Another Love story in Verona…

and it is to do with LOVE for the Nectar of the Gods…WINE!

Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM

Food photos are of REAL food with no photoshop


The intrepid and irrepressible Travelling Gourmet jets to the romantic city of Romeo and Juliet to delve deeply into…

MARVELLOUS Vinitaly, the largest wine event in the world held in vibrant Verona every year. Vivacious Verona is where William Shakespeare set his immortal story of love and heart wrenching passion…and here you can visit captivating Casa di Giulietta or Juliet’s House and see the balcony Romeo climbed! The 12th Century house is at 23, Via Capello. I always say Romeo must have had some SAS ( the elite Special Air Service Regiment) training to be able to climb up that very high balcony…In the courtyard of Juliet’s house or Casa di Giulietta, there is a bronze statue of demure Juliet. If you look carefully, you will see that the right bosom is very shiny and brightly polished. Why you ask? According to legend, if you caress the left bosom you will have money in your life…BUT if you passionately caress the right bosom…you will always have Love in your life. Clearly, most people prefer Amore to money! I do not blame them!


Vino Paradiso in Verona, North-East Italy

45° 27′ 0″ N / 11° 0′ 0″ E

Anyone who loves wines must come here, if only once in their lives. I have been here many times, and have also been a Wine Judge several times here in the Concorso Enologico Internazionale Wine Competition. The Wine Competition is held here yearly as an important part of Vinitaly. 2014 celebrates the 48th Edition of Vinitaly, and I am looking forward to tasting superb wines and learning more about the world of oenology! Vinitaly is arguably the most important International Exhibition dedicated to wines and spirits. The sector is worth more than 12 billion euros in Italy, employs 1.2 million people and in 2013 posted exports worth more than 5 billion euros, an increase of 7.3% over 2012 (source: Vinitaly based on Istat, Assoenologi data). Vinitaly 2014 confirmed Vinitaly as a very important center for the international wine business. There was a 6% increase in visitors wth a total attendance of 155,000 over the 4 day event. There wre 56,000 foreign buyers compared to 53,000 in 2013. The 4,100 exhibitors were from 17 countries – Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, France Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, but there were also wines from South Africa, New Zealand, Ukraine, Spain, Kosovo, Colombia, India.

photo of juliets house, juliets balcony photo, verona photo, verona italy

5th April, 2014

Just a few hours after landing in bustling Milano’s Malpensa airport I arrived in chic Hotel Expo in Villafranca, some 12km from Verona. A quick but lovely lunch in the hotel’s Ristorante Vittoria, and then it was off to romantic Verona to attend the opening of Opera Wine.


IMG_9546Yummie Gamberi for lunch in Ristorante Vittoria!

IMG_9550 Opera Wine 2014 in Verona


I was privileged to attend the inaugural ceremony with Maurizio Martina, Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies as the guest of honour. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was also attended by the Mayor of Verona, Flavio Tosi. Opera Wine 2014 was held as part of the world’s largest wine fair. This year is the third edition of Opera Wine. One hundred Great Italian Wines as selected by Wine Spectator magazine were presented for tasting in the grand and imposing environs of the Palazzo della Gran Guardia. The historic Palazzo, built in 1610, overlooks the iconic Piazza Bra, and was next to the ancient city gate called the Portoni della Bra. The Palazzo was the actually the headquarters of the City Guard.  It is near the ancient Arena that dominates this most romantic of Italian cities. L’Arena is the third largest amphitheatre in Italy, with the Colosseum in Rome being the largest. Every summer L’Arena becomes the world’s biggest opera theatre where famed tenors like Placido Domingo perform.



