TESTIMONIAL TUSCANY AND ROME HONEYMOON
Yes, we have been crazy busy since coming home. The trip was wonderful. The scenery, the food and the accommodations - all were terrific. To call out a few notables: We liked the range of restaurants, from La Pergola to small pizzerias we found on our own in Rome. We really liked the dinner at La Cantinetta de Rignana - great food, casual atmosphere with spectacular views. Similarly, the wine-tasting lunch that you pre-arranged for us in Montalcino was lovely too, with amazing views. We can't think of one sub-par meal we had for the entire time! Dan and I took home names of some of the wines we particularly enjoyed and will ask our local wine store to investigate for us. The wine tours / tasting were great. We particularly enjoyed Castello di Ama - perhaps it was the leisurely pace, the picturesque setting … and we loved the modern art woven into the workings of the winery. Lunch was lovely and delicious too. We really appreciate having some flexibility in the tour - which was easy given that it was just us. Katherine was great about helping us evaluate the planned schedule of each day to make sure it wasn't too much. Speaking of Katherine - she was terrific in every way. She was professional, smart, accommodating, interesting and informative. We would recommend her without hesitation to anyone. We spent a lot of time with her and she really made the trip so enjoyable. I don't think we would have enjoyed Tuscany nearly as much if we were driving ourselves. And we certainly wouldn't have learned as much about the region. Katherine's tour of Florence, off the beaten path, where we saw parts of Florence that we wouldn't have known about. Just what we like. The hotels were terrific. We loved the location of Donna Camilla Savelli - what a great area the Trastevere Section is. We loved roaming around the streets at nights. Castello del Nero is a spectacular location and the room was huge and lovely. The Villa Cora Grand Hotel in Florence was amazing in terms of level of service and amenities. All in all, we had a fabulous honeymoon, and would highly recommend your services! We will certainly do so on your website. Next time, perhaps the Amalfi coast for us. Best, Susan and Dan
Dan and SusanBoston MT USA
Peter & Suzanne Grinnell MorrisGovernors Club Chapel Hill North Carolina
THE WHITSITT CLARENDON TOUR OF ITALY 2019
24 Mar 2019
Tim did an excellent job interleaving wine with exploring Italy, keeping it balanced so that we didn't get overwhelmed with tastings. Our palates were primed before going to each region: on the eve before going to Tuscany, he recommended we explore the fabled Brunello and several other Sangiovese-centric wines. By the time we were at the tasting he had set up for us at Montalcino's Capanna winery, we were acclimated and knew what to look for. This ensured that we maximized our time there and enjoyed these wines to the fullest. Tim really went out of his way for us to understand how the wines varied throughout the country, reflecting the independent identities of each of Italy's regions. Whilst staying on the Amalfi Coast, he braved the narrow roads and snow-capped mountains to bring us bottles of the local Piedirosso and Tramonti. These bold wines made lasting memories of our travels in Campania. Tim made sure that what we experienced in Italy would be accessible, even when the vacation was over. Our tour of the Fèlsina winery was a memorable one, and upon our return to the States we were able to recommend a vintage of theirs when we spotted it on a menu at our favorite Italian restaurant. (You'd think we'd be tired of Italian food by this point, but you'd also be wrong.) Tim helped us to discover the "real" Italy. His patience and courteousness made learning the nuances of Italian culture accessible. The careful-chosen wine and tour guide selections set us up for success. This led to a trip that was enjoyable, educational, and most of all, memorable!
Friuli, Slovenia and Croatia
Who ever thought that die-hard, full-bodied red wine lovers would find happiness in Friuli? Who knew of the Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla or Friuliano grapes? Who ever heard of macerating white wine?
Thank goodness for us that RWT knew us, our tastes, and how to introduce us to this new tasting experience.
Our third RWT trip - this time to Friuili, Slovenia and the Istrian peninsula in Croatia - was another exceptional delight for our most important senses. We have written before of how exceptional a RWT holiday is - from the selection of the perfect hotel/B&B, to the booking of wine tastings at small, family owned and run, wineries that would not ordinarily be accessible to those planning their own trips, to the attention to detail in selecting menu items and matching wines ahead of time - this trip exceeded our expectations.
