When I think of the town of Cormons, my heart skips a beat. Just about an hour from Trieste, it is a lovely day trip — more of the gastronomical variety than anything else. Cormons is situated in the fertile Collio region. With its unique microclimate (well-ventilated, free of humidity and protected from harsh weather by the Julian Alps) and its “Ponca” soil (a perfect blend of sandstone and marl stratifications, rich in minerals), it is home to some of the most delicious wines of Italy and some of the best winemakers in the world. A couple of times a year, we are treated to “Cantine Aperte”, an event all over Italy in which winemakers open their vineyards to the public to share their craft, their history and their wines. But in Cormons, this is practically a weekly occurrence. With so many excellent wineries concentrated in one region, you just have to decide how long you want to stay.
Many of the wineries in the region are very proactive in developing the rapidly growing Enotourism trade; aside from opening to the public, many now run upscale little Bed & Breakfasts and restaurants on their properties. One of my favorites is TERRA & VINI of the Felluga family. In the Winter you can enjoy a hearty meal in the warm and rustic restaurant and, with the first hint of Spring, sit outside in their lovely patio overlooking the vineyards. The food is all 0-KM and carefully crafted. From local cheeses and cured meats to delicate pastas, delicious meat dishes and the unique “Gelato Mantecato” (a sophisticated version of “ice-cream soup”) you are left feeling gloriously satisfied. All of this is, of course, accompanied by their wonderful wines, which you can buy at the shop next door to the restaurant. Should you over-indulge, you can stay overnight in one of the 8 rooms in their “Residenza del Vino” overlooking the vineyards.
It was at Terra & Vini that I first tasted a unique local prosciutto called Prosciutto di Cormons or is referred to, “D’Osvaldo” which is the name of the producer. This prosciutto has a very limited production and distribution so it is nearly impossible to find outside of Cormons — but it is totally.worth.the.drive out there to procure some! Debuting in 1940, the distinguishing feature of this prosciutto was (taking from the Austro-Hungarian tradition) smoked to prolong the shelf-life. In time, they began to be more selective as to the types of wood used for the smoking process, using cherry and laurel for developing a more delicate and sweet flavor. Besides the trademark smoked version, D’Osvaldo also produces cured sweet prosciutto, pancetta and speck using only local animals which are fed a special organic diet. Their “production facility” is right in Cormons. Not so much a “facility” as it is a large beautiful villa that dates back to the 1800s that was lovingly chosen for its prime location. Its position adjacent to a small hill provides just the right “aeration” of the prosciutto, as breezes gently rush down through the open windows of the villa at night. You can order your individual prosciutto directly from them with a lead time of 14-24 months depending on size. If a whole prosciutto is too much, then you can go to Tomadin, in the center of Cormons. Tomadin is a local “deli” where you can sample all of the D’Osvaldo products (they will even vacuum seal them for you) as well as local goods such as cheeses, homemade pastas, homemade mostardas and breads.
When we went, we loaded up on various cold-cuts (it seems sacrilegious to even use that term!) and then had them make us some sandwiches “to go”. Sadly, they didn’t get very far as we scarfed them down in the parking lot!
So whether you are going for a wine-tasting weekend, or to re-stock on some awesome wines and “cold-cuts” (shudder) or perhaps a romantic weekend getaway or a Sunday family biking excursion with a nice lunch in the country, Cormons really does have it all.
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