Among the superbo wines were Allegrini Valpolicella Amarone della Classico 2004, Arnaldo Caprai 25 Anni Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2009 and Damilano Cannubi Barolo DOCG 2010. The wine makers were on hand to elaborate about their wines at each tasting stand. Accompanying the wines, there was also tasting of yummie and luscious Levoni Salumi, Mortadella, Culatta, Formaggi (cheeses) and Proscuitto. Levoni Proscuitto is also available in Prego Ristorante in Singapore. The GM, hard working Marella Levoni, was very hospitable and bade me try them all! It was an offer I could not possibly refuse.


At the Argiolas stand, I tasted Isola Dei Nuraghi Turriga 2009 from the island of Sardinia. Sardinia is the second largest island in Italy after Sicily, and have unique wines from their indigenous grape varieties like Cannonau. It brought back fond memories of when I visited Sardegna and toured all the best wineries there. This full-bodied robust red was made with 85% Cannonau and 15% Malavasia Nera, Carignano and Bovale Sardo, and it whet my taste buds for more…


At the Argiolas stand…splendid Sardinian wines


Who Dares Wins!

In my mind I thought, “One hundred wines…OMG! And so little time!” Without hesitation I went at once to taste Italy’s answer to Champagne, made just like Champagne using the “Metodo Classico” which means double fermentation inside the bottle and much aging “sur lie” which means “on the lees (yeast cells)”. I liked the 100% Chardonnay ‘sparkler’ Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore 2002 matured for 10 years on specially selected yeasts. The vintage 2002 was a very good year for Trentodoc, the region of Trentino Alto Adige near the Austrian border. Remarkably refreshing notes of fresh cut lime and a long finish makes this wine splendid with Chinese Cantonese cuisine like Sweet & Sour Pork and Tim Sum like Har Kow Shrimp dumpling.

I strolled over to another winery…Donnafugata is over 160 years old and is one of Sicily’s best wineries. Their wine Mille e Una Notte (it means in Italian ‘a thousand and one nights’) Contessa Entellina DOP 2008 had stimulating hints of smoky tobacco and cigar box with flavours of ripe mulberries and cherries. It had been refined in first passage French oak barriques for 16 months, which accounted for the caressing tannins on my palate. It was perfetta with the Levoni Salami…I simply adore Donnafugata’s Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria, sooo good with Foie gras con Balsamico.

A ‘Super Tuscan’ I sampled was Barone Ricasoli’s Casalferro 2009. This red wine is made with 100% Merlot from a single vineyard in Tuscany. Smooth on the palate and with a medium finish, it reminded me of that famous wine of France, Chateau Petrus, which is also made with 100% Merlot.

IMG_9565 With my friend distinguished Barone Ricasoli

Not so long ago, Italian wines crafted in the style of the wines of Bordeaux were all the rage. Il Pollenza 2009 is a wine made in the Bordelaise style. It is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. I found it to be an approachable red wine with enticing and complex flavours & aromas of sweet tobacco, licorice root, violets, cherries and cocoa. Pleasurable intense flavours of brandied cherries on the end palate. It had been aged in new French barriques for 14 months.

At the Lungarotti stand, I was very pleased to meet my dear friends, lovely and charming Chiara and her sister Teresa Lungarotti. Chiara told me happily, “Giovanni is now 7 years old and he loves your bear!”

  IMG_9560Chiara Lungarotti and The Travelling Gourmet


I tasted their well crafted and structured Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG Rubesco Vigna Moticchio 2007. A pleasing complex bouquet of Marasca cherry and blackberry with violet nuances, plus velvety elegant tannins and Balsamico flavours makes this wine a classic of Umbria. The Rubesco wine is made from a blend of authoconous Sangiovese and Canaiolo grape varietals, and packs a punch at 14% alcohol by volume!

 A wine from Lombardia took my fancy with its long finish…Mamete Prevostini’s Albareda Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata Guarantita) 2010. Crafted from 100% Nebbiolo Appasito, a spicy perfume reveals orange peel notes and lamponi (raspberries) on the palate.

