Throwback to an oasis called Borgoluce

On depressive rainy days like today, the thing I like to do most is to go through all the mental pictures I have from our last summer holidays. Days filled with happiness and lots of sunshine on our faces resulting in instant smiles. I do like colder weather, but let’s be honest everybody prefers spring and summer over autumn and especially over winter (although I do like the extra time inside the house during these periods).

We spend our last summer, that is only 1 month ago but feels like at least a year ago, in the recently UNESCO protected “Prosecco” region aka the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene region. This region is 20km up North from the Treviso airport. Most people would only know Treviso from flying to Venice with Ryanair as that’s the town where they land. It is a pity that most of those many people landing in Treviso immediately get in a bus towards Venice and don’t take the time to visit the charming city of Treviso. It is true that before actually visiting this region (and even when was already there for the holidays) I had already had prejudices about the town not being very nice to visit… but BOY WAS I WRONG. We actually went back 3 times during our holidays as we just loved wondering around in this beautiful little town with lots of cozy corners and streets with little canals in-between them (with the mandatory ice-cream in our hands).

A place we got to call home for 2 weeks was a beautiful 2 floor 3 bedroom apartment in the equally beautiful 1200Ha domain of Borgoluce.  Borgluce is an Azienda Agricola that was founded 10 years ago by the Noble Collalto family. I specifically added the ‘azienda agricola’ as although myself and many other people mostly know Borgoluce for their very nice Prosseco , they make soooo much more besides the Prosecco. The question would rather be what don’t they make 😊 . I remember tasting their entry level Prosecco called Lampo and immediately liking it and 9 years later still having at least a few bottles of  both the Lampo and their Prosecco BRUT DOCG in my fridge.  A year ago when I was breaking my head on where to go on summer holidays this year, it was actually my brother mentioning that Borgoluce also had an Agriturismo. When consulting their website both myself and my wife were immediately sold and immediately booked a room. I did also appreciate it a lot from them to call me to check with us which room or apartment would be most fitting for me and my family to have the ultimate time upon our stay at the farm. A few weeks later they had even renovated all their B&B rooms and apartments, so that made us even more impatient to be there.  Not that I specifically look for a holiday place where they make wines, but if they do that only makes it better 😉

As I mentioned it was only 10 years ago that 2 of 5 sisters of the Collalto family decided they wanted to not only continue the wine making their family had been doing for many decades before, but also start farming in ecological and sustainable way.  In those years they have made enormous progression… it is true the fact they already had over 1200Ha of land at their disposal helped, but nevertheless the products don’t make themselves and especially not high quality. Besides the grapes from which they both make Prosecco and still wines they also have around 400 buffalos, pigs, cows and chickens they both use for their milk as for their meat. On top of that they also have olive trees, beehives, lots of wheat. Again all made and handled  with respect for nature. If you would see the space these animals have between the Conegliano Hills… they have a huge amount of space.  Over the years the Collalto sister in collaboration with experts in their domain they have studied the best ways to be as respectful to nature and sustainable. I can only give them my upmost admiration and respect as they have done an incredible job and the circle is round. If you would ever get the chance to visit I’m sure you’ll agree 100% with me.

If you would see the amount of both local as non-local people that pass by the little factory shop to buy their charcuterie, meats, wines, honey or dairy products like freshly made (every morning) yoghurt, ricotta or mozzarella (made from Buffalo milk) you immediately know the quality has to be there. Especially when you see older Italian ladies (la Mama or Nonna) in the shop as they are very very picky on products as they only want to use the best. When you tasted their fresh mozzarella, the ones you buy prepackaged in the supermarket won’t do the trick anymore 😊 😊

The fact they had 3 bedroom apartments and did help us to decide to go there, the fact they made wine was an extra bonus, but that they also had a local shop with own products, a Frasca and an Osteria where you could eat their products only made that more checkboxes were ticked. The only thing that didn’t convince me 100% was the natural pool (there you go, I said it). Even now that I’ve stayed there, it might be the only thing that I didn’t like the most… but I’m sure it is me, as both my kids and my wife loved it. The oasis of silence you have at Borgoluce (far away from all the noise (besides the ones products by my children))  is so relaxing and kinda addictive, because when you come back home you have to get used to all the hard noises and sounds again. Even now some nights when I lay in bed I close my eyes and imagine I’m back in the garden together with my wife (children already sleeping) at Borgoluce with a nice glass of Prosecco in our hands enjoying the sound of silence and grasshoppers overlooking the beautiful hills while the sun goes down…. That for me is what holiday is all about and the thing I love thinking of on rainy depressive days like today.

