At VinItaly, yesterday, I met with two old friends. It's been two years since I last saw them, and they remembered me - Francesca and Jacopo Biondi Santi. Once we (I and the sommelier from Al Vedel) arrived my first goal was to meet up with the Biondi Santis, catch up, and find out how I can get my bottle of Schidione '97 from Castello di Montepo to my house in LA! That will need some more work but the meeting reminded me of what a good time I spent with the Tuscan family two years ago.
While at school (CIA), there was a scholarship offered by GRI, Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani, run by Tony May. I entered with a short essay and was awarded a trip to Italy, with a few other students from around the USA, to Castello di Montepo in Scansano for one week.
I recall this time being great. The castle is an amazing site, coming in from the dirt road, it is breathtaking and beautiful.
While in Scansano for that week, in October 2002, we stayed at an agriturismo, Il Colombaio. That too was an amazing time. I still remember waking up to very little hot water, the smell of super-strong coffee from the moka, and Sassoaloro available to drink side by side with my coffee! To beat that, there was a horse that wandered nearby the house at all times, as well as a few beautiful German Shepherds.
I remember meeting Franco Biondi Santi at the winery in Montalcino. We also visited Francesca's winery and Banfi as well, to get other perspectives.
Well - now, an announcement, because I can - Francesca is looking for someone to teach English for three months in Montalcino. She asked me to help and see if I can find someone, so I am checking! If interested, please e-mail me for more info.
The trip was a lot of fun too. Unfortunately, the students and I didn't keep in touch, although I have kept in touch with our chaperone, Anna, from Boston. Anna runs a restaurant called Lucia in Boston.
The nearby town of Scansano, famous now for its Morellino, is also a very nice, almost hidden town with winding roads. The nearest average sized city is Grossetto. I remember that there was a street market in Scansano the day we visited, and the porchetta was absolutely amazing. It was fresh roasted porchetta in between two pieces of bread with a generous sprinkling of sea salt...yum!
As for the wines...we drank a lot. The whole line of Castello di Montepo - from the two Morellinos, one is a reserve, to the Sassoaloro, the Schidione, and the...I just was flashed with a memory of stopping at a butcher shop at the bottom of the road that leads to Montalcino. Thinly sliced raw beef - it was delicious!
Then over to Montalcino for a tasting of some Brunellos. Starting with the Rosso we also tasted a few normal and riserva brunellos - but we are talking about two years back, and I am going off no notes.
So - if you can teach English, maybe you can do it in Italy...e-mail me!