We are at the end of the online course DipWSET4 – D1.
It were intense weeks with lots of posts, research, questions, wine tastings and group activities.
Many projects required a lot of effort!
In the first week of our course we needed to work alone on our vineyard establishment proposal. I choose for the wine area Bolgheri in Tuscany. This is my proposal I have submitted in the first week of our wine course.
I choose the territory of Bolgheri (Livorno) along the Etruscan coast, at the foot of the gentle Tuscan hills and a few miles from the sea.
The climate along the coast in Tuscany is more maritime than central Tuscany. The summers are dry, sunny and breezy. The weather is influenced by the sea. Temperatures in winter time are around 8-10 degrees, and reach rarely zero or less.
The sea and Apennine mountains moderate the temperatures in summer period. The driest months in Tuscany are July and August.
Bolgheri Rosso DOC
Bolgheri Rosso DOC is a blend of black grape varieties. The red wine can be made in different styles. I will plant the following grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese.
The black grape varieties need sunlight and heat to ripen fully. The grapes do not ripen at the same time. Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese for instance. The harvest of the grapes is spread out.
Vine training system black grape varieties: cane pruned (single guyot), cordon trained. The vine’s cane and shoots are tied to the trellis for light and air circulation. Summer pruning will hardly take place as the leaves protect the berries from sunburn in (warm) summer conditions.
The soil is calcareous and contains a mix of rocks. There is a good drainage, which is important for grape growing. The altitude of the vineyards are about 100 – 400 m above sea level and the slopes are facing southwest.
The wine is full bodied with ripe red and black fruits, medium-high tannin, high acidity and high alcohol. Long aftertaste.
Suited for aging.
Super Tuscan wines have gained popularity in Italy and abroad since the 20th century. Especially the red wines. The wines are prestigious and sometimes also very expensive.
The average price for this wine is Euro 25.00*. *average price of Sylvia Italy’s Rosso wine – not available in my shop.
Bolgheri Rosato DOC
The black grape varieties used for the rosé are Syrah, Merlot and Sangiovese. This wine is a blend and pairs good with fish dishes. For example with the local cacciucco from Livorno.
Bolgheri Bianco DOC
For a white wine from the region I will plant Vermentino grapes. Vermentino is often vinified as a single variety but can also be blended with other white grape varieties such as Trebbiano Toscano.
The vine training system for the Vermentino grapes are cane pruned (guyot). The sea has a positive influence and gives Vermentino a mineral and aromatic character.
The Vermentino wine is an appetizer wine and pairs excellent with local fish dishes.
For both young wines the average price per bottle is Euro 13.00-15.00*. *average price of Sylvia Italy’s Bianco wine – not available in my shop.
Super Tuscan wines are produced also in other places in Tuscany, but Bolgheri is the birthplace of this wonderful wine.
The heroic grape harvest season of the Glera falls between the end of September and early October in Refrontolo. Refrontolo is a small town in the heart of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene and the Colli di Conegliano region.
Glera is the principal white grape variety of the prosecco sparkling wine. It is a late ripening grape variety. They are green and have a thin skin. The grape is classified as semi-aromatic with a high acidity, making it perfect for prosecco wine production.
The “vendemmia” in the province of Treviso is one of the most fascinating time of the year. It is a busy period when it comes to local harvest festivals and feasts.
Many tourists visit Italy especially in the fall season to discover the best (new) wines and food the region has to offer.
Summer 2021 in Italy was a warm growing season for the grapes. Warmer than average summer. The grapes didn’t suffer from water stress and sunburn, fortunately.
The quality of the grapes is superior this year. Due to the warm weather conditions the berries have accumulated more sugar than usual. The grapes are in good health and excellent in balance of sugar-acidity.
They say vintage 2021 is an outstanding wine year for prosecco. Good news for fans of this wine. Cheers!
Production process Prosecco Superiore
The area Conegliano Valdobbiadene is situated between Venice and the Dolomites.
