Piedmont. 3 ladies travel to see the best of Piedmont in every way.
At the end of a long trying day in the office, a stroll through my local wine shop here in non-descript american town USA, I scream out in joy spotting on the shelf a bottle of Forteto de Luja's 2009 La Grive… the sales clerk looks up at me in … I guess fear - "I've been here!" I yell. I've been here! I start to tell her all about Marco, his farm, his designation from the world wildlife federation because of the orchids and the truffles and the butterflies and the….. she thinks i'm crazy….
But here again, I know I am so overdue in sending my testimonial and note of sincere thanks & gratitude to Robertson Wine Tours for the best - vacation, experience, week - of my life to date.
I spent 10 days last October traveling in the Piedmont region of Italy under an itinerary designed for my party by RWT. I was skeptical at first, as I'd never done such a thing… was our trip too scheduled? Would there be enough down time? What if there was something specific I wanted to do that wasn't planned for - would i be able to do it? Would it be too much wine?? (While in principle I don't believe there is such a thing as too much wine - I recognize i'm not a wine connoisseur and a tour like this might be above my wine sophistication - particularly with the focus in Piedmont where a more sophisticated palate may be necessary to truly appreciate the rich and complex varietals….)
But the time spent by Tim & his team getting to know us, understand our interests and wishes in a vacation proved invaluable to give us exactly the perfect mix of what we were looking for - history, culture, sightseeing, food, food, food, wine, wine, wine, wine and wine.
For the sophisticated wine connoisseur undoubtedly the expertise, as well as the connections with the vineyards, that we witnessed from Tim and his colleagues in Italy delivered a wine experience second to none. From the selection of vineyards to the quality of interactions with Tim & team & the winemakers- the trip was fit for the most expert among us and allowed access to experiences we would not have had were we traveling on our own. My step mother spends parts of her year in the Napa Valley and has a comprehensive and sophisticated knowledge of wine - she was looking to see, taste and purchase new and interesting things and the trip far exceeded her expectations with the interesting variety of wineries we visited - each unique from each other and from experiences you'd find elsewhere.
But what I was most impressed by is that somehow the tour met the needs of everyone in my party from my step mom the expert, to me - an avid wine enjoyer and lover of all things Italy (but who'd never spent time in the Piedmont region and doesn't know a ton about wine), seeking to learn and understand more about it all. To my younger cousin, who grew up in a small town and had never left the states. For her first trip abroad to be on a tour of this nature rather than your more commonly traveled Rome, Venice, Florence etc. was somewhat of a risk to take. From our first night meeting Tim he - and his team - somehow were able to connect with each of us, and make us each feel like we were experiencing a tour molded to our own needs and own perspective. Tim and his colleague - a wine expert in Piedmont who literally wrote the book on Piedmont wines - were neither condescending and dismissive to those of us who were less knowledgeable in wine, nor did they dumb-down our tour to solve to the lowest common denominator. They treated us all as if we had the same expertise and worth in the journey and through this we were all able to get the most out of the experience. The wineries we visited, mostly small and family owned - were each gems in their own right and after days of wine tasting still stand out separate and unique from each other rather than the blur i often have when recalling a trip to Napa.
And finally, the non-wine attributes of the trip - the cooking classes, city tours, exquisite restaurants we never would have found on our own - were clearly planned with care and attention specific to our own unique needs and not routine accommodations made for all visitors to the region…. this was a truly remarkable experience in which I was made to feel like dear friends who knew me well had designed a dream vacation specific to my interests where i drank the best possible drink, ate the best possible food, met and engaged with fantastic, warm, engaging locals and learned history and toured towns with remarkable guides (matteo in Torino; elena around the lakes), who let me in to pieces of italian history and culture that i would not have otherwise seen.
Contrary to my initial reservations about being scheduled and having too much wine- I left for home feeling as if I had seen and done everything - our days were packed with experiences - but also rested, relaxed and happy at the same time. I wanted many more days of wine and of course that piemontese food. We simply couldn't have done this on our own. Would hire Tim & team to take me anywhere in the world, on a trip of their design.
