worked!  Right at the end of February we had a gift of a day!

We had a lovely day with Dylan, Carley, Lyn and Bruce and it always makes it so much better when the sun is out.

We started at the lovely Cantina Di Filippo.

Tasting at the lovely Cantina Di Filippo

Then we had a pretty drive through the gorgeous countryside towards Montefalco where we found ourselves at a truly family-run cantina, Colle del Saraceno, with the tasting room in a converted room under the family home.  We were told by Maila, the lady of the house that when the weather is warmer, the tastings are held outside in the garden and under the olive trees.  Looking forward to that with the summer guests!

Carley & Dylan tasting the Cantina Colle del Saraceno's own olive oil

After trying their lovely fresh olive oil and then their small but perfectly formed selection of wines including their magnificent Sagrantino secco we left to head for lunch at an agriturismo tucked away in the Umbrian hills.

A Sumptuous Umbrian lunch at Il Rotolone

After the relaxing lunch we drove out once more into the countryside and headed for the delightful Cantina Fongoli. We think this is one of the prettiest Cantine anywhere, full of character and, of course, they have very, very good wines!

Tasting the delicious wines at Cantina Fongoli

The converted bath-tub seat/bed!

The owners’ little one was tired, so he was put on the improvised seating – an old bath-tub!  So cute!

Fongoli Barrel rooms.

The barrel room at Fongoli is a very traditional affair!

... and the tasting room wasn't bad either!

The tasting room was full of old farming and wine making equipment, fascinating to look at – and very photogenic.

It was truly a great day out and I think the quotes of the day came from Carley & Dylan who, while looking around Colle del Sareceno said “This is the best day EVER!” (Carley) and “This is why we’re in Italy, right here, right now!” (Dylan)

Yep!  That about sums it up!

Vinitaly a brief encounter…

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on April 29, 2010

This’ll be fun, writing on behalf of Mark!  Let’s see how much I remember of what he told me!  This also gives me the excuse of not too many photos, Mark was busy so not too many opportunities to take pics!

I wish I’d been able to go to Vinitaly too, but when I saw the car that Mark was travelling up in, I totally understood why I couldn’t go – unless I wanted to hitch a ride hanging onto the roof!

Mark left the day before the exhibition opened and headed for Verona to help set up the stand for Cantina Romanelli in the Umbria area of the expo.  Once they had set that up ready for the following day they headed out to the accommodation – 40 km away!  Baffling as to why they chose to be so far out of town – nearer to Lake Garda than Verona!  However it was clean and pleasant enough!

The hotel

Not the best organisation methods for entry into the hall in the mornings.  All the exhibitors arrived in good time (about 8am) and had to hang around outside even though there were the organisers inside.  Mark arrived at 8am and then had to wait until 8.30 to get in!  Then half an hour to set up the wines and paraphernalia!

The calm before the storm!

Umbria was well represented with around 50 cantine displaying their wines which was great, however the Umbria section was in a large corridor quite a way from the public entrance, so, A) It took nearly an hour for the first people to arrive at the stands and B) a lot of people just walked through without looking left nor right as they found their way to the Tuscany section.

Busy tasting in the Umbria section

From all accounts, last year and this year are improvements on the promotion of Umbria where at least we had our own section with the Umbria banners up rather than being lumped together with Tuscany.

There was still confusion with a customer coming up to the stand, looking over the wines and then asking to try the Brunello…..  Certainly says Mark, all you need to do is head to the Tuscany section!

The Cantina Dionigi stand

I’m not sure if one of the ideas to promote the wines was a good one or not – at one end of the section there was a big stand which showcased all the wines of the region under one umbrella.  In a way, it was a good idea because people had a chance to really see the variety that Umbria has to offer.  On the other hand it meant less people visited the individual stands and talked to the wine-makers themselves.

I think that the promotion of the wines of Umbria is a real work in progress and things have to be tried to see if they are viable or not.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens next year.