All the grapes have to be hand picked. The vines are planted on hills with narrow ridges and steep slopes. This makes mechanized harvest impossible.
After picking, the tractor driver brings the next load to the winery for fermentation. But before they are unloaded, they are weighed by the winemaker in order to check that they do not exceed the production limits fixed for each vineyard every year.
The grapes are pressed gently in absence of oxygen and any skin contact.
The freshly pressed fruit juice is the must. The sugar concentration and the acid content will be measured before fermentation starts. Corrections/additions of yeast or acids can be needed and sulfites (SO2), are always be added during the wine making process.
Metodo Charmat / Martinotti
Prosecco is an Italian DOC and DOCG white sparkling wine.
The tank method “Metodo Charmat or Martinotti” is a very common method to make prosecco. The first fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to keep the fruity flavors in the wine.
While the second fermentation takes place, the large tank is sealed to prevent CO2 from escaping. This is a slow process.
The longer and slower the winemaking process, the more delicate the prosecco wine will be.
There are different qualities in prosecco. Production and quality of the grapes are definitely Superiore at Toffoli. Therefor their DOCG Superiore prosecco is often more expensive over the standard DOC.
Mind that prosecco is a wine to drink young, ideally within one year of its production. It is not a wine for storing.
Strada del Prosecco / Prosecco road
The Strada del Prosecco is Italy’s oldest wine route. At first it linked the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene but now it winds its way through more communities between the towns Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
The area has a number of biking,- hiking trails and good restaurants to eat. It is a unique and magnificent place where past and present come together.
Since 2019 the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene hills are UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visitors are welcome at winery Toffoli to taste their wines. It is recommended to call or e-mail in advance to book a date and time.
The prosecco wine tasting takes place at the winery. Before you taste the wines the wine maker will guide you through his vineyards and the wine cellar.
Family Toffoli is happy to welcome you in Refrontolo!
Online wine tasting
A Taste of Veneto! is a unique wine experience with the winemaker himself Sante Toffoli and an Italian sommelier.
This online tour and tasting is the perfect way to get to know the winery and the wines from Veneto.
The tasting can be organized at any date and time of your choice. All wines from Toffoli will be sentfrom our distribution centre in Holland.
Getting excited? For more information about this online wine experience visit my website “A Taste of Veneto!”
Recipes for ossobuco vary wildly. Although the “Ossobuco alla Milanese” from Lombardy may be one of the most famous and well known Italian secondo piatto.
My favorite recipe is: Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva!
Ossobuco di Chianina IGP
You can pair ossobuco with other dishes. I am talking about delicious saffron risotto such as: Risotto alla Milanese.
As a side dish you may choose to eat ossobuco with polenta or with mashed potatoes.
The Italian ossobuco is a beef shank from the cow’s leg. It is a cut of meat butchered from a cow’s or bull leg.
Much is written on which part is best. It’s been said that veal shanks from the hind legs are the best! Meat from those parts is more voluminous and fleshy.
Ossobuco literally translates to “bone with a hole” with meat. You can prepare ossobuco from veal but also with other kinds of meat such as pork.
However, the finest meat for cooking, in Tuscany, is Chianina breed. It is high valued meat with a more intense taste.
For this recipe I bought the ossobuco di Chianina at the Fierli farm in Foiano della Chiana. Fierli is an organic farm. The animals have a long life and they are treated well.
The Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva is a true Tuscan recipe. Many people don’t prepare it at home. Some cuts of veal from the store may be chewy.
Tip for buy-in, first look for shanks that are > 2 inches. If they’re too thin, they’ll braise too fast.
My style Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva needs the following ingredients:
Recipe for 1 person
1 ossobuco di Chianina
red wine “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG” – Il Convento
1 clove of garlic
1 onion (soffritto)
1 celery (soffritto)
1 carrot (soffritto)
1 bay lief
When braising the ossobuco you may as well use meat broth or any other liquid (water). I prefer to use only wine. I do not mix the wine with other liquids. That would be a no-go, especially when it’s a high quality wine.