Katie Visas Atlanta USA
Governors Club Wine Society – Experts Tour of Chile and Argentina
Dec / 2013
Our Wine Society travel group would like to thank Tim Robertson and Robertson Wine Tours for providing an exceptional experience in Chile and Argentina. We were all very impressed with the selection of wineries and wines, especially the variety in the different kinds of wineries. Being able to meet many of the winemakers was very interesting and most informative. Needless to say we learned a great deal. This was a well-traveled group who have been to many wineries around the world and yet there were new and innovative methods introduced to us. One highlight in Chile was Antiyal Winery with their dedication to biodynamic methods as well as their use of the egg-shaped concrete fermentation tanks. Everyone was charmed by Maria Luz Marin at Casa Marin Winery. She visited with us the entire morning describing her excellent wines as we tasted them and answering our questions as she told us about her acquisition of her vineyards and her dedication to producing fine wines. The dinner and wines served the night with the MOVI group was very interesting. We met several of the small independent producers from this group and were impressed with their dedication as well. In Mendoza, we had an equally interesting variety of wineries and experiences. The view of the Andes from the vineyards was spectacular as well. We are all familiar with the Paul Hobbs collection of wines and we definitely learned a great deal about Malbec at Cobos Winery where he is a part owner. The Wine Maker competition at Norton Winery definitely brought out the competitive spirits as we were divided into two groups each to blend its own wine to be judged with prizes to the makers of the winning blend. There was not a winery on the entire trip that we would have wanted to miss.
RWT’s choices were perfect for our group as were the hotels and the restaurants in Santiago and Mendoza. On our first night in Santiago, the dinner a Puerto Fuy was exceptional. The restaurant was newly renovated and had not opened to the public yet. They served us a wonderful 6 course dinner and had set all the other tables in the restaurant although they were only open for us. The lunch at Casa del Bosque Winery with its beautiful setting was very enjoyable as well. In Mendoza, the dinner our first night there at 1884 was also a wonderful experience. Lunch at Melipal Winery was another great meal in a beautiful setting as was Cavas Wine Lodge Restaurant. Everyone said they would love to go back to stay at the Lodge. Our final dinner at Nadis OF Restaurant capped off a wonderful trip, greatly enjoyed by all. We must also thank you for providing excellent tour guides as well as providing us with expert wine guides, especially Lucile and Leticia in Mendoza. And we really appreciate all that Cristian did for us – above and beyond. Those of us who were on the extension to Iguazu Falls want to thank RWT for another amazing experience.
Tim and Robertson Wine Tours were wonderful to work with and they provided an exceptional experience. Their attention to detail could not have been better and was much appreciated. We hope to be able to tour with you again in the future.
Governors Club Wine Society Carol Smithwick President, Chapel Hill.
Emilie and Micah Delo
Total Relaxation. We traveled to Buenos Aires and Mendoza for our Honeymoon and everything was managed 100% by Robertson Wine Tours leaving us to relax and enjoy our time together. I never opened a door to a car or lifted a bag myself! Tim was very giving of his time to discuss and carefully recommended hotels and experiences that he felt would help us to most enjoy our experience and he was right on point. Each hotel was a different and wonderful experience. Recognizing the occasion, they each provided special upgrades or surprises to make our honeymoon even more special. The wine was great and the food even better. We look forward to traveling to Italy next to experience what Robertson Wine Tours has to offer there as well!
Pittsburgh PA USA
Piedmont. Outstanding wine and Gourmet Tour including Rome.
Let me start out with a disclaimer – myself and my travel partners are not wine or culinary experts so this review is intended for anyone who simply love wine, food and travel. Do we drink a lot of wine from around the world? Do we love all food, be it a Pizzeria down the road or the French Laundry? Do we love travel, the experience of local culture and people? Yes to all. So given these stated interests why did we choose Robertson Wine Tours (RWT) when there is simply a world wide web of choices? Well frankly we did not know anything about RWT’s and discovered them on a web search as we started to piece together plans for a trip. My wife and I along with friends (3 couples) travel on annual wine tours but we had no experience in Northern Italy specifically the Piedmont region. We wanted to know the area and of course the wine and food but did not feel organizing a trip with limited knowledge of the area would be fruitful. We determined that bringing in a travel company was the only option but we had one issue that was a showstopper – we don’t like crowds, large groups and the standard tourist experience. We simply love the experience of travelling together and wanted to ensure this was not compromised. Many of the travel companies we looked at where immediately out of the running, as they did not suite our preferences. We did find a few who dealt with personalized travel plans and to the destination that we wanted so the vetting began. Through all the companies we looked at RWT’s was the most promising as they outlined a business philosophy very close being exactly what we wanted – personalised travel plans with focus on local expertise and a balance of local culture thrown in. Basically they claimed to know the region intimately and that they where wine experts and of course knew how to pair that experience with local dining. My friends and I had a healthy scepticism about promises made as we have been had some poor experiences in the past. So often in the travel business when you hand over your cash, the service falls apart from that point. I know, sounds a little negative but it is a