1. Recommended Wine and Winery Profile: Quinta da Pacheca, Portugal
2. Wine Tasting Tours: Douro Valley, Portugal
3. Cellar Tours Luxury Weekends: Florence, Italy
4. Cooking Vacations: Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy
5. Guest Chef and Recipe: Chef at Bologna Vecchia Scuola di Cucina, Italy
6. Restaurant Review: Akelarre, San Sebastian, Spain
7. Hotel Highlight: Casa das Rainhas,Óbidos, Portugal
8. Gourmet Corner: La Formatgeria de la Seu, Barcelona, Spain
9. What's in Season: Truffles
10. Custom Designed Gourmet Tours in Spain, Italy and Portugal
Wine Tours Newsletter

Quarterly Newsletters:

Welcome to our newly launched Cellar Tours Newsletter, now available in Quarterly Issues. In our popular Gourmet Newsletters, you'll enjoy reading about the best restaurants, hotels, chefs and cities in Spain, Italy and Portugal. Wine Tasting Tours, Cooking Vacations & Gourmet Discovery Tours are also highlighted. Bon appetit!

What's New At Cellar Tours:

We have launched many new & exciting food and wine vacations, available for our special clients, such as: Luxury Vineyard Tours by Classic Cars; Helicopter Tours from Barcelona to Priorat's winelands; Mercedes Tours of the best cellars of Montalcino and Montepulciano; High end Cooking Classes and Private Flamenco performances in a Private Villa on the Costa Brava; Culinary courses in a 17th century manor in La Rioja; Chocolate Making Classes in the medieval Portuguese village of Óbidos; Wine Blending Master Classes in Peneds; and Wine Tasting and Jeep Rides in the Douro Valley. Contact us for more info!

Recent Press:

This past summer Cellar Tours had the pleasure of appearing in various articles in Time Magazine, Departures Magazine, Boston Common Magazine and Travel and Leisure Magazine. More Click Here

1. Recommended Wine & Winery Profile: Quinta da Pacheca, Portugal

Wine Tours Newsletter May 2005

Juan Pedro Vazquez, Flying Sommelier

What a gorgeous wine this is in my glass, dense, deep ruby red and vibrant. On the nose, I am getting mature fruits, cedar, vanilla. This wine has been aged in French oak for 1 year and then left to age further in bottle. The winery only releases this wine as a "reserva" in excellent years, similar to vintage champagne (which is only made in top quality years). While the wine is delicious, I think it will only to continue to get better over the next few years. Luckily I have another bottle to lay down! This Quinta da Pacheca Reserva goes very well, surprisingly, with roast cod (a very typical Portuguese dish)- crushing the myth that red wines cannot be enjoyed with fish. My opinion? Get your hands on a bottle of this as soon as you can!

Our Rating: 96/100
Type: Red Wine
Appellation: Douro VQPRD
Region: Douro Valley, Portugal
Grape Composition: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, and Tinta Roriz
Pairing: Roast Cod (Bacalhau Assada), also roast meats and rich cheeses

Quinta da Pacheca, Douro Valley, Portugal

Vineyard Tours at Quinta da Pacheca

Quinta da Pacheca is definitely one of the most hospitable wineries in Portugal, and a supreme pleasure to visit. The estate is one of the most well known properties in the entire Douro Valley and one of the first to bottle under their own name. This gorgeous estate dates back to the 1700's, when it was named after its aristocratic owner, Mariana Pacheca Pereira. The vines pertained to an order of monks for centuries before that. In 1903, the count Jos Freire de Serpa Leito Pimentel became the new owner. He installed new "Lagares" in 1916, and these are still used today to vinify the wines...


2. Wine Tasting Tours: Douro Valley, Portugal

Private Cruise on the Douro River, Portugal

Enjoy a Private Cruise on the Douro River!

These luxury Port wine tasting tours are designed for those looking for a deeper appreciation of Portugal's superb wines, while taking in dramatic scenery and charming villages. Above all, you will be eating and sleeping in style. The tour begins in Oporto, Portugal's most atmospheric city. You'll be collected by your own private chauffeur and swept away to a romantic hidden Relais & Chateaux, located in the beautiful countryside of Northern Portugal. Over the next few days, you'll enjoy a private Rabelo cruise on the mighty Douro Valley, taste wine in colonial style "Quintas" and historic port lodges, and dine at two of the best restaurants in the region...