In 8 short days we visited 14 wineries, had 7 lunches with wines, and enjoyed a cooking and tasting experience at Agli Amici, a 2 Michelin star restaurant in Udine. Accompanied by Tim Robertson, we met the masters of wine-making in this area, including Dario Princic and Damijan, who are striving to perfect the art of fermenting white grapes with their skins (macerating), yielding an orangey colored wine hardly recognizable in North America. We stayed at the charming Victoria Hotel Letterario in Trieste, a perfect location from which to walk the charming town and enjoy breakfast in Italy and lunch in Slovenia and/or the Croatian Istrian peninsula, and at the Paraschos Winery in San Floriano del Collio, where the family hospitality and delicious breakfasts are matched only by the superb wine-making. It has become our mission to try to get Tim to expose more people to his knowledge of wine, expertise in teaching others about all things wine, and his years of building relationships with wine masters and tour guides throughout South America and all regions of Italy.
It is no wonder that Tim and his team have a very loyal clientele. Even if you are not inclined to make a whole trip out of discovering fabulous wine regions, you should contact RWT about putting together a day (or more) experience for you in the midst of another trip. We guarantee that you will have a unique and exceptional experience, and seek out Tim and his people for your next trip. We can’t wait to come back for another go around with RWT. Thanks for a great trip Tim!Fondly, Margo and Bruce Brymer
Margo Newman and Bruce BrymerToronto. CANADA
A wine Professional really gets down in wine
Overall Experience: The trip met and often times exceeded our expectations. The week in Chile, was phenomenal, due in large part to the prep work and passion of Gonzalo Moraga. The week in Argentina was also very nice and we enjoyed our time with Florencia.
Gonzalo Moraga made our experience in Chile truly unforgettable. He has a clear passion for the wines of Chile as well as the success of his company. He offered a very high level of service; being available day and night and always taking the time to ensure we were having a great time (even when we were on our own). It is very obvious that Gonzalo spent a considerable amount of time trying to find and plan truly unique wine experiences that made us feel like much more than mere tourists. The only tough part was that the days were quite long. We always left around 9:00 or before and often times were not back until dark. We didn’t mind too much because we wanted to fit in as much as we could, but it was definitely tiring.
Wineries – in order of visit:
- Emiliana – beautiful grounds and professional knowledgeable tour guide (Felipe). Liked the organic and biodynamic concept taken to real extremes. Will purchase the Coyam.
- Casa Marin – Very relaxed tour with Cristian who knows the place and the wines intimately. Will purchase the Sauvignon Blanc and the Syrah.
- Matetic – Very nice day, but we weren’t quite prepared for the trekking they had in mind. Luckily we’re fairly in shape, but it was definitely a bit more hiking than we thought. Tour was nice and lunch was very good with extremely generous pours of wine. We will buy the EQ Syrah.
- Kingston Family Vineyards – Great wines – we bought 12 of their Syrah at the winery through their convenient free shipping to the US. Beth was brand new so not the best tour guide, but she was friendly.
- Bodegas Re: Really fascinating winery doing crazy stuff. Loved the respect for the history coupled with the innovation. We won’t buy any of these wines because none of the innovations really seemed to work. The lunch in the cellar was really cool. Great food and a really neat experience.
- Loma Larga: Excellent tasting with Alejandra. Another person who had a lot of great wine expertise and was willing and eager to share it. We plan on buying the Syrah.
- Perez Cruz – epic glass preparation by Maria before tasting. We plan to buy the Liguai.
- Santa Rita – Wow this was a long tour. I think we were there for three hours and 90 minutes would have been plenty. Definitely did not need the one hour horse carriage ride, but the history was really interesting. Lunch at the restaurant was very good. We plan to buy the Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Attiliio & Mochi – really inspiring story and very intimate tour with Angela. Really cool to see the smaller side of things. We plan to buy the Tunquen Pinot Noir.