reality. In this case RWT’s delivered on everything they said they would deliver. No hype with these guys, they deliver and they do know their business.The trip we had them organize included our initial stop in Turin with a local guide Matteo Gazzarata. Call out to Matteo who was the most pleasant person and with a massive knowledge to the area and its history. His quite, professional demeanour was balanced by his willingness to engage in any topic, as he was not on script. Ask anything and he was right there with the answers. What an engaging person, we all very much appreciate his involvement. This part of the trip was primarily to gain familiarity with the area and its culture. A big call out to one dinner experience at Ristorante L’Birichin in Turin. Nicola Batavia, the Chef and proprietor took care of us personally right down to the choice of wine. What an experience, this man is a master chef and a real gentlemen as well. Another call out to Enoteca Parlapa in Turin - great local experience, a lot of fun. Next we moved to the areas of Roero, Barbaresco, Barolo, and Tortonesi & Monferrato. This was now a move into the hard-core wine experience for our group. We have always tasted great wines from this area but have never developed a great sense of the area and its geography. Some wine areas in the world are pretty easy to develop an intimate understanding of the geography and wine; Napa, Burgundy, Tuscany has always been pretty easy to encapsulate but Piemonte has always been illusive, (keep in mind our disclaimer). This part of the trip matched us with a new guide, Paul Balke, basically a renaissance man, Journalist, Author, Barolo Specialist and to our surprise and pleasure a concert pianist. We found ourselves so fortunate to have Paul with us as his knowledge and experience was remarkable. Paul was not only brilliant when it came to understanding the region but he knew everyone, the producers, the local restaurateurs and there was a incredible mutual respect between them all. We could not imagine a better guide. Paul is a quite gentleman but wow did he have our backs so to speak. He was so well prepared with insights into the area and winemakers that we never would have gained via travel by ourselves. Paul organized so many great vineyard tours and dinning experiences for us that I would like to list them all but this is not the venue for such a long list. We started out with a fabulous local vineyard, Bruno Rocco Winery in the Roero region. Over the next few days we visited some of the most honoured and or favoured wineries in the regions of Barbaresco, Barolo & Monferrato. However one area and winery in particular stood out, Walter Massa Winery in the Tortonesi region. Firstly who has ever heard of the Tortonesi region. Wow was this an experience. Walter Massa was brilliant, enchanting and totally in his own zone. We had the feeling we were in the presence of the future of wine in Italy. A remarkable innovator and artist and his wines spoke volumes. If we had one experience that left an indelible impression that was it. One other aspect that generally would go unnoticed was out Driver. RWT’s arranged a private driver to get ours around from morning to night. This young man was not only a very good driver but he was polite and always had a smile for the team despite some early mornings and late nights. Other travel companies take notice, pay attention to details like this as it does make a difference. All in all we loved the trip and RWT’s delivered everything as promised and more. Tim Robertson calls out his company’s attention to detail and this was evident on the whole trip. The choice of guides, the selection of visits and right down to the detailed attention to the dietary needs of our group, they did not drop the ball. Would we recommend RWT – absolutely! We are already thinking about organizing a Tuscany flavored trip with RWT’s as well.
Mike O’Dell Wine, Food and Travel EnthusiastAlberta Canada
TESTIMONIAL – PIEDMONT Wine touring: Turin Langhe, Roero, Monferrato and the Northern Lakes
I was in an Italian restaurant here at home the other night, and as I picked up the wine list I KNEW that I could knowledgeably make a selection -- at least from the Piedmont wines on the list! Thank you Tim Robertson for teaching me so much about Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera wines! I highly recommend arranging a tour through Robertson Wine Tours Tours. In the fall of 2013 three of us enjoyed a ten day custom tour with Tim and his local wine expert, Paul Balke, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Although two of us speak halting Italian, none had ever been to Piedmont. We chose Robertson because we did not want a large "tour;" we wanted a specialized itinerary. We wanted to do wine tasting, have cooking classes and also explore some of the beauty of Piedmont. Tim helped us arrange for all these things. First, the wines. We focussed on the Langhe region, and with Paul's assistance, were able to visit many small wineries that we would never have been able to see on our own. Between Paul, Tim and the hosts at the wineries, we were in good hands and gained extensive knowledge about local winemaking. From small, family owned wineries where our guides were the owners themselves, to larger well-established vintners, we got a broad range of wine experiences. Second, the cooking classes Robertson arranged for us were a lot more fun than we had expected, and were taught by well-known, experienced working chefs. The focus of course was food from the region and we learned not just how to cook these dishes, but about the history and origins of the food in Piedmont and in other regions of Italy. On Lake Orta, Robertson arranged for a charming local guide for us, who was very flexible about what we wanted to see and do. We said good-bye to Tim when we arrived there, but had a lovely last two days with our new guide. Through it all, Robertson made the planning easy by reserving for us the best hotels, and guiding us toward the best restaurants. Robertson provides the personal touch that big tour operators simply can't do. I highly recommend designing a tour in Italy with Tim, especially if learning something about wine and food is also on the agenda!!
