The food and wine of Tuscany are legendary. A taste of either and you, too, will fall in love for this beautiful, special spot in Italy. A trip to Tuscany some years back was the inspiration for Goodtaste.tv. This recent trip was one of the best yet!
We’ve been many times, have never been disappointed and have always vowed to return again. As you saw in my previous posts describing this recent trip, our home base was the beautiful Villa Laura—Hollywood’s Bramasole in Under the Tuscan Sun–located near the charming town of Cortona.
Chianti is King in Tuscany! It’s the most widely planted grape in all of Italy. We chose to visit wineries here whose wines we drink when in the mood for Chianti and spots with deep roots in Chianti’s winemaking history.
Up first, Badia a Coltibuono. This historic winery is situated in a picturesque, 9th century monastery and also boasts an award winning restaurant that goes by the same name. Our tour and tasting guide, Roberto Stucchi Prinetti, the winemaker, is also one of three siblings in the family that has owned the estate for the past 150 years. Roberto’s mother, Lorenza de’Medici, is known in Italy and beyond as a very talented chef, having written numerous cookbooks and hosting a cooking show on PBS-TV.
The wines of Badia a Coltibuono are highly rated, classic Chiantis made in the traditional style. They include the unoaked and refreshing Cetamura, the Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Reserve. The brightness of these wines with their spicy cherry and plum notes make them very food friendly. They’re wonderful with roast meats and traditional Italian favorites like Pasta Bolognese or pizza.
Photo by Skip Shumpes
The tour of the ancient monastery at Badia a Coltibuono adds to the charm of their old world wines. Seeing and appreciating a bit of the history that’s gone into the winemaking here for hundreds of years is something you don’t find when touring wineries in the US.
Photo by Skip Shumpes
The food at the restaurant Badia a Coltibuono (the spot is highly acclaimed) is wonderful and the setting beautiful, especially when the weather is nice and you can enjoy your meal on the patio that’s situated on a slight bluff with a gorgeous view to the Tuscan hills beyond.
Risotto is made in practically every Tuscan kitchen, but I must say, the risotto with braised leeks and fresh pecorino at Badia a Coltibuono was the best I had on the trip! So good, I begged for the recipe to share with you all, and voila!
Our second Tuscan wine adventure was a group outing to Castello di Verrazzano (related to the Verrazzano bridge in New York), another historic spot nestled in the heart of the scenic Chianti region. This tour can be lively as its guide, Gino, is quite the showman. Be sure to tour the winery grounds and the ancient cellars where they not only age wine but also produce olive oils and delicious balsamic vinegars.
The tasting of the wines is done over a traditional Tuscan meal of salamis, pasta and grilled pork short ribs. The Verrazzano wines are widely available in the US and as with all good Chiantis, make wonderful food companions.
Another easy day trip from our beloved Villa Laura — Siena. We’ve enjoyed many visits to this historic spot, and it never grows old, including the fantastic Nannini with its exquisite espresso and delicious pastries…Panforte anyone!
Some of my fondest memories of Siena are of the Palio we attended there one summer. The dramatic, adrenalin-filled horse race takes place in the giant piazza and dates back to the 12th century.
This trip we did a little shopping and devoured a delightful lunch at Taverna San Giuseppe, made even better by a bottle of Biondi Santi Rosso 2010.
Taverna San Giuseppe features delicious traditional, homestyle Tuscan fare. Put any thoughts of dieting out of your mind because the homemade pastas here are worth every delectable bite! Check out the rich cheese raviolis below decadently decorated with loads of truffle shavings.
As our Tuscan adventure at Bramasole wound down, we began to look forward to our stopover on the Tuscan coast—Bolgheri—home to some of the best red wines in the world. More on that to come…