Where do I begin? Italy was amazing – the scenery, the food, and of course the wine. Spectacular. The trip for me started in Rome.
From Cappuccinos, to pizza – from the Vatican to the Trevi fountain, I got to experience Rome in a day, including the infamous Italian drink Spritz.
I was ready to leave Rome when we did. Lots and lots of people, and shoulder to shoulder crowds at the tourist sites. So I was happy when we went to the airport to pick up the other two ladies, who I would share this amazing journey with. And a girl couldn’t ask for better travel companions. Here I am with Cathy and Ruth, as we head to Tuscany, lead by the best tour guide we could ask for, Dominica (on the right).
Day 1 in Tuscany, we were staying at a villa near Montalcino belonging to the Carpazo Winery. And Carpazo was the first wine tasting we did that week. Two of the wines from the winery are available here in Nova Scotia at a boutique wine store, Bishop’s Cellar.
This is Christine, who conducted the wine tasting.
This is one of the wines we drank not only at the tasting, but over the course of the entire week, and it’s one of the wine’s that’s available here in Nova Scotia. The Rosso di Montalcino was the wine I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, right after I booked the trip to Italy.
The first wine we had the day of the tasting was a delicious white wine called Le Grance, which I come to discover is the name given to the fortified buildings used in the Sienese countryside during the middle ages to store agricultural goods. Caparzo decided to call the area that the vineyards that yield this wine are located, Le Grance, and in 1985 produced the first bottle of. Not only does fermentation take place in oak, part of the aging does as well. This means a full-bodied white wine with lovely dried fruit flavors on the palate, and a great wine for white meat, fish and pasta.
La Casa is the section of the Carpazo winery where we stayed at our gorgeous villa. And thankfully it had a pool. It was so hot, that pool saved our lives many times.
Here’s a picture of the best travelling companions in the world outside the front of the villa. Dominica, Cathy and Ruth provided the most fun, and my favorite parts of the entire trip was to eat supper at the villa, and then we would sit around and drink wine and tell stores and laugh so much. There was no internet, which was a great thing, because it gave us the opportunity to talk and to get to know each other.
Our villa was surrounded by vines, and the vines made this wine, the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita, which is a mouthful. In English, it basically means Designation of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed, and it’s the highest classification given an Italian wine. Christine was telling us they have to follow 54 rules in order to get this classification. This wine is from a single vineyard and contains 100% Sangiovese fruit. Aged in french oak, this wine has an aging capacity of 35 years or more. Most wines are meant to be consumed quite young, because they will lose their fruit flavors and freshness if aged too long. This is one of the exceptions.
And last but not least….
The Carpazo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, and Riserva means it was aged for a longer time. We enjoyed the 2011 vintage and what I found really interesting about this wine was that it was aged in both French oak and Slavonian oak. Slavonia is a region in Croatia, and the oak barrels produced there are often quite large, which imparts a subtle oak flavor on the wine and the tannins are softer. Tannins are those things in wine that make the sides of your gumline come alive. This is a full-bodied wine which is meant to go well with grilled meats. They probably made it to pair well with the wild boar that roam the region and seem to make it on every menu. We did get to experience wild boar that had been made into a dried meat, and it was quite gamey. Not my favorite so I didn’t order it when I went to a restaurant.
Here’s a picture of a stuffed wild boar that we saw in one of the towns. It’s the closest we got, much to mine and Ruth’s dismay. You can’t walk around the hills of Tuscany at night because they are so plentiful. We didn’t want to come face to face with one, but we were hoping to see one at a distance.
Us sitting around enjoying a glass while Dominica cooked an amazing meal. Well that’s it for me this week. Stay tuned, there’s more of Italy to come next week.
Till then, Cheers