From Piedmont, I sampled a round, fleshy macho Barolo, namely Mascarello Giusepppe & Figlio’s Barolo Monprivato Ca’ D’Morissio Riserva 2006. I was seduced by the red Frutti di Bosco (fruits of the forest), leather and mixed spice flavours from the 100% Nebbiolo grape variety .

Mia amica, vivacious Marina Cvetic Masciarelli, winemaker and owner of Masciarelli greeted me warmly, “Carissimo Michael, per piacere try this wine…” So I did. Deep ruby Villa Gemma Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) 2007 from the Abruzzo region was complex with excellent colour extraction…round and fleshy with aromas and notes of violet, Myrtillo Marmellata (blueberry jam), blackcurrant and tobacco. Marina explained, “This wine really shows the qualita (quality) of the Montepulciano grape!” I agree.

IMG_9556   The Travelling Gourmet & Marina Cvetic Masciarelli

Another Barolo from Piedmont that I liked was Pio Cesare’s Barolo ‘Ornato’ 2009 full of concentrated fruit and supple tannins with a long aging potential. Simply splendid with Dark Chocolate of at least 65% Cocoa and Granda Padano Cheese.

The final wine I tasted was from the Veneto region of north-western Italy. Produced from the 1.5 hectare vineyard owned by the Moretti Polegato family on Cartizze Hill, the Villa Sandi Valdobbiadene Superioredi Cartizze Vigna la Rivetta Brut was outstanding in its freshness and flavour. Made from 100& Glera grapes, it was awarded the to 2014 Gambero Rosso Tre Bichieri (three glasses) Award.



Well, I did not taste all 100 wines but I think I did quite well in the time available…:-) After so much wine tasting, it was time for a nice dinner and a good work out in the compact Gym of the hotel…the hot jacuzzi was really nice too!

This poem came to my mind as I exercised…

He is a hero and a magician.

He is a seducer and the brother of love and passion.

He can do the impossible…

Fill human hearts with beautiful poems and conviviality.

Such is the nectar of the Gods that is Wine.



6th April, 2014

MY trusty Breitling Aerospace titanium watch alarm rang. The time read 06:00. I went for an early morning jog to the Castello Scaligero dVillafranca. I was based in posh Hotel Expo Villafranca ****


The hotel concierge told me it was a short distance away, only 10 minutes or so. In fact, the Serbian concierge had recommended me to go after dinner the night before and even recommended it as a nice evening stroll. The concierge was very much misinformed! It reminded me of that 1942 classic movie “Casablanca” starring Humphrey Bogart. I have found on my travels that many hotel staff who should know about their area, actually do not know anything!  It was actually quite far and took me over 60 minutes to get there and back. The bonus was that I burnt a lot of calories! The impressive castle was built by the Della Scala family starting in 1199, after the battle of Ponte dei Molini (Mantova), and finished in 1202. It stands on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake.



It was Sunday so there was a quaint Sunday Market with clothes, shoes, cheese, fruits and vegetables like fresh artichokes on offer.

IMG_9580  Ox Heart Tomatoes are very tasty!


Back at Hotel Expo, I  savoured a lovely and lavish buffet breakfast with several nice cappuccinos, then it was off to Vinitaly in Veronafiere.


Splendid Breakfast Buffet…


The cosy Hotel & Lobby Bar is charmingly decorated with numerous risque bronze sculptures of nudes by Sergio Capellini.


The journey from the hotel in Villafranca near Verona Airport took about 30 minutes on the Autostrada (expressway). It was the first day of Vinitaly 2014 so there were GIGANTIC crowds of exhibitors and visitors as well as traffic jams! Luckily my Media Pass got me in through the “secret” VIP entrance…


It was early in the morning but Vinitaly was already coming to life.


I made my way to  the Doctor Wine seminar on “Great Italian White Wines” by my friend Daniele Cerlini, former head of Gambero Rosso. He co-founded Gambero Rosso in 1986 but is now into other ventures. I was very happy to see my dear friend, vivacious and ravishing Iolanda from Puglia.




