1. Recommended Wine: Feudi di San Gregorio Lacryma Christi, Campania, Italy
2. Winery Profile: Ontañon, La Rioja, Spain
3. Wine Tasting Tours: Italian Riviera and Piedmont- Wining and Dining
4. Cellar Tours Luxury Day Excursions: Venice and Prosecco Wine Country, Italy
5. Food and Wine Vacations: Gourmet Central and Northern Spain
6. Guest Chef and Recipe: Jay Ciccarelli, Mallorca, Spain
7. Restaurant Review: Casa Nun, Cadaqués, Spain
8. Hotel Highlight: Palacio de la Merced, Burgos, Spain
9. Gourmet Corner: Casa dos Lagares, Portugal
10. What’s in Season: Chestnuts
Wine Tours Newsletter

What's New At Cellar Tours:

This past season we have been traveling extensively, discovering new wineries and restaurants and extraordinary hotels to include in exciting new tours. Our travels took us to the Marche, coined the “new Tuscany” where we are thrilled to discover untouched medieval villages, unbelievable wines and dramatic coastlines. Rome was a treat and we found the best gelato stand for you, along with some boutique hotels and unique wine tastings at the International Wine Academy of Rome. In Spain, we were surprised with the range, beauty and quality of the wineries we visited in Txakoli Vizcaya, near Bilbao in lovely Basque Country. We cooked and sipped wine with a superb American chef based in Mallorca, and found absolutely stunning 300 year old wineries where we will organize VIP visits for our guests. The Feria de Jerez was a fantastic horse and sherry week long celebration we enjoyed in the south of Spain and we will be featuring many new wineries based on our visits. We visited Huerta de Albalá near Arcos de la Frontera, the most exciting new winery in Spain, stunning cellar and massive investment. In Portugal, we have a new wine experience near Lisbon combined with Lusitano horses (enjoy a private dresságe lesson at a historic winery owned by a duchess). So look out for plenty of new and interesting itineraries on our website and feel free to contact us for more info!

Recent Press:

This quarter we were delighted to be included in various magazines and newspapers including Travel and Leisure, the Boston Globe, the Sunday Independent (UK) and Deia (Spain). More click here...

1. Recommended Wine: Feudi di San Gregorio Lacryma Christi, Campania, Italy

Wine Tours Newsletter Spring 2006

Juan Pedro Vazquez, Flying Sommelier

I was recently lucky enough to have a bottle of Lacryma Christi (Christ's tears) land in my lap. This is a wine with a fascinating history. There is an ancient Italian fable that describes, the first tears of Christ watering the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, after the rampage of Lucifer that destroyed what we know today as the region around Naples. In every one of Christ's tears a vine grew. Another legend describes the God Bacchus crying once he saw his magnificent vines ruined by the Vesuvius eruption. Mythology and legends aside, the top wine cellar of Southern Italy, Feudi di San Gregorio is making a superb Lacryma Christi along with other superb wines such as the white Falanghina and a stunning Aglianico from Taurasi.


Our Rating: 91/100
Type: Red Wine
Appellation:DOC Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio
Region:Campania, Italia
Grape Composition:Piedirosso 70 %, Aglianico 20 %, Sciascinoso 10 %
Pairing: Lamb chops, turkey, pheasant.

The volcanic terrains of the vineyards give a particular “earthiness” to this wine. The balance between oak and wine is striking, particularly because the ageing is short and the Piedirosso is a varietal that needs a precise support of wood (Slovenian oak barrels). The appearance is of an older wine with some terracota hints on the rim. On the nose this dense coloured ruby/purple-tinged wine offers sweet notes of blueberries, blackberries, and wood. The style is smoky, rich, and modern. Medium to full bodied, and nicely textured, this complex wine possesses surprising length and elegance. It can be consumed for the next 7-10 years.