- Tinta Tinto – Lunch with the winemaker was a really cool experience. It was a bit awkward at first when you are having lunch at someone’s house you don’t know, but wine helped loosen everyone up. Superb hospitality and amazing food. Definitely one of our top winery experiences.
- Neyen – Very nice private tour with Roxanna. We plan to buy a few vintages of Neyen.
- Lapostolle – Fantastic tour by Gonzalo along with a lot of really special touches including getting to taste from the experimental barrels. One of our favorite spots. We plan to buy Clos Apalta.
- Laura Hartwig – Really nice tour with Caesar. Great wines and very affordable. Hoping to buy a few of their wines.
- Gillmore – Probably the worst tour / tasting of the trip. We spent most of the time wandering around a dilapidated hotel with random animals. The tasting provided by the winery included a three year old Rose and some other inexpensive wine. Gonzalo bought two additional bottles and had them opened to taste, which was very considerate of him. Would definitely not recommend going back here.
- Erasmo – By far the best tour of the entire trip. Beautiful vineyards, incredible story, amazing tour followed up with lunch with the manager who just happens to be a singer / guitar player. We bought some dessert wine and will also buy some of their reds.
- Balduzzi – Tour given by someone who just started that day and bad wine…on the plus side they had a tank that had been crushed by the earthquake which was cool.
- Casa Silva – Beautiful grounds and a lot of history. Tour guide was bored. Wine was good but we don’t plan to buy any.
Restaurants – in order of visit:
- Laminga – perfectly adequate. Nothing too special, but food was great and it was conveniently located.
- Casa Marin Guest House – Amazing dinner!! This chef is fantastic and the sommelier super informed and helpful. Probably the best meal we had the entire trip. They need to market him like crazy because he could be a real draw for people.
- Puralma – This guy definitely needs to sell himself more. He was a salaried chef at El Bulli for 8 years and is now running this restaurant where we were the only customers all night (and we were there for over 3 hours). He’s a fantastic chef and has a really amazing story and spiel to go along with the menu. Probably our 2nd best restaurant experience behind Casa Marin.
- Viu Manet – Nice meal with a nice bottle of Malbec.
Hotels – in order of stay:
- Casa Marin Guest House – Incredibly charming accommodations with a gorgeous view. Staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Loved that breakfast ingredients were provided in the little kitchen. The only issues were that it was quite cold at night and the small space heater did not warm up the place enough. Similarly, we only had enough hot water for about 10 minutes worth of showering, which I did not realize until I used it all up before Guenter could. Finally, it’s definitely not walking distance to anything and difficult to get to the casita. Gonzalo ensured this was no issue, but without him I’m not sure we would have made it back to our room. So definitely not a place we could safely run (not that we minded).
- Casadoca – very modern and comfortable hotel. We particularly enjoyed the fireplace with the stunning ocean views. Friendly staff. We had dinner there one night and it was good not great.
- Colchagua Camp – I think this place is perfect for 1 – 2 nights, but definitely not 3. While it’s definitely “glamping” it still is more of a novelty than a place I’d like to stay at again. Nothing wrong with it, just hard to be in a small space with an outdoor bathroom for more than one night.
Activities – in order of occurrence:
- Guided Tour of Santiago – Perfect way to start the trip. Guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. Also nice to start with a long walk after being on the plane for so long. Loved the ‘trouble shooting’ where Gonzalo used his ‘influence’ to help us bypass a long line. Coincidentally, we passed the couple who were seated in front of us on the plane…they were none too happy
- Guided Tour of Valparaiso – Great tour guide who obviously loves the city. Tour got a bit long towards the end and I was over it by the 5tth funicular.
- Isla Negra – Fascinating museum. Definitely worth the trip.
Florencia is a really nice woman with a ton of experience and knowledge of the wine trade. She was really easy to talk to and did a great job of choosing nice wineries for us to visit. All the winery tours felt very commercial and part of a standard program. Probably the ones in Chile were as well, but it didn’t feel like it. While we left Chile feeling like we made a friend and became part of a wine community (at least for a week); we left Argentina feeling like we paid for a tour.
