The Travelling Gourmet in Terrific Umbria!
Castles, Agriturismos and Wines
By Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet
13 July 2009
MY first stop on my gastronomic safari in sunny Italy had me tasting wines from the superb winery of Castello delle Regine, which means the Castle of the Queen. The Queen here is my good friend, Livia, who is as charming and beautiful as her splendid range of wines. I am now here with her taking a break from Il Cena (dinnner) to write this. Dessert is on the way and it is 2259 and the night is cool as we dine in style facing a romantic swimming pool in the heart of Umbria. The amazingly comfortable Agriturismo called Podernovo where I am privileges to stay tonight is also owned by Livia and her husband Paolo.
Livia’s Princeps 2002 is made with 20% Sangiovese, 60% Cab Sauvignon an 20% Merlot. Absolutely ‘superbo’ with food like here Chianino beef, specially bred on the Agriturismo, done ‘medium’. I went to see the Chianino cattle including the male bull and his happy harem of cows and calves. It was muddy and it had a distinctive smell which most would find unbearable unless they have worked on a farm before. I liked it and Livia joked with me, laughing, “Allora, Si! It would be nice for a man to have a harem like the bull!”
When it comes to wine, I tasted her range at dinner and her Selezione del Fondatore 2003 is a splendid SUPER-Sangiovese full of wild, powerful tannins. Livia explained, ‘…lot of wildness in Sangiovese but my winemaker, the famous Franco Bernabei is simply the best when it comes to working with Sangiovese. He can tame it and make it taste fantastico!”
After a typical Tuscan gourmet dinner in Livia’s restaurant, it is now 2309. Grappa time! Livia also makes Grappa, that traditional Italian liquer whose closest equivalent is Schnapps, on her 900 acre estate surrounded by oak forests! These same oak forests actually moderate the micro-climate giving a unique expression of the ‘terroir’ to her wines. Earlier, she drove me around in her Mercedes 4WD SUV up the hilly terrain which made me really appreciate the unique hilly and rugged terrain of this marvellous Castello delle Regine. Her husband, Paolo, who is also a prominent lawyer has just arrived from Milano after a long drive on the Autostrada, and it is 2310. We chatted about a sport close to his heart, “I have a Beretta shotgun which I use for hunting Cinghiale (wild boar) in the season. There is a lot of Cinghiale in the forest.” It was very convivial just to chit chat over Grappa and wine. The time passed pleasantly…midnight saw me back in my spacious and luxurious villa for a well earned happy and tranquil snooze in Podernovo Agriturismo, Umbria. The next morning, I woke early at 06:00 for an early morning swim in the cool private pool a hop, step and skip away.
It’s a tough job being The Travelling Gourmet….but somebody’s got to do it!
Cheers! Salute! J
Castello delle Regine
Via di Castelluccio Amerino
05220 Amelia TR
T: 39 0744 702005
Near San Liverato