2. Winery Profile: Ontañon, La Rioja, Spain

Wine Tasting Tours, Rioja, Spain

Ontañon Cellars, La Rioja, Spain

Bodegas Ontañon is a “winery-museum”, founded in 1984, that invites guests on a fascinating journey to learn about wine and wine production as it was in ancient times, through the use of mythological characters. Situated in the wine town of Logroño, Ontañon prides itself on being equally as passionate about winemaking as they are about art and culture. In 2003, they received the prestigious “Best tourism” award and in 2004 earned an honorable mention from the award “Riojanos del año” (Riojans of the year) for their efforts. Most recently, they proudly brought home the gold medal for their classic Crianza red (2003) from a wine competition in Brussels (Concours Mondial de Bruxelles) in which over 4000 wines from all over the world were tasted. During your entertaining visit, you will meet celebrated mythological characters such as Persephone, Centurion, and of course the god of wine himself, Bacchus. At the end of your stay, Ontañon invites you to sit in the very mystical cellar to try some of their best vintages so you yourself can decide if indeed they are “blessed by the gods” .

Visit this winery on our luxury wine tours of La Rioja, contact us for details.

By Jessica Benavides, Tour Director, Spain

3. Wine Tasting Tours: Italian Riviera and Piedmont- Wining and Dining

Luxury Italian Riviera and Piedmont, Italy

Pretty village on coast, Cinque Terre, Italy

Sip on velvety Barolo wines, sleep in a villa overlooking vineyards, enjoy sunsets over the Italian Riviera and dine on homemade pasta topped with deliciously fresh pesto. Sound fantastic? This eight-day itinerary is designed for food and wine lovers who are looking for a combination “coast and countryside” private tour. You’ll travel southwest from Milan towards the Alps, first stopping for a few fabulous days in Piedmont wine country- Gourmet Paradise! This is land of Barolo and Barbaresco wines, white truffles, and some of the best cheeses in Italy. The locals shave truffles over everything from Polenta, Risotto, Pasta and their traditional Fonduta (a Fondue, evident of the Swiss influence). Piedmont is also a wonderfully unspoiled region, full of medieval villages and castles surrounded by vines. The Alps hover above and the region's name in fact makes reference to this (Piemonte means "at the foot of the mountain"). In autumn, thick fog hovers on the brightly colored hills (the red and orange vines actually "glow" with the reflection of the snow capped Alps) and you can just make out the castle tops and hill topped villages poking out at the top.


4. Cellar Tours Luxury Day Excursions: Venice and Prosecco Wine Country, Italy

Venice Prosecco Wine Tours, Italy

Prosecco Wine Cellar

North of Venice lies the wine region of Prosecco DOC di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. This is the land of Palladian villas and gentle rolling hills covered in vines and noble manors. The darling village of Conigliano is full of 15th to 18th century palaces, many of them with Venetian Gothic façades. Vineyards surround the town, mainly of the Prosecco grape, used to make the famed Italian bubbly. We have organized this luxury wine tasting excursion for those of you visiting Venice who would love a pampering wine experience. You´ll travel from Venice by chauffeured Mercedes and you´ll have your own wine guide for the day. Visit gorgeous wineries such as Villa Sandi in Crocetta del Montello, a spectacular architectural masterpiece. You can compare and contrast the many faces of Prosecco, from bruts to Pinot Neros and even grappas made from Prosecco. After a morning of wine tasting, you´ll enjoy lunch in a delightful spot with your guide. Specialties of this regions include polenta, chiodino mushrooms, risottos flavored with wild herbs, delicate ‘tortelli’ and a range of cheeses like Morlacco, Casatella, Caciotta and Pressato. Finally, before returning to Venice, enjoy an excursion to Treviso, a wonderful little town. Treviso has ancient canals, palaces with flower-lined balconies and cute cafés.


5. Food and Wine Vacations: Gourmet Central and Northern Spain

Vip Wine Tastings, Spain

VIP Wine Tasting

This gourmet Culinary Tour of Central and Northern Spain is designed for those who don't want to concentrate exclusively on a theme vacation, rather "taste" a bit of everything, from cooking to wine tasting to sightseeing. On all of our tours, there is always huge importance placed on food and wine and on this tour you will dine at some of the best restaurants in Spain, as well as take in unique experiences such as a "tapas tour", culinary classes in chef's private homes VIP winery visits including walks through vineyards and ancient caves and much more. Accommodation is selected carefully, and all of your hotels are charming and historic, many in old palaces. Many small surprises and gifts will be presented throughout the tour, as well as "extras" in your rooms. Some of the most beautiful cities and villages in Spain are included in this food and wine tour including Madrid, Toledo, Avila, Salamanca, Burgos, Lerma, Laguardia and San Sebastian.