Before I leave you to it, I do want to say something about Prosecco 😊 as I find it a shame don’t see prosecco as a high quality product (the same actually goes for the Spanish nephew Cava). I think most of those people just didn’t try the right prosecco yet and only drunk some of the mass products that are out there and went for the cheapest bottle instead of for the bottle that might only cost 2EUR more and probably is more qualitative. A few posts ago I did mention that Franciacorta and Prosecco are not the same thing. Which is true, first of all because they are made from a different grape. In fact you should not even be comparing those 2 or even with other bubbled drinks as they are all different in some way although they all have bubbles… it is all about drinking the drinking the good ones 😊 which is something personal (obviously) and different for everybody, but for me Borgoluce’s Proseccos can definitely be seen as reference for a good Prosecco with the good quality/price balance.

Just by writing this article I can already feel the sun shining on my face

Italian road trip 2016: all good things come to end

We might be on our way to visit the last vineyard, but that doesn’t make it less worth it!! The last vineyard we would visit on white wine Saturday and even from our trip was Sandro de Bruno at the eastern side of Verona. As we arrived a bit early at our destination we decided to already check-in at our B&B (named La Dolce vita :-)) Once we arrived we also found out it was the perfect spot to stop after lunch and have a little siesta before visiting our last vineyard. I guess the picture below gives you an idea about oasis of piece we arrived at. Another great news fact, we still had some room left in the trunk of our car for more wine 🙂 🙂

Il paradiso

Not that we were stressed, but you would be surprised how tiring visiting and tasting can get. I can definitely recommend the B&B as they also have a very nice breakfast and very friendly hosts. The B&B was also only 1km away from the Sandro de Bruno vineyard, so we had all the time in the world as it would only take us a minute to get there for our visit.

Sandro de Bruno

The Sandro de Bruno winery saw the daylight in the year 2000, so you would think it is a young winery. It’s not! In reality the winery is already making wine  since 1930 or better current owner Sandro’s dad and his dad’s 2 brothers were making wine since 1930… Sandro changed the name of the winery  in the year 2000(when he took over and after buying the parts of his uncles) as a tribute to his dad into ‘Sandro de Bruno’ which comes from Sandro ‘son of’ Bruno… it is as simple as that 🙂

Sandro de Bruno produces different kinds of wine, but 2 of them are their trademark wines (I think that’s the best way to call them) : the Soave and the Durello. Let’s first start with the Durello (or Durella how the grape is actually called) a DOC wine, meaning the Durello can only come from a specific area in this case from the area between the provinces of Verona and Vicenza (DOCG would mean it would need to come from a specific town or more specified area and only from that place like chianti or Barolo, or Amarone, etc…). The Durello/Durella grape is a strong  autochthonic grape variety. Strong because it is said to be disease resistant and grows best on a soil composed of lime and clay of volcanic origin. Indeed volcanic origin… I was surprised to find out that the area we were at has a volcanic origin… I didn’t know the area used to be volcanic. Another remarkable characteristic of the grape is the thick and leathery skin (may be the reason for it name as ‘duro’ means hard in Italian). What I’ve learned from tasting other wines that come from volcanic areas is that they have lots of minerality in them. For the Durello this isn’t any different. Something fascinating is that there are around 500 growers growing the grape variety but only I0 of them actually bottle the wine of which Sandro de Bruno is 1. Because of its high level of acidity the grape is 99% used to make spumante wines.  At the nose you notice lots of white flowers and minerality. It combines nature and freshness and its character lends itself good to be paired with seafood I think 🙂 I’ll have it a try at home… according to Sandro it pairs great with codfish alla Vicentina.


