Quality without compromise

A few days ago the time had finally arrived that I would have a meal at the 2 Michelin star restaurant De Pastorale. I had always figured the restaurant was quit far from my home, but it seemed it was only 3km from my home… oops 🙂 A few days ago I was here to discover the wines from organic &bio dynamic Tuscan winery Podere Forte.  Organic/bio dynamic wines don’t also float my boat many of them have a special taste in them that I just don’t like… luckily there are wineries like Podere Forte that could be used as a benchmark any day for how organic/bio dynamic wines should be like!! Podere forte was founded in 1997 as an act of love from Pasquale Forte. When Pasquale was visiting the area of Castiglione d’Orcia he fell hopelessly in love with it 🙂  and I can’t blame him as the area is breath taking! I visit the area 8 or 9  years ago with my wife where we stayed at the old San Simeone convent (that was transformed in B&B) that unfortunately closed its doors a while ago.

Pasquale Forte is a good example of a self-made man (that kept/keeps his feet on the ground). Pasquale was born in Calabria as youngest of 9 children. Pasquale already learned very early in life what hard working was on his parent’s farm. When his parents died, as tradition imposes it, the farm went to oldest son. Due to a gambling problem of Pasquale’s oldest brother the farm had to be sold and Pasquale set sail to the North of Italy to look for work.  In a garage in the small centre of Orsenigo, in Brianza area, not far from the Como lake  he started his own company (Eldor Corporation) specialized in consumer electronics, developing high tension transformers for radio and television sets.  Today 46 years the company has over 3000 employees, offices all over the world and is supplier of all big car companies. But still with all of this success Pasquale still had an interrupted dream…having a farm and making wine, olive oil, etc… I know many of you are thinking it is another fortunate/ famous person who just wants to have a vineyard in Tuscany,  but has no clue what he is doing with an end product basically ‘sucks’. Pasquale is exactly the opposite as he knows 100% what he is doing and he is doing it with the same love, drive for perfection, determination, and passion and philosophy like when he started Eldor ‘Quality without compromise’(in this case with full respect with nature).

Tuscany is known by everbody for its wonderful wine regions like Montalcino or the Chianti region, but instead of buying a property in one of these ‘famous’ regions Pasquale just followed his heart and chose an abandoned place between Montalcino and Montepluciano in the Orcia Valley (Unesco world heritage list) with a hundred-year history behind it and where wine making wasn’t done (or almost not done).  He saw it a bit as a challenge to put this place on the map as new wine region. On the 300ha of land Podere Forte owns only 21 are cultivated with vineyards, 23 are full of olive trees and the remaining part exists of forests, pastures, gardens and grazing areas for the Cinta Senese and Chianina cattle they have. The winery only produces 3 types of wine (technically 4 as they are been experimenting for 20 years to make the perfect white wine (a Greco di tufo), but they don’t want to sell it until it is perfect)  and next to that they have many other organic biodynamic products like honey, olive oil, flour, cured meats, etc…

At Podere Forte nothing is left to chance and everything contributes to create a self-sufficient, wholesome ecosystem. Biodynamic agriculture is a complex concept to explain, but basically it is creating products that are fundamentally balanced and respectful of every living creature in the course of its production cycle… Pasquale obviously doesn’t to this all by himself. As Pasquale is a perfectionist  who wants to do the best job possible he called in the help of “earth scientists” Lydia and Claude Bourguignon, world experts in the preparation of viticultural soil. Lydia and Claude analysed parcel by parcel (nothing happens at the estate without their blessing 🙂 ) to know which type of grapes would be best on which parcel!! Talking about a torough investigation.  The estate grows Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. You can take their philosophy ‘Quality without compromise’ almost literally as they spend over 1000 hours per hectare of land (which is enormous as most others spend around 300hours).

So after having heard all of this and much more interesting things about the vineyards I was very excited to try their wines !! Before I continue I must also add that the dishes Bart De Poorter and his team at De Pastorale made to match the wines were perfect!!! Incredible pairings!!

