Harvey Leonard's Northern Italy Tour
Organised by Bob Ratcliffe of The Bottle Drinks Company, on Sunday the 2nd of September, 9 wine loving Harvey Leonard's customers set sail for Genoa for a 4 day wine tour of Northern Italy. Taking in some of the area's best known wineries, and distilleries, meeting the names behind the bottles in some of the most stunning surroundings imaginable.
Day 1 Abonna, Grappa
After leaving our over night hotel in Verrazze to start the tour our first stop off is Marziana Abbona, based in rolling hills and vineyards of Piedmont. A stunning recently refurbished wine house, designed to fit into the landscape with as little harm to the surrounding area as possible.
Here we got to meet Marziano Abbona, grandson of the the founder of the vineyard. Producing some sparkling whites but mostly Barbera, Nebiolo & Borolo grapes, the wines were outstanding throughout the range. A perfect start to the trip.
Next up was Distilleria Gualco, a small family owned Grappa distillery. It might be a smaller producer but it's big on history. Founded in 1870, by Paolo Gualco, formerly a cooper, it has been passed down throught the generations and is now in the gifted hands of 'The Grappa Wizards' Giorgio and Marcella.
Here we tried 9 different styles of grappa, some aged in oak, some in Acacia barrels, some infused with chamomile, but each one more different than the last. The highlight being the Grappa mixed with lemon and milk. Super smooth with a hint of lemon. So good we bought some to bring home!
Another sunny start to the day taking us to Morgassi Superiore. A small estate of 50 hectares, with a production of 150,000 bottles per year from 19 hectares of vineyards. Set up by Marino Piacitelli in 1993, its flagship wine Gavi di Gavi, produced from white Cortese grapes.
Marina and Cecilia Piacitelli have risen to the challenge of making the winery grow according to a combination of time-honoured tradition and innovative technology. Adjusting the smallest detail to get the very best from their grapes.
We were lucky enough to taste a variety of Gavi's from their extensive cellar some dating back to 2006.
The second tasting of the day came from Tenuta Roveglia, a fantastic producer on the southern shores of Lake Garda. It’s the union of the ancient and clayey soil with a native vine that produces an extraordinary wine called Lugana.
Tenuta Roveglia offers to guests not only a view of this past, but also the opportunity to view the present - oenological innovation and the chance to follow the complete cycle of wine production. Amazing hospitality to match the incredible wines.
After an evening of and great wine and amazing food on the shores of Lake Garda, we head off to Lenotti Wine. According to an oenological map dated 1906, the name Lenotti was already known in the past for the production of the Bardolino classico. At that time the farm sold wines exclusively in butts or demijohns. Now producing some fantastic Amarone wines, each one we tried got better and better. Deep, dark, heavy reds, but with an incredible smoothness. Finishing off with a sweet Amarone desert wine, a first for us but definitely wont be the last. It had Christmas day written all over it!
An hour and a half drive over to Beato Bartolomeo Winery, a cooperative producing a vast array of wines from vineyards in the local area, but most prominently Prosecco. Their terrain lies at the foot of Asiago Plateau, surrounded by austere mountains and stretches from the medieval Thiene to the charming Bassano del Grappa. A region characterised by gentle hills covered by vines and decorated by cherry blossoms in spring. A more industrial surrounding to help produce one of Italy's biggest current exports. The Beato Bartolomeo Winery is a cooperative with about 700 members
Our final day starts at Agricultural firm Le Carline, just on the outskirts of Venice. Using only organic methods, respecting nature and their environment. The wines are in line with the requirements imposed by the EU for organic wine and for vegetarian and vegan consumers.
We were fortunate enough to try some of the wines produced without sulphates, an area which most wine producers avoid.
And on to the last tasting of what has been in amazing trip. Here in the province of Treviso, we have the estate where, from 1808, the wines of Fioravanti Onesti are produced with passion and commitment. With Vineyards as far you can see it sets the scene perfectly for what has been a great trip, to some amazing places to meet passionate people who want to create great wines.
"Good wine tells a story of work and passion. It tells of dusty hands, boots dirty with soil of the Earth, harvesting under the burning sun with bent backs. But it also tells a story of the surprise at the aroma of its must, of the joy in a toast shared with friends, and of the pride in knowing that the wine lives on in the memories and emotions of thse who taste it."