The first wine of the day…

was the Ferrari 2007 Franciacorta sparkling wine. It woke me up with its powerful “attack” and refreshing acids! I tried the Astoria Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG next. It was a simple but refrshing sparkling wine, good with seafood like lobster and scallops. The wines were dispensed from high tech wine dispensers that were supposed to dispense the exact tasting portion at the press of a button into Zafferano wine glasses. Alas, many of them did not work! They had to call the technician in charge to fix it! An unusual red wine I tasted was the Concerto Lambrusco Secco Reggiano DOC 2013 from Emilia Romagna. It had lovely flavours of sour plums, a bit like the Cantonese tit-bit “Sng Boey”. From Lombardia, I tried Palazzo Lana Extreme Franciacorta DOCG Riserva 2006. An attractive ‘blanc de noir’ wine made with 100% Pinot Nero (also known as Pinot Noir) with enticing nuances of red berries. The sparkling Blanc de Morgex et De La Salle Metodo Classico Extra Brut VDA DOC 2011 impressed me with its bouquet of green apple and ravishing flavours of fresh-cut Damson pear on the palate. Bartolomiol’s Prior Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut DOCG Millesimato 2013 also had a lovely 1st nose of green apple and an excellent ‘attack’ on the palate.

After the tasting, I went to see another good friend, cheerful Sandro Bottega of Bottega.  Sandro told me about his new plans to open Prosecco Bars in places like Abu Dhabi and Vienna Airport, based on the ancient Venetian ‘Bacaro’ concept with finger food. The first Bottega Prosecco Bar opened in January 2014 aboard the Swedish cruise ship Viking Cinderella. More Prosecco Bars are to open in the Ritz Carlton Dubai and the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi. I tried the Bottega Prosecco “Co Fondo”, which is an unfiltered sparkling wine made by the metodo classico with the second fermentation in the bottle. It had notes. of crusty bread from the “lees aging” process. The other aromatic  Prosecco I tasted was the “Prosecco Biologico” which is an organic wine. Their new Prosecco is Petalo Il Vino dell’Amore Moscato adds sparkle to any romantic rendez-vous! Definitely perfetta for a romantic dinner with the love of your life! In Singapore the importer is Giorgio Ferrari Pte. Ltd.


It is hot, bright and very sunny outside with powder blue skies. I feel a rumbly in my tumbly so I really need a some good food, and perhaps a hot Macchiato, before venturing out again for more wine tasting…It’s a tough job being  “The Travelling Gourmet” but somebody has to do it…


I am in the Press Lounge writing this…after a satisfying lunch in the waiter service Ristorante Club 89 of Gnocchetti Sardi con Salome e Gamberi (prawns), very traditional tender Vitello (veal) caressed with Salsa Tonnato (tuna sauce) spiked with piquant capers. Dessert was Macedonia, which is essentially fresh fruit salad…The pasta went very well with garnet coloured Lamberti DOC Bardolino 2012 wine.

IMG_9601 Gorgeous Gnochetti Sardi!


Clissique Vitello con Salsa Tonnato!



It’s a terrible job being The Travelling GourmetTM but somebody has to do it…:-)

Economic cutbacks oder…

In past editions of Vinitaly, the Press Lounge was really cool with food, biscotti, cakes, panini (sandwiches) and wine, but alas this year there was only freshly made Izzo coffee and fruit juices! No chocolates even! Oh Madonna! Male! The Press need a lot of nourishment you know! The baristas furiously made Cappuccino, Macchiato, Latte and of course, the ubiquitous strong Espresso in tiny cups…


Fortified by my Izzo Doppio Espresso, I went to see my very likeable and very dear friend Antonio. A true gentleman I am honoured to call my good friend!  Dapper, smart and sprightly Antonio Nardini is the 7th generation of the Nardini famiglia who has produced the finest Grappa since 1779.