Kathryn Vizas San Francisco. CA USA
Piedmont wine touring. Getting to grips with Nebbiolo in all its forms
Hey Tim I was meaning to write earlier but you piped me to the post. Yes I did get back safe and sound. The tour was great, absolutely perfect and what I wanted. Sandro did a excellent job of educating me and my palate. Both you and him picked some great wineries. It is a pretty amazing place with some real genuine producers. I had such a good trip you'll probably see me next year or I imagine a few of my teammates would be interested. Thanks again Tim for everything and say Hi to Sandro from me. Do I speak to you or him about sending wine to me here?
Jay Jaspers Germany
4 nights staying between Florence and Siena, taking in Montalcino and Chaintis wine regions
"We have to say Superb job Tim, Tuscan wines and great company with Robertson Wine Tours. You provided an excellent choices of vineyards and overview in Montalcino, Bolgheri and Chianti. We are pleased to be home none the less and thank you once again. Lets think Sicily in a couple of years, you have piqued our interest with Sicilian wine tasting we made together. Best of luck and stay in touch.
Richard Bough Cambridge UK
Slovenia Winemakers tour of South America, Argentina, Salta and Jujuy with Uruguay
Dear Tim & Cristian. Thank you for organizing the wine tour for the 19 members of the Slovenian Club KLP (of Wine Enthusiasts of Sparkling Wine 2013) in Argentina and Uruguay. Great choice of wineries, restaurants, hotels and local guides. Clients were impressed by the quality of wine in the wineries visited. Travel to Hacienda de Molinos and Colomé Winery was not easy but great journey and with the good weather we had to top it with good food and wine experience. I must say that all clients liked Salta a lot. I am sure that the local guide Yaco added a lot to the pleasant experience. Uruguay was also very interesting regarding such a different climate and their wine cannot be compared with high altitude wines of Argentina. Good and interesting Tannat. I hope that we will have the chance soon to organize another tour like this. Best Regards.
Borut Sraj and the Wine Enthusiasts and makers of Slovenia Ljubljana Slovenia
Outstanding tour of Peru, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco and Lima
"Don't make a travel decision without RWT, my second trip with them in six months to Peru, is proof positive of their excellence".
Prue La RoccaGreenwich CT USA
Superb Wine and Cooking experience in Puglia and Matera, Basilicata.
Serendipitously I stumbled upon Roberson Wine Tours -- had never heard of you, but after a few emails back and forth, it felt so right to jump in and chance celebrating one of the big milestones of my life and travel to Puglia with you. You say 'discerning' and its true -- impeccable, yet warm and intimate -- an experience where every detail was thought through and seamlessly taken care of. To be spoiled by someone who, in a short time, understands what are the sweet spots for you is an impeccable skill. Tim, you spoiled me in so many ways. The special touches whether it was greeting me at the airport; checking in on me throughout the week to see how I was doing, and helping me celebrate my birthday with roses and the beautiful cake -- you so warmed my heart. And of course, my stay in the Trulli -- after all, not everyone gets to sleep in one! You've given me an experience and memories that far exceeded my expectations and, at a time of my life, when it was so needed. And with the perfect combination of wine, culinary and richness of great history came new friendships; a new appreciation of wine and the longing for my next trip -- Grazie mille il mio amico . . . Fino a Sicilia
Carolina Migliaccio Chicago IL USA
8 nights. Puglia and Basilicata Food and Wine Experience tour.
It is difficult to describe our impressions of the Puglia and Basilicata Food and Wine Experience tour in only a couple of lines! First of all, we want you to know that the trip exceeded our expectations on many levels. The area of Southern Italy that we toured was captivating; the cities and the countryside were unique and fun to explore. We learned the culture of the area through it's food and wine-both excellent. We were treated like VIP's at our wine tastings and the olive oil tasting. While all the cities and hotels were beautiful, the city of Matera and our accommodations there were a highlight of the trip and we didn't want to leave! Thank you for planning such a unique experience and we would never hesitate to book a tour with Robertson Wine Tours again. We are looking forward to receiving the cooking lesson recipes and news of future tours.
Mike and Sandy Ruesewald Minnesota MN USA