A tavola con il Nobile – Wines of Tuscany
A tavola con il Nobile – Day 1
Nearly a year ago I (as Cook in Venice) was invited by AIFB (Associazione Italiana Food Blogger) to attend and be one of the judges in a major Food and Wine event in Montepulciano in Tuscany, called A Tavola con il Nobile 2017.
Unfortunately it took me ages to finally find the time to write about this incredible experience, mainly because so many interesting and exciting things happened during that time, I took way too many photos and so much happened after that!
But now I finally have found the time!
So here is a recount of a three-day event in the beautiful town of Montepulciano in Tuscany!
Day 1 – Montepulciano welcomes us!
We arrived early afternoon, managing to make our way through the small medieval streets of Montepulciano, which would have been perfect in those medieval times with carts and horses, but definitively not for cars! If you are driving there, remember parking spot are difficult to find – check with your hotel if it offers parking facilities.
As Montepulciano Living reports:
From an urban viewpoint, Montepulciano develops almost vertically, being built on a hill. There are parking facilities for cars and motorbikes more or less everywhere, even if in the higher part of town (Cathedral, Piazza Grande, Fort) there aren’t many parking spaces and tour buses aren’t allowed. There are spaces reserved for buses and coaches in piazza Pietro Nenni, below the Sanctuary of Sant’Agnese. From here, you can take the lift to the Poggiofanti gardens and start visiting the town, walking up the main road. Buses can also stop, just to let passengers on and off, near Porta delle Farine.
Our hotel, of course, was right in the old historic centre!
We stayed at Hotel La Terrazza and thankfully they have some parking spots available right by the entrance of the hotel.
The structure, a small boutique hotel with only 10 rooms, is right in the centre of the medieval city, with rooms overlooking one of the main streets: Piazza Grande is only a short walk higher up in the town!
We were welcomed with open arms by Roberto and Vittoria, the owners of La Terrazza. The place is simply beautiful: the rooms are comfortable and large; my bathroom even had chromo-therapy features in the shower. The upper floor veranda has a view of two beautiful church towers and the rooftops of Montepulciano, and in summer breakfast is served in their cute garden.
We met also with Elvia Gregorace of Il Tritagonista, an incredible wine journalist and blogger, also a member of Aifb!
After refreshing a little, it was August after all, and a very hot humid day, we walked around the city a little bit, taking in the beauty of one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy, near Siena!
Montepulciano is full of elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, charming squares and hidden corners, where you can enjoy vast panoramas all over the wonderful Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana, the valleys that surround it.
We then made out way to Enoliteca del Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, where we were going to meet some of the producers of the Nobile and taste some of this amazing wine from Tuscany.
The Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, founded in 1965, was created to protect and promote the image of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (and now also the Rosso and Vin Santo) in Italy and around the world.
There are currently 230 grower-members of the Consorzio, representing over 90% of the local vineyards. 67 of the total of 89 local bottlers are members of the Consorzio.
And the Consorzio created also the ENOLITECA CONSORTILE, the wine Shop of the Consorzio, in 2016, on the occasion of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Doc.
The Enoliteca is hosted in the ancient fortress of Montepulciano, which hosts also the headquarters of the Consortium. The fortress is also the location for art exhibitions, shows, meetings, courses and other activities.
The new Enoliteca overlooks the cloister of the Fortress and occupies a space, on a single floor, of about 300 square meters, which includes the reception desk, the room for tastings and service rooms.
The rooms give access to a magnificent internal garden, with a panoramic view of the Temple of San Biagio, Val di Chiana and Val d’Orcia, embellished by the presence of some particularly valuable trees. But what most characterizes this place is the crystal floor that allows you to admire the archaeological finds located in the subsoil.
This is probably the most beautiful wine shop I had the fortune to visit. A bit strange if you suffer from vertigo, but most definitively very interesting!
And you can also get your wine on a tap!
One of the people involved in the restoration quickly told us the story behind the incredible findings which where discovered while digging: almost at the end of the excavation work, a very interesting circular dry stone wall structure was found, of considerable size (about 5.50 meters of internal diameter for a total of 7-8 meters, including the masonry and the external waterproof layer in clay), in which artifacts from Etruscan and Roman times were found.
It is also the ideal place to taste over 100 labels of all the producers associated with the consortium, as well as a selection of local products. An unmissable opportunity for tourists and residents, who want to taste a great glass of red wine in a beautiful and welcoming environment.
We were treated to a lovely buffet dinner of typical Tuscan food, including pecorino cheeses, hams and salami, as well as the best Panzanella I have ever tasted. All washed down with lots (and I mean lots) of Nobile di Montepulciano wine!
The Nobile of Montepulciano, the king of Tuscan Wines
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is one of the oldest and most prestigious wines of Tuscany, produced with the grapes of a particular Sangiovese clone that in Montepulciano takes the name of Prugnolo Gentile, due to the strong scent of plum given to the wine.
Like all great red Tuscan wines, it derives from the bond that has been created over the centuries between Sangiovese and the terroir: the producers are not so many and the original production area has not been enlarged to excess, while enjoying a good prestige since the Renaissance.
Its secret is in the soil: an alternation of sands and clays which, when mixed, create ideal conditions for producing structured wines, full of aromas, but with fine tannins. The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a DOCG wine, a wine with a denomination of controlled origin, the highest recognition in the world of Italian wine.
Nobile is a fine, full-bodied wine with an intense bouquet of prunes, cherries, olives, violets, herbaceous and earthy notes. If you visit the cellars around Montepulciano, you will notice that the Nobile di Montepulciano is a wine so balsamic and characterized by earthy notes and undergrowth, however it is not mineral and austere as the Brunello. In fact you will recognize it for the softness of the tannins and the classic “all plum” fruit aromas.
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG contends with other historical wines the title of the oldest wine in Italy.
In fact we find the first testimony of it in a document of 789 and subsequently in another document of 1350, where the clauses for the commerce and the export of an autochthonous wine of Montepulciano are established. The invention of the name “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG” is officially attributed to Adamo Fanetti in the ’30s. Until then, the wine was officially called “Vino Rosso Scelto di Montepulciano” but Fanetti added to the wine he produced the name “nobile”. The success was consecrated on the occasion of the exhibition-market of typical wines of Siena in 1931, so much so that Tancredi Biondi-Santi, a personal friend of Fanetti, said: “this wine will have a future”. The wine produced in Montepulciano continued to be appreciated over time until obtaining the DOC on 12/07/1966.
The Noble is a “meat” wine, giving its best with red meat, grilled meat, stew, game and foods rich in sweet spices such as cloves and cinnamon. It is excellent also with Pecorino di Pienza and aged cheeses.
At the end of the dinner, we took the short walk to Montepulciano’s famous square to attend another amazing event organized by the Consorzio: Cantine in Piazza.
Cantine in Piazza
Cantine in Piazza is an event organized in Piazza Grande, where dozens of wineries of Montepulciano find space in one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, to present to the fans and the many tourists the best of their productions.
So, in the name of research, we tried some more Nobile as well as other Montepulciano wines: you know, we were going to be judges the following day after all, so we had to make sure we knew what we were talking about!
We eventually managed to stumble back to our hotel, much lighter in spirits and pretty happy, as you can imagine!
And this was only day 1!
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