Salute! 🙂

In fact, Nardini Grappa was the favourite Grappa of Nobel Prize Laureate Ernest Hemingway. The oldest Grapperia in the world, Nardini is located in Bassano del Grappa near the border with Austria. Not many know this, but Ernest Hemingway’s semi-autobiographical book “A Farewell to Arms” was set in Bassano del Grappa. Antonio was in a jolly mood and he asked, “Try my latest Grappas!” It was an offer I could not refuse. “I want to make it in such a way so you can do a ‘vertical tasting’ of Grappa like wine…” I liked the Aquavite di Vinaccia Grappa Riserva with 60% alcohol by volume. That is 20% MORE than the normal Grappa. Its amber colour from the 3 years aging in Salvonian oak barrels gave me a clue as to its elegant, very clean nose and taste of gingerbread with tannin notes. Another Grappa I like a lot is the Grappa with Ruta that has 43% abv. It is infused with branches of the Rue plant (Ruta graveolens). Rue was used by the ancient Romans and is reputed to have therapeutic and aphrodisiac properties! There is also the clear and crystalline normal Grappa with 40% abv that is not aged in oak, plus more expressive 40% Grappa aged in oak for comparison. A classic cocktail is Mezzo e Mezzo concocted with Grappa and Rabarbaro!




Sicily Winemakers’ Gala Dinner was…

in the Palazzo Castellani Sermiti next to the historic Castelvecchio. This was where the Sicilian wine producers were there to welcome the guests with lots of wine and food! It was the Degustazione dei Vini di Sicilia IGT Gala Dinner.



The Palazzo has buildings dating back the Middle Ages and has been restored recently. The entrance hall has tall ionic columns with imposing paintings of the 17th Century.

Before the wine tasting dinner I had a lot of time to burn because I had arrived at the Palazzo way too early!


I decided to take a relaxing stroll and sojourn to the serene & tranquil garden. It was very nice just to chill out and listen to the birds singing merrily as the sun slowly set.



I spent time too just chatting with the Chef who was busily preparing the food. Then other guests began arriving. In Italy, people are normally not ‘kann cheong’ (excited and jumpy) like in Singapore. They are normally quite laid back and relaxed, and I have attended many wine dinners that started at 8pm and ended at 1am the next day! To the Italians, unlike the Germans…punctuality is not a big issue…

There were wines from 63 Sicilian wineries to taste with lots of food. Of course, that famous Veronese speciality of fresh Cavallo Tartare or raw Horsemeat was on offer, and Beef Tartare too! Yummie!

IMG_9647 The busy Chef preparing Horsemeat Tartare…Beef Tartare is darker red in colour! Yummie!!!

I loved the Antipasti of Zucchini Flower Fritters which is a lot like tempura. Scallops and pasta too. For dessert, that most typical Sicilian dessert…Cannoli filled with Crema di Vaniglia.

Some of the wineries represented were Cantina Vinicola Furnarese di Antonino Cambria, Maremonti S.A.S. di Abbate Salvatore, Martinez SRL, Don Tomasi SRL, Casa Vinicola Calatrasi SPA, Feudo Montoni di Fabio Sireci, Alagna Azienda Agricola and more…One wine impressed me. It was the Primo Amore dessert wine from Sicilia. Baglio dei Venicotteri organic winery’s Passito di Noto DOC is lovingly crafted with 100% Moscato di Noto grapes. Insanely invigorating notes of toffee, fudge, candied caramelised orange and lemon peel make it excellent with Sicilian Cassata semi-freddo, Tiramisu and pan-seared Foie gras!





