• Mary Beth Chalk

Virtual Day Eleven: An Introduction to the Vino Nobile Lands and the Sangiovese Grape

The early morning is filled with the sounds of family members arising and preparing for the day of exploring the Tuscan countryside among the Sangiovese vines. Sangiovese is Italy’s most planted grape (173,000 acres) and takes on stylistic expressions based on where it grows. Wine made by the Sangiovese grape goes by many names including Chianti, Brunello de Montalcino, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, Montefalco Rosso, and Morellino di Scansano and is ideally paired with vegetables, spice-driven, and grilled foods.

After breakfast, Luigi picked us up for the 10-minute drive to the Boscarelli Vineyard for our tour and tasting. Founded in 1962 by Egidio Corradi, when he purchased two semi-abandoned small farms in the Montepulciano area, it is currently run by the third generation, Luca and Nicolo. Alberto provided a highly informative tour about the unique qualities of the Vino Nobile lands followed by a tasting, conducted on top of a rustic table, of their DOC Cortona, Super Tuscan, and an old vintage bottle of Vino Nobile accompanied with local salamis and cheese.

Following the tasting we made the 15-minute drive to Ristorante Villa Nottola owned by Daniela and Giuliano Giomarelli. Villa Nottola is located on a gentle hill from which you can see the surrounding Tuscan landscape. The property dates back to the 18th century and produces 140,000 bottles per year from their grapes.

Due to the beautiful sunny day we were able to dine on the outdoor garden terrace overlooking Val di Chiana and Montepulciano. Upon Giuliano's recommendation, we ordered a family-style lunch of specialties. The gnocchi with sage, butter, and parmesan literally disappeared in your mouth - it was simply as lite as air. The grilled Florentine Chianina (T-bone) steak arrived with a warm pink center and so tender as to make our knives almost unnecessary. The garden vegetables were roasted to a golden brown and the flavors exploded in your mouth with each bite. To round out the meal we shared a silky tiramisu that was as lite as a cloud. With each course, Giuliano introduced us to the wines from the Villa Nottola vineyard resulting in our second tasting for the day.

After a leisurely 2-hour lunch, we departed for the short drive back to the Gracciano Wine Estate for an afternoon aperitivo tasting of estate wines prior to returning to Villa Maramai for naps! Several hours later, our sleep was nudged awake by the aroma of Anna's homemade pizzas baking in the oven. We lazily arose and wandered into the kitchen where a rousing game of Mexican Train dominoes was in progress.

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