Day 2: A Tavola con Il Nobile – The Culinary Contest
Day 1: read here.
As indicated in my earlier post, I was asked to be a judge on a food and wine contest in the lovely town of Montepulciano in Tuscany back in August 2017. A contest called A Tavola con il Nobile!
After a huge breakfast at Hotel La Terrazza, livened up by Roberto with his verve and typical Tuscan manner, we wandered around Montepulciano admiring the various sites: Piazza Grande, Palazzo Comunale, Tempio di San Biagio, Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Chiesa di Sant’Agostino as well as the cute little medieval streets, full of local artisans and food shops.
Later in the morning we made our way to Carpineto Wines, one of the biggest wineries in Tuscany.
Carpineto is located in Tuscany, in Greve in Chianti but spreads in four splendid estates, between Chianti, Montepulciano, Montalcino and the Maremma.
We visited the estate in Montepulciano.
Carpineto was founded in 1967 by a Pugliese and a Veneto men with the precise idea of producing Chianti Classico and to sell it internationally: a goal successfully achieved since Carpineto is currently a worldwide successful brand, exporting its wines to 70 countries.
The owners Sacchet and Zaccheo wanted to exploit the enormous potential of the Tuscan lands, turning it to their service in the production of excellent wines and using the most innovative techniques, but always carried out in full respect of tradition, territory, Tuscan historical values and of his DOCG prestige.
The company philosophy is based on precision agriculture with the latest generation of machines and technologies with very little environmental impact, which allows treatments to be carried out only when needed and targeted. This is also why the company is a model in terms of sustainability. As it is a model compared to the carbon footprint, with vineyards and woods that absorb much more CO2 than the company itself produces.
in the Tenuta di Montepulciano we find the contiguous vineyard with the highest density in Italy (65 hectares), the Camponibbio vineyard. The average plant density is about 8,000 plants per hectare producing wines of great concentration and finesse. from individual vineyards.
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva
After a really eye opening visit to the winery, including the vast vineyard and where all the Nobile barrels are stored, we took part in a vertical tasting of Carpineto wines!
That meant tasting some of their great wines, dating back from the 90s.
An incredbile experience!
And after all the tasting, we all gathered for lunch!
The program mentioned: a light lunch at the winery – well….a light lunch it was not!
We were treated to all sorts of cheeses and hams, bruschetta, panzanella, savoury pies, fresh bread and to top it all: a huge typical Grilled T-Bone steak!
And of course: litres and litres of excellent quality wine by Carpineto!
A light lunch…yea right- I soon discovered the word light lunch in Tuscany has a totally different meaning!
Anyway, we eventually managed to return to the town centre and went back to the Fortress to meet the people of the Consorzio, for the briefing on A Tavola con il Nobile, for the presentation of the judges and the division in the various committees, which will then start the tasting of the various dishes from the contrade.
What is A Tavola con il Nobile?
But first of all let me explain you what the contest is all about!
15 years ago, the report from RAI Tg2 Bruno Gambacorta, together with the Consortium, had the brilliant idea of linking the historic Bravìo delle Botti, dating back to the end of the fourteenth century, with another challenge: a wine & food competition, bringing into play a lot of other people from the contrade and not only the athletic pushers of barrels.
This is how “A tavola con il Nobile” was born: a competition that sees the Contrade challenging each other in the kitchen in order to enhance the typical local products and the combination with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
20 critics, journalists and bloggers are divided into groups coordinated by a president and led by a member of the consortium, alternating in the visit of each of the 8 Contrade, to try the dish proposed, based on the theme of the current edition: in 2017 it was the pecorino used in first courses.
Eight districts, two race sessions: one on Saturday and one on Sunday. The eight districts compete in the kitchen, offering products and dishes of local tradition, often reinterpreted, which must match well with the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, enhancing the characteristics of local products and the prestigious local wine.
Some of us had to take experience to another level: going around the hilly city on e-bikes organised by Urban Bikery ! Brava Elvia!
I was lucky enough to be in the committee with some amazing wine experts: Ernesto Gentili, one of the most famous wine critics and experts in Italy (and one of the funniest men I have ever met!), Nicola Masiello, chef of the restaurant Betulia as well as emeritus President of Fisar, Maurizio Drago, wine and food journalist and expert.
As you can see, I was surrounded by incredible experts: I felt like a little girl surrounded by giants (they are all tall anyway and I am short, so it was not just metaphorical).
With us was also Silvia Loriga, from the Consorzio.
The knowledge about food & wine these people had, was nearly overwhelming! But they were all so kind to me: they totally made me fall in love with the wine and food we were tasting! So much so, that after that, I decided to start my sommelier course!
We started our tasting marathon (that is the only way I can describe it!), making our way through the narrows alleyways of Montepulciano on foot – that is why it was a real Marathon and not just a figure of speech! And you try to do that on the hilly streets of Montepulciano in high heels!
Our mission was to taste and test the dishes and wines from 4 contrade and give points to each!
But first: what is a contrada
What is a Contrada?
The history of the Contrade of Montepulciano, which had a controlling and administrative role, can be traced back to the municipal statute of 1337, IV book of the Mayor, and with the same names of the time as of today:
Cagnano, Collazzi, Coste, Gracciano, Poggiolo, San Donato, Talosa, Voltaia.
Each Contrada had its “Societas”, with a head called “Rector”, and administered its business within certain limits. The Rectors represented the Contrada in particular solemnities, throughout the year.
From the ancient history of the Contrade di Montepulciano, documented by the Municipal Statutes of the time, kept in the historical archives of the Municipality of Montepulciano, all the modern symbology of the same has been traced, which, inspired by the past, has maintained the same nomenclature until today: the colors, the coats of arms, the urban territoriality, and, above all, the same model of ceremonial.
Throughout the evening we walked from one contrada to the other (4 on the first evening) with the aim of tasting their chosen first course dish with Pecorino, matched to 4 different Nobile of Montepulciano.
We were supposed to judge the flavor of the dish, the presentation, the respect in the use of traditional products while at the same time being able to re-elaborate the dish in a innovative way, as well as how well it combined with the wines proposed.
A tough job, trust me!
We started with Contrada Le Coste
Then proceeded to Contrada Poggiolo
And off to Contrada Gracciano
To finish the evening with Contrada Voltaia
By then the spirits we very high again, after tasting so much good food and a 16 different types of Nobile!
So we made our way to Piazza Grande, where we attended the officially opening of the week of events of the Bravìo delle Botti, with the traditional Proclamation of the Gonfaloniere, which marks the beginning of the match between the eight districts of Montepulciano.
The representatives of each district, divided into thirds, march in procession through the city, starting from their home territory to reach Piazza Grande. The ceremony proceeds with the reading of the Proclamation and the greeting by the Gonfaloniere. Then the festivities carry on with the Heralded Flag Wavers and the drummers of Montepulciano .
And so, after a full day we finally headed back to our hotel, knowing that day 3 will be just as full!
Day 3: read here
Day 1: read here
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