Greetings from Robbi & Jim

A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours Newsletter in over 30 countries around the world.

Aroma Tours in Provence with Robbi Zeck and Jim Llewellyn

Robbi and I will currently on the Cote d'Azur enjoying the wonderful Mediterranean sea views with our dear friends Gavin and Edith and soon we will be welcoming our lovely guests for our Treasures of Provence ( ladies only ) tour.

Provence this year has been so beautiful and are hearts are full with all of the delightful experiences that we have shared with our guests, with many more to come.

We have been celebrating our 25 years of Aroma Tours with vigour and as we continue throttling back the number of tours that we will be hosting, Robbi and I feel truly blessed to once again be sharing our passion for the fabulous places and experiences that we love, with delightful people from around the world.

This year as we have previously reported, is our most successful tour season ever, with all of our tours sold out and next years tours already filling fast! As always, it is our returning guests and their friends who are leading this fabulous response.

Aroma Travellers Our Thanks

Without doubt, the main reason that we have grown and flourished over the years, is the on-going support we have received from our past Aroma Travellers and we are thrilled to see that they continue to make up almost 65% of our guests!

We would also like to give our heart-felt thanks to all of you who continue to support us with your kind words and referrals.

Robbi and I also greatly appreciate the wonderful words of thanks we have received over the years and have added a new compilation of Guest Comments to our site.

Memorable Photo Pages from our 2019 Adventures

One of the best ways to enjoy the spirit of our adventures is by taking a peek at some of the photos we have taken during our Aroma Tours 2019 season in Spain and France ( more lovely photos to follow ).

For convenience we have added 2 new photo pages to our archives for your viewing pleasure.

Photos of Flavours of France Gourmet Tour 2019
Memorable Photos 2019-1

Photos of Flavours of Spain Gourmet Tour 2019
Memorable Photos 2019-2

We also invite you visit our other Photo Galleries Pages to enjoy more of the 100's of other lovely photos of our aromatic adventures.

Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage

Join us in 2020 for a wonderful Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage along the route of the famous Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, beginning with the foodie heaven of the Basque country which has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin starred restaurants in the world.

We then weave our way west through a succession of glorious vistas and cuisines until we reach the magnificent world heritage city of Santiago de Compostella in the seafood paradise of Galicia.

We will journey through spectacular countryside, staying in magnificent 5 star hotels, visit Templar castles, stunning cathedrals and venerable wine estates, enjoy guided walks through fascinating old quarters and picturesque seaside villages and experience a little walking on the pilgrims way of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

Click here for more photos of our Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage

We are now down to the last few places for this amazing Michelin star studded experience - time for some delicious Carpe Diem.

Aroma Traveller Impressions

One of the great pleasures for Robbi and I after each tour season is receiving messages of thanks from our Aroma Travellers. We have compiled a few below from our past adventures and hope that you enjoy reading about their experiences with us.

Glorious leisurely gourmet lunch in a beautiful 2 star Michelin restaurant in Spain - joyful and delicious!

