After spending the night in Montalcino and enjoying a leisurely breakfast at the Castello Banfi Borgo, we had a loosely arranged appointment with Fontodi in Panzano. Meandering through the bucolic, winding roads of Tuscany can be hungry work and as we found ourselves nearing Castellina in Chianti right about lunch time, I knew exactly where to head.
Castellina is a lovely town. It’s a bit on the smaller side, but its nooks and alleyways hold a surprising amount of interesting Enoteca, shops and Trattorie. Just outside the ZTL there is a sizeable grocery store and several bars sure to be filled with local color and flavor. Parking is easy to find, so it’s a great place to visit and wander.
As we approached my intended lunch spot, my heart sank when I saw scaffolding covering the entry way. The Trattoria is part of the Fort and it was the Fort undergoing the maintenance. While we wouldn’t be having lunch al fresco, my fear quickly subsided courtesy of laughter and clanging dishes as we neared the front door.
We started our meal with Bruschetta Pomodoro. The simplicity of this dish never ceases to amaze me, yet the flavors it packs defy logic. At this time of year back home, good luck finding a tomato with any sort of redeemable flavor. But in Italy, although they are not as dark red as they will be in a few months, these were absolutely divine. Spicy, peppery, Tuscan oil and some salt was all that was needed.
For our main course we had a classic Tuscan specialty. Hand made Pici con sugo di maiale. I love Pici. They can best be described as fat spaghetti, but they are not as long. In the rustic handmade style that you find across Tuscany, each piece will be slightly different in length, though I suppose the average is about 6 inches long. The sugo is a mixture of slow braised pork, beef and porcini and was rich and earthy. The addition of fresh basil provided a lift of freshness to keep the dish from being too heavy. It was amazing.
So naturally we had to wash this wonderful food down with something.
Castello Fonterutoli is only a short drive from the center of Castellina. A sprawling hamlet estate of 650 hectares, Fonterutoli is home to forests, olive groves, wild life, herbs and of course, vineyards. 117 hectares of the estate are devoted to vines which cover 5 distinct separate vineyard plots. Fonterutoli is a gorgeous estate. Wisteria, jasmine and lavender perfume the air surrounding the hamlet and lavender is harvested for Carla Mazzei’s line of organic cosmetics.
The 2013 Castello Fonterutoli Gran Selezione has only been released in March. However, since we were only enjoying a 1/2 bottle over lunch, I didn’t feel too badly disturbing it from its recent slumber. In the glass, the wine is a deep, dark violet trending to almost purple in color. A blend of 92% Sangiovese from the oldest vineyards on the estate, the balance is comprised of Colorino and Malvasia Nera.
Fragrant, with dried herbs, dried flowers and bright wild berry notes that are tinged with vanilla, this wine seems to scream regal pedigree. The acidity stood up well to the tomatoes while also providing lift and freshness against the richness of the pici. What do I always try to instill in my readers? Eat and drink what grows together. Fonterutoli is only 4 kilometers from Castellina. This is a match made in heaven.
On the palate the crushed red fruit is vibrant, fresh and dominant while notes of fresh tobacco, vanilla and spices linger in the background. This was a perfect lunch and more importantly, prepared our stomachs and palates to arrive at Fontodi! 91 points. $10 Euro for the bottle off the wine list. Perfetto!
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