Also mixing tomatoes or tomato paste with red wine is not what I recommend. But that’s my personal opinion.
What else do you need
How to cook
Chop the onions, carrots and celery.
Peel the garlic.
Heat the pot until the olive oil is well heated. Instead of olive oil you may also use butter.
First stir-fry the garlic. When the garlic begins to colour reduce heat. Add the soffritto and cook the vegetables until they begin to soften and caramelize.
Meanwhile cover the Ossobuco with the flour.
Ossobuco di Chianina IGP
When the soffritto has a golden wheat color, remove it or move it to a side. It depends on the size of the stew pot. Sear the ossobuco on both sides until nicely browned. Sprinkle the ossobuco with salt and pepper.
Pour the red wine over the ossobuco and bring it to boil to evaporate the alcohol. Reduce the heat and add the bay leave and cloves.
Cover the pot and check occasionally. When the wine is absorbed just add a little extra. The meat should be left at a low temperature for about 2-3 hours.
When the meat is tender it will fall off the bone. The marrow in the hole of the bone is the best part of the ossobuco. It is a real delicacy and super yummy!
Serve the ossobuco on a plate and the warm wine sauce on top of it.
Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG
What to serve with ossobuco
Due to its massive taste ossobuco goes well with a creamy risotto, mashed potatoes or polenta.
If you’re cooking beef or stew Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (sangiovese) is your friend. It affects the taste of the dish. The ripe flavors in this wine give complexity to the sauce and the meat. Chianina is a traditional and genuine meat with an intense and pure taste.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a full bodied wine. It is best when paired with the right food. In particular Chianina beef.
Nothing beats the magic of a brilliant wine and food pairing!
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG is recommended by Dutch wine critic and journalist De Grote Hamersma. This wine is available in my webshop.
Watch this video recipe to see how to cook Ossobuco di Chianina al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva.
Acciderba is Tuscan dialect. In Italian they say “accidenti” which means in English “wow” or “gosh”.
The winery Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi in Castagneto Carducci has made up the name “Acciderba” for their most important Bolgheri Rosso DOC wine – and an exquisite one it is!
The wine Acciderba is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese. After wood aging in barrique for 12 months the wine is then bottled and set to age for a further 5 months.
It is an intense red wine with a strong identity and a long finish. On the palate flavours of small blackberries, ripe red fruit and soft tannins. This wine pairs well with wild boar, old cheeses and braised beef.
Everyone has their own taste and preference, but the wine Acciderba Rosso Bolgheri DOC is one of my favorite red wines from the Bolgheri area.
Wine tasting at Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi
Wine tasting in Bolgheri is one of the not to be missed “experiences” while on a holiday in Tuscany. There are many options for a wine tasting and tour in this area with all range of possibilities and prices.
Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi is a small winery in Castagneto Carducci. Castagneto Carducci is a lovely hilltop town from where you have amazing views over the hills and the sea.
The vineyards from the winery are exposed on the slopes down towards the sea and are close to Bolgheri. The wines they make are Bolgheri Vermentino, Bolgheri Rosato and Bolgheri Rosso DOC on their family-owned 5 hectares of vineyards.
Besides making wine, Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi is also a “frantoio”, an olive oil producer.
The whole family is involved with the wine production and sale of their wines and olive oil, likely partly to account for the love and exceptional quality of the wines.
It wasn’t the first time that I have visited this wine cellar. I know the family personally. They are very welcoming, personable and friendly. The atmosphere, tour, wines and food are superb.
The wines they serve are accompanied by local cheeses and meats, such as dried ham and capocollo. Capocollo is a traditional Italian cured meat made from the neck of a pig. Both products are homemade. Their meat comes from a local organic pig farm and is cured on site by the family.
With the coronavirus pandemic, they haven’t been open to the public for a long time. A visit is well worth it if you’re in the area -send me photos from your experiences there- I’d love to see.
Hopefully they will be able to receive more guests for a wine tour and tasting in 2021.