We started with their ‘entry level’ wine, their 2015 Petruccino that they also like to refer to as the ‘premier cru’ (85% sangiovese, 15% merlot). The wine has a ruby red color, in the nose floral notes of violets and fruity aromas of wild strawberry or maybe even cherry. When tasting you notice a lot of red ripe fruit, with a pleasant acidity, soft tannins and long-lasting elegant aftertaste. What did surprise me that the wine has a 15% alcohol percentage , you really don’t notice it as the wine is so elegant and went wonderfully with the chianina!! (the wine also already found its way to my own private cellar).

If I was already so impressed by the ‘entry level’ wine, god knows what their ‘grand cru’ Petrucci would be like. Just like with the Petruccino, in the Petrucci  you notice it is a strong wine, but in the end it still stays so elegant. From the Petrucci we were served 2 difference vintages, the 2008 and the 2013 (both 100% sangiovese).  The 2013 was brilliant ruby red, intense nose of cherries and raspberries, floral notes of violet and rosehip, on the palate cinnamon, vanilla and a hint of black pepper with a mineral finish. Now the 2008 was a bit stronger, but it had the same fresh/mineral finish like the 2013.  Basically it was the 2013 but with a bit (even more)body…

For the main dish we left the ‘Sangiovese’ for what it is and headed towards Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot blends that go under the name Guardiavigna. We were served 3 different vintages from the Guardiavigna the 2007, 2008 and 2013.  All 3 beautiful wines, but what was funny to discover was that from 2007 onwards the percentages of Merlot and Cabernet Franc replaced each other. The Merlot was initially the main grape, but in the most recent wines it is the Cabernet Franc that is on the main stage 🙂  . So they replaced the red fruitiness for the balance and elegance that Cabernet France brings to blends.  Add to that Petit verdot for tannins, extra colour and flavours and you have a winner 🙂  I’m more fan of Sangiovese wines like the Petrucci of Petruccino, but the Guardiavigna wasn’t at all punishment to drink 🙂 .  On the contrary, a true celebration to drink it!  It was interesting to taste this evolution from both they blends as the bottle type as that also changed during this period…

As our friends from Podere Forte don’t have a dessert wine yet, the sommelier came with a beauty he still had in his cellar to match the Jerusalem artichoke dessert (yes, you are reading it correctly, Jerusalem artichoke).  He surprised us with a 2004 Scheurebe by Koehler-Ruprecht.  Scheurebe is (as you probably know) a white-wine grape, one of Germany’s most successful new grape breeds. It is a cross between Riesling and Silvaner that are often aged to create sweet or dessert wines just like the wine we were served.  Very nice floral notes, rosted spice and candied orange slices.  Less sweet than expected on the palate, lots of citrus, without being lemony, more candied oranges, plus a hint of old oak, dried grasses and herbs, thanks to the moderate acidity keeps the gentle acidity against it and is harmonious, albeit a little quiet. Excellent as a companion for the Artichoke dessert.

A wonderful and very interesting evening. I learned lots of new things about Biodynamic/organic winemaking. A new wine trip presents itself 🙂

Just the two of us

Tuscany seems to be a very popular topic lately. It is funny that ever since I said I don’t like going to Tuscany because it is always too busy, I’ve been more in Tuscany than ever before and the same goes for the wines and food :-). You might have noticed it on my instagram or facebook, a few weeks ago I was having my summer holidays in Tuscany, or to be more precise in Terricciola.  The big difference between my holidays now and the ones from the previous years is that now we are not 2, but 3 🙂 which results that we can still go to restaurants, but not the same kind… if it weren’t for the fact we asked my daughter’s grandmothers to join us the second week of our holiday that is. This way my wife and I were able to have a day or at least one evening for just us 2… a date night if you will 🙂 For this date I already had the perfect restaurant in mind, Del Duca in Volterra, When I was here 2 years ago I didn’t manage to eat here. The first time I saw the restaurant while walking through the narrow medieval streets of Volterra the restaurant already attracted me!! This was even before meeting the owner/chef Genuino and daughter Claudia (who is host and sommelier in the restaurant) who are the most charming people you’ll meet.

