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.
Peposo is a traditional Tuscan pepper beef stew. It is one of my favorite Italian dishes.
I know, I have many favourite dishes, but my peposo recipe brings you right away to Florence!
Peposo is rich in flavour. It really has a delicious spicy kick from the black pepper, hence the name “peposo”.
This -500 years- old dish is easy to make. Peposo is still popular across Tuscany. It originally comes from the village Impruneta, a small town in the Tuscan hills. The former name of the recipe is “Peposo alla Fornacina”, but today it is called “Peposo”.
Sylvia Italy’s peposo is made with beef chuck for stew, NO garlic*, whole black pepper corns, black powder pepper, salt, olive oil, tomato sauce to give the sauce a bit body, and red Tuscan wine: Rosso di Montepulciano DOC.
*Peposo without garlic tastes equally good. I eat onions and garlic, but sometimes I prefer avoiding it. I don’t like the bad breath and lingering aftertaste in my mouth.
Ingredients: Serves 2 people
300 g boneless beef chuck for stew
a handful of black pepper corns
black pepper powder
1/4 liter of red wine (Chianti or Rosso di Montepulciano)
*The original recipe peposo is more likely not to be made with tomato sauce.
For gentle cooking, like stews, I always use my cast Creuset iron pot.
Heat the olive oil in a pot over a medium-high heat and brown the beef for a minute of 3. Add the red wine, salt, pepper and the tomato sauce.
Cover the pot, lower the heat and cook the peposo for approximately 3 hours. Check it often and give it a stir occasionally. It is important that the meat remains covered in wine and adding water if necessary.
It says that cooking longer than needed doesn’t mean tender meat, but personally I prefer cooking it long.
When the peposo is ready, the meat should be tender (I love it when the meat is falling apart..yummy) and the red wine should have reduced to a sauce.
Season with more pepper if desired and serve warm on traditionally sliced bread (preferably Tuscan bread without salt) or polenta.
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!”
For those who cannot travel to Tuscany I have decided to organize a new perfect stay-at-home activity: a virtual Brunello di Montalcino wine tasting!
The focus of this online tasting is on learning and having fun. I have hosted several virtual wine tastings but I can say that tasting Montalcino wines -virtually- with other tasters was a different and unforgettable experience.
“What a great experience! After receiving bottles of Pian delle Ginestre Brunello di Montalcino to cold Oslo, nine people were able to sit around a table and receive a virtual visit from Sylvia via the TV screen and Zoom. The visit included a live stream tour through beautiful Montepulciano commented by Sylvia on the go, followed by a joint wine tasting 2600 kilometers apart.
The Brunello wines are a relatively recent acquaintance to us, but we have observed that our state-owned Norwegian Vinmonopol (in Norway all trades of vines go through one state-owned company) has gradually got a good selection of Brunello wines in their temperated treasure rooms. We now understand why, but to taste a wine from such a small and dedicated winery like Tenuta Pian delle Ginestre made the experience very special.
It tasted as beautiful at it looks, forest fruits, leather and tobacco but not as intense as it blocks out a good meal, it is more like a very faithful companion. A revisit to Tuscany and a first visit in real life to Montepulciano is high on the Bucket list now” ~ Ove Sveen (Norway) 23 March, 2022
Virtual wine tasting Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
You do not need to be an expert to enjoy the wine Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Just trust your taste and senses … and relax!
During the online tasting I will provide a presentation, show a video and introduce you to the winemaker.
Vasco Rosso Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Pian delle Ginestre is a small winery run by the Natalini family. They love their land and their wines. The wines are special. They tell you the story of its territory.
In addition to the Brunello, the winemaker produces other wines like Toscano IGT and Rosso di Montalcino.
To join the tasting you need two bottles of wine: Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG from the line of wines Vascorosso named after the famous Italian singer Vasco Rossi.
Vasco Rosso Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
After the wine tasting you’ll have wine leftovers. This is brilliant! Because following the virtual event, you can continue to practice tasting the wines for a few days.
Interested? I’d love to hear from you!
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Today Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most known and expensive wines. Brunello is not just a drink. It is an elegant and prestigious Tuscan wine with the ability to age well for years. It is one of those wines you should have tried at least once in your life!
