Cellar Tours Blog

Portugal Michelin Starred Restaurants 2009

Posted by gen On January - 5 - 2009


The mythical Michelin restaurant guide for 2009 has come out and some of Portugal´s finest restaurants are thanking their lucky (Michelin) stars. Here is a quick summary:


Casa Calçada (Amarante)– this restaurant is located inside a fabulous little boutique hotel in the pretty riverside hamlet of Amarante, about 60km (50 minutes drive) east of Oporto . Worth spending dinner and at least one night here, the Casa Calçada is also in easy reach of the Douro Valley wine country. More info.

Arcadas da Capela, Quinta das Lágrimas (Coimbra)- elegant small restaurant at the refined Quinta das Lágrimas resort, this is a major destination for foodies. Again, the best way to enjoy it is to have dinner with wine pairings and then stay the night at their beautiful hotel near Coimbra.  More info.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants


Fortaleza do Guincho (Cascais)– This Relais & Chateaux restaurant juts out of a stunning cliffside on the rugged Atlantic coast and is a fabulous lunch venue (for the views!). Read a full review of the restaurant in our newsletter here.

Eleven (Lisbon)- Lisbon´s only Michelin starred eatery, Eleven attracts celebrities, politicians and globetrotting gourmets. Superstar chef Joachim Koerper is the consulting chef here (as in Arcadas da Capela), and the atmosphere is contemporary and stylish with a jetset vibe. Info here.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants Portugal Michelin starred restaurants


Vila Joya (Albufeira) – This magnificent restaurant holds two Michelin stars and is located in the sublime Vila Joya resort in a hidden away residential area a few miles from bustling Albufeira.  Star Chef Dieter Koschina is probably the most famous chef in Portugal (although Austrian by birth) and his tasting menus are “a must”.

São Gabriel (Almancil)- German Chef Jens Rittmeyer tantalizes palates in this glamorous corner of the Algarve, and the decor here is cozy and warmer than in some of the other Michelin establisments. More info on the restaurant here.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants Portugal Michelin starred restaurants

Henrique Leis (Almancil)– another quaint and very cozy little restaurant in the gourmet epicenter of Almancil, Henrique Leis is run by the same-named Brazilian chef (Algarve is about as international as you can get!). Rustic and traditional Portuguese decor, stellar food and fabulous wine list.  More info on restaurant here.

Amadeus (Almancil)– Again, this excellent restaurant is located in easy reach of the other “golden mile” Michelins of this stretch of the Algarve. In keeping with the multicultural Algarve vibe, chef Siegfried Danler-Heinemann is from Austria. The nice thing here is they offer many different fixed price menus, More info.

Willie’s (Quarteira) – Located near the famous Pinhal Golf Course, Willie´s has it all- great food, charismatic chef, and candlelit romantic ambience. More info on Willie´s.

Il Gallo d`Oro (Funchal)– In the luxurious Cliff Bay hotel in Madeira, this classy restaurant offers elegant and formal (gentlemen are required to wear dinner jackets)  dining, superb sea views and a real old world ambience. Gallic chef Benoît Sinthon is at the helm, and he has achieved no small feat- getting Madeira island its first Michelin star. More info here.

Portugal Michelin starred restaurants

Wine Events in Italy 2009

Posted by gen On October - 21 - 2008

Vin Italy Wine Event 2009

Next year, there are an array of fantastic wine fairs and events in Italy, which could be a fun addition to your vacation. Here is a list of some of the best events as well as a mini travel guide by city:

VINITALY in Verona, April 2-6, 2009

The definitive Italian wine fair. Next year will be the 43rd anniversary of this huge International wine event and they are expecting a massive increase in attendance of both exhibitors (last year they had 150, 000 operators) and visitors. If you want to taste the creme de la creme wines from all over Italy and learn about regions you mightn´t have even ever heard of, this is THE wine event to attend.

More info on VinItaly

Where to stay: In Verona “centro storico”, our favorite hotel is the romantic 5* Gabbia d´Oro. a sumptuous countryside Relais & Chateaux hotel is the luxury 5* Villa Quar. Another idea is to sleep in Franciacorta wine country at the superb 5* L´Albereta. Apart from a beautiful hotel (also a Relais & Chateaux) set amid the vines,  Albereta has a fabulous spa, and the 2 Michelin starred Gualtiero Marchesi restaurant and can be used as a base for wine touring in both Franciacorta as well as Valpolicella, and you can come into Verona for a day to VinItaly.

