My wine travels during the last few years have been nothing short of spectacular. I never want to leave the places in which I am so fortunate to have forged lifelong stories about wine. But it was the Strada del Vino Terre di Arezzo (Tw, FB, WL) where I *truly* did not want to leave. Through the benign wills of the Strada and Sally Fischer PR, I was able to tack on roughly 30 hrs to the end of a previously scheduled media trip in Tuscany. It was here, in the beautiful wine road of “Terre di Arezzo,” or the lands of the village Arezzo, that I found the beauty of this wine road. Indeed, you can see many of the highlights in my first brief article and short video that I’ve already posted to Vinopanion. I discovered that the beauty of this wine road extends beyond it’s food, landscapes, and wine, but also to its people.
As I made my way from my hotel in Florence that morning in late May last year, I had some trepidation. Usually I travel in media groups, guide at hand to move us in the right direction at all times. Other times, I’m with my fearless traveler wife, the lady Beth Fontaine (Twitter, Blog), who has the common sense to get us to our designations, regardless of language. Here in Firenze I was on my own, but armed with some very detailed directions, kindly hashed out by my soon-to-be new guide, the warm and fresh-faced Alessandra Ferrati, whom picked me up at the tiny Montevarchi train station, following my very comfy trip on the local train. Alessandra was a local, born and raised, and has worked for Strada for the last seven years. The loose organization is currently made up of 160 members, 70 of which are wine producers, with the rest food producers, restaurants, or agriturismos. The road winds through 8 DOC/DOCG or wine appellations: Chianti DOCG, Chianti Colli Aretini DOCG, Colli d’Etruria Centrale DOC, Valdichiana DOC, Cortona DOC, Valdarno di Sopra DOC, Vinsanto del Chianti DOC, and Vinsanto del Chianti dei Colli Aretini DOC.
My arrival at Tenuta di Petrolo (Tw, FB, WL) had been preceded earlier in the year by none other than the then President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, while on holiday with his family and wife Carla Bruni. It is with that little tidbit of information that Alessandra introduced me to the winemaker for Petrolo, Dr. Stefano Guidi. Immediately after arriving, we took a brief tour through the offices of the Estate, and then headed out to view the cellars and winemaking facility. Petrolo is very well respected throughout the international wine community, not only for it’s tremendous wines made from both Right Bank Bordeaux and traditional Tuscan varieties, but also for its legendary estate olive oil, of which I was lucky to obtain a sample (Rollerskating With Scissors article). In addition to its many wine and food products, Petrolo is also an agriturismo, with 5 farmhouses available for weekly rental distributed throughout the gorgeous property. Finally, the estate is also contains a famous ancient landmark, which can be seen on all of its wine labels, the Etruscan and Roman Tower of Galatrona. It is all that is left from a three towered castle, and sits high above the estate on the hills that separate their land from Siena.
During the estate tour, we made it all the way up to the top of the Tower where we saw a fantastic 360 view with miles of the surrounding land in view, much of it made it into my video of this visit to Strada. Owned by Lucia Bazzocchi Sanjust and her son Luca Sanjust, the estate produces three premier wines, with no second label or house wine as a base product. They do produce a tiny amount of dessert Vin Santo del Chianti DOC each year as well, per the Italian norm. Their Viticulturist Dr. Carlo Nesterini tends to a little over 75 acres under vine, with roughly 65 in actual production. They are converting to Biodynamic, with most of the vineyards almost completed. Due to its extensive green harvest selection process, Petrolo produces only between 5,400 and 6,300 cases of wine per year. Only the extreme best lots of this mainly Chianti fruit makes the cut, and this exhaustive attention to quality is deliciously tasted in their wines. All feature tremendous intensity and structure, but also the restraint, minerality, deep fruit, and savory components that I have come to love about the great wines from all across Tuscany.
We enjoyed the wines over a beautiful, fresh and organically estate-sourced lunch, spread out on their extended piazza, extending out from the main home on the property, though not without some excitement. The estate chef was nearly undone by the house golden retriever, whom managed to scarf up the original spread of cured meats just before service! Situation solved with a brief trip back into the village, all three of the red wines and the food exceeded expectations, with two of the reds garnering WKBadges of AwesomeWK. While quite young, they all still featured extremely deep depths of red and black fruit, dark floral notes, tasty and balanced acidity, firm but fine tannin, and wonderful savory notes of wet earth, graphite minerality. The Vin Santo was also an AwesomeWK crowd pleaser, with unreal viscosity and apricot tinged honey sweetness, again balanced by great acidity. Quite happily satiated, I bid and fond farewell to both Alessandra and Stefano, and joined my hosts for the final portion of the day and night, the cousins of Migliarina e Montozzi.