Consortium Brunello di Montalcino
The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. No other grapes are allowed in a Brunello wine. Brunello di Montalcino is a high tannin wine. This is one of the unique characteristics of this important wine. This wine gets better with age.
Before drinking the wine needs aeration, let it “breathe” at least 2 hours. A perfect match with this wine is steak (protein), seasoned cheeses and cured meats.
I always enjoy drinking a glass of Brunello, especially when I can share my love and passion for this wine with friends.
The wine Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 is available in my webshop. From our distribution centre in Holland we dispatch orders arriving at their destination in northern Europe in only a few days.
At present there are 250 wine producers in Montalcino. The total area is 24,000 ha of which 4,600 ha are used for viticulture. Each year around 11 million bottles of wine are produced.
Montalcino is a hilltop village surrounded by Crete Senesi and Val d’Orcia area. It is a town worth visiting. Not only for the wine but also for its unique beauty!
Spending one day in Florence may not be enough to discover the city. Florence is a place you have to see once in your lifetime. It is the city of cities for tourists.
Every year millions of people visit Florence.
At the moment, due to the impact of the coronavirus, many visitors stay away… unfortunately.
Fantastic and fun things to do
The city has many great things to offer, such as museums, Renaissance art, churches, wine bars, restaurants and some other well known highlights.
If you only have one day, make sure not to miss the Piazza della Signoria and Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Academia. The greatest masterpiece of the Renaissance.
Visit the Galleria degli Uffizi. Admire the goddess of beauty and love “Venus”. The Birth of Venus is painted by Botticelli.
Definitely a food lover’s paradise in the centre of Florence is The Mercato Centrale. An unmissable destination for fantastic food and a glass of wine.
Walk over the bridge Ponte Vecchio!
View of Florence and the Arno
Piazzale Michelangelo sits on a hill. Enjoy the panoramic view.
For special exhibitions* go to The Palazzo Strozzi. *In 2017 I have visited the exhibition dedicated to the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
And not to forget The Palazzo Pitti. The Pitti Palace is Medici’s residence and it houses important collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures.
Just to mention a few things what to do in Florence…
David of Michelangelo
The capital city of Tuscany
Florence or Firenze is the capital city of the region Tuscany. For me it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance.
As I am interested in Renaissance art, Florence is a city where I could return to again and again without ever getting bored.
Piazza del Duomo
Florence has incredible restaurants, gelaterias, cafes and osteria’s. Caffè Gilli is the oldest café in Florence. It is a cocktail bar with sofas and chairs in a nice chill-out “space”.
From here you have a beautiful view on the square Piazza della Republica, the largest piazza in Florence.
Visiting Florence during Covid-19
This February I have visited Florence. Tuscany was low risk “zona gialla”.
The Italian Dpcm rules related to the yellow zones: all shops and museums are open. Bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open from 5 AM until 6 PM.
The number of Covid-19 cases in Italy is still increasing. Tuscany has been classified as a red, orange and yellow zone.
The anti-Covid regulations are stricter for the red and orange zones. Museums are closed. Hairdressers are closed. Horeca can offer food delivery and takeaway. Traveling is prohibited unless absolutely necessary.
At present Tuscany is a orange zone.
On my way to Piazzale Michelangelo
Museum Le Gallerie degli Uffizi
In 2008 I have visited the Galleria degli Uffizi when I backpacked through Italy. I stayed at Camping Michelangelo for a few nights. I remember waiting there outside for hours to get in the museum.
Despite having few tourists at the moment, there was a queue to enter the Uffizi. These people were mostly Italian and school children.
Book your ticket online
Through the website of the Galleria degli Uffizi you can book your visit on a date and time of your choice. The price for the online entrance ticket is Euro 16,00 per person. With this ticket you avoid long lines.
Upon booking you will receive a confirmation email. You show your e-ticket to the ticket office where it will be exchanged for an entrance ticket.
Galleria degli Uffizi
To learn more about the museum’s most popular objects an audio guide provides interesting information on the things you see.
The audio guide is available in 4 languages (Italian, English, Spanish and German) and can be rented at the service desk, but only with your own valid ID card.