Wine tasting and dinner in the Grand Hall of Palazzo Castellini Sermiti


7th April, 2014

Arriving at Vinitaly bright and early, I went to as many wineries as I could, so as to taste and study as many wines as possible. I started in the International Buyer’s Lounge by pairing a sparkling Lambrusco wine with tart & savoury Asagio cheese! Start your day with a sparkle! 🙂


In Hall 1, there were wines and olives and cheeses all produced in the Organic and Biodynamic way. This was Vinitalybio, which featured biodynamic and organic wines and products like pesto and olives.I was very pleased to try Organic Wine and Olives and Olive Pesto from Sommariva Tradizione Agricola. Yummie! The crisp and refreshing biodynamic wines and very tasty olive pesto offered by the pretty and lovely manager of Sommariva Tradizione Agricola was very impressive. I found the white Sommariva Tradizione Agricola Pigato di Albenga DOC 2012 and red Rosese Riviera Ligure DOC  2012 to be fresh, simple, palate friendly wines. The wines were made from grapes harvested from organic vineyards. I also took the opportunity to try organic Pesto made with olives and Genovese Basil, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and olives too. Organic products and wines are all the rage now…




Fans of the movie “The Da Vinci Code” starring Tom Hanks will know the Illuminati as a ruthless and very dangerous secret society. However, Dino Illuminati of Illuminati Wines told me he only produces appealing wines, like Zanna Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva DOCG 2008. The wine shows an intense ruby red colour and the terroir from the old vines showed in the flavours of dried fruits, sultanas and blackberries with a bouquet of dried flowers.

The Sherries were in the WRONG order!

I was looking forward to a special tasting of Sherry sponsored by Vinitaly in the Sala Vininternational Hall, which cost 20 Euros. It was in the afternoon. It was to be a guided tasting by Jane Parkinson, IWSC’s Communicator of the Year 2014. Sad to say, it was the MOST unprofessional and disorganised tasting I have ever attended and I have attended many all over the world. It started very late instead of the scheduled time of 1515. The glasses were not ISO wine glasses used in wine judging, and they were laid out in a semi-circle instead of in a straight line. The worst part came when I noticed with a shock that the Sherries being poured was in the WRONG order compared to the list of the 6 award winning Sherries with tasting notes given to participants! I know my Sherries. No one else noticed this and they merrily tasted the Sherries…Some swallowed the Sherries instead of spitting it out in the crachoir! I brought this up to the Sommelier pouring the Sherry and to Jane Parkinson herself. Jane clearly DID NOT know the Sherries were all in the wrong tasting order! When Jane finally realised this, she tried to brush it off in a cavalier fashion and even said with an embarassed laugh, “A case of sherry will be sent to that gentleman (meaning me) next week..who noticed the mistake.” Of course, it was nonsense and no one sent me any Sherry. For example, the 3rd Sherry tasted was the last Sherry on the list, and the 5th Sherry tasted was really the second Sherry on the list, and so on. Most confusing! And most unprofessional! Everyone was confused , including myself. And this from IWSC’s Communicator of the Year??? I was not impressed and not amused. It actually made me late for an interview with an important Winemaker. People who do not know how to do proper tastings should leave it to the professionals, or better still learn how to do it properly! To quote that classic line from the classic movie starring Paul Newman, “Cool Hand Luke”. “What we got here is…failure to communicate.” 

I was very glad to leave the IWSC tasting as soon as possible and rushed over quickly to catch Leonardo Leuci Artruro the mixologist/bartender. Leonardo was the Celebrity Mixologist making cocktails with Nardini Grappa at the Nardini stand. His “1920s Prohibition” Bar in Rome is called the Jerry Thomas Speakeasy. Jerry Thomas is reputed to have created the first modern day Martini cocktail way back in 1887! It was known as the Martinez back then, but now we know it better as the ubiquitous Martini. Antonio Nardini explained with a cheeky chuckle, “People always ask me what’s the difference between a mixologist and a bartender? I tell them…the mixologist is the one with a lot of  tattoos everywhere!” Ha! Ha! 🙂

Oh Madonna! So many wines but so little time!

It is always absolutely amazing to see how HUGE Vinitaly is. Wines from every region of Italy are showcased here, and also wines from other countries like France, Germany and the USA to name just a few. It takes energy and stamina to walk from hall to hall to taste and analyse the mind boggling array of wines!

