Archive for the Niccone Valley Category

A Visit To The Preggio Vineyard

In the last year I have met Elena Vezzoli of Azienda Agricola Biologica Preggio at several local wine tastings. Elena has a two hectare vineyard with her husband Bruno and make around 9000 bottles of wine a year, two thirds of the production is red and one third white. Whilst I thought both wines were good, I was seriously impressed with the white, made with the local Grechetto grape and asked if I could visit their property to find out more.

Preggio is a hill top village above the Niccone Valley, the vineyard is just over 2km from the centre of the village, the only way there is by going through Preggio and taking a track at the back of the village (it starts behind the church) that descends towards the Pian di Marte. In case you are wondering car access from the other direction (the Pian di Marte) is not possible as the track below the farm has been cut off by a landslip. If you are staying in the Niccone Valley it is easy to visit and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wines, it’s worth phoning or emailing ahead to check someone will be in.

Bruno and Elena moved here from Bergamo near Milan having run a computer business and a four-wheel drive camper van dealership. The property they bought came with a small, old vineyard with red and white vines planted together. They made some wine from this vineyard but decided it would be best to start afresh, planting mainly Grechetto (white) and Sangiovese (red) with a little Incrocio Manzoni, a hybrid grape variety created by Prof. Luigi Manzoni in the 1930’s and grown widely in the north of Italy. The vines are at around 500m altitude on south and south west facing slopes making this a perfect site for quality wine production.

Their wines are in all but name organic, the actual winemaking takes place at the Donini cantina in Trestina around 25km away, because this cellar is not certified organic, the wines can’t be labelled as such. We tried five wines, four of which are available commercially. We started off with a 2013 Incrocio Manzoni, put out under an Umbria Bianco IGT label. Delicately perfumed and flavoured with a pleasant acidity in the mouth, the only trouble with this wine (which Bruno pointed out) was the unflattering name of the grape, roughly translating as Manzoni’s Hybrid.

We then tried Grechetto from 2013 and 2014, as I said in the introduction, I’m really impressed with this wine, I found the nose quite hard to describe, deciding eventually on “grassy” with some yellow flower petals. The 2013 was fuller and more rounded in the mouth but Bruno was confident that the 2014 would develop in a similar manner given another year in the bottle. Both whites had a pleasant freshness and the 2013, in particular, had a notable minerality.

Going back to Incrocio Manzoni, we tried a white that had been macerated (left on the skins). The nose on this wine was like nothing I had ever smelled before and the tannic feel in the mouth was something of a surprise for a white wine. Bruno explained that the tannins acted as an antioxidant and meant that you could use a very low level of sulphites. I could see the appeal of this wine, it went very well with a piece of cheese, but accepted Bruno’s explanation that marketing such an unusual wine to consumers would be a difficult task. Elena explained that there is a small following of devotees for macerated white wines and, in the future, their limited amount of Incrocio Manzoni is likely to be used in this way.

Then it was on to the red wines, both 2013 Sangiovese with different amounts of oak ageing. Both had a lively acidity, the first, aged for 1 month in a 2000 litre barrel and costing €8, had a very subtle amount of oak which had left me confused when trying it at home on an earlier occasion, it looks like an un-oaked wine and the smell of cherries dominates the subtle note of sweet spice in the background. The second red had spent 15 months in the barrel and was still unlabelled, it will be released in a few weeks from now. With this wine, the spice was noticeable and I thought it was a good buy at €10. Neither wines were what you would call full bodied reds but were wines that I would happily recommend. Elena thinks that these reds will become more structured as the vines get older.

The wines are currently sold direct from the farm and via wine shops and local restaurants. The label on the bottles reads “Preggio Delèlena” with a picture of one of the farm’s geese.

 

Rocca Di Pierle Walk 2016

At the beginning of June 2016 I took some friends on a couple of walks from my book, Circular Walks On The Tuscany Umbria Border (available for download from Amazon). The Rocca di Pierle Walk starts in the hamlet of Pierle which is built around an old castle, the Rocca di Pierle. The route climbs steeply up tracks through thickly wooded hillside, partially following an old Roman road. Once you emerge on the ridge at the top there are splendid views to either side. As you climb along the ridge to the highest point, Monte Ginezzo, there are views in every direction and you can see a large part of Lake Trasimeno, particularly if you climb the wooden  tower use as a fire look out point in the dry summer months. The route descends through more chestnut and oak forest and returns to Pierle along a gravel track. It takes about 3 hours and is a tough walk so don’t attempt it if you are very unfit!

A Panoramic View From Monte Ginezzo On The Rocca di Pierle Walk With Lake Trasimeno In The Distance.

Sunflowers From The Drone

The sunflowers are out once more in the Niccone Valley, I couldn’t resist flying the drone across this field below our house, This video is the result!

Sunflowers in the Niccone Valley

Sunflowers in the Niccone Valley

Sunflowers photographed by a drone.

Sunflowers photographed by a drone.

Drone Photos of Casa degli Ulivi

I’ve been out again with my drone, this time photographing and filming Casa degli Ulivi, a five bedroom holiday villa in the Niccone Valley. The villa is in Umbria and looks across into Tuscany.

