Since we did not rent a car but wanted to explore the wine regions, we opted to take day trips that would bring us to the vineyards. We decided on a day trip from Siena to the region responsible for Brunello di Montalcino. We met a group of eight total (we looked for small group tours to get the most personalized trip we could) at San Domenico Basilica for an eight hour day, which was also our first rainy day of the trip (rain jackets came in handy!). While the Chianti day trip was full of people our age, this group was quite the opposite. Nervous we were not going to enjoy ourselves as much, we tried to look past our outlying age and focus on ourselves.
The first stop before any food or wine was the abbey of Sant’Antimo where French Benedictine monks resided. While we did not have the chance to hear their chants, we learned about the order and history, even being able to spot bullet damage to the building from World War II.
Vineyard: Podere le Ripi
Our first vineyard was Podere le Ripi and while the rest of our van required immediate bathroom breaks, we got the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the young wine maker about the property, the wine making process, and their new wine cellar. The wine cellar was so impressive- brand new, made of all natural materials built into the ground, spiraling down until the center where all the vats and barrels of wine rested. It romanticized the entire process as every barrel and bottle laid peacefully under ground. After the tour, we got to sit and try the wine. Each wine was exceptional- like none we had every tried. This tasting solidified our love not just for Italian wine, but for Brunello. Our favorite was the 2007 Brunello that was indescribable. This was the first moment we were disappointed that we could not bring a souvenir in our carry on!
Lunch/Vineary: Podere il Cocco
The next stop on our journey was lunch at agriturismo Podere il Cocco. On the tables waiting for us was a spread of meats, cheeses. and bruschetta- all very tasty! The first course (primi) was penne and ricchiodo, sausage and cream sauce. The second course (secondi) was roasted rubs and polenta. Homemade cannoli cake was for dessert. Along with all the delicious food, we had tastings of the wine produced by the vineyard, which was in no short supply. Bottles around the table and you helped yourself- our kind of tasting experience!
Our tour then took us to the town of Montalcino where we had time to explore the town center. The town was full of wine stores and plentiful in its second export, honey. The fortazza in the center had an open market where we indulged in some local chocolate cookies. The views from atop the hill where the center of town sat were gorgeous.
Vienyard: Paradiso di Frassina
Still food and wined- out, we got back in the van for our final destination for a truly unique experience at Paradiso di Frassina. This vineyard has Bose speakers set up all through the vineyard and plays Mozart to the vines 24/7, apparently being studied by universities to evaluate sound waves and the effect on botanicals. The owners of this vineyard truly believe in the process- that the plants can “hear” the sound waves, that the bugs that may harm the plants are naturally repelled by the sound waves, among other philosophies being evaluated. It was an extremely relaxing environment being around the music and the rolling hills of Montalcino, filled with grapes ready to be picked off the vines.
Concluding our trip, we made our way back to our meeting point at San Domenico Basilica and then to our hotel for our final night in Siena before departing for Orvieto! Overall, we had a wonderful day discovering a new wine region. It is amazing how much you learn about wine when on location.