All in all, working very hard, I was happy to discover and taste many winsome & wonderful wines and spirits in the 48th Edtion of VINITALY in vibrant Verona.

They included:


It was wonderful to meet my good friend, Gianluca Bisol, the Chairman of Bisol Winery. Gianluca told me about his new partnership with Gruppo Ferrari who produce sparkling and still wines. I told him I had read about it in Il Corriere della Sera newspaper, the day before. Bisol produces premium Prosecco di Valdobbiadene which are simply splendid sparkling wines that are not so acidic as they are made by the Charmant method. I was pleased to taste their new No Sulphur Dioxide Prosecco. The silver bottle had the label proclaiming “NO SO2”! Generale Isidoro Furlan the Polizia Commandante who likes Bisol wines a lot was also there for some wine tasting…

IMG_9661 The Travelling Gourmet and friends…I always appreciate my good friends in high…and low places…





It is always a pleasure to taste the most extraordinary il “Vino della pace” 2012 and 2000 wines with ravishing, intelligente and molto bellissima Lucia Fontana of Cantina Produttori Cormons with her soft and silky blond hair and classic Romanesque features. 


“Vino della pace” translated from the Italian actually means the ‘Wine of Peace’. Produced from vineyards along the River Isonzo which is open to the meso-climate of the Adriatic sea comes a wine from the “Vineyard of the World”. This unique wine is a blend of not one, not two, not three, but…955 different grape varietals!!! Pancho Tinto, Schwarze Traube, Koshu 4N, Espadeiro,  and Brancelino are but a few of the different grapes used to craft this wine. With trembling fingers I raised the glass to my lips and sipped…This most unusual wine, namely the 2000 vendemmia (vintage) is splendidly redolent with the sheen of yellow gold and exhibits floral notes of WILD HONEY, ACACIA FLOWERS, MINERALS plus lovely fresh acidity. Amazingly complex…On the palate, flavours of the Marasuilo herb from Puglia plus raisins and toasted walnuts. Sheer ecstacy! 




When Massotina first came on the market in Singapore I gave the presentation on their range of wines at the Festa di Primavera organised by the Italian Trade Commission. Federico dal Bianco, son of Massotina’s owner let me taste his award winning Rive di Ogliano Prosecco Contrada Granda Millesimato Brut from a single vineyard which had a charming citrus and lemon bouquet plus nice acidity with nutty flavours.

Marchesi di Barolo

I tasted some really lovely wines with the Marchesi di Barolo family. They are the oldest winemakers for Barolo wines in the Barolo area with some premium vineyards. I was most pleased to see my good friend…charming, tanned and bellissima Valentina Abbona. Valentina, the 6th Generation daughter of Anna, is as ravishing as her full bodied, well balanced and voluptuous wines.



The Travelling Gourmet with Valentina and her Mama

IMG_9620 Cannubi wine with samples of the soil of the vineyard from which the grapes are used to make the wine.

I like the Cannubi Barolo 2009 very much. The seductive red wine had the appearance of a hunk of deep purple beetroot and tasted of frutti di bosco (forest berries) and mixed spice. Another beautiful wine is their Marchesi powerful di Barolo Barbera d’Alba Peiragal 2011 with 14.5% abv.


The Nonino famiglia is rightly famous for their Grappa and I spent many happy moments tasting their Grappa and Grappa cocktails. Giannola and vivacious Antonella explained to me all about their Moscato Grappa and Tradizione Grappa 41 which also tastes very good in cocktails like “Antonella”. “Antonella” is made with Grappa Nonino Monovitigno Chardonnay in barriques, Limoncello, Amaretto and Galliano. Moscato Grappa has intriguing spicy citrus and floral notes. There are also Chocolate pralines filled with…yes! Grappa!