3.Cellar Tours Luxury Weekends: Florence, Italy

Luxury Food and Wine Weekends:  Florence, Italy

Florence's Stunning Duomo

Florence is a city that never ceases to fascinate and charm. This is where the Renaissance was born, where the powerful Medici family ruled and where artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello and Botticelli found their inspiration. Florence is also one of the best places on earth for food and wine lovers. Every alleyway seems to offer the gastro-traveller a treasure trove of delicatessens, Enotecas (wine bars), gourmet shops, charming trattorias, and elegant ristoranti. We are pleased to offer our special food and wine loving clients these weekends in Florence. And of course, we know our clients also enjoy pampering and luxury, so we have included the most sumptuous hotel and top class guides and tour assistants...


4. Cooking Vacations: Montepulciano, Italy

Cooking Vacations, Montepulciano, Italy

Sumptuous Accommodation

The gorgeous Tuscan wine region of Montepulciano is known for its "noble wine", and indeed the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has been favored by the aristocracy for centuries. The little hamlet of Montepulciano is a medieval treasure, and the surrounding region a "must see" for the gourmet traveller. These new Cellar Tours gourmet weekends are a great introduction to the gastronomy and wines of Montepulciano. On this private tour, you will sleep in an elegant, historic country hotel, visit top wineries enjoy vineyard walks, and indulge in Tuscan cooking classes. You'll also do some sightseeing and visit the beautiful towns of Cortona, Pienza and Arezzo. Dining is of utmost importance on these gourmet weekends, and you will enjoy some amazing meals, including Michelin starred locales. And of course, you won't leave without tasting some phenomenal wines, both Vino Nobiles and unforgettable Super Tuscans....


5. Guest Chef & Recipe: Alessandra Spisni, Chef at Bolognas famed Vecchia Scuola di Cucina

Chef Alessandra Spisni

Private Cooking Classes in Bologna

Bolognas most emblematic dish is the simple and delicious Tagliatelle Bolognese. Nobody does it better than at the Vecchia Scuola di Cucina, an excellent cooking school in this beautiful city. Enjoy the recipe!

Tagliatelle Bolognese

* 600 grams of flour
* 6 eggs

* 60 grams of onions
* 25 grams of carrots
* 20 grams of celery
* 1 tablespoon of lard
* 300 grabs of minced beef
* 2 tablespoons of tomato "passata"
* salt and pepper to taste

Private Cooking Classes  in Bologna, Italy

Pasta making class


Fresh tagliatelle pasta is preferable, but there are excellent brands of dried pasta such as Barilla, cooked "al dente". To make the sauce, begin by browning the onions in a deep pan, along with the celery, carrots and lard. Slowly add in the beef to brown and spoon in the tomato passata and salt and pepper to your taste. Be careful not to use too much passata or the sauce will be too liquidy. Serve with freshly shaved Parmigiano cheese and enjoy with a glass of something special!


6. Restaurant Review: Akelarre, San Sebastian, Spain

345 Guest House, Oporto, Portugal

Michelin Starred Chef at Akelarre, Pedro Subijana

The first thing that strikes you when you walk into this mythical 3 Michelin starred San Sebastian classic, is the view. Imagine being on a bluff, completely surrounded by the gorgeous Cantabrian sea. The location of this restaurant and the views are simply breathtaking. Like other Michelin starred venues, the best way to dine is to try the chef's taster menu. The chef, in this case, is the very charming Pedro Subijana (with his unforgettable mustache). Mr. Subijana is an international phenomenon, along the lines of Ferran Adri, but somehow much more approachable. You will see this published chef and TV personality in the restaurant coming out to greet diners, smiling, saying hello. His cuisine is avant-garde but a large part of it is based on very traditional Spanish and Basque recipes and ingredients. Some if his signature dishes include: Tuna in Onion Paper and Tamarillo, Roast Lobster and Spiced "Balloon", Sauted Foie Gras in a Walnut Soup and Oysters in Red Swiss Chard Salad. The wine list is divine, as you would hope. On our recent visit to Akelarre we enjoyed a delicious bottle of the velvety Clos de lObac, the stunning wine made by Costers del Siurana in Spains chic Priorat region. A night here is quite unforgettable, and if you find yourself in San Sebastian we cannot recommend Akelarre enough.