6. Guest Chef and Recipe: Jay Ciccarelli, Mallorca, Spain

Gourmet Cooking Classes, Mallorca, Spain

Jay preparing for delightful meal

We had the immense pleasure to visit Jay and Annette, a charming couple recently relocated to Mallorca offering gourmet cooking classes on the island. Jay, an American, has lived in Mediterranean Europe for the past 9 years, from Tuscany and Puglia in Italy to Provence in France, Turkey and Spain. Cheffing for famous families such as Versace, Getty, De Medici and Bertarelli, he has traveled to many ports of call in the Med such as Greece, Malta, Sicily, Corsica, Southern France and more. These experiences have influenced his cuisine and enabled him a deeper understanding of the essence of Mediterranean cuisine. His classes in Mallorca reflect the range of Mediterranean influences that continue to inspire him.

We are pleased to be organizing VIP private classes and luxury picnics with Jay, ask us for details. Here is a recipe we prepared (so anyone can do it!), easy to make and perfect for dinner parties:

Salt Cod Fritters with Cucumber, Yogurt & Coriander Dressing

Ingredients for Fritters:
Salt cod, 250g
Milk, 150 ml
Potatoes, peeled and cubed, 250g
Garlic, crushed, 1 clove
Spring onions, finely chopped, 2 each
Coriander, fresh, chopped, 1 tbsp
Egg yolk, 1 ea.
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
One medium sized lemon, sliced into wedges for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

One of Jay Ciccarelli dishes, Mallorca, Spain

Some of Jay's excellent dishes

1. Put the salt cod into bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak or 24 hours, changing the water several times.
2. The following day drain the fish and dry well. Remove skin and bones and cut into small cubes. Place in a bowl ad cover with the milk, leave for 2 hours.
3. Drain the cod and place in a pan with the potatoes. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes until the cod and potatoes are tender.
4. Drain and mash the fish and potatoes together. Beat in the remaining ingredients, except for the oil and season with pepper.
5. Heat about 2,5 cm of oil in a deep-frying pan. Drop tablespoons of the cod mixture into the oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes until the fritters are browned on all sides.
6. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in hot oven while frying the remaining fritters. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Ingredients for the dressing:
Cucumber grated, 3 tbsp
Yogurt, thick Greek, 1/2 cup
Coriander, chopped, 1 tbsp
Mint, chopped, 2 tsp
Shallot, sliced, 1 small
Lemon juice of half a lemon
White wine vinegar, 2 tsp
Cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tbsp

7. Restaurant Review: Casa Nun, Cadaqués, Spain

Hotel Lapa Palace, Lisbon, Portugal

Exquisite views

Casa Nun
Placa de Port Dixtos 6
17488 Cadaqués, Spain
Tel: +34 972 25 88 56

Imagine wandering around arguably the loveliest fishing village in the world complete with picture perfect white homes with blue painted shutters and breathtaking open sea views. After spending a morning discovering why the celebrated artist, Salvador Dali, loved Cadaqués so by immortalizing it as the backdrop of some of his most famous works, you start to feel those familiar stomach pangs and begin to search for a place to eat. Like most everyone you would like to find a good seafood place in the center, where one can sit and enjoy a leisurely meal while facing the beautiful beachfront. You discover unlike most of the unspoiled locations in this tiny fishing town, the center is filled with your typical, generic overpriced “tourist traps”.

Not so with Casa Nun. In existence for the past 30 years, this charming 2 floored, oceanfront restaurant, not only features an excellent 3 course menu (including wine) with a dark country-furniture setting, but you are often greeted and served personally by the gracious owner, Paco Jeréz. There are many wonderful dishes to choose from their ever changing menu, but the one suggestion that will always please would be the fresh “pescado del dia” (fish of the day) with an emphasis on “fresh”! After visiting a town with such mystical magic as Cadaqués, Casa Nun is the perfect way to end the visit, perfectly maintaining Dali's idea of heaven on earth.

