Photo Trip Report: Food & Wine in Tuscany

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wine display at Drogheria Franci in Montalcino
We just got back from Italy and I'm pleased to report we got more chances than I thought we would to visit wineries in Tuscany.

Before I get into the winery visit reports over the next couple weeks I thought I'd share some photos of the highlights from our trip. Italy is such a photogenic country. Click any of these images to enlarge.

We stayed at an agritourismo in Tuscany called Borgo Iesolana. The property is surrounded by vineyards and olive trees they use to make a respectable house wine and impressive olive oil we enjoyed throughout our stay. The property has tremendous views and a couple of beautiful pools.
Salt water pool at Borgo Iesolana
The central location (between Siena and Arezzo) made for a great jumping off point for day trips. But first, we had to go to the grocery store to stock up on supplies for the week. The cheese and cured meat selection was amazing and the wine prices - almost entirely Italian not surprisingly - were quite favorable. It was a blast shopping there. I spent well over an hour trying to determine which product in the dairy case was half & half.
Coop grocery store in Montevarchi
Cortona was absolutely wonderful. Highly recommended as an accessible, charming, classic little Tuscan hill town.
Gorgeous views were plentiful in Cortona
We had a terrific lunch in Corona at Ristorante Preludio. Absolutely totally empty at 1:00 pm and for the entire time we ate there, which is usually a problem sign for a restaurant. But it was listed in the Gambero Rosso guide so we tried it and I'm so glad we did.

Upon arrival they poured a taste of Jeio Sparkling Rose that absolutely hit the spot. I'd love to track some of that down back here in the US but I'm fairly sure it was so good because of the overall situation in which it was enjoyed.
Jeio Sparkling Rose at Preludio in Cortona
The first winery we visited was Tenuta Sette Ponti near Arezzo, producers of the famous Oreno. Beautiful classic vineyards. If you like Oreno they've got another wine that's quite a bit more affordable I bet you'd enjoy. I'll tell you more about that visit soon.
Sangiovese vineyard at Sette Ponti near Arezzo
For our wedding anniversary (14 years!) Deanna and I went down to Montalcino to taste Brunello. This was probably the densest concentration of wineries we encountered in Italy. I wanted to visit a more modern producer with international acclaim (Casanova di Neri) as well as a more traditional one (La Gerla). Though both producers are well regarded by American critics these two visits provided for a very good comparison of styles.
Benchmark Brunello producer Casanova di Neri
The La Gerla name is very new to me. I was perusing the Wine Spectator ratings database and comparing scores from Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media and La Gerla jumped out at me.
Gli Angeli vineyard at La Gerla
We drove up to visit the Ferrari Museum in Maranello (a highlight for me and my 9 year old for sure). Earlier this year I heard this awesome story on NPR about the town where Tortellini comes from. It happens to be very close to a lot of exotic car manufacturers so it was a great time to stop in for some Lambrusco and Tortellini.

We had a fantastic meal at La Lumira, sampling all three distinct styles of Tortellini they offered that day. It was amazing how the cuisine changes just a few hours' drive north of Tuscany.
Tortellini di ricotta di bufala con salvia e guanciale at La Lumira in Castelfranco Emilia.
On the way to San Gimignano, just a short distance from our villa was Fattoria di Felsina. Their wines are very well regarded internationally (especially Fontalloro and Rancia) and their tasting room, grounds, and cellar are really nicely appointed.
Cellars at Fattoria di Felsina
On the flight back home I mentioned to the flight attendant that I was enjoying exploring their wine selections and he said "Oh, you're into wine? We've got a secret wine that's not on the menu from Bierzo. Want to try it?"

I remembered Adam Japko's posts on WineZag from a while back singing the praises of wines from this region. It was one of those things where I just kind of mentally filed it away for future action. But in referring back to Adam's post one of the two wines he specifically called out was from Losada - the very wine they were pouring on the flight. Combined with my favorable experience with the Petalos I've also had in the past, I too may become the next big fan of the Bierzo region.
Losada - an amazing discovery on the flight home
Side note: Lufthansa is my new favorite airline. Such awesome service across the board. They really know how to make a family feel comfortable in Business Class. They're like the Four Seasons of airlines.

See also: Lessons learned while earning and burning 1,000,000 points & miles

So that's a little preview of a few posts I'll have coming, hopefully in the next couple weeks.

I'd love it if you subscribed to the site so you can catch those posts as well.

Question of the Day: If you could visit any wine region in the world, where would you go next?

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