There was a lot of interest in the flagship wine of Umbria – Sagrantino di Montefalco.  This was not surprising as once tasted the resulting reaction is invariably WOW!! or words to that effect!

The Cantina Romanelli stand

Dare I say this here?  Yes I dare – Mark managed to convert at least one customer to the fact that Umbria has more than one wine-maker.  I’d like to be clear from the start that I think that Caprai’s wines are good and we have to give them credit for starting the revolution that is Sagrantino as we know it today.  However, I also think that Caprai has an amazing marketing machine and really KNOWS how to promote itself to the extent that outside of Italy, the only name known for Motefalco wines is Arnaldo Caprai.

Hamming it up at Vinitaly!

An example?  Just one out of many – We were in Las Vegas last August and had an exceptional dinner in one of the more expensive restaurants there.  We got talking to the sommelier there, a man of many years experience.  We told him where we came from and what we did for a living.  We asked if he’d heard of Montefalco (A tougher question than ‘Have you heard of Umbria?’, but oddly normally both yield the same ‘No’ result!).  Surprisingly he said ‘yes!’  Then spoilt it by saying ‘Umbria’s wine-maker is there!’… he goes away and comes back with a bottle of A.Caprai 2005 Sagrantino secco!  A steal at $175!  We didn’t buy it! As I said it was a rather expensive restaurant!

The other interesting thing going on at the moment is that a lot of the wine-makers are getting fed up with only making wines according to the very stringent regulations demanded by the authorities for DOC and DOCG labels.  Many  produce  stunning IGT wines that can express the individuality of the land and the oenologists.  With this and the continuing research into new ways of treating Sagrantino, (there are already several Sagrantino rosè wines, and experimentation with whites!)  the future of wine in this area is very exciting indeed!

I hope that the wines of Umbria will continue to be recognised as major contenders in the Italian wine market – they certainly deserve to be.  All that needs to be done is some serious promotion.

News just in … Red wine starts off GREEN!

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on April 28, 2010

You can tell when spring has finally sprung when you take a look at the new growth on the freshly pruned vines in the countryside around Montefalco.

New growth - Sagrantino vines

The green is all around you, in the new cereals growing in the fields, the new growth on the trees – that lovely unmistakeable spring green!

Spring from the terrace

By this time of year the wine makers have pruned their vines carefully to allow maximum exposure for their chosen selection of grapes.  With the Montefalco Rosso and Montefalco Sagrantino there are many rules to adhere to and the growers can only harvest a certain weight of those grapes per year and all is carefully monitored.

We took a look at the house we’ll soon be moving to , and we’re lucky enough to have a Grechetto vineyard right behind the house with some very promising looking buds coming on!

Vineyard with Montefalco on the hill beyond

New buds - Grechetto variety

New growth vines. Umbrian hills in the background

We are so lucky to have this literally in our back garden!  Beyond the vines you can see the beautiful hill-top town of Montefalco.

Tabarrini vines and roses

When you look at the vineyards you’ll see a lot of them have either roses or chrysanthemums at the head of each row of  vines.  This is an organic early warning system!  Any bugs or other nasties  gravitate towards these flowers first, so the growers just need to check the plants at the end of the vine rows and if they have some infestation, then it’s time to be pro-active and they have time to deal with the problem!  How cool is that?!

It’s also lovely to see that the fruit trees are starting to show their promise!

Baby Victoria plums

Baby Peaches

We do have a lovely view at the moment, fields, vines, sheep……

Our landlord's sangiovese grape vines

Our current view!

Gorgeous Chocolate and Pear Tart – Crostata di Pere a cioccolato

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on April 3, 2010

Ok, I make this and one or two other desserts – and no more – desserts aren’t my ‘thang’.   However, Mark will beg to differ!  It’s just sleight of hand!  He thinks I can cook anything!  Give me something savoury and I’ll agree with him!  Desserts are another animal entirely….  This is messy, but easy!  (messy as in it uses just about every bowl you have in the kitchen!)  The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t have to be precise for it to work! You want more chocolate?  You just go ahead!