By Jessica Benavides, Tour Director, Spain

8. Hotel Highlight: Palacio de la Merced, Burgos, Spain

Reserva y Cata Wine Merchants, Madrid, Spain

Stylish rooms in historic hotel

Hotel Palacio de la Merced
Calle de la Merced, 13
09002 Burgos, Spain
Tel. +34.94.7479900
Fax. +34.94.7260426
[email protected]

Our clients tend to be equally surprised by the historic town of Burgos itself to this unexpectedly fabulous little hotel, featured on our Ribera del Duero wine tours. Located on the Arlanzón river overlooking the ancient entrance to the noble city of Burgos, the NH Palacio de la Merced is an exquisite boutique hotel. The building itself is a converted 16th century monastery, tastefully transformed into a stylish hotel. The hotel’s color scheme is a palate of eggplant, gold, slate, silver, cream, very elegant. The bathrooms are excellent with fluffy robes and good bath products (as in all the NH Hotels) and the beds are some of the best in Spain. Room service is also surprisingly good, although it would be a crime to order in with so many excellent restaurants in Burgos. Best of all is you are a stone’s throw from the quite breathtaking Gothic cathedral of Burgos, from the one and only Casa Ojeda restaurant and the old town. Burgos is referred to as the cradle of Castille and indeed the 11th century folk hero El Cid is buried in the Burgos cathedral. We wholeheartedly recommend both this hotel and Burgos as a cultural destination. Remember you are halfway between Ribera dl Duero and Rioja so this is an excellent stop while on your wine tour! Contact us for more info on our luxury custom wine tours in Spain: [email protected]

9. Gourmet Corner: Casa dos Lagares, Portugal

What’s in Season: Calçots

Friendly host at Casa Dos Lagares

Deep in the heart of the gorgeous Douro Valley, one of Europe´s greatest secrets, you´ll find this adorable winery cum gourmet shop. The Casa dos Lagares (house of wine lagars) is located in the pretty village of Cheires. The business is family run and has been in the same family since the 17th century! The estate organizes many activities from wine tastings to gourmet tastings (they sell top Portuguese salt, olive oils, homemade jams, wine vinegars, etc) to classes on collecting wild flowers and herbs. We have included Casa dos Lagares in our luxury tours of the Port Lands and Douro Valley and you will visit the vineyards here by jeep followed by a tasting of historic wines. You will be greeted by the friendly owners like old friends, and will appreciate the non corporate feeling here and the authentic Portuguese hospitality which contrasts sharply with some of the more famous Quintas. We simply adore Casa dos Lagares, and a visit both here and to the gorgeous Douro Valley is a must for Portuguese wine lovers.

Casa dos Lagares

Cheires, 5070-342 Sanfins do Douro, Portugal
Tel: +351 259 686167 // Fax +351 259686103
[email protected]

10. What’s in Season: Chestnuts

Luxury Food & Wine Tours

Chestnut Season

From the beautiful historic centers of many European cities from Madrid to Rome, autumn is signalled by the arrival of the chestnut roasters on the street corners. Interesting to note that chestnuts date back to prehistoric times and were one of the first foods humans ate! The chestnut tree, called Castanea Sativa in Latin, first arrived into mainland Europe from Greece. While most chestnut trees in America are of European varieties, the Native Americans also used the nuts from the native Castanea Dentata varietal. After the Chestnut Blight of the early 20th century nearly made the trees extinct in North America, today most chestnuts are imported from Europe. Chestnuts can be eaten candied, boiled or roasted; the former are often sold under the French name marrons glacés. In Italy, chestnuts are eaten in a variety of autumnal and winter dishes. Portuguese and Spanish cuisine also feature many chestnut based dishes.

Come taste freshly toasted chestnuts on our gourmet tours in Europe! Contact us for details on how to organize a private tour!

Customized Food & Wine Tours- Spain, Portugal and Italy

Luxury Food & Wine Tours

Bella Italia

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. Private tours, just for you....

Let us show you our favorite gourmet corners in Europe!

Cellar Tastings S.L.
Address: Infantas, n. 27, 3 Derecha,
28004 Madrid, Spain
Tel: +34 91 521 3939
Fax: +34 91 521 4757

Email: [email protected]

Contact us today!

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