Casa degli Ulivi and the hills of the Niccone Valley

Casa degli Ulivi and the hills of the Niccone Valley

An aerial view of Casa degli Ulivi, villa on the Tuscany Umbria border

An aerial view of Casa degli Ulivi, villa on the Tuscany Umbria border

Casa degli Ulivi photographed from above

Casa degli Ulivi photographed from above

Electric Bikes In The Niccone Valley

The Tuscany Umbria border is not very flat and unless you are a very keen cyclist you may find it too much effort to get around, particularly if you are staying at a holiday villa high up on a hillside!

Riding an electric bike through the Niccone Valley

Riding an electric bike through the Niccone Valley

Today we went to try out a new service being offered to visitors to the area, electrically assisted bikes. The new business is based in the centre of Lisciano Niccone at the western end of the valley and is run from the offices of BRS Baffi Residential Services, you should be able to spot it, there is a yellow spray painted bike mounted on the wall outside.

Cycling an e-bike up to Pierle

Cycling an e-bike up to the Pierle Castle

We were amazed at how easy the bikes made riding up steep hills, as part of our test route we climbed up to the ruined castle of Pierle and cycled around the adjacent hamlet. as well as conventional gears there are several levels of electric assistance and the bikes actually respond to the amount of effort you are putting in, adding extra power as you push harder. With conservative use the battery will last for around 80km (50 miles) and the business owners, Tim Hudson and Louise Anderton have compiled routes with “e-bike friendly” restaurants, that is, you can recharge the battery while you enjoy lunch.

Riding past Pierle Castle in Tuscany

Riding past Pierle Castle

We are very excited about the opportunity these bikes will offer our visitors. On a bike you can see the area in a completely different way, and the electrical assistance means that you can cover huge distances without becoming worn out. Suddenly, a gentle tour of local hill towns becomes possible by bike or perhaps a route taking in a few wineries.  If you are staying at one of our properties and are interested in renting these bikes, please let us know, we will be happy to arrange it for you.

 

 

 

Villa Forconi Drone Photos

These photos and video were taken above Villa Forconi, a luxurious villa in a secluded location high above the Niccone Valley on the Tuscany Umbria border, Italy.

Luxurious Villa Forconi, high above the Niccone Valley

Luxurious Villa Forconi, high above the Niccone Valley

Villa Forconi is a spacious villa set in a quiet, secluded location.

Villa Forconi is a spacious villa set in a quiet, secluded location.

Looking down on Villa Forconi

Looking down on Villa Forconi

Casa Quarata Drone Photos

A couple of days ago I took these drone photos and video of Casa Quarata a beautiful 4 bedroom 4 bathroom villa set in idyllic surroundings on a hillside in the Niccone Valley. Casa Quarata is right on the Tuscany Umbria border, walk a few hundred metres into the woods beyond the swimming pool and you will be in Tuscany.

 Casa Quarata is located in the Niccone Valley

Casa Quarata is located in the Niccone Valley

The covered games area and pool at Casa Quarata

The covered games area and pool at Casa Quarata

High above Casa Quarata on the Tuscany Umbria border, Italy

High above Casa Quarata on the Tuscany Umbria border, Italy

The front of Casa Quarata and the pool

The front of Casa Quarata and the pool

Casa Gorgacce Drone Photos

In the last few days I’ve been very busy flying my drone over some of Gorgacce Rentals’ beautiful villas in the countryside of the Tuscany Umbria border. Here are the images and a quick video for Casa Gorgacce, a three bedroom villa close to the village of Mercatale di Cortona in the Niccone Valley.

Casa Gorgacce viewed from above

Casa Gorgacce viewed from above

A view across the Niccone Valley from Casa Gorgacce

A view across the Niccone Valley from Casa Gorgacce

Casa Gorgacce is in the beautiful Niccone Valley

Casa Gorgacce is in the beautiful Niccone Valley

Aerial Photos of Ca’ di Bracco

It’s a sunny but windy afternoon here on the Tuscany Umbria border and I’ve just taken these aerial photos of Ca’ di Bracco, our holiday villa in the Niccone Valley, it’s amazing what you can do with modern technology!

An aerial view of Ca' di Bracco

An aerial view of Ca’ di Bracco

High above Ca' di Bracco, a holiday villa on the Tuscany Umbria border

High above Ca’ di Bracco

Ca' di Bracco Pool and the hills of the Niccone Valley

Ca’ di Bracco Pool and the hills of the Niccone Valley

 

Sunday Lunch At I Girasoli di Sant’Andrea

A couple of weeks ago we booked an outside table at I Girasoli di Sant’Andrea, the restaurant at the front of our local winery in the Niccone Valley.

Artichoke starter at I Girasoli di Sant'Andrea

Artichoke starter at I Girasoli di Sant’Andrea

The weather was perfect and the food delicious, a starter of artichokes cooked in three different ways, delicious fresh pasta and a chiannina steak served with greens and oven roasted potatoes, all washed down with a bottle of the vineyard’s Malvasia Nera.

Chicken cooked in a Mediterranean sauce

Chicken cooked in a Mediterranean sauce

It was so good that I’m already looking forward to eating there again.

Chiannina Steak at I Girasoli di sant'Andrea Restaurant

Chiannina Steak at I Girasoli di sant’Andrea Restaurant

Our meal cost €105 for 4 people, we ate a starter, two pastas, two large secondi (meat dishes including vegetables), three desserts, water and a bottle of wine.

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