At our visit we did see Sandro, but as he and his wife had to go to Genova it was Andrea (who was about our age) who showed us around the winery. At all vineyards we were received with open arms, at Sandro de Bruno it at some point felt like we were just having a drink with a friend at a bar or so 🙂 It felt so relaxed!!

Sandro de Bruno Sandro de Bruno 2 Sandro de Bruno 3 Sandro de Bruno4

Soave as I mentioned is their 2nd most important wine.  For me Soave has always been around, but never got the attention it deserved.  Soave was produced in a medium-bodied style that was often compared to Chardonnay, except with a distinct bitter almond note. In most cases people in that case chose a bottle of chardonnay over one of Soave  or at least this until the end of the 90’s as since the 21st century trends have been turning and now Soave is the new Pinot Grigio in the US 🙂 Basically a wine everybody wants to drink + it must be said that producers like Sandro de Bruno and others in the region have worked very hard to make the opinions turn!!  The main grape variety that has to be present in Soave wine is Garganega , but can be blend with Trebbiano di Soave and Chardonnay. The Garganega grape also lends itself well to produce sweet recioto (who knows maybe they could even make a White Amarone if they let it ferment more 🙂 ) wines that have the potential to improve with bottle age for a decade or more.  Garganega can make classic white wines, both complex and satisfying!  Sandro de Bruno has 2 kinds of Soave, a regular (DOC) and a superiore (DOCG). Although I like both, I have a slight preference for the superiore, maybe because it has been in wooden barrels and therefore has more body, whereas the DOC Soave only saw stainless steel thanks… Let me say it like this, the DOC would be perfect as apero in your garden, the DOCG Superiore is more appropriate with food. as it has a broader aroma and complexity (and again the nice minerality)… and is rounder (good with white meat).  It are definitely very good wines with a very good price/quality ratio!! Also the bottles I bought at the vineyard are already finished… so I guess I like them

Soave superiore

What I find amazing is that on every bottle of Sandro de Bruno, is that all info on the wine can be found on the back label. Info like best served with which dishes, the best temperature to serve it, which grapes used, etc… basically a simplified technical sheet :-).  Also every bottle is numbered, although I don’t remember why that was 😦 nevertheless the content in the bottle is nectar of the Gods!!

Thanks Andrea for the tour and Sandro for making such great wines!! Hope to see you soon. In case you would have questions regarding the wine, you can contact Sandro de Bruno or for Belgium you can check with Alex from The Vine.  Sad enough our trip ended after this visit…but they gave us a wonderful dinner advise that was maybe the best from our whole trip!! if you would ever be in the neighborhood do stop at il Convivio!!!! A true  hidden treasure!! I also know the bottle you see on the picture (and that we had) from during our meal isn’t one from Sandro de Bruno, but as we had already been tasting their wines whole afternoon I was also keen on finding out which other great wines they had in the area…

Il convivio

I can’t wait for the next wine trip with my buddy Carlos!! Always a pleasure to travel with him…. Although I’m now first travelling with my lovely wife and baby girl to Friuli!

Verona, more than Romeo and Juliet

First of all, sorry that I haven’t been posting for a while… the reason for that was that I needed to study for an exam related to my job and therefore not too much time was left to write blogs. BUT  the good news is, that I passed the exam and that I can now blog again 🙂

This I want to talk to you guys about one of my favorite cities in Italy, Verona. You know, the city of Romeo and Juliet…. Although this city and the region around it has so much more to offer than Shakespeare’s tragic love story. Like lots of Italian cities, Verona is also filled with history. Did you know that Verona has an arena like the Coliseum  that is still used today ? An absolute must would be seeing Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aida , even for people who don’t really have a thing for opera, you cannot believe the magic hanging in this Verona Arena on summer evenings filled with lights. Trust me, this is an experience you DO NOT want to miss.