Book a table at Akelarre:

Enjoy a luxury Food and Wine Tour of San Sebastian

7. Hotel Highlight: Casa das Rainhas, Óbidos , Portugal

Hotel Casa das Rainhas, Portugal

Casa Das Rainhas, Óbidos

The hotel Casa das Rainhas (House of the Queens) in the gorgeous Portuguese village of Óbidos is one of the loveliest hotels we have had the pleasure to visit in years. The village of Óbidos is delightful, with a Disney-esque castle crowning the town. Narrow, cobblestoned streets lined with white washed houses spilling over with bougainvillea and ivy, enclose the castle. The Casa das Rainhas hotel has the privileged position of being right next to the castle wall, and the views from the charming bedrooms are superb. The bedrooms have been created with many thoughtful details such as scented candles, complementary local wine and goodies waiting for you in the room and plenty of magazines and books for guests to enjoy.

Hotel Casa das Rainhas, Portugal

Room with a View

Each of the ten bedrooms is named after a different Portuguese Queen and no room is alike. Our favorite room was the romantic Tower Room, unique in its layout and with great views. The hotel is cozy and a place to stay for a few nights to really enjoy properly. The living room has a fireplace and hundreds of art books. There is an honesty bar, the first we have seen in Portugal and a wonderful touch. Above all, we have to rave about the restaurant at the hotel. It was 7 star quality and blew us away. Óbidos is a great base to see other fabulous towns like Sintra, or go enjoy fresh seafood in the coastal village of Nazare. We are pleased to feature Casa das Rainhas on some of our new food and wine routes in Óbidos, including Chocolate making classes.

Interested in a Gourmet Food & Wine Tour in Portugal contact us for more information! [email protected]

8. Gourmet Corner: La Formatgeria de la Seu, Barcelona, Spain

La Formatgeria de la Seu, Barcelona, Spain

Katherine at Formatgeria La Seu, Barcelona

Hidden in the enchanting medieval, winding streets of the Barri Gotic in Barcelona, this cheese shop is a culinary jewel! Run by the very charming Scottish cheesemonger, Katherine, you can find an amazing array of regional Spanish cheeses and olive oils at the tiny Formatgeria La Seu. If you are only visiting Barcelona and you cant travel with smelly cheeses, then take advantage of her in shop tastings, paired with light wines. Katherine sources "boutique" artisan cheeses made in small production, such as "La Setera", a goat's cheese made by an Irish / Spanish couple in a tiny village in Zamora. She also sells the classics such as Manchego (sheep's cheese from La Mancha) and Arzu-Ulloa, a Galician standard. If you are a cheese lover and find yourself in Barcelona, dont pass up the opportunity to taste some of Spains best "quesos"at Formatgeria La Seu.

Visit Katherine

9. What's in Season: Truffles


Truffle Market, Alba, Piedmont

Truffles are the most expensive food product in the world, a priceless type of mushroom that has been harvested since the age of the ancient Greeks (it was used as an aphrodisiac!) Truffles are essentially mushrooms that grow under ground and have to be sniffed out by trained harvesting dogs or pigs. You can find truffles all over the world (from the Middle East to Oregon, but the most famous are from Italy (where the world famous truffle fair takes place in Alba, Piedmont), France and Spain. There are at least 30 known species of truffles, the most highly prized being the 'Tube Magnatum Pico'(white) and the 'Tuber Melanosporam Vitt' (black). They add unusual and sensual flavors to various dishes, especially Italian, and are a symbol of culinary extravagance and quality. Truffles are a fabulous autumnal ingredient and pair magically with rich red wines such as Brunello di Montalcino and Barolo.

Interested in a Gourmet Truffle Tour of Piedmont or Tuscany? Contact us for more information! [email protected]

10. Custom Designed Food & Wine Tours in Spain, Italy and Portugal

Luxury Food & Wine Tours

If you would like us to customize a luxury wine tour for you (in Spain, Portugal or Italy), contact us with your requirements, and we can send you a free itinerary and quote with no obligations.

We organize chauffeured wine tours and luxurious cooking vacations starting from 1 day, to weekends to longer food and wine discoveries. Private tours, just for you....

Let us show you our favorite gourmet corners in Europe!

Contact us today! [email protected]

CELLAR TASTINGS S.L. is a Fully Licensed and Bonded Tour Operator and Travel Agency, and a proud member of ASTA and the IACP.