2014 vintage at La Torre, lunch with the vineyard & winery workers
We are rallied to help in the preparations in the kitchen of Relais La Torre for the annual celebration of the grape harvest. Little did we know that our timing was perfect for this day of frivolity & merriment. This year the grape picking has finished a little later than usual so we get to join in the celebration where Tulio and his family thank the workers for their efforts in bringing in the fruit that will in time turn out some of the best wines in the region. All hand picked, from organically certified vineyards, the Sangiovese and a small amount of Merlot is tucked away beginning the fermentation and organic winemaking process that will produce this vintage of Chianti, Chianti Riserva, I Lastricheti ( amazing wine) & the Macchione. I hope we will be back to try these wines when they are finally bottled which will be in about 2 years time.
The grapes for the other local speciality, the Vinsanto Di Caratello DOCG an amber coloured dessert wine produced from selected grapes of Malvasie, Trebbiano, Canaiolo & Colombano ( which i think is the variety we know as Colombard) are the ones hanging in the attic intensifying their sugar levels Its almost like a botytised Semillon with a dried fruit and honey flavour. We have been fortunate enough to try just a few.
So we spent a few hours in the kitchen prepping and then its time to meet the crew who are arriving spot on time for an afternoon of celebration, aka drinking !!. Tullio doesnt hold back regaling stories and opening the rest of his wines that we haven't already tried. A wonderful host
The day continues with a journey down to Cortona, about 30 minutes south of Arezzo. We have an invitation to meet the owners of Baracchi Estate the charismatic Riccardo and his Michelin Star chef and wife Silvia.
The Baracchi Estate is located on a beautiful slope just east of Cortona with a wonderful view of the Valdichiana Valley. This estate belongs to the Baracchi family since 1860 and witnesses the desire of maintaining the tradition of grape and wine making.
Riccardo Baracchi runs Baracchi Winery with his son Benedetto, continuing a long family tradition. They create some of the region's best wines, such as the Baracchi Brut Rose, the Smeriglio Sangiovese, and the Ardito IGT. There are 60 hectars of land, 22 planted with vineyards, all at about 300mt in altitude with a southern exposure that lets the grapes fully matures.
In addition to the winery, Baracchi owns Il Falconiere, a Spa Relais. Baracchi’s wife, Silvia, organises cooking classes at the restaurant and at their cooking school, called Under the Tuscan Sun. http://www.starchefs.com/cook/videos/interview/wine/riccardo-silvia-baracchi?sub=Wine
As the sun sets in the west we taste the full range of the Baracchi wines including the award winning baracchi millesimato brut rose , their answer to the French Champagne.
Its been a big day so we head into Cortona to meet up with those who had decided shopping was more important than wine tasting !! Yet another amazing town on the Tuscan hill tops
The prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval with steep narrow streets situated on a hillside at an elevation of 600 metres (2,000 ft) that embraces a view of the whole of the Valdichiana. From the Piazza Garibaldi (still referred to by the local population by its older name, Piazza Carbonaia) is a fine prospect of Lake Trasimeno, scene of Hannibal's ambush of the Roman army in 217 BC (Battle of Lake Trasimene). Parts of the Etruscan city wall can still be seen today as the basis of the present wall. The main street, via Nazionale, is the only street in the town with no gradient, and is still usually referred to by locals by its older name of Ruga Piana.
Although we only had about an hour to explore, it was enough to convince me that this is worth a day trip back to unearth the hidden treasures..
So its in the memory bank for another trip, maybe when we return to La Torre for an extended stay.
But for now, time for an early night before our final day in this wonderful part of the world.