There are days that are circled on your personal calendar of life followed by five stars. Today has been one of those days.
We started out by visiting Salcheto, one of my favourite wineries in Tuscany. The vines, heavy with ripe fruit, are ready for picking. Three years ago when we came to Cortona with friends for a birthday celebration, we were introduced to Salcheto, producer of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
It was one of highlights of a week. And we stayed in touch with the director of hospitality, Ettore (Italian version of Hector) even when the winery was operating out of the back of a restaurant while the main facility was being turned into an ecological marvel. Ettore gave us a tour and orchestrated a tasting of their outstanding wines over a Tuscan brunch.
The lunch of homemade pasta e fagioli and a plate of Tuscan meats and cheeses was spectacular, the wine even more so.
Next stop about 35 km from Montepulciano was a winery known for its music. Il Paradiso Di Frassina believes music will influence the growth of the vines. So it plays Mozart in the vineyard, 24 hours a day. This relatively small operation is in the heart of Brunello country – a region so beautiful that everywhere you look, is a photograph worthy of framing.Returning to Montepulciano, a 16th century hilltop town, we wandered down the side streets steep enough to give your calves a serious workout. We poked around the little shops, including my favourite, Fantamagoria where all the jewelry is handcrafted by the owner. I found a necklace that will make me smile and think of this day every time I wear it.
Then it is wine with a view. Lucevan e Stelle, a little bar-restaurant at the top of the hill at magic hour. the outdoor terrace overlooks the valley. Kristian and Luca, attentive, informative, knowledgable to a fault, suggest their favourites from their wall of wine. Each has the price to order by the bottle, or for 20% less, to take home (which made one of my traveling companions wonder why the mark up has to be so much in restaurants in Canada – GOOD QUESTION! Two visits – 6 bottles. Seems about right.
Our day of days, ended with dinner at Osteria Acquachetta, a little hole in the wall with a big reputation. It’s the kind of place that represents everything that is best about dining in Italy. It’s loud. Its crowded. The owner and server have personality galore! Anina who is seven months pregnant, greets us like we are old friends.Guilio the owner, armed with a cleaver and eyebrows that stretch halfway up his forehead, deftly navigates the tables loaded down by slabs of beef. The food and wine just keep coming. Each dish is better than the last. The house wine, an excellent a Rosso di Montalcino cost 6 euros a litre. That’s right. Less than $7.50 a LITRE.
So when I will have one of those days that feels far too long, and couldn’t end soon enough, I will look back on this one, and know that whatever is going on, I have been truly blessed.