  • "Thank you so much for a very special delightful holiday in France!! It was a wonderful week….beautiful scenery, fantastic food and great company. Your attention to detail and personal interest is what makes your trips so unique and special. Sharing the week with everyone and making so many new friends adds to the pleasure of travel. As I look at my photos and reflect on the many highlights my heart is filled with happy memories."
     Connie Beggs Middletown USA
  • "I hope you really enjoy your R&R- You totally earned it for creating such a spectacular trip for us. Every detail you thought of made it special and it had a plethora of touches that will provide great memories for years to come. It should never be called a "tour" since what you deliver is a remarkable and unique experience!"
     Jodye Anzalotta New York USA
  • "Given my dreams of Provence, I must say that you exceeded all my expectations and provided an experience of Provence that I could not possibly have done on my own. So many little touches showed the great thought that was put into planning for our pleasure in seeing the real Provence. You are special and delightful people and I cannot thank you enough."
     Judy Cassel Secaucus USA
  • "Buongiorno amicas e amicos, I have returned from the most perfect trip to Italy that anyone can imagine! I joined a delightful group of Aussies and  Americans for a glorious seven days in the hilltop towns of Tuscany. We enjoyed delicious food in beautiful trattorias, tasted and consumed the best wines in Tuscany and placed ourselves in every picture or postcard we have ever seen of enchanting Tuscany. It could not have been more perfect. I highly recommend Aroma Tours. Thank you for helping me realize my dream."
     Daria Bellina Rockledge USA
  • Thank you so very much for a delightful and enchanting week of adventure and discovery. There were so many heart warming moments that have created memories to last a lifetime. Everyday brought us laughter and joy filled moments, with scents of lavender, glorious food, tastes of olive oil, wonderful wines and much more."
     Janis & Bill Fox Rensselaer USA
  • "Harold and I have been meaning to write to thank you for a most wonderful week exploring and experiencing the different facets of Provence. Your knowledge and guidance, showing us some of your favourite places, gave us a really enjoyable and unforgettable holiday. It was such a pleasure for me not to have to worry about booking hotels, or navigating, or finding good restaurants (all of which were excellent, including the expert driving)! The cooking class was great fun and I use the perfume I made daily. Our travelling companions bonded as old friends and overall this was one of our best holidays ever. We look forward to being able to join you on one of your other tours in the future."
     Lynne & Harold Seifman Dover Heights Australia
  • "Thank you for a wonderful experience in a place of great beauty. I have seen and learnt so much in such a short time. You both bought so much to create a week filled with everlasting memories."
     Katrina Newton Hong Kong

Our Current Booking Status

Robbi and I are thrilled to see the outstanding response for our 2019 season with all of our tours sold out.

The current booking status for our 2019 season at the time of this newsletter is:-

List of Tours for 2019
Flavours of Spain 20 - 27 May 2019 SOLD OUT
Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage 27 May - 3 June 2019 SOLD OUT
Flavours of France (invite only) 10 - 17 June 2019 SOLD OUT
Heart of Provence 24 June - 1 July 2019 SOLD OUT
Essential Provence 1 - 8 July 2019 SOLD OUT
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
12 - 19 July 2019 SOLD OUT
Sojourn in Provence (private group) 20 - 27 July 2019 SOLD OUT
Aromas of Tuscany 3 - 10 September 2019 SOLD OUT
Flavours of Italy 110 - 17 September 2019 SOLD OUT
Bali Women's Retreat 7 - 14 September 2019 SOLD OUT
Bali Women's Retreat 16 - 23 September 2019 SOLD OUT

Our 2020 season is already off to a flying start with all of our tours either half full or almost sold out:-

List of Tours for 2020
Flavours of Spain 18 - 25 May 2020 3 vacancies
Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage 25 May - 1 June 2020 4 vacancies
Heart of Provence 22 - 29 June 2020 4 vacancies
Essential Provence 29 June - 6 July 2020 6 vacancies
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
10 - 17 July 2020 2 vacancies
Aromas of Tuscany 1 - 8 September 2020 7 vacancies
Flavours of Italy 8 - 15 September 2020 8 vacancies
Bali Women's Retreat 5 - 12 September 2020 SOLD OUT
Bali Women's Retreat 14 - 21 September 2020 3 vacancies
  • For detailed information about any of our tours please visit our tour information page and if you would like to join us please visit our make a reservation page.
  • If you would like us to hold your place(s) for a few days so that you have time to comfortably make your other arrangements please let us know at jim@aroma-tours.com
  • It is our pleasure to assist you with any questions you may have and we invite you to get in touch with us at jim@aroma-tours.com

Please note

  • Our up-to-the-minute booking status is available via our calendar page
  • If the tour you would like to attend becomes fully booked, please let us know if you would like us to add you to the waiting list for that tour in case a place becomes available due to a cancellation.

Rioja - Where Tempranillo Rules

Rioja [pronounced: ree oh ha] in the north of Spain is a land redolent with aromatic plants such as thyme, rosemary and juniper growing alongside  sweeping rows of lush vines.

It is also blessed with a diversity of terrain, a rich historic heritage and is the finest place on earth to grow tempranillo grapes.

Many people are not familiar with this particular grape variety, however, during the 19th century Phylloxera outbreak in Bordeaux that devastated the vines of that region [ and many others as well ], it was to Rioja that the Bordelaise turned in order to replace their missing stocks.

