The Heart and Soul of Tuscany



The memory of past adventures might fade with time, but somehow the taste of the wine that once touched your taste-buds lingers… and will bring it all back!

We are soon moving into our new house that we have been dreaming of for years, and with the date finally approaching, I started to empty my deep freezer. A surprise adventure into the past by itself… It is yesterday that I dug up some almost forgotten treasure: a pheasant my brother in law – a serious hobby hunter – gave us last year for Christmas. So dinner was quickly decided…

It dawned on me that such a divine roast would call for a great wine – so I rushed to the cellar to get one, when I had a sudden flash-back of the lingering flavor of the red wine we bought on our trip to Tuscany 2 years ago. As we were exploring the “Strada del Vino” in the Montecarlo region, one day we visited the Fattoria di Montechiari – an experience never to be forgotten… That was surely one of the highlights of our holiday!

We were driving up slowly on the hill surrounded by villas, olives and vineyards when we caught glimpse of the gate to the 10 hectare family estate beckoning us…

We had no appointment booked – which would have been customary – just vaguely hoped to gain access. Instead we were soon approached by a man at the gate who generously invited us into the garden.

He happened to be Moreno Panattoni… the owner himself!

It turned out that we arrived in the middle of the season’s first harvest, and the house was bustling with people. We felt so embarrassed to disturb and was ready to leave when he gently ushered us to the processing line and even offered to show us the cellar! Wow… We felt so privileged. So we took a stroll around the house and looked around from the highest point of the estate offering a full panorama of the Lucca hills, and then returned to the wine-press to observe the work of those diligent hands carefully selecting and sorting the grapes. It was simply beautiful to watch…

We were standing there in awe for a while, wondering if it was perhaps inappropriate to start a conversation. Oh, not at all! What a pleasure it was to find out about the history of this fine estate, chatting with the returning guests – or should I say friends – who were coming back to the harvest to participate in the work. How different it must be to taste the wine that your own hands once touched in the process…

Honestly, I was jealous! By then it was obvious to me: I want this choice wine!

I was getting anxious to see the barrels, to find out all about the maturing, the fermentation, the refining and bottling… And sure enough, he proudly escorted us down to the cellar, the “heart and soul” of their wine production. Barrels lined up in neat order all properly labelled, and a smaller room filled with colorful, almost smiling bottles designed to faithfully capture the spirit of this place.

The warmth, the straightforward manner in which this family was handling people, their professional attitude towards wine-making that meticulously took care of all details, yet made no fuss about it was more than convincing. I did not have to taste to know, I am buying a fair selection of their best years. A decision never regretted… In fact, if I was allowed more on the return flight, I would have taken more…

We said goodbye excited to get home and open their Chardonnay, Merlot and their great wine, the Cabernet… the one that left that perfect impact on my palate…

And yes, tonight’s sensation on my taste-buds is truly tantalizing: I find only an empty box in our cellar as a reminiscence of that beautiful color and fragrance. To my relief, I notice a web address on the side to help me find the Fattoria di Montechiari. So let me go now, look it up on the net and place our next order…

Cin cin to that delivery!

 

 

 

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