Interestingly, you’ll be able to taste the same grape variety cultivated in different soils and climates. The tour covers Friuli’s wine region of Isonzo del Friuli and then, in Slovenia, we visit the wine area of Primorska. The culture and gastronomy of these areas are equally as diverse as their wines, and offer a mixture sure to tempt every palate. We look forward to exploring their unique tastes and traditions.
Rich history and diverse cultural influences have left their mark on this northeast area of Italy and Slovenia. Stunning alpine views mix well with this Italian region’s turbulent military past, which centres around the walled city of Udine, where refuge was found from Turkish and Saracen raids.
Influenced by a mix of Slavic, central European and Venetian cooking traditions, these areas have a host of dishes for us to try. Typically, you’ll find polenta is popular, cooked and served in a variety of ways. Another dish to try would be gubana, which is dried fruit wrapped in dough.
Friuli has an outstanding reputation for its white wines, and the area uses a mix of both local and international grapes to great success. Some of the best dessert wines come from this area and one to look out for is a Ramandolo. The Primorska region is renowned for exceptional strong, dry wines such as Rebula, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, to name but a few.
Departing London for Venice, where on arrival we will take our coach transfer through the charming and historic town of Udine, to our hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore. Wander the colourful, ancient streets and discover the Piazza Liberta or the Piazza Matteotti, which is surrounded by porticoes that give it a unique open-air lounge atmosphere. Enjoy the Duomo or the Gallerie del Tiepolo (the Patriarchal Palace) with its collection of Giambattista Tiepolo masterpieces. In the evening, we’ll gather for welcome drinks and a wonderful Italian dinner.
After breakfast, we start our day with a cellar tour and tasting within the DOC area, Isonzo at Masùt da Rive. The good soils and excellent temperature variations create a unique mix for some very excellent white wine, and wines from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay have pushed this region in to the spotlight. The traditional reds tend to have softer, rounder flavours. Fine examples include Malvasia Istriana, Friulano and Pinot Bianco. After a lunch at your leisure to enjoy some of the local cuisine – risotto is particularly good in this area and works very well with the region’s wines – we will enjoy a visit to a beautiful countryside villa for further tastings. Dinner this evening is included at a nearby restaurant.
Today’s tour delves further into this fantastic region by visiting Vie di Romans in the heart of the Isonzo, which produces different styles of mainly white wines. The intensity of the Pinot Grigio (100% barrel fermented) is quite a surprise to those used to the rather bland interpretations of this variety in the UK. After our tasting, we depart for a lunch at a nearby restaurant, Livio Felluga, before finishing the day’s visits with a free afternoon. Tonight, we enjoy a lavish dinner, where we can surely enjoy further wines that have been selected to complement our menu.
Today we make our way to Slovenia after breakfast. We cross the border for our first visit in the Primorska region, at Edi Simcic. This area is particularly beautiful with the steep-sided mountains gracefully rising from the deep green of the River Soca. The soils are rich with salts and minerals, which add to the full-bodied and fresh whites. Edi Simcic uses barrel fermentation – even for his whites. We are privileged to taste his complex yet smooth wines at the estate. From here, we continue to an included lunch at a local restaurant, where we can savour some typical specialities. Look out for the popular Pršut, a type of prosciutto served with bread, olives and red wine called Teran. After our group lunch, we head to Ljubljana to check in to our hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure. Ljubljana retains its small-town feel despite it being a mid-sized city. Enjoy your evening with a wander along the banks of the Ljubljana River and enjoy the ornate bridges and picturesque outdoor cafés, or perhaps visit the ancient castle.
After breakfast, Vipava Valley is our morning destination. The valley runs between the towns of Nova Gorica and Vipava, and offers amazing scenery of rolling hills, ruined castles, beautiful Gothic churches and charming villages. Keep a hand on your hat as this area has a strong north-easterly ‘buja’ wind, which can blow up to 240kph – known for creating the famous wind-swept vines. This unique climate has created a vibrant viticulture that stretches as far back as the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Heading north, we explore one of the most picturesque lakes in Europe – Lake Bled – where we stop at a local restaurant for an included lunch. This afternoon, we enjoy a boat tour and then it’s our final dinner together as a group.
We enjoy a leisurely breakfast and slower start this morning. After checking out of the hotel, we are treated to a guided gastronomic tour in Ljubljana. We later depart for our return journey back to the UK.
Lys is an established lecturer on the wines of Europe and is an expert on those from both Italy and Spain. She has a degree in Art History and a love of Mediterranean history. Lys ran her own wine tour company for over ten years and her vast experience will undoubtedly enhance your enjoyment of the tour.