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Welcome to Vino Travels, my Italian wine blog!  I thank you for subscribing to my Italian wine journey and look forward to sharing with you grapes and regions from all over Italy with some tidbits of my travels throughout Italy!  Don't miss the rest of my story, continue here .
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Vino Travels ~ An Italian Wine Blog & Tours to Italy


ItalianFWT: Italian Food, Wine & Travel visits Umbria

Welcome back to Italian Food, Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) for our 12thmonth. Gosh, we have covered so many regions of Italy and are in our 2nd half of the country. Last month we shared with you our experiences in the region of Abruzzoand this month we take you to central Italy again, but to the region of Umbria this time. Many folks say that Umbria is in the shadows of Tuscany, but this week we're going to show you why Umbria needs to be considered in it's own spotlight for all it's beauty and what it offers to those that visit it.

Map of Umbria
Map of Umbria copyright of Federdoc

Umbria is a fertile, hilly region also known as the “green heart of Italy”. It's the only region within Italy that is landlocked surrounded by the regions of Tuscany, Lazio and the Marche. Even though it doesn't have the sea influences as many of the other regions there is Lake Trasimeno and Lake Bolsena within the region that create milder microclimates.

Travel in Umbria

There are so many great medieval towns worth visiting within Umbria and all known for their own highlights. My last trip to Italy brought me back to Umbria for my 2nd time to gawk at the Gothic Duomo in the hilltop town of Orvieto and relax in the peacefulness of Assisi, especially at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. To celebrate the renaissance of Italy one must visit to the town of Urbino and the Palazzo Ducale. For wine lovers there is not only the town of Orvieto to visit, but also Torgiano and Montefalco. Other towns of of note are Spoleto, Todi and Gubbio.

Duomo in Orvieto
Duomo in Orvieto
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Food of Umbria

Every region has their own specialities and Umbria is known for a number of food delights. One of it's best known gems are tartufo nero, black truffles. They are a very distinct taste with their intense aromatics and powerful flavors. Pork is very common throughout this region as well, especially in the town of Norcia. Beans, including lentils and farro, are most popular in the town of Castelluccio di Norcia. To top it all off for my chocolate lovers one must visit the chocolate festival in October in Perugia or year round you can make a stop at at the Perugina factory for some fresh samples. It's a calorie free tour of course!

Umbria black truffles
Black truffles of Umbria by Umbria lovers

Wines of Umbria

Wines have been produced in Umbria since the settlements of the Etruscans as well as the Romans. If you enjoy white wine, Umbria is dominated by Orvieto. These wines are named after the local town and are made primarily from the grechetto and procanico, aka trebbiano, grapes. For red wines, sangiovese and sagrantinoare the primary grapes and are well worth lots of recognition for their power structure.
Sagrantino grape of Montefalco Umbria

Here is a preview of our upcoming blogs on the region of Umbria:

Vino Travels: Immersion in Umbrian wine with Sagrantino
The Palladian Traveler - Marcello's Big Fat Italian Christening
Orna O'Reilly -  Castelluccio di Norcia: On the Rooftop of the Apennines
Culinary Adventures with Camilla - Roasted Flank Steak with Zucchini Mint Pesto with an Umbrian Merlot
Italophilia - Visiting Assisi in the Enchanting Umbrian Hills
Just Elizabeth - The Intense Flavours of the Valley Museum
Rockin Red Blog - Beauty and the Beast
Enofylz Wine Blog - Umbria's Sagrantino: Call It a Comeback
Food Wine Click - Orange is the New Red: Paolo Bea Santa Chiara & Umbrian Steak on FoodWineClick
The Wining Hour - Taste Umbria - Black Truffle Linguini with Shrimp & Montefalco Sagrantino
Cooking Chat Food - Rigatoni with Collard Greens & Sausage with Wine from Umbria

Join us this Saturday October 3rd at 11am EST on twitter at #ItalianFWT to share your experiences with Umbria.  There is still time to join our group as well so shoot me an email at vinotravels at hotmail dot com.

Read on »

Garnacha and it's relation to Italian grapes

This past weekend I broke out again of the Italian wine shell and ventured into the world of Spanish wine celebrating Garnacha Day that falls on the third weekend of September annually. Wine bloggers, wine lovers and sommeliers all over the world participated in a number of different events and online chats via #GarnachaDay. I had the honor and privilege to receive 5 different kinds of garnacha from Snooth and attend a live virtual tasting hosted by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec and the Best Spanish Sommelier of 2014, Guillermo Cruz. Laura is the owner of Corkbuzz and Guillermo is a sommelier at one of the top 6 restaurants in the world, Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain.
Garnacha Day with Snooth
Garnacha Day with Snooth
Get ready for your palates to salivate as we not only talk about the wines of the tastings, but I included some suggestions of those on the live chat to consider.

Here are the wines that we sampled at the virtual tasting. Luckily I enjoyed them throughout the weekend because God knows I can't throw back 5 bottles in a night.
  • 2014 Clos Dalian Garnacha Blanca – crisp, refreshing, good acidity, minerally, lots of tropical fruit (banana). Some suggestions of swordfish, shrimp ceviche, and grilled fish were discussed. Retail $10.
  • 2014 Beso de Vino Old Vine Garnacha – Meaning “fall in love” with a catchy label, ripe raspberries and cherry aromatic nose with blackberries on the palate with a slight tartness. Medium bodied. Retail $8.99.
    Beso de vino old vine garnacha
  • 2013 Las Rocas Garnacha – One of the first garnacha wines I ever had this wine showed ripe fruit, plums with herbal notes and some white pepper. Pairing suggestion of pulled pork. Retail $10.99 
    Las Rocas Garnacha

  • 2013 Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria - A hint of spearmint on the nose with some nice spice on the palate, dark fruit and hints of cedar. Full bodied with a nice length on the finish. Retail $14.99 
  • 2010 Secastilla – Anise on the nose. A more complex, full bodied wine with ripe dark fruit, savory, good structure and spice. Retail $28.
*average prices from Snooth

The favorite of the night?
What seemed to be the favorite of the night for myself and others was the final wine, the 2010 Secastilla. Saved the best for last right? The 2013 Coto de Hayas was my runner up. For value you can't go wrong with some of the other wines at that price point.
Vinas del Vero Secastilla Garnacha
Selection of the night
Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria
2nd runner up
How does garnacha relate to Italian grapes?
Even though we're talking about garnacha from Spain there is a connection to Italian wine. Garnacha is the same as the grape in Italy known as cannonauand also in France as the grape grenache. Within Italy it's most commonly grown on the island of Sardinia. Why so many different names? There are many clones of grape varieties throughout the world and even within Italy you'll find the same grape known under different names within different regions. The grape nebbiolo in Piedmont is known as spanna in the northern part of the region. Trebbiano, the most commmon white grape throughout Italy is also known as procanico in Umbria. The list goes on. What makes these grapes different from country to country is the terroir. This includes the soil, climate, topography, etc. According to Guillermo, Sardinia and Corsica are great places for this grape to show its best expression outside of Spain.

Have you had Garnacha or maybe any of its clones throughout the world?

Read on »

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