Claudia and Genuino

Del Duca serves refined Italian dishes using as much local products as possible and preferably home-made products. Their home-made products go from hams, cheeses, bread, etc… it is stuff like this that separates a cook from a chef for me. Next to the refined food, the second reason to visit Del Duca would be for its exquisite wine list (if you go, ask to see their beautiful wine cellar) with lots of unknown treasures on it!! As I knew they also make their own wine on their estate ‘Podere Marcampo’ (about which I’ll talk in a next blogpost) this seemed like the perfect occasion to taste some of them… this all after a nice glass of Prosecco Rustico by Nino Franco to start what turned out to be a wonderful night out with my beautiful/charming wife whom I love soooo much!! (Scoring points)

Rustico by Nino Franco

Like always there were so many things on the menu that tickled my fantasy, but it were the ravioli with wild boar filling and potato/saffron sauce that did it the most. I must admit that I found it a strange kind of sauce with a potato sauce, but it worked out and was in balance with the strong flavor of the wild boar and saffron. My wife’s eye fell on the vegetable souffle with Tuscan ham. As wine we had the Marcampo which is a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Sangiovese that didn’t overpower our dishes, but rather a harmonization.

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Marcampo

We continued with in my case with a piece of red chianina meat (filet) with a Chianti/port sauce that like you probably can imagine needs a strong wine next to it like the Giusto Alle Balze that is a 100% Merlot wine. As Merlot lover here again the wine was a win. My wife stuffed guinea fowl with a bacon crust and she continued with the Marcampo wine.

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Giusto alle Balze

Just like every meal, this one had to be ended in beauty! According to my wife the chocolate mousse with caramel fudge on top of it was THE BEST she had ever had… now (few weeks after it) I sometimes still hear here asking for it in her sleep 🙂 . I took the puff pastry filled with custard (Calories don’t frighten me 😉 ) that just needed a nice dessert wine like Moscato di Pantelleria from the  Salvatore Murana estate (sweet, but not to sweet).

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Moscato di Pantelleria

A night to remember sums it all up I think. I wouldn’t have changed anything: nice location, great food and great company… Very satisfied and more in love then ever my wife and I set sail back to reality and to our lovely daughter 😉 and look forward to hopefully once again enjoy another delightful meal at Enoteca Del Duca

Del Duca

Having liked their wines and me being so close to their vineyard AND liking Claudia and her family so much I just had to visit their vineyard!! More in one of my next posts

Enoteca Del Duca

Address: Via di Castello, 2, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy

Website: www.enoteca-delduca-ristorante.it

Phone n°: +39 0588 81510

Roadtrip with my dad: the non- vineyard part

Finally you might say 🙂  I think or no I’m actually sure Tuscany is the most talked and written about region in Italy… writing something new would therefore indeed be difficult, but this doesn’t mean we cannot share our experience! Does it? This trip to Tuscany wasn’t the first trip, I’ve already crossed it quite a few times.  The thing I don’t like about traveling to Tuscany is the amount of tourists  (just double the amount of people you’re imagining). That’s why I prefer traveling to the regions around Tuscany that are more or less the same when it comes to landscapes. BUT there for some cities  you just have to go to Tuscany to see… you can’t get around it!! Like Siena, Firenze, etc… Most of the cities we went to this time I already visited in the past, but when the occasion presents itself are to be revisited…This time our trip guided us to Firenze, Lucca, Pisa, Volterra and San Gimignano. I’ve never been a Firenze fan though (I have the same feeling about Paris). I know it has beautiful buildings and all, but for some reason the city doesn’t float my boat :-). Or maybe it is because it is soooo busy?? I remember being there once with school and everybody was telling me about how long they had to wait in line to see “Davide” (can be found in Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze)… the thing that I’ve been wondering ever since is how I managed to get in and out in just a few minutes??? (I think walked in via the backdoor… I can’t find an other explanation .) For people who want to see Davide and don’t want to wait in line, outside there is a replica. (Not sure what Ignace was trying to grab on the picture below 😉 )

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What does float my boat is visiting small picturesque towns like Volterra, Lucca and San Gimignano (or in southern Tuscany Pitigliano, Saturnia,…) that even-though they aren’t as big or well known as for example Firenze,  to my opinion are as magnificent! First of all they are less touristy, feel very cozy and mostly have amazing panorama’s as they are 9/10 located on top of a hill. The only “disadvantage” about them being on top of a hill is that there are not “flat” streets… but hey, this means we’ll have to spend less time at the gym ;-).