Information for wine tasting:
Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi Località Le Lame 237 57022 Castagneto Carducci (LI) email@example.com
Bolgheri is a hamlet in the municipality of Castagneto Carducci, in the province of Livorno, between the coastal cities Cecina and San Vincenzo. The coastline is called the Etruscan Coast “Costa degli Etruschi” or “Etruria”.
The village is famous for its Super Tuscan wines. The most important wineries are Tenuta San Guido, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Guado al Tasso.
Golfo di Baratti
The Maremma region is the land of the Etruscans. Many small towns have interesting Etruscan remains, wine roads, a mixture of woods and unspoiled walking trails.
A famous 5 km long cypress road leads you to the historic village Bolgheri. This lane is well known thanks to Giosuè Carducci in his poem “Davanti a San Guido” (In front of San Guido).
Bolgheri is dominated by its fortified castle and is worth visiting, but the main thing to see in Bolgheri is the village itself.
In the heart of this pretty little town are many wine bars and restaurants. They all serve local wines for tastings as well as by the bottle and typical Tuscan foods.
Enoteca Tognoni Via Lauretta 5 57022 Bolgheri (LI)
Francesco Tognoni is the owner of this wine bar. He is a wonderful host. With special care and treatment, Francesco and his team make sure you have a comfortable evening out while enjoying good wines and foods.
The prices in Bolgheri for a good glass of wine are in every location the same. Enoteca Tognoni is a cosy wine bar, really recommended. Making a reservation is necessary, especially in high season.
Brasato means braised beef. The best part about the recipe “Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano” is that it is an easy and slow cooker recipe.
This meat dish is delicious on a cold winter evening. Springtime is not really the season for a beef stew. But when it’s cold and rainy outside it is the perfect food to warm you up a bit!
There are many recipes of braised beef, but when preparing an outstanding brasato it is important to have high quality meat and good wine.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
What kind of wine would you recommend to use in beef stew?
I prefer a full bodied, robust red wine such as the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
This wine gives a very special aroma to the meat.
For this delicious recipe I use the perfect Chianina beef. This meat is expensive, but it is a very healthy meat and low in cholesterol.
Chianina is probably the oldest breed of cattle in Italy. Did you know that? This animal is also called the giant white cow “gigante bianco”.
Chianina farm Fierli
The homeland of the white Chianina cow is the Valdichiana area. The Fierli family is a four generations farm in Foiano della Chiana. A small town located between Cortona and Montepulciano. Today the family keeps 200 Chianina cows on 100 hectares of agriculture land.
Cecilia is member of the family Fierli. She came up with the rich, warm stew recipe “il brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano”. Guanciale di Chianina cheek in Vino Nobile wine.
The cheek is a hard working muscle that needs to be cooked very slow. It takes hours before the meat is tender, but it is worth waiting for!
Besides guanciale di Chianina and Vino Nobile wine other necessary ingredients for this dish are olive oil, soffritto, salt and pepper.
A soffritto is the Italian cooking base for sauces, soups, stews and many more. It is an aromatic mix of onion, carrots and celery.
Besides the basic ingredients I add bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves and fresh rosemary. Really recommended!
It’s important to bring the meat out of the fridge a few hours before cooking. The meat must come up to room temperature.
In this recipe the marination step is not necessary.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 3 hours at least Serves: 2 people
450 gram of bovine cheek (Chianina) > 1/2 liter of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine
2 tablespoons extra-vergin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 juniper berries
salt, pepper, fresh rosemary
What else do you need
How to cook
Don’t remove the fat before cooking, that gives the meat a unique flavor and texture.
Clean, wash and chop the onions, carrots and celery.
Heat the stew pot over medium-high heat. Brown the soffritto in hot olive oil. Stirring frequently. The soffritto should be cooked until dorata (golden brown).
Add the meat to the pan and season it with salt and pepper.
Pour in the wine and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat, add the bay leaves, rosemary, cloves and juniper berries.
Cover the pot and turn the meat occasionally.
Leave the meat at a low and slow temperature.
The wine will evaporate. Let the wine reduce a bit and add more wine or other liquids when necessary.