Amarone Wine

What to do: If staying in Verona, don´t miss the Ancient Roman arena, and the historic center´s many charming squares and monuments. For private wine tours of Amarone producing estates, we offer Mercedes chauffeured tours.  Alternatively you can contact the Valpolicella Consorzio if you have your own car and want to visit on your own, they will tell you which estates open to the general public. Near Verona, Lake Garda and the wine region of Franciacorta are well worth a visit. And of course Venice is not far….

Vitigno Italia in Naples, May 2009

This wine fair in fascinating Naples is in its fifth year, and aims to promote wines of the Mediterranean as well as indigenous Italian grape varietals. Feudi di San Gregorio, one of the leading estates in Campania will lead one of the main conferences.

More info on Vitigno Italia

Where to stay: In Naples itself, the Grand Hotel Vesuvio has unbeatable views over the Castel dell´Ovo and Bay of Naples. It´s very elegant and classy. For something charming, boutique and a bit trendier the Micalo is great. You could also stay in Capri or the Amalfi Coast and come in to Naples to attend the wine fair.

Naples View of Castel dell ´Ovo

What to do: In Naples you will taste the best pizza of your life and great spots include Brandi for a sit down and elegant pizza (where the Margherita pizza was invented) , as well as informal Da Michele which has been making pizza since 1870! Have spaghetti and clams at La Bersagliera near the Castle, and taste wines at the plentiful winebars in the fabulous Chiaia quarter. And under no circumstance should you miss the much underrated and stunning archaeological museum of Naples (with its Pompeii Erotica room) . Info on wine tourism in Campania.

Sicilia En Primeur- Spring 2009

This is THE premier annual wine event in Sicily. 2008´s event hosted top Sicilian wineries such as Abbazia Santa Anastasia, Benanti,  Cos, Cottanera, Cusumano, Donnafugata, Fazio, Feudo Arancio, Feudo Maccari, Firriato, Planeta, Tenute Rapitalà, Tasca D’Almerita and Valle dell’Acate. The venues are a range of palaces and monasteries. Highly recommended.

More info on Sicilia En Primeur

VIP Wine Tours in Sicily

Sicilian wine tasting event

Where to stay: In Palermo, we love Villa Igiea for its romance and luxury.  The Wagner is very comfortable and more central if you want to be right in the thick of it. there are various events and venues, so check the program before deciding on where to stay.

What to do: Depending on how long you come for, you could spend five days seeing the Western part of the island (visit medieval Erice and the Greek temple of Segesta; have lunch at the Charleston in the fishing village of Mondello; visit the wineries of Marsala; spend a day in wonderful Cefalù, obviously spend at least a day in Palermo, taking in the Cathedral and Vucciria market. If you had more time to see the Eastern part of Sicily, then don´t miss Taormina, Ragusa (and other Baroque jewels of Modica and Noto) and Siracusa (Syracuse). The Aeolian islands (Stromboli, Salina, etc) are also well worth a visit!

Oscar del Vino in Rome, June 2009

Yes, the “Oscars” for wine! Organized by the Associazione Italiana Sommelier Roma, it´s a great wine event and a fun addition to your trip to Rome if you will visiting in June.

More info on The Wine Oscars in Rome

Where to stay: We love Ferragamo´s Portrait Suites! For ultra luxury, the De Russie is our favorite. The Inn at Spanish Steps is also great for those looking for location on more of a budget.

What to do: For first time visitors to Rome, the “must do” visits include the Vatican, Colosseum, Ancient Roman Forum, Capitoline Museums and Trastevere. For 2nd time visitors with more time, what we love about Rome are its squares, fountains and gardens. Info on Rome here. You can also indulge in gourmet dining (3 Michelin starred La Pergola, Terraza del Eden, Baby at Aldrovandi, and many more), and wine tasting tours.

Photos of Rome


Mi Wine, Milan June 2009

Milan´s annual wine fair and industry “must” for Italian wineries. Unique opportunity to try wines from all over Italy including Lombardy such as Valtellina.

More info on Mi Wine

Where to stay: For ultra luxury, the Bulgari is an iconic fashion hotel. Straf is cool for minimalist zen and the Townhouse chain has a range of stylish hotels including the spectacular new Townhouse Galleria.