- Achaval Ferrer – Great wines with a very nice tasting. We bought the Altamira.
- Mater Vini – Excellent tour and great choice. It was really cool to be in a place where you could only get the wine on location and for them to have shipping options. We bought 12 bottles.
- Kaiken – Very commercial winery with the same Gregorian chants as Montes. We couldn’t really get into their wines though we know they are very highly rated.
- Benegas – Great tour and tasting. A last minute cancellation led to us being in a group with a bunch of Brazilians, but it was no issue. We ended up seeing them several times that week in various tourist spots.
- Domaine St. Diego – Really cool experience to see a very small family owned place. It gives you such a different perspective for how hard it is to make wine and to make money in wine.
- Mendel – Great tour and tasting with Laetitia. She has a lot of passion for wine. We will buy the Semillion and Unis.
- Caelum – shortest tour ever. I think we were in there for 10 minutes and then done with the tasting in another 10. Wines were good but we won’t be buying any.
- Walter Bressia – Probably our favorite winery in Argentina. We loved many of their wines and plan to buy the Laguria Carmela, Montagrelo Malbec, and Profundo. Sebastian was a great tour guide.
- Carmello Patti – what a character. Such a great story and great wines. We plan to buy the Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Familia Cassone – Awesome tasting with the owner who was really charming. We got to see flood irrigation in progress which was new for us. Plan to buy Obra Prima Malbec.
- Cobos – Super modern and very commercial. We plan to buy the Bramare Chardonnay.
- Gimenez Riili – nice tasting with one of the owners. They were very nice and opened up a few rare wines for us to try. As they offered shipping to the US we bought the Joya de familia blend and the Syrah.
- Corazon del Sol – Very nice tasting with Carla, who was really friendly. As they also offer shipping to the US we bought the Vita Flores Malbec.
- Sophenia – Nice tour, nothing special. Wines were pretty good but we won’t be buying any. Randomly, I ran into a woman who went to the same high school I did and graduated two years before me. I’m from a pretty small town so this is very random.
- Diplomatic – very nice hotel with all the amenities you would expect. Loved the location as it gave us ample opportunity to walk around and explore Mendoza. Fantastic service and great food. Would definitely recommend.
- Lares de Chacras – This hotel was just ok. For not really going that far away; I think I would have rather just stayed in the Diplomatic. This hotel was a bit more rustic and quirky. We had dinner at the hotel one night and it was nice. Great that they have their own cellar where you can pick out wine.
- Finca la Azul – Really nice hotel and wonderful gracious hosts. We spent several afternoons in front of the fireplace reading. Really relaxing. Had dinner here two nights and it was great.
- Azafran – Really good food in a very charming environment. Had a nice tasting menu with wines and when they heard we had been at Kaiken that day they swapped in a different wine so we could try something new.
- Dominio del Plato – Our first of many 5 course winery lunches. Food was really good here. Wine pairings were a bit off, but that did not stop me from finishing them all.
- 7 Cocinas – very nice food and great wine list. Very easy to get to from the Diplomatic.
- 1884 – so over rated and over hyped. I will never go to another Francis Mallman restaurant again.
- Casarena – Incredible views and fantastic food and wine.
- Melipal – Beautiful grounds and great food.
- Vistalba - very nice and great wine pairings.
- Siete Fuegos – another Francis Mallman that I’ll never go back to. Unlike all other wineries that had 5 courses and 5 wines this one only offered two wines and we repeatedly had to ask for refills.
- Andeluna – Very nice and very good wine.
- Andes Mountain Range – as we did not get to drive over the Andes it was nice to drive out to see them. However, had we done the drive this entire day would have been redundant. Unfortunately, it was snowing and grey so we couldn’t see much, but it was a nice change of pace nonetheless. The lunch was really cool with the grills at the tables and about 10 pounds of meat.