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Pisa is maybe the city in Tuscany where I have to most mixed feelings as besides the square where you have the leaning tower and the Duomo it stops… unless I overlooked things the few times I was there? Again the buildings are beautiful and you always wonder how they managed to build it??!! OK, it official now you guys think I’m a barbarian 😦 Of course when you are in the neighborhood a quick visit won’t hurt 😉 because although there nothing else to see (to my opinion) you have to have seen the real leaning tower…

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I like seeing old buildings, get thrown back in history and walk around, and I don’t want to seem like a barbarian, but a good trip isn’t a good trip without some good food and wine…I do realize that I said I wouldn’t be talking about wine anymore, but hey that’s the way  the cookie crumbles 😉 My preference always goes to asking local people where I should be eating/drinking… the more typical we can eat the better (I mean I’m not travelling to Tuscany to eat Pesto Genovese or Mexican food…) AND the nr 1 thing to avoid is the so called “tourist traps”!!!  In this case it was Guiseppe Cantoni (from Fattoria Fibbiano) who was the source of gastronomical information in the area.

This lead us to some wonderful eateries that were exactly what greedy me and my partners in crime needed :-). Already from the moment we left home Carlos was “whining” about his quest to eatthe famous “bistecca alla fiorentina” (like a T-bone steak) during this trip… His request was my demand…so we went for a search of a good Fiorentina… Result of the search Osteria La Gattaiola. When you see an Italian “mama”  in the kitchen you just know the food will be great… what I found out in this restaurant is that there are more people like my dad… I mean with the same extreme energy and always joking around (comparable with Roberto Benigni in La vita e bella)… that was a loooooot of energy in 1 room 🙂 🙂 As if the 1,2kg Bistecca fiorentina wasn’t enough food for one night, we also needed to have a “small” antipasto just to get the appetite going… (FYI, I ate something lighter O:) )

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Our table for the night

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Another restaurant I definitely would like to mention is ristorante La vallata… where besides there very nice typical Tuscany dishes prepared only with local ingredients (mostly from their own yard including the meat as they grow most animals themselves) and in a refined way .They also serve pizza’s… but not your average pizza…  pizza normally isn’t really to call special and yet at La vallata they manage to make it something special to also only using local ingredients to top the pizza’s like with dried duck ham, or Pecorino, pears, honey and Gorgonzola… or ‘Carpaccio di Chianina Rucola e Spolverata di Cacio di Pienza’ (all pizza’s)… I think we liked the restaurant as we went there twice in 5 days :-). They also have a very nice wine list also here only local producers (they also have Andrea Boccelli’s wine on the list) or own production with a very nice Nero Puro.

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A few other places to try:

Enoteca Del Duca in Volterra: very good for refined Italian/Tuscan food

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Il latini in Firenze : just fun to eat here… no fancy or special food, hams hanging around and eventhough there is a menu you’ll have to eat what they tell you to 😉 Also they do have a nice wine selection, but standard they open a Fiasco of wine…(unless you specify you don’t want it)

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L’osteria di Gianni Brunelli in Siena: good food with a great wine selection.

I really had a great trip and I would like to thank everybody who helped making it so wonderful!!! Traveling with the right people is always great 🙂 After trips like this I really wonder why I’m still living in Belgium and working with SAP:-) ???

