As is often the case, I have blown it keeping this updated with my wine and food adventures for the last year! I will post an overview soon, but first, I wanted to share the amazing wine adventures from my two trips to Cortona this summer!

Quick Highlights
• Private tour of Dodo Vineyards with Arnaldo from Taverna Pane e Vino
• Biodynamic tastings at Podere le Ripi, Fonterenza, and Stella di Campalto
• 1981 Il Colle BdM
• 1970 Oddero Barolo
• Salvioni 2015/16 barrel tastings

2017 Winery Visits
• Montalcino
Terralsole, Costanti, Mastrojanni, Salvioni, Podere le Ripi, Fonterenza, Stella di Campalto, Dodo
• Montepulciano
Avignonesi, Poliziano

Best Meals
 Osteria del Teatro
• La Grota (Stanco di Maiale)
• Osteria Stendhal - Milano

The real highlight of my food and wine adventures this summer was my mini tour of biodynamic producers in Montalcino. I took a few colleagues along to visit Podere le Ripi, Fonterenza, and Stella di Campalto. These three estates are incredibly interesting and produce absolutely unique wines. Podere le Ripi is owned by one of the Illy family (as is Mastrojanni just a stones throw down the road). They are very experimental in planting highly dense vineyards with the intention of drawing as much nutrients as possible from deep below the ground. They also have a stunningly beautiful "Golden Ratio Cellar" in which they play classical music (we think Mahler) to the wine as it ages in barrels! The 2008 Brunello Riserva was brilliant. The 2012 Brunello was good, but so young that it just needs time to really evolve. They also shared a very interesting 100% Syrah.

Sarah and Geoff in the aging room at Fonterenza

Sarah and Geoff in the aging room at Fonterenza

Fonterenza is an almost unknown property owned and operated by two sisters. Francesca met us (after a disaster trying to drive up the hill to the winery) and gave us such a loving and warm tasting! The winery is really a room on the side of the house. Barrels and amphorae are crammed into every corner and Francesca's energy and spirit just cascades through everyone and everything. We tasted a rosato from bottle, and the rest of the tasting was entirely from barrels. Fonterenza's wines are singular in their incredible funkiness and require thought and patience. I absolutely loved them and our visit their was among the best I have ever had! They have a beautiful little white called Bianco Spino, aged in amphora.

Aging room at Stella di Campalto

Aging room at Stella di Campalto

Stella di Campalto is a gorgeous property located just around the corner from Poggio di Soto, another of my long-time favorites. Stella is one of the pioneers of biodynamic production in Montalcino, and from all accounts is an absolute force-of-nature. Her wines are highly sought after, and her brunellos are produced through blending of three distinct and interesting vineyard sites. Our tasting here was also entirely from barrel, and we were guided through the aging room to sample selections from 3 of these vineyard sites, all from the 2016 vintage. The tasting was very exciting and was a beautiful display of the unique terroirs in Montalcino.  

View of the Orcia river from Stella di Campalto

View of the Orcia river from Stella di Campalto

In addition to this great day of tasting, I returned to Salvioni for my annual barrel tasting and tried the 2015 and 2016 vintages. The 2015 Brunello from Salvioni is going to be simply incredible. Salvioni did not make Brunello in 2014, putting all of their grapes into a fantastic Rosso di Montalcino. They make up for it in spades with a classic, powerful, elegant brunello that will come out in a few years! I can't wait!

My other highlights involved tasting two old wines:  1981 Il Colle Brunello di Montalcino (enjoyed with dinner at Osteria del Teatro) and a 1970 Barolo from Oddero (at Pane e Vino). The Il Colle is a wine I have had several times now, and this was the best bottle to date. Still alive with plum flavors and beautiful cherries and tobacco elements. The 1970 barolo was a shock. All of us, including Arnaldo at Pane e Vino, were surprised by its longevity. Still possessing notes of lavender, chocolate, tart cherry, and a beautiful earthiness, it was among the best old barolos I've ever had. 

I also have to mention Arnoldo's own wines - the 100% Sangiovese called Dodo produced in Castiglion Fiorentino just 15 minutes from Cortona. This is an incredible wine and I was fortunate to enjoy both the 2007 and 2011 vintages. Arnoldo's vineyards are so small, that he can only produce between 300-600 bottles of this wine, and it requires so much good fortune. One vintage was complete eaten by Cinghiale, and another was lost to a late frost. It is really special wine.

Carte dei Vini (special wines in italics)

Brunello di Montalcino
Campogiovanni, 2011
Romeo, 2012
Terralsole, 2008
Terralsole, Fonte Lattaia, 2008
Terralsole, 2011
Costanti, 2012
Poggio di Soto, 2012
Paradiso di Manfredi, 2005
Palazzo, Riserva, 2006
Mastrojanni, 2011
Mastrojanni, 2012
Poggio di Soto, 2009
Fonterenza, 2011
Querce Bettina, 2012
Cupano, 2012
Le Trace, 2012
Cesaria, 2009
Salvioni, 2015 (from botte)
Salvioni, 2016 (from botte) 

Podere le Ripi, 2012
Podere le Ripi, Riserva, 2008
Col Leone, 2007
Fonterenza, 2007
Il Colle, 1981

Chianti Classico
San Felice, 2013
Antinori, Badia a Passignano, 2009

Rosso di Montalcino
Gianni Brunelli, 2015
Salvioni, 2014

Col d'Orcia, 2013
Val di Suga, 2015
Terralsole, 2012
Terralsole, 2009
Costanti, Vermiglia, 2014
Costanti, 2015

Mastrojanni, 2015
Poggio di Soto, 2014
Fonterenza, 2015
Podere le Ripi, 2014
Fonterenza, Albarello, 2015 (from botte)
Fonterenza, Albarello, 2016 (from botte)
Fonterenza, 2016 (from botte)

Avignonesi, Grandi Annate Vino Nobile, 2012
Poliziano, Rosso di Montepulciano, 2015
Poliziano, Vino Nobile, 2014
Poliziano, Asinone Vino Nobile, 2013
Romeo, Vino Nobile, 2014
Romeo, Vino Nobile Mandorle Riserva, 2011
Romeo, Vino Nobile Lipetraia, 2013

Vini di Meditazione
Avignonesi, Vin Santo, 1998
Avignonesi, Vin Santo, 2002
Avignonesi, Occhio dei Pernice, 2002
Romeo, Vin Santo, 1999

Super Tuscan
Avignonesi 50/50, 2011 (Merlot/Sangiovese)
Poliziano Lohsa, 2012 (Cabernet)
Poliziano Lohsa, 2013 (Cabernet)
Romeo, Merlot, 2013 (Merlot)
Terralsole, Pasticchio, 2006 (Cab Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese)
Terralsole, Pasticchio, 2007 (Cab Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese)
Terralsole, Trio, 2006 (Syrah, Cab Franc, Merlot)
Mastrojanni, San Pio (Cabernet/Sangiovese)
Dodo, 2007 (Sangiovese)
Dodo, 2011 (Sangiovese) 

Podere le Ripi, Amore et Follia (Syrah)
Fonterenza, Rossi (Sangiovese) (from botte)
Antinori, Tignanello, 2014

Antinori, Tignanello, 2013

Oddero, Barolo, 1970
Rocche dei Manzoni, Barolo Big d'Big, 2006

Fonterenza, Bianco Spino, 2016 (from botte)