In my last post, I started counting down my top five wine experiences from my recent trip to Italy. The trip was not wine-centered, but in Italy, wine has a way of reaching out and grabbing you, sometimes even when you don’t go looking for it.
I did go looking for Number Three on my list, though. It was an experience that began in Orlando and ended on a remote patch of land in Tuscany.
3. Montenidoli Winery
Back in June, Swirlery Wine Bar in Orlando hosted a fantastic Italian tasting, led by Brian Kerney of Augustan Wine Imports.
Brian is a wine philosopher. He challenges me to go beyond the tasting notes and analysis to find the art and history inside the glass. He’d just returned from Italy, and his stories of one particular winemaker intrigued me – as did her wines.
Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli Winery has been growing grapes on her rugged parcel of land outside San Gimignano for more than fifty years. Her first wine was a 1971 vintage. She was a pioneer for women in winemaking, and she too, Brian said, was a wine philosopher.
I decided this would be the one winery I would try to visit.
After a taxi ride that bounced me down a series of winding dirt roads, Elisabetta welcomed me to Montenidoli with a glass of one of the most beautiful rosés I’ve ever had – and I drink a lot of rosé. Hers is made entirely from the canaiuolo grape, and while it’s completely still, she calls it her “champagne” – her aperitivo wine. It’s light, elegant … and almost entirely sold out.
After that, things got chaotic. A German family – complete with kids and dogs – was tasting at the other end of the table. At my end, Elisabetta’s attention was largely focused on an importer from Washington, D.C. (I get it – he’s a paying customer; I’m a lowly writer.)
Over the next hour, she sped us through about ten more wines, each one so complex I could’ve pondered it on its own for an hour or more. There was no time for tasting notes (and hardly any time for pictures!), but a couple of other standouts were the 2011 “Il Templare,” a creamy white blend of vernaccia, trebbiano, and malvasia, and the 2008 “Sono Montenidoli,” a lovely 100% sangiovese.
In lieu of a formal presentation about the wines, Elisabetta gave a stream of consciousness philosophy lesson.
“Truth is the daughter of time,” she intoned more than once, and “the truth is in there,” pointing to a case of rocky soil samples.
She said almost nothing about her winemaking techniques, but she spoke passionately about her land and her treatment of it. She uses organic methods in her vineyards and has done so since before “organic” was trendy.
“We treat every vine as a person,” she insisted.
Oh, and there was one more piece of wisdom that was particularly salient given her visitor from D.C.
She’s doesn’t trust politicians, she said, “who don’t drink wine.”
To read the final installment in the countdown, click here.