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Roadtrip with my dad: Abbazia Monte Oliveto

The last vineyard we did on our trip was Abbazia Monte Oliveto, which is just like Castello d’albola a vineyard of the Zonin group. Unlike most of the other vineyard the Zonin Family has, this is a much smaller estate where only produce 3 types of wine, 2 white ones and 1 red. I know I said Castello d’albola was beautiful, but although Abbazia monte Oliveto is much smaller it sure is a hidden treasure. At the front you have a view on the only a stone throw away charming mediaeval town San Gimignano (where I once met Danny Devitto 🙂 ) . And on the other side a spectacular view on beautiful typical Tuscany hills… I wouldn’t mind waking up with a view like this every morning (which would even be possible as they have 7 rooms )

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When I mention San Gimignano and wine in one sentence a few bells should start to ring. San Gimignano is famous (besides from being a charming but unfortunately very touristy little town right up a hill) for its white wines also known as Vernaccia di San Gimignano. What is typical about the Vernaccia di San Gimignano is its slightly more acidity than in usual white wines and maybe a bit of bitter aftertaste … this makes that it is not always an everyman’s friend. A Vernaccia di San Gimignano should also be drunk fairly young. Like for many wines also for the Vernaccia di San Gimignano there are also rules for making this type of wine. It must contain 90% Vernaccia grapes, with up to 10% other non aromatic approved white varieties. In addition for a “Riserva” the rules say it must have a minimum of twelve months of aging. BTW the reason I always stress out it is a “Vernaccia di San Gimignao” is because there are also other varieties of Vernaccia but that are a totally different thing: Vernaccia di Oristano (from Sardinia – sherry-like) and Vernaccia di Serrapetrona (from Le Marche – sparkeling red wine)….

Back to the “Abbey” which would be the English word for Abbazia. Abbazia Monte Oliveto is as I mentioned a rather small estate, with “only” 18hectares of land of which not all of it being covered by vines. Small is maybe not the right word as I’ve been told there are around 170 winemakers in San Gimignano and I’m sure the San Gimignano premises isn’t infinite 🙂 :-). I personally couldn’t have imagined a more relaxing afternoon than at Abbazia Monte Oliveto! Not that I was stressed or uncomfortable at the other ones, but not sure what made me (and my partners in crime) even more relaxed here?? Maybe it was the view over the hills in combination with tasting the nice wine and good company? Who knows… Abbazia Monte Oliveto only has 3 wines of which 2 are Vernaccia, Gentilesca and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano both made from 100% Vernaccia grapes with the biggest difference in the winemaking the Gentilesca being made from grapes from older vines… Their 3rd wine is a ‘Sangiovese in purezza’, so a red wine called Fusaia. From the 2 Vernaccia’s I’m not sure which one I preferred, but to me the Gentilesca seemed to be the “pure” one and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano the “fruitier” one.

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The longer we were sitting there the better the wine became… I didn’t feel like standing up to go “home” (Hotel that is) anymore… I’m sure you know that feeling that you’re so comfortable that moving is out of the question?? Well that’s the feeling we had. I think Carlos was even in trance 🙂 (Although I definitely think it was the wine, hahaha) But can you blame him with such a view??

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2 wines that I was also happy to taste on top of the Abbazia Monte Oliveto, were the wines from Podere San Cristoforo (no, no because it has my name in it) or as I call it “Lorenzo Zonin’s babies”… But I’ll talk about them more in detail another time, because I’ve been talking quit a lot about wines the last few posts). Ok, maybe just this, normally I don’t talk about the etiquette (I normally only focus what is on the inside), but for this one I just have to make an exception as it was entirely covered with Braille “writing” besides normal words… very special ! Obviously the bottle content was also of my liking…

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Moral of my Abbazia Monte Oliveto story, definitely a place to visit and wines to try.