Fattoria Migliarina e Montozzi (FB, WL) has its own fantastic, and long, historical story. The family of Antonio and Carlo originated in Cortona in 1080 under the name Bartolini and following a relocation to Florence and Arezzo, used the name Baldelli. Now the family uses both names and has owned the two properties that comprise Migliarina since 1608. Both Migliarina and Montozzi were the original sharecropper estates and small villages: Migliarina on the road to Rome down in the valley (literally, the road is now their private drive to the estate) and Montozzi castle perched high above, on the hilltops overlooking said valley. I had the rather fantastic chance to stay in the post-Renaissance main building that still resides on the Migliarina property, in the “Leccio” room.
Below my rooms are the tasting room, offices, and traditional winery, but in the 16th century they were the stables along that ancient Roman route. The rooms are impeccably furnished with traditional Tuscan furniture, beautifully laid out, and still feature all of the modern amenities that you might want, including wifi. Across from my suite was the “new” estate building, built in the 1800′s. A German family was enjoying their holiday in that set of rooms, along with the round estate pool, surrounded by ancient statues, monuments, and a closed mausoleum. The estate has long produced wines from these lands, but it is only recently that Antonio and Carlo, young and rather dashing 30-something cousins, have endeavored to revive the property.
And revive they have done! The property is now a fantastic agriturismo spot, the winery is continuing to be upgraded, and their vineyards are being replanted as needed and converted to certified organic. They are also restoring the old villa estate buildings and church that can be found on the hilltops at the Montozzi estate. Their wines, while already doing quite well based on our vertical tasting dating back to 1962, are even fresher and more balanced in the steady and capable hands of winemaker Beppe Rigoli. The balance of ripe black fruit, mixed with juicier black cherry, and the earthy tannin, new leather, anise, and medium toast that has become a hallmark for me of the great wines from Tuscany can all be found in the very affordable wines from the various labels of the house. The Fattoria Migliarina Toscana IGT Cavasonno 2007 was a favorite, showing phenomenal complexity and balance, while at an extremely affordable price of roughly ~$18. As stated previously however, that Fattoria Migliarina Chianti DOC 1962, was just a phenomenal aged wine with its beautiful dried anise.
The tasting was accompanied by homemade charcuterie and included all of us together: the two cousins, Beppe the winemaker and his viticulturalist wife, including the two patriarchs, Piero and Giovanni Bartolini Baldelli. We were high above the surrounding valleys in the garden of Montozzi, with the setting sun dashing across the hilltops and the swallows playing in its last rays…it was difficult not to just sit back and to take in the moment… With that, we bid arrivederci to the sleeping sol and headed in for a family-style dinner, accompanied by our favorite bottles: it was a beautiful ending.
I sincerely thank the proprietors and staff at Strada Vino Terre di Arezzo, Sally Fischer PR, Tenuta di Petrolo, and Fattoria Migliarina e Montozzi for their hospitality, samples, and the organization of this visit.
Posts on Vinopanion – WineLog.net: http://wkwine.us/V-StradaVA
Wines on WineLog.net: http://wkwine.us/WL-StradaVA
The Wine Traveller Guide/Italy app: http://wkwine.us/LpjQd8
Wines that were tasted along the Strada del Vino Terre di Arezzo (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog):
Color: Dark ruby/violet core, violet edges.
Nose: Beautifully complex nose of dark red and black fruit, deep violets and newly churned earth. Tremendous.
Palate: That same big, but tremendously smooth mouthfeel, beautiful food-centric acidity, and all black fruit. The integrating deep oak is balanced by granite minerality, before the expected, incredibly long finish. Tremendous: AwesomeWK.
Color: Dark garnet core, ruby edges.
Nose: Deep chestnut and truffle here, some loam as well, alongside the all dark fruit and dark chocolate notes. Very good, with air.
Palate: Juicy and dark black fruit, toast and cocoa, with that loam that delves more into graphite here, outstanding acidity and silkier tannins. Extremely good: AwesomeWK.
Color: Dark brown core, more golden deep amber edges with dark honey lowlights, slightly milky.
Nose: Huge nose, earthy fresh forest honey, with toasted almonds, sweeter vanilla toast.
Palate: So thick and viscous! Softest coating of the mouth, feeling of thick honey. Beautiful honey flavors as well, unfiltered, with a mixture of almond, dried apricot and honeyed toast. Bakanced acid for all of that sweetness. Much bigger and sweeter than others I’ve had, but beautifully unique and balanced. Tremendous: AwesomeWK.
Color: Medium garnet.
Nose: Earthy rhubarb here, pencil lead, with some mushroom, as well.
Palate: Round and very smooth here, that same lead and earthy rhubarb too, with mainly black fruit underneath. Good deal: QPRWK.
Color: Brick into blood orange, light orange edges.
Nose: Plum and prune, with some cherry vanilla and hint of VA.
Palate: Light bodied, with super smooth feel, prune here and dried anise with cherry vanilla into the nice acid and light dry tannin finish. Still quite good and will last, even after 50 years: AwesomeWK.