IMG_9669 The Travelling Gourmet with Antonella Nonino and her Mama

Salute! 🙂


Lucia Paladin, Paladin’s GM and I go back a long way and she welcomed me warmly at the Paladin stand. Here I tasted her wines with some very thick and tasty slices of ueber yummie Mortadella! I particularly liked the Chianti Classico Capotondo 2010 from the Paladin estate’s Tenute di Castelvecchi in Tuscany. A deep ruby colour and addictive flavours of frutti di bosco (fruits of the forest) plus mixed spice make this red wine a perfect companion for venison, duck and a great big juicy steak done ‘medium’!

Castello Banfi

Sampling Castello Banfi’s best wines with Rodolfo Maralli, Sales & Marketing Director in the VIP area of the stand was most rewarding. The Cum Laude 2009 (with honours) has 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese and 15% Syrah. Seductive nuances of plum jam, blackberries, licorice and cherries, soft tannins and good balance make it a joy to drink. This wine has the voluptuousness of sexy Cameron Diaz…with the elegance of Audrey Hepburn. The Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004 is another lovely wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. A powerful robust wine that has soft silky tannins. I also tasted Castello Banfi Poggio All’Oro Brunello di Montalcino 2007 with an intriguing nose of Proscuitto di Parma!


A tavola non s’invecchia! With mio amico Rodolfo

Villa Sandi

Villa Sandi produce premum wines and  enticing sparkling Proseccos! A favourite of mine is the Vigna la Rivetta Cartizze DOCG, which I tasted with my friend, the winemaker, Giancarlo Moretti Polegato. A fine and persistent perlage plus lively acids and lovely brioche notes make this so good with lobster and seafood dishes like my good friend, 3 Michelin Star Chef Heinz Beck’s Risotto with Oysters! This limited production wine is made from the Glera grapes harvested from the 1.5 hectare Vigna La Rivetta estate, in the very heart of the 106.8 hectares of the renowned Cartizze area. It was awarded the Tre Bicchieri (3 glasses) Gambero Rosso 2014, the 4th time in a row!

Villa Sandi

Please remember to make a note in your diary or android that the 49th edition of Vinitaly is scheduled for the 22-25 March 2015 at Veronafiere.

Wine is like a ravishing woman who attracts you, entices you, teases you and ultimately seduces you…There is no better place to taste and learn about wines than Vinitaly! Life is like Gelato, enjoy it before it melts… 🙂

Watch and enjoy Franco Zeferreli’s classic movie “Romeo and Juliet” at the link below


Hotel, Centro Congressi, Ristorante, SPA
Via Portogallo 1/P – 37069 Villafranca di Verona (VR) VINITALY – the LARGEST WINE Exhibition in the World! Bravo! 🙂

About thetravellinggourmet

As a renowned Travel, Food & Wine Writer he has travelled the world in a keen & indomitable pursuit of exotic delicacies & fine wines. His articles have been published in over 20 prestigious publications, both local & international. Dr. Lim has toured and trained in Wine Evaluation & Oenology in most of the world's top wine producing areas from France to Australia. The Travelling Gourmet says, "Gastronomy has no frontier. These are the gastronomic voyages of The Travelling Gourmet. My unending mission. To explore strange new cuisines, to seek out new wines and new culinary experiences, to boldly go where no gourmet has gone before...." Have pen, will travel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any other information storage & retrieval system, without permission from Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet and/or MSN. Material may be works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents may be true but may also be products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance whatsoever to actual person or persons, either dead or living, events, or locales may be entirely and purely coincidental and unintentional. No part of this website may be used to villify others or for criminal purposes. Interests: Travel, Food, Wines, Cooking, Wine Appreciation, Parachuting, Languages, Music, Reading, Swimming, Hunting, Ballet, Fencing, Archery, Anthropology and more... The Travelling Gourmet is a copyrighted trademark. All rights and photos reserved. No part may be reproduced without permission.
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