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To be continued… (I promise no more wine talk 😉 )

Roadtrip with my dad: Castello d’albola

During our Tuscany trip we crossed and driven on lots of beautiful country roads, which is definitely one the reasons one should visit Tuscany (or Umbria, Lazio, or any other region in Italy)… if you miss this you’ve missed part of the Tuscany vibe to my opinion. One of the most beautiful and relaxing drives (it felt a bit like being in one of those car commercials) ,even as the driver during this trip, was towards the next vineyard we were about to visit, Castello d’albola one of the Zonin group vineyards. Arriving at Castello d’albola is as magical as driving on the roads to get there… As new as Fattoria Fibbiano was as old is Castello d’albola as it already originates from the 15th century, but only got bought by the Zonin Family in 1979. (if you want to know more about the history) The estate covers around 900 hectares of land or 900 football fields 🙂  of which 150 have vineyards on them and the rest is mostly covered with olive threes which gives you the most beautiful panoramic views. Maybe some pictures help you to convince how beautiful it is up there?? (Admitted the sunny weather made it even better)

Castello d'albola estate

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What I forgot to mention is that Castello d’albola is located just out of the “downtown” of Radda in Chianti one of the few towns where the production of Chianti is allowed. Maybe the first question I should ask you is what do you actually know about Chianti besides it being from Tuscany? When I say Chianti I’m not talking about the “Fiasco”, but about the Chianti Classico and Superiore. The Chianti Classico (can be recognised with the black rooster label on the bottle) and Chiant Superiore can only be produced with grapes from in Castellina in Chianti (SI), Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Greve in Chianti (FI) and Radda in Chianti (SI) and a few little towns on their borders also called sub-zones (for the Superiore grapes cannot come from the border towns). On top of the limitations on the “grape areas” there are also strict rules on the kinds of grapes that can be used to make the wine and aging rules (just like you would have rules for making Champagne, Barolo,…). A Chianti can only be called Chianti when a minimum of 80% of Sangiovese grapes are used to make the wine and if mixed with other grapes (so the remaining 20%), these grapes have to be on the list of allowed grapes like Canaiolo for example. The reason why some winemakers will be mixing Sangiovese with othere grapes is to soften the wines as the Sangiovese grape is a very strong grape with lots of tannins… The aging time must be a minimum of 7 months. I could go on talking about Chianti, but maybe this would bore you and it would take me too much off track about the actual trip 🙂

Black rooster

I do want to add one more thing. Although most wine estates will like making Chianti wine out of respect for tradition, but most estates will mostly also be making a (super) Toscana IGT where the rules are less strict and a winemaker can let himself go and be creative and show how good he actually is…

It was nice walking around the Castello d’albola’s vineyard as you can feel the history it carries around, somehow it feels like you are going back in time (but then with modern lightning and other features as a bonus) and as like it was meant to be a few motorbikes from 1915 (so from during WO I) were standing on the parking of the estate (they were from other people visiting the vineyard) … so the historical feel was even bigger. It is just unbelievable how thick the walls are from historical buildings like Castello d’albola and how isolating they are (how the keep the right temperature inside). Castello d’albola is worth the visit when you’re visit Tuscany.

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Castello d’albola produces between 500 000 and 800 000 bottles a year (depending on the weather conditions that would influence the harvest (amount)). Part of wines ages in the old cellars, but most of the wine ages in the in 1991newly build warehouse (although I’m not sure it is the right name for it as it is more than that) which has all the modern facilities a winemaker should have to make good wine 🙂

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Like all visits the best part is always the tasting of the finished product where lots of people have worked hard and long for… If only already out of respect for the ones who made it 😉 and combine this tasting with some good local salami, ham and/or cheese and you’ve got an Italian feast (my opinion, I don’t need much to be happy)

I always say my beautiful fiancée has an expensive taste, but I have to plead guilty as well as for some reason I always seem to like the most expensive wines during a tasting 🙂 🙂 (without knowing the price upfront) … FYI it is not that I didn’t/ don’t like the other wines, but the taste wants what the taste wants 😉 From the Castello d’albola gamma my preferred wines were the Acciaiolo, Il Solatio and Le Ellere as they were of a stronger character and had a fuller body with I think the strongest the Il Solatio which is 100% sangiovese aka “Sangiovese in purezza” (which in English would mean pure Sangiovese). I already feel that my home wine assortment increasing.

wines I liked at castello

The absolute star of the tasting of the wines of the Castello d’albola vineyard was I think their Vin Santo which was one of the best I’ve ever tasted (and I just can’t get enough of the cantucci cookies you dip in that wine). It was sweet, but not too sweet or sticky in the mouth.