Tempranillo, with its weight, structure and balance of flavour closely resembling the  cabernet-merlot blends typical of Bordeaux was a godsend, and for two decades this previously little known grape, travelled north along a purpose built railway line to bolster the wines of that most prestigious of French wine regions.

This exchange also resulted in Rioja benefiting from the experience and expertize of the Bordelaise who introduced barrel aging and other refined techniques of winemaking to Rioja.

Today Rioja is one of the world's great wine regions with 57,000 hectares under cultivation, yielding more than 250 million litres of wine per year. In size it rivals nearby Bordeaux and is significantly larger than the Cote du Rhone.

Rioja is quite diverse with three principal regions:-

  • Rioja Alta: a cold climate environment, up to 800m above sea-level with a relatively short growing season that produces a lovely light, elegant, unripe style of wine.
  • Rioja Alavesa: occupies the region between Alta and Baja and produces wines with a full body, ideal acidity and rich aromatic complexity.
  • Rioja Baja: a warmer and drier climate at about 500m above sea-level produces fully ripe, deeply coloured, highly alcoholic wines. Unlike the higher regions, however, they lack acidity and aromatic complexity which are essential characteristics of a fine wine worthy of aging. As a result they are mostly used for blending to add colour and body to the wines from other parts of Rioja.

Tempranillo is the main grape variety and is complimented by Garnacha Tinta [Grenache], Graciano, and Mazuelo. A typical blend consists of approximately 60% Tempranillo and up to 20% Garnacha along with the remaining balance made up of Mazuelo and Graciano mainly for colour and aromatic interest.

Traditionally it was not uncommon for the red wines of Rioja to be aged for 15 years or more before their release. This dedication to quality is still clearly apparent in the contemporary wines of Rioja, although most bodegas [wineries] have shifted their winemaking focus to shorter maturation times with top wines typically aging for 4-8 years prior to release. There has also been  a slow evolution in the use of oak barrels from French to American and then back to French or a blend of the two.

Rioja red wines are classified into four categories:-

  •  Rioja [with no other designation]: the youngest, spending less than a year in oak
  • Crianza: aged for at least two years with at least 50% of that time in oak
  • Rioja Reserva: aged for at least three years with at least one year in oak.
  •  Rioja Gran Reserva: aged for at least two years in oak and three years in bottle.

This may well be way too much information, and suffice it to say the most important thing is the wine in the glass you are holding, but knowing a little about the traditions and environment of a wine is a lovely way to add to the enjoyment.

There is also a great deal of cultural history in this region for us to explore, juxtaposed with amazing modern architectural wonders, all of which we will be part of our experiences during our Flavours of Spain Tour.

Travelling Solo in a Group

As well as couples and friends travelling together, we are regularly joined by solo travellers - mostly women, who appreciate being able to journey with liked minded people from around the world, without the need to do all the planning and take on the daunting task of touring by themselves.

Joining one of our small group tours is easy and we have already made all of the arrangements on your behalf to ensure that you have a delightful, stress-free holiday with the focus on having fun.

Having a ready-made group of friends to travel with, and us to take wonderful care of you is the way to go!

  • There is no extra charge for solo travellers who are willing to share a room with another same gender guest from our group.

We have carefully crafted off-the-beaten-path itineraries that are the perfect balance of structure, experiences, details and free time to enjoy in your own way.

There have been a significant number of guests over the years who and have joined us multiple times, some of whom have become dear friends.

  • Mona Smith, pictured at the beginning of this snippet, holds the record for the most tours attended by a solo traveller - she has journeyed with us 10 times and this year will be her 11th!
  • Susan Troxell from NYC is a close second and has joined us 9 times with a 10th coming next year.

Our Invitation

Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats as we continue moving towards our retirement in the next few years.

Glorious lavender flowers in Provence France

  • For detailed information about any of our tours please visit our tour information page and if you would like to join us please visit our make a reservation page.
  • As always if you have any questions or if you would like us to assist you personally with advice about your travel arrangements or with any other details please contact us at info@aroma-tours.com

Warmest regards,

Jim and Robbi


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