Did you ever wake up thinking was last night all a dream? Well it really wasn’t… here I was in my bed inside a real life castle after spending the day experiencing the Veneto region and dinner with the owner of esteemed Prosecco brand, Bottega.
After breakfast in the castle dining room, which feels every bit like dining in a regal banqueting halls, it was time to say goodbye to CastelBrando.
I’m still yet to visit any part of Italy and not be overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and Treviso was no exception. Pretty canals, cobbled streets, churches and Medieval city walls characterise the place but it was also so peaceful and quiet compared to nearby Venice.
Our first visit of the day was to the Alexander Blown Glass factory in Pianzano where artistic bottles are produced for Bottega using ancient traditions.
We watched the glass being made and some of our group even tried it for themselves – I was too scared of the flames to get close to blow it myself though! We were all given a beautifully delicate hand blown glass flower to take home as a gift, which I took home very carefully!
After leaving the glass blowing factory it was time for something I’d really been looking forward to. Visiting the home of Bottega, the head office in Bibano and the location of the winery and distillery.
It’s not just any old head office though, the beautiful nineteenth-century farmhouse surrounded by 10 hectares of vineyards has been the hub of Bottega since 2007 and it’s where the true magic happens.
Our guide for the day would be oenologist Lorenza Scollo, a graduate in Oenology and Viticulture from the University of Udine, and a lady with a deep passion for the prosecco. Leading us into the fields, Lorenza explained that grapes for Bottega are hand selected so that only the very best goes into the premium prosecco.
We were led through the distillery as Lorenza explained to us how prosecco is made. Sparkling wine must go through two fermentation and traditionally the second fermentation is done in the bottle as with Champagne. Instead Prosecco uses the Charmat method whereby the second fermentation occurs in a tanks, a process that less costly and time consuming.
We sampled base wine that would be produced during the first fermantation. This base is added to a sealed pressure tank with yeast and sugar to induce the second fermentation. The carbon dioxide produced is trapped in the wine creating that bubbly that we all know and love. After the two fermentations, wine is filtered and then dosage added to taste and determine whether the wine is Brut, Demi-Sec or Sec.
The farmhouse also contains a fascinating museum dedicated to the wines of Italy and showcasing some of the stunning bottles of other brands.
It’s thirsty work learning about wine and with 12 o’clock striking, it was officially acceptable to start drinking. A beautiful tasting table had been set up for us outside and those gorgeous Rose Gold bottles glinted in the sunshine.
It was a beautiful day and such absolute bliss to enjoy this glorious sparkling rosé among the vines of this gorgeous place whilst snacking on some bruschetta.
We also had the chance to see the company’s in house Bottega Prosecco Bar, a concept that can be found throughout the world in airports and resorts as a place to enjoy Italian food and wine in a welcoming environment.
Speaking of which… wasn’t it about time for some more food…kicking off with the Diamond prosecco, a Brut sparkling wine sold in a bottle with pretty little gems spelling out the Bottega name and a dry taste of yellow fruits. We were once again joined by Sandro Bottega, the owner of the brand and an ambassador for the fantastic collection of Proseccos, stills wines, grappa and liquors.
Our meal was all vegetarian, reflecting Sandro’s tastes, and it was totally delicious. A simple but beautifully dressed salad was served in a parmesan crisp followed by a delicious vegetable potato cake and our main course, a comforting asparagus crepe that was a variation of lasagne. We also tried another of the still wines, the Bottega Sauvignon Blanc Delle Venezie which was a perfect pairing with the vegetarian based dishes.
Dessert was one of my favourites, Tiramisu – apparently an apt choice as the coffee based dessert was alleged invented in Veneto. I say allegedly as there is a historical debate with the neighbouring region of Friuli who also fiercely claim the origin. There was no debate as to how excellent this dessert was, as tears of joy were shed over the fabulous taste. After lunch we had the opportunity to taste some more prosecco wines in comparison to Moet and Chandon champagne. I don’t think I’ve ever done such a comparison and it was interesting to see the differences. The main tasting notes of champagne are citrus fruits, white peach, white cherry while Prosecco is melon, apple and honeysuckle. Personally I find Prosecco lighter and slightly sweeter than champagne.
So why is Champagne more expensive than Prosecco? Well it’s partly the prestige derived from the name but also the Charmat / Tank production method that I described earlier is much cheaper. Though Prosecco shouldn’t be perceived as the lower quality sparkling wine, and many people prefer the taste but it is the lower and more affordable price point that has really driven the popularity of Prosecco.
Next it was time to get back in the car, leave the beautiful countryside and head to Venice to experience magical of the City of Water. Regular readers will remember me visiting Venice two years ago and falling truly, madly deeply in love with a city.
Have you ever experienced that heart stopping feeling of seeing a place that you love again for the first time? As soon as I laid my eyes on that water…those bridges… and the iconic gondolas…my eyes once again filled.
Stepping into a water taxi we passed through narrow streets, pointing out gorgeous buildings, precarious washing lines and beautiful people.
Emerging on to the Grand Canal my heart slightly skipped a beat as we glided past The Gritti Palace, the hotel that I stayed in last time and one of my favourite hotels in the world…
And once again when I saw Santa Maria della Salute Basilica.
We arrived at our hotel which was right on the canal and less than thirty seconds walk from St Mark’s Square and after quickly freshening it up it was time to get a little lost in Venice. Venice is a labyrithine and rather confusing city and I believe it’s best just to let the city take you.
Wander through back streets, admire bridges, boats and building and just let your heart led the way. That sounds immensely cheesy but it’s just that kind of place.
Soon we got to the Rialto bridge, and though it was crowded with people, we found a space to take some pictures and breathe in those iconic views.
Venice is just somewhere that you stumble upon places and in our search for a cocktail, we ended up at a bar I’d visited last time I was in Venice. Located right at the water’s edge it’s the perfect place to people watch and admire this iconic city.
Evening saw us meeting Sandro and his team at a local restaurant, for more prosecco and a multi-course menu that showcased local seafood. Prawn risotto was the absolute highlight of the meal but I loved the grilled fish platters and the delicious creamy salted cod that I’d tried last time. After one final drink it was off to sleep with my mind in a happy haze after spending the day drinking excellent prosecco and eating the most fantastic food. But in my haze, I remembered to set my alarm for early the next day as there was somewhere special that I just had to revisit.
I needn’t had worried about waking up though as the voices of the gondoliers out of the window roused me the next day and with a fairly early flight there wasn’t much time. My first stop was to revisit St Mark’s Square, nearly deserted at this early hour…
And then it was through the streets, with only one place on my mind…
The beautiful Gritti Palace, decked out for spring with pink flowers surrounding the table.
‘Can I come in, or is breakfast just for guests…’
‘Of course do come in’ said the welcoming manager with convivial hospitality.
And there I sat as I had two years before, on the terrace of The Gritti Palace enjoying my coffee and admiring the view of the most beautiful city of earth.
My Venetian dream was over all too quickly as we had to hop in a water taxi and head back to the airport but Venice will remain in my heart and a big thank you for Bottega for taking me back there.
My trip to the Veneto Region was hosted by Bottega Gold but this is not a sponsored post and thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.