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We now set sail to the Abbazia Monte Oliveto wine estate of which you will read more in my next blogpost. After that I’ll stop talking about wine and tell more about other things to do in Tuscany 🙂 (although that mostly also involves eating and drinking 😉

Roadtrip with my dad: Fattoria Fibbiano

As you probably read in my blogpost about Fattoria Fibbiano’s winetasting I had a while ago at restaurant Pazzo (my blogpost) that what astonished / intrigued me is the fact they only use original Tuscan grapes like Sangiovese,  Canaiolo , Colombana, Colorino and Malvasia , so no Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon gets used…. So you can imagine why I definitely wanted to visit this vineyard?! During the wine tasting with Matteo I already thought he was speaking with lots of passion about their wines, but his brother Nicola (who I met during this trip) who makes the wines even surpasses this level of passion and also transmits this passion to the ones he talks to 🙂 (in this case my dad, our 2 partners in crime joining us on this trip and me).

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Nicola

You know what makes Italy, Italy? The hospitality! No matter whom you visit or how long, they’ll always bring out their best food and drinks to make you feel welcome… AND I let them 😉 😉 no really I just love it. At Fattoria Fibbiano this wasn’t any different as we immediately felt very welcome!!

Even though Fattoria Fibbiano only exists for 20 years they have already achieved a lot if you ask me. I think their biggest strength is the fact it is a family business and every member of the family has its particular task Matteo (the oldest brother) does the sales all over the world, Nicola makes the wine, Giuseppe (the father) helps out Nicola and the wives (lovely ladies I must add!)take care of the Agriturismo (6 apartments) and will try to make your stay most enjoyable. Maybe before I continue talking about the vineyard I should indicate where it is located. Fattoria Fibbiano is in Terricciola a little village 40km from Pisa.

location

I must admit I found it a pity I couldn’t sleep at their agriturismo as it looked really nice (the great weather also chipped in)… but nevertheless I felt home and btw I’ll be back anyway in the future 😉 (Don’t get me wrong I also like the place we ended up sleeping)

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agriturismo

Something I didn’t mention yet is that Fattoria Fibbiano is that for making the wines only treat their soils with organic, non-chemical substances. Something that also surprised me was that most of the work on the vineyard is still done manually with the most important reason to keep a good overview of everything that lives/happens in the vineyard… a machine can be quick and as good as it wants, but the human feel/ look is something that cannot be replaced if you want to make a high quality product. Nicola follows the progress from the vineyard daily from the moment it starts blooming until the actual grape picking. The difference between wanting to make quality wine from big quantity wine already starts with grape selection in the vineyards… with this I mean that the winemakers won’t leave all the grapes(bunches) on the branches, during the year they will be cutting away those bunches that are too much on a branch. This will give the remaining grapes the higher quality… basically if you would have 7 bunches or a branch, the branch will have to nourish all 7 bunches… if you cut away a few bunches, the remaining bunches will get nourished more/better = higher quality grape. Don’t worry I won’t get too technical. Something I can never get my head around when I’m visiting a places where there now are vineyards ( or desert) millions of years ago used to be sea (although maybe if the global warming continues one day I’ll get to see it again) and still up to today you can find shells in the soil… I’m saying this a where Fattoria Fibbiano’s vineyards are located it used to be sea and you still see shells laying around…

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What I think makes wine making fun for the winemakers, is that they can experiment with it in the case of Fattoria Fibbiano they use different barrels, they use obviously wooden barrels, stainless steel tanks and cemented tanks. Depending on the type of wine they’ll be making they will leave the wine for a particular period in the mentioned types of barrels… but if you would leave the same wine other periods in different types of barrels the result will be totally different 🙂 great, right? Obviously when making wines there are some rules to take into account. It was to hear Nicola speak with so much passion on his vision on winemaking and what way he liked to make wine… One thing I’m sure of is that a winemaker needs lots of patience and know-how as it seems simple, but I’m sure it isn’t if you want to do it in a proper way. He was now even experimenting on making an own Rosé sparkling wine… hopefully I’ll be able to taste it one day