Like I said before, most people know Verona as the city of Romeo and Juliet, so a visit to the famous balcony won’t hurt anybody J FYI, it is said that it brings luck if you touch Juliet’s boob 🙂 I’m sure you’ll know which one to touch, as that is one shiiiiiiny  boob 🙂

Verona is an open-air museum, every street holds hidden treasures, not that I’m somebody who wants to know where every stone of an ancient building was made, but if something is beautiful… it just is 🙂 like piazza delle erbe, piazza dei Signori, etc…  Although I have to admit that the charm Piazza delle erbe had before with the open-air market  is not there anymore, as they now replaced it with some fixed souvenir stalls… but good things the buildings around it are still breathtaking beautiful

Walking and actually being in this city always makes me happy, and not only because of the thought I’ll be having great food :-). Speaking of which 🙂 🙂 This is another reason to come to Verona (but this I could say for a lot of places in Italy).

Especially the wine, as man do they have great wines with the Amarone as the ‘top’ of the bill . The reason this wine is so special, is that after the grapes are picked they dry the grapes in wooden boxes and with the juice that they catch they make the Amarone, with the grapes left in the box they make the Ripassa or Ripasso  (which means re-use). My preferred Valpolicella vineyards (this is the region where Amarone gets made) would be Buglioni , Le Salette  and from the bigger producers it would be Masi and Allegrini. Other great wines from this region are Bardolino, Lugana (white) and Soave (white), but I’m sure Bardolino sounds the most familiar (as the town is right at the Garda lake). I would really advise you to visit one of the vineyards!! The vineyard of Masi is quite impressive.

In case you are a true wine lover, I’ve got something even better. Every year around March/April all the Italian (and also a lot of foreign) vineyards  set sail to VinItaly. Vinitaly is one of the most important and biggest wine trade fairs around  and more the 4000 exhibitors are present for over 50 000 visitors from over the whole world. I’ve already been a lot of times to this trade fair, and it is impressive and I highly recommend to already plan which wine houses you want to visit at the fair. (and to keep eating while you taste, you’ll thank me at the end of the event 😉 )

Who says wine, says food 🙂  they just have to go together  (for me anyway). Did you know that Verona is also the town where Giovanni Rana (from the ravioli you in supermarkets) comes from and you can find a restaurant from Rana right across the Arena, where you can see how they freshly make the pasta …. I’ve not been here yet though …

When I go to Verona, there are only 2 restaurants/osteria’s I want to go to. There are probably a lot of great restaurants, but these who are just tooooooo good and NOT touristy and that is what is all about when you’re somewhere!

The first one is the ‘Taverna di via Stella’, this is also my dad’s favorite restaurant in Verona, every year we were at VinItaly we had to have at least 1 meal here 🙂 . It might look a simple place, but the food is wonderful  (local cuisine) and a very good choice of wines local and non-local ,but I always go for local wines.  Look at the picture below, if you don’t feel like going when seeing that picture or open the website… I don’t know what will convince you? (just picture that ham on a plate with a glass of Amarone, mmmm)

My other place of sins I love going is actually the Osteria del bugiardo  from vineyard Buglioni.  .Fresh made food with great Buglioni wines, the best combination.  Like Taverna di via stella, this is also a place where only local Italians come … and you can also buy their wine here in case you want to take some home  (I like the Ripasso and Valpolicella superiore) . For even more refined dining you could also go to their Locanda in the evening .

Go to these two and you’ll have the best of Verona without any doubt!

For those who would want to sleep in or around Verona, I would suggest to maybe try an agriturismo.

One that I want to a few times was ‘El Pendola’ where Anna Maria tries to make you feel at home. And she really succeeds in this, as I really feel at home every time I stay there.  Buglioni also has a very nice agriturismo .

Or what we mostly do with my dad is stay at the Garda Lake, than you’ll have a room with a view 🙂 and a lot of nice places to visit. We already stayed at Hotel Excelsior  which has an incredible view over the lake and is only 15 min. drive (or less depending on traffic) from Verona.

You can maybe do the Strade del vino (Bardolino), but I’ll be posting about the Garda lake really soon.

Hope you feel like going to Verona.