What to do: In Milan itself, don´t miss a visit to the Duomo! Very impressive. See the Cenacolo Vinciano (Leonardo’s Last supper) at the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, go shopping in the gorgeous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (next to the Duomo) and visit the Castello Sforzesco and Pinacoteca di Brera art museum. For excursions out of town, you can go wine tasting to Piacenza or Franciacorta. Relax at Lake Como and visit the nearby art cities of Bergamo, Brescia and Pavia.

Milan Duomo

Alla Corte del Vino at the Fattoria Le Corti di San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Tuscany May 22-24 2009

This will be the 20th anniversary of this superb event concentrated on the wines of Tuscany. Highlights will include a vertical tasting of Ornellaia from 1988-2005,  a Champagne vs Spumanti tasting, and Syrah from around the World tasting

More info on Alla Corte del Vino and on the Pandolfini wine auction for children´s charity.

Where to stay: In Chianti we love 5* Castello del Nero for ultra luxury, it´s a converted castle in a vineyard, veeeeeeeeeery nice. In Florence our favorite hotel is 5* Relais Santa Croce for a glamorous and contemporary central hotel. Also excellent in Florence are 4* JK Place and 5* Lungarno (owned by Ferragamo).

What to do: When in wine country, go on a wine tour! Many cellars open to the general public if you make a previous appointment, here is the local Chianti Classico Conzorio link. For VIP wine tours, we organize Mercedes tours of Montalcino, Maremma, Montepulciano, San Gimignano and of course Chianti. Here is a sample luxurious Wine Connoisseurs Tour of Tuscany.

Chianti vineyards in Autumn

Vino Vip Cortina, August 2009

In the glam ski resort of Cortina d´Ampezzo, this small but prestigious wine event takes place for 2 days every August. Big names show their wines here from Tuscan giants Antinori, Banfi and Biondi Santi to Umbrian cellars like Falesco and Lungarotti to Veneto wineries like Masi and Trento gems like San Leonardo.

More info on Vino Vip Cortina

Where to stay: The Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina is a Restaurant ‘Relais Gourmand’ and hotel in the nearby hamlet of  San Cassiano

What to do: This is the Dolomites, Italy´s most beautiful mountain range and paradise for nature lovers. There are some nice towns as well to visit, such as Belluno and hamlets like Pieve di Cadore (where Tiziano was born) You can take a boat ride on Lake Misurina and the cable car “Freccia nel Cielo” from Cortina, that travels to a height of over 10, 000 feet above sea level. For wine tasting, travel south towards Venice and take in some of the Prosecco wineries.

Cortina Wine Fair

Salone del Vino in Turin, October 24-27, 2009

This is one of the biggest wine fairs in the north, taking place in wonderful Turin, one of Italy´s best kept secrets.

More info on Salone del Vino in Turin

Where to stay: In Piedmont´s Langhe wine region, our favorite hotels are the Villa and Relais San Maurizio (which also has a wine spa and Michelin starred restaurant).

What to do: Turin is home to some FABULOUS chocolate makers, the Egyptian museum and of course on the doorstep of Piedmont´s wine country. Piedmont is a food and wine lover´s PARADISE!. This is the home of Barolo, Barbaresco, some of Italy´s best cheeses, most spectacular restaurants (like Combal. Zero near Turin and Ciau del Tornavento) and the Slow Food movement, no less.

Salone del Vino

Merano Wine Festival, November 2009

This event takes place near Bolzano in Italy´s far north, in the heart of Trentino Alto Adige. It is one of the most exciting and best organized wine fairs in Italy.

More info on the Merano Wine Festival

Where to stay: Hotel Villa Tivoli in Merano is elegant with stylish rooms.

What to do: The Dolomites are to your east for taking in some nature and fresh air. For wine tasting, you can head south towards Trento and visit some of the wine estates there, info here. Further south you have Valpolicella and Lake Garda, why not combine the Merano wine festival with a culinary and wine weekend?

Merano Wine Festival

Fiera del Bue Grasso, December

While in Piedmont wine country, this event is actually a quirky food festival dedicated to the Cow, with a gastronomic celebration of the local Piemontese specialty “Bollito” at the excellent Moderno restaurant in Carrù.  More info (in Italian).

Bottles Italian Wine