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I’m not sure what it was, but I found their cellar very light and as they are only for 20 years the cellar also looks very new 🙂 … Visiting the cellar is all very nice, but to my opinion it was getting a bit dry … it was time for some tasting that got even better with a slice of homemade salami and a local cheese… or as we call it ‘la dolce vita’ 😉

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I could describe all their wines, but I won’t as I think the only way to know how they taste is by tasting them 🙂 . How a wine tastes changes from where, when and for which occasion you drink it… I wouldn’t be able to indicate my favourite wine as they all have their specific taste and thing I like about them, although I must admit like the Fonte delle donne, l’Aspetto and Casalini a lot… The most ‘special’ wine (and I also mentioned it in my previous blogpost) is their rosé wine aka Sofia made 100% from the Sangiovese grape (that normally only gets used to make strong red wines like a Brunello di Montalcino, …) so if you want to impress friends with a special rosé… this is the one. What all Fattoria Fibbiano’s wines have in common is that they are easy to drink! This is also how the family describes their wines and it is also the product they want… their most complex wine would be the Ceppatella…. I know, it is probably due to the fact I’m greedy that I’m not able to choose a favourite one 🙂

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As if all of this wasn’t hospitable enough, we were asked to join the family table for dinner prepared by the ladies of the house (who are we to refuse)… and they have outdone themselves (BTW, when staying at the Agriturismo if wanted you can also eat there… just FYI). Feast your eyes on the meal they had prepared for us (or the shortened version of it).

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I had a wonderful day under the Tuscany sun and was ready to continue our trip! (but I’ll be back as our dear friend Arnold said 😉 but with my beautiful fiancée as I’m sure she’d love it here ). To be continued…..

Roadtrip with my dad

For years my dad and I make a yearly trip (long weekend) to Italy, usually around April, with wine as the ‘central theme’… or that is the excuse 🙂 . I know I don’t need an excuse to go on a little trip, but for some reason one feels less guilty when he has an excuse 🙂 What we basically do during these trips is eating, drinking, sleeping and enjoying life combined with an occasional vineyard visit. One of the world’s biggest wine fairs “Vinitaly” in Verona has also been the destination for a few times, but I do prefer visiting a few vineyards from friends in a particular area/ region in Italy. Normally it is my dad making all the arrangements, but this year it was my turn to organize the trip which brought us to the always beautiful Tuscany… No matter how many times you visit Tuscany it doesn’t wear off… The only thing that usually bothers me is the enormous amount of tourists!! FYI, I’m not a tourist, from the moment I cross the Italian boarder I’m an Italian (double nationality) 🙂 🙂

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The main reason I picked Tuscany was because during 2 wine tastings in Belgium I met 2 guys whose wine I liked and their vineyards happen to be in Tuscany :-). The first guy is Lorenzo Zonin (my blogpost) who have vineyards all over Italy of which 3 (+ 1 personal from Lorenzo) vineyards in Tuscany and the other guy it Matteo Cantoni from Fattoria Fibbiano (my blogpost). What I did not realize when I was planning my trip that during this period Italy celebrated its National holiday during this period… but ok in the end all worked out anyhow (so no damage).

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The initial plan was to sleep at the Agriturismo from Fattoria Fibbiano as it is close to lots of “must-visits” in Tuscany like Sangiminiano, Volterra, Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Firenze, San Miniato, Lari, Vinci, Calci… but due to the fact they are so popular and I waited too long to book we stayed at one of Fattoria Fibbiano’s friends (that are only 1 km away)Agriturismo Santo Pietro… so you see one excuse made room for another as I just have to return just to be able to sleep at Fattoria Fibbiano’s agriturismo 🙂 (ooooooh yeah). I have to admit that where I slept didn’t matter as long as I could see the people I wanted to see I’m happy! (in case you didn’t know it yet, I’m a people person) Another option would have been staying at Abbazia Monte Oliveto’s agriturismo (from Zonin)

Fattoria Fibbiano

Stay tuned to read more about our trip and the wonderful hospitality we got!

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