Thursday, 18 October 2012
Tuscany Wine Walk-San Gimignano and Pienza
In the hills behind lies the winery of Poggio Allora. This is agri-tourism on a massive scale with bus parties galore. Not a place for an intimate lunch and fairly undistinguished wines.
Pienza our destination was ideally placed, halfway between the important wine towns of Montalchino and Montepulciano. Our intended lodgings proved to be unsatisfactory and welcome meal anything but. For a few hours the shadow of Winetrials hung uncomfortably over us. However we were quickly moved across the road to the Relais Il Chiostra, a former convent. Pienza's name and fame derives from it being the birthplace of Pope Pius II in 1458. He remodelled the town to its current renaissance glory, a fitting setting for Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. The morning view from the back of the hotel showed the valley filled with mist. Below the city walls stands the church where Pope Pius II was baptised. Despite its catholic credentials it is decorated with pagan Etruscan symbols.
Next morning we visited the tiny borgo of Vignoni Alto on the Via Francignina on our way to the farm winery Poggio Al Vento. Roberto's wines are covered by the new Doc/Docg area of the Orcia. As well as the classic Sangiovese grape, Roberto cultivates the ancient Foglia Larga, characterised by its large round leaves. Roberto is an archer and actor in local medieval pageants in St Quirico d'Orcia. His top wine is appropriately called Arcere. We had a picnic lunch under cover from the torrential rain accompanied by Roberto's excellent and good value wines. After lunch Jennifer got trapped in the toilet and was pleased to be rescued by the handsome Roberto who scrambled over the roof and in through the window to rescue her. On such events are memories built!
Dinner in Pienza was at the Bucca del Fate, a vaulted restaurant in the town centre. A good choice of local dishes and wines. I had the first of several plates of seasonal wild boar, sought after by the many hunters we saw moving around the countryside. A restaurant to be recommended.
The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder published by Willow Moon. e-Book and paperback from all Amazon sites. Reviews at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005BJ3GNI