16 October 2016

Need a romantic weekend? The Castle of Spessa is the place for you!

The Wine Resort in the Collio of Gorizia

I’m always on the look out for new interesting places to tell you about and today I’m on a little hill in the estate of Mr Pali (an industrialist from Friuli).

From here I can see the reddish walls of the castle, which is surrounded by an endless and smart Italian style garden. I walk in through the iron gates, all the way up the white-pebbled path that takes me to the entrance of the Hotel.

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As soon as I step through the glass doors I’m welcomed by Paolo, an elegant gentleman that manages the new and reserved Bistrot "Il Gusto di Casanova", which is hidden away in a small hall of the castle and only seats 12 people.

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Le tartare: Ricciola, pepe rosa, timo ed olio  - Pesce Spada, pistacchio di Bronte e maggiorana - Tonno, capperi, pepe verde e olive

The tartares: amberjack fish, pink pepper, thyme and oil – Swordfish, Bronte pistachio and marjoram – Tuna, capers, green pepper and olives.

It’s lunchtime so I can’t resist their wonderful suggestion to taste some of the selected uncooked foods – 160 products recognized by ERSA - that are hidden away in the bistrot’s caveaux

A few minutes later I’m sitting down and waiting for the plate of raw fish and their cheese selection that accompanied by aromatic herbs, create an excellent taste synergy.

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Il carpaccio: Pesce Spada, arancia, limone , olio e timo - Tonno, capperi, pomodoro pachino ed olio

The Carpaccio: swordfish, orange, lemon oil and thyme – Tuna, capers, tomatoes of Pachino and oil.

Obviously a good glass of wine completes the picture: a Friulano 2015 of the Castello di Spessa.  As well a being a Resort, restaurant and much more (I’ll tell you about the rest later) the estate also has a wine label, which includes DOC Isonzo and DOC Collio with different varieties of excellent quality.

So as I sip a fresh and balanced glass of white wine, I enjoy the company of other two fellow diners.

I couldn’t resist and also tried the selection of cheeses (by far my favourite food), and here the best idea is to trust Paolo and have him make the selection:

Here’s the selection:

Caprino cheese from lower Carnia with grape preserve and fresh grapes

The cheese from the Malga di Sauris with wild fennel and oil

Goat Grana (the only one in Italy) from Sauris, matured 8-9 months and pear chutney with fresh pears

Goat Blue with Verduzzo aspic and drops of Verduzzo

To create an excellent taste balance everything is accompanies by a Verduzzo Pèrle from their own label.

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I can’t even describe the incredible aroma of this wine, made with the harvest from late October, left to dry 2 months on racks and then matured for 12 months in barrels. It’s perfect with blue cheeses, releasing its best flavours.

It’s now time to explore this romantic estate, where the only noise comes from the flock of birds flying over the large trees.

I walk around the rooms, collecting as much information as possible, and I finally find the 4 main rooms where all the most important events take place.

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From here you can walk out onto the terrace and enjoy a wonderful view over the rows of grapevines and the splendid green Golf courses.

Since 2005 in fact, they stole a little space from the vineyard to create a beautiful golf course with 18 holes for their guests.

The landscape is amazing: golf course, vineyards, the castle, the Italian park, gazebos and… villas among the vineyard!

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If you’re looking for a digital detox holiday, this is the solution you need.

There are 6 apartments scattered around the property, where the only word is relax. All these structure are purposefully Internet and Wi-Fi free, they only have a TV and nothing more, because guests come here to take a walk, read a book, eat well and spend some time among friends. Phones off and the “detox” can start!

This evening the sunset is wonderful, the air is clear and fresh, just a few pink coloured clouds and the red sun bathes all the vineyards in an autumn light: the perfect setting for a walk around this place on the border with a dream.

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The air starts to get damp and the sun has sunk behind the mountains so I head back to the castle, and after our pleasant walk we meet Paolo who takes us down to the basements of the castle where the wine reserves are kept!

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What a wonderful and interesting day! Paolo leads the way in and here the air feels almost warm compared to outside. A large hall opens up in front of me, filled with wooden wine barrels from different places: France, United States and more; but these are only here to create a pleasant environment and to host special guests for a pre-dinner drink.

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From here we’re led into a gallery, a war bunker built in 1928 Paolo tells me, visited by Italians, Germans and Americans.

And here, 15 metres underground, we see the “evolution” of the Friuli, because this is where the bottles are kept 10 to 12 years to age; there are different years of harvest and also some barriques that contain who knows what heavenly wine.

It’s now time to head back to my room and prepare for dinner in the Tavernetta, that is the other restaurant on the estate, but for this story you’ll have to wait a few more days. Such an experience deserves another “episode” 🙂

All the best from the Castello di Spessa!

Ph. Andrea Zangrando

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