Chocolate Pastry

55g (2oz) unsalted butter

115g (4oz) plain or ’00’ flour

25g (1oz) cocoa powder

55g (2oz) caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

Filling

3 tbsp (ish) orange marmalade (homemade the best, obviously!)

1 smallish chunk fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 ripe pears

115g (4oz) dark chocolate with around 70% cocoa solids

55g (2oz) unsalted butter

2 large eggs, separated

115g (4oz) caster sugar

1.  To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.  Sift in the cocoa powder then add the sugar and enough of the beaten egg to bind the mixture together. Knead lightly, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for 20 mins.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and use to line a 20cm (8 inch) fluted flan tin. Cover the bottom of the pastry case with the marmalade. (The pastry can be quite ‘wet’ so if you have to make a  jigsaw with the pastry, that’s fine – just gently smooth the pastry pieces into the main pastry case.  Evenly drizzle the grated ginger over the marmalade.

3. Peel the pears, cut into quarters and remove the cores.  Arrange them in the flan case.

4. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.  Set aside to cool.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

6. Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Fold in the chocolate mixture.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the mix.

7.  Pour the mix over the pears as evenly as poss – use a spatula to very gently spread it about.  You don’t want smooth, just mix to the edges at least!.

8. Bake for about 30 mins, until firm to the touch.  Serve hot or cold.

Enjoy with some Sagrantino Passito!

Yummy!

A Fantastic Gusto Sunday! A day in photos.

Posted in Italian Wine by gustowinetours on March 7, 2010

What a beautiful weekend last weekend was! We had our first taste of Spring!  We were very lucky here in Italy not to be hit by those dreadful storms that swept Portugal, Spain and France.  It was very windy, but no rain – for that we were very grateful!

Here’s the fabulous group – Mark, Mignon, Ruurd, Letizia, Helen, Rebecca and Paolo.

Helen was our official photographer for the day!  Fully loaded with two cameras – one for each pocket!  Thanks so much Helen, we got a real record of the day because of you!

Mark and Mignon by the gorgeous view from Cantina Romanelli.

Costantino and Anna-Rita from Romanelli came out to greet their guests.

…Making sure all is in place……

Costantino sets the stage for the wine tasting.  Complete with some delicious salami nibbles.

Romanelli’s pretty shop selling their oils, wines and other products.

Andrea from Cantina Sant’ Anna showing off his swirling skills!

Francesca of Sant’ Anna starting off the degustazione di vino!

A happy Rebecca with Passito and biscotti!

Ruurd showing off his Sant’ Anna purchases!

Mark and I at the incredibly lovely Cantina Fongoli.
I snuck in for the lunch!

The lovely barrel room at Fongoli.

Decio, the father at Fongoli joined us briefly at lunch

and went around the table chinking glasses with everyone!

Lunch was a fantastic wine pairing affair…


Antipasti – was some lovely bruschette with mixed toppings…

…and cured meats, pecorino cheese with honey with a lovely fresh Grechetto.

Il primo – a delicious risotto al sagrantino

paired with their Montefalco Rosso riserva – Mmmmm!

Il secondo – grilled meats with vegetables au gratin – all the meats were done on the outside grill (- see the group picture below – the grill is behind us! )

We had Fongoli’s wonderful Montefalco Sagrantino secco with this course.

For dolce we were presented with home-made crostate (fruit tarts) – 2 different types, plus biscotti with almonds teamed up with their superb sagrantino passito.

I’m sure all that were there will agree, it was all delicious!

The happy group after the exceptional lunch at Fongoli!

The group at Colle Ciocco with the brothers Lamberto and Eliseo – ready for another tasting!

Another great full day with Gusto Wine tours!

It was a fabulous day full of fun and laughter, the cantine were superb and really made our guests feel special. We’re now looking forward to the warmer weather so that the tastings and even the lunch can be al fresco – although the tasting rooms are really lovely too!