After a few hours, when the meat is tender, remove it to a carving board. Slice the meat. Before serving make sure you remove the woody herbs stems and any bay leaves.
Arrange the meat on a serving plate and pour the wine sauce on top.
What to serve with beef stew
Serve warm with mashed potatoes, polenta or roasted potatoes with rosemary.. my favorite contorno!
A delicious antipasto
Antipasto misto di Cinta Senese: coppa, capocollo and speck.
Cinta Senese is an ancient Tuscan black pig with a white belt. They live free and they have a long and good life. The cinta senese meat has a DOP classification. It is top quality meat.
The main course pairs with the high tannic red wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
Red wine and fatty or high-protein foods is a perfect wine and food pairing.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG wine is an outstanding wine in the Tuscany region, available on my wine webshop.
Watch this video recipe to see how to cook il Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!
Pici is a local pasta specialty from the province of Siena. It is a thick hand rolled pasta made from flour and water. Pici Toscani are similar to fat spaghetti.
The local people from Montepulciano “i poliziani” eat pici quite often. Since I moved here, I only eat pici. This pasta is amazing. So delicious!
Normally I buy fresh pici in the supermarket. It is a 300 gram packet, just enough for two meals. They are fresh and can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Obviously dried pici are available as well in grocery stores, but I prefer the fresh homemade variety!
Le vongole veraci
I don’t live near the beach, but I eat fish regularly. Fish is one of my favorite dishes.
There are different types of clams. They live in the Mediterranean and Adriatic sea. On the Italian coast you find a wide range of good restaurants where they serve the best fish and fresh seafood.
In Italy we eat plenty of fish. I personally always prefer the clams “vongole veraci” for my pasta. This shellfish is bigger and they give an essential “sea” taste to the primo piatto.
A primo piatto can be a risotto or a pasta dish.
Pici alle vongole is my personal recipe. I enjoy to experiment with different flavors and herbs. For the best pasta recipes I often ask locals, or I check out various recipe websites. Mostly I use the website of Giallo Zafferano.
I always put emotion and love in a dish, cooking is one of my greatest hobby. Besides wine tasting and running of course.
There are rules about Italian food that Italian follow and I respect that. Also the wine is important because the meal I prepare must pair with the wine I choose. It’s important to have a balance between the food and the wine.
I pici alle vongole
Recipe for 1 persoon
1 clove garlic Remove the skin, place the flat side of the knife over it and press down.
1 fresh red chilly Chop the chilly into small pieces. How many chilly pieces you want to use for your pasta depends on how spicy you prefer to eat.
150 gram pasta i pici
100 ml white wine Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC
300 gram vongole veraci Normally 250 gram is enough, but if you love vongole, the more the better.
half a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley chop the parsley
extra vergine olive oil two table spoons of olio Italiano
Bring the water to boil in a pot.
Scrub the clams clean. They are unlikely to have sand in them. But to be sure that they are all clean and healthy I recommend to clean them.
Put two table spoons of olive oil into the hot saucepan. Add the garlic and some slices of chilly. Swirl a few seconds and make sure that the garlic doesn’t get too brown.
Pour in the white wine and bring it to boil. Then add the clams and increase heat to high. Cover and cook the clams until they are open. This will take at least 6 minutes.
After the water for the pasta has started to boil I add some salt. Cook the pici al dente. The recommended cooking time on the pasta package is 10-12 minutes. I always prefer having the pasta al dente.
Meanwhile keep on stirring with a spatula. Add the pici to the pan with clams, cook over high heat, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and has soaked up some of the sauce.
Remove the garlic, add the parsley and some pasta water if the sauce seems dry.
Serve your pici alle vongole directly while its hot.
PS: to pour the wine in the pan before the vongole is a recommendation from a fish market vendor in Montepulciano.
Can I store the pici alle vongole in the refrigerator?
You can store the pici alle vongole for maximum one day in the refrigerator, but it’s not recommended. Le vongole should be eaten fresh and immediately with the pasta.