“La primavera” Sandro Botticelli
Important art works at the Uffizi Galleries
The works in the gallery are shown in the chronological order in which they were painted.
Many art collections belonged to the Medici family. The Gallery’s collection includes masterpieces of Filippo Lippi (Madonna col Bambino e due Angeli), Botticelli (Spring and The Birth of Venus), Michelangelo, Raffaelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
Filippo Lippi “Madonna col Bambino e due angeli”
“Nascita di Vendere” Sandro Botticelli
The Galleria degli Uffizi houses art works from Dutch, German and Flemish painters as well.
My favourite restaurant in Florence
Trattoria la Casalinga is situated only a stone’s throw away from the Palazzo Pitti. The location is a bit off the tourist path. This trattoria offers the best Tuscan meals!
Trattoria la Casalinga
I had lunch with Thomas, a friend of mine who works in the same businesses. He organizes wine tours and tastings in Tuscany.
We discussed various topics. Hopefully we can start a wine project together in the nearby future. Who knows! We feel the absence of (American) tourists. Wine tours and tastings are completely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thomas enjoys wine and he knows a lot about it. He’s an expert. For our lunch he choose the wine Carmignano DOCG from the winery il Sassolo. This wine is made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a full bodied red wine, good pairing with local Tuscan food.
Our lunch menu
We started with chicken liver paté served on crostini and Lardo di Colonnato. As a main course we ordered the Fegato alla Toscana (pork liver). A deeply flavored piece of meat. Liver tastes really good. I like it.
Many people don’t eat organ meats. I can imagine that. Some people don’t even want to think of eating it. Luckily I eat almost anything. Liver is healthy, but you shouldn’t eat it too often.
Fegato alla toscana
Our lunch was top notch! Good food, excellent wine and nice ambiance. Great and fast service in Trattoria la Casalinga.
Shopping in Florence
Besides being the cradle of the Renaissance period, Florence is also the ultimate shopping destination in Italy. It is one of the “Made in Italy” fashion capitals, together with Milano. I enjoy shopping in Florence.
February is the period of sales. You find the best sales and discount on fashion clothing.
In the centre’s shopping areas people need to wear face masks. Also in shops face coverings are mandatory.
Before you go into a shop you must clean your hands with hand sanitizer gel.
My shopping addresses
In Florence I have my favourite shopping addresses. I am a regular customer at Intimissimi. I have a card for extra benefits. The service at Intimissimi is good and friendly.
At this moment my preferred clothing store is GUESS. GUESS is an American clothing brand. You’ll find a variety of styles. GUESS is fashionable for men and women. Hip and stylish!
Address: Via degli Speziali 9R, Firenze
Desigual is on one side of the Ponte Vecchio. Another clothing shop in Florence where I often check the latest trends.
Getting to Florence by public transport
There are several ways to get to Florence.
I always go to Florence by train from Chiusi-Chianciano Terme. From here it takes 1h 45 m on average to Firenze S.M.N.
You can buy your train ticket through the website Trenitalia or at the train station. A one way train ticket Chiusi – Firenze costs Euro 14,00 (regional train).
The top sights in the historical centre are easily to explore by foot. In Florence trams and busses are widely used.
From Florence you can make day trips by train. Cities such as Siena, Pisa and Arezzo are within easy reach.
Getting to Florence by car
Along the A1 highway is the Villa Costanza Car Park (Scandicci). You can access it both coming from the North or the South. Villa Costanza is the first Drive and Tramway car park in Italy.
Villa Costanza is an ideal alternative to avoid traffic jams in the centre of Florence. The T1 line brings you to the centre.
A single way costs Euro 1,50 and is valid for 90 minutes. Every tram stop has a ticket machine. You’re not able to buy tickets on board.
Running in Florence
Florence is a city where I have left literally many footprints. I ran the Firenze Marathon in 2016.
Firenze marathon 2016
And before that, I’ve participated in many smaller runs. This was the period in which we headed off to Florence almost every week. Even just for a training with Fulvio Massini.
We miss our races in Italy!
Notturna di San Giovanni 10 km run
Florence in a day.. enjoy this YouTube video!
I’ve made this video this February to let you experience Florence from a distance.