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.
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)
- tomato sauce*
*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.
Cantina Gattavecchi organizes a yearly fundraising dinner for the Breast Cancer Foundation “Io Sempre Donna“. Io Sempre Donna is in Chianciano Terme, a small village nearby Montepulciano.
Usually this annual charity dinner offers food from all over the world. But this time chef Lilian Gattavecchi decided to offer an Italian night with food from different regions, such as: Trentino – Alto Adige, Veneto, Calabria, Sardegna, Liguria, Toscana, Piemonte, Sicilia and Lombardia.
The wines they served were local wines from winery Gattavecchi: Toscana IGT red and white; Rosso di Montepulciano DOC; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG and Vino Santo di Montepulciano DOC.
The total amount of the dinner was euro 30.00 per person (including bread, water and wine).
Io Sempre Donna
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Io Sempre Donna helps women who are dealing with breast cancer and are in need of emotional support.
In Italy women who are 50 years or older (until 69) have screenings every 2 years. Women with a family history of breast cancer have a routine screening mammograms every year.
Io Sempre Donna means literally “Me always a woman”. Women diagnosed with breast cancer face a difficult time. Io Sempre Donna assist and support them before, during and after hard times.
Menu charity dinner
Toscana – nero toscano (chicken liver)
Calabria – BOMBA calabra (chilly peppers)
Umbria – salame al tartufo e crostini funghi mozzarella
Sardegna – pecorino cheese
Veneto – baccalà mantecato (stockfish)
Trentino Alto Adige – canederli in brodo
Campania – scialatelli alla sorrentina
Piemonte – la paniscia alla novarese
Lombardia – polenta con le quaglie (quail)
Toscana – peposo (red wine beef stew with lots of pepper)
Liguria – patate al forno con i funghi
Sicilia – melanzane (eggplants)
Toscana – fagioli bianchi (white beans)
Toscana – crostata / biscotti al Vino Nobile
Lombardia – tiramisù
The food was fabulous. We were a bit too full at the end but it was really amazing. A great experience!
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 sent from our distribution centre in Holland.
Getting excited? For more information about this online wine experience visit my website “A Taste of Veneto!”
Weekly market every Thursday in Montepulciano
A visit to the local market is a very characteristic experience in Montepulciano.
It is a typical Italian market with fresh fish, salumi, prosciutto, olives, different types of pecorino cheeses, cod, mozzarella di bufala, roast chicken as well as kitchen utensils, clothes and shoes.
There is always something for everyone!
The weekly market is from 8 am till 1 pm. Address: Piazza Pietro Nenni in Montepulciano.
Two market stalls every Tuesday and Friday in Montepulciano
Every week on Tuesday and Friday morning is a small outdoor market in the “Via Marino Cappelli” in front of the BCC Bank. The two market stalls sell fresh fruit, vegetables and fish.
The fish market vendor offer a wide range of fresh fish and seafood: salmon, tune, calamari, squid, cuttlefish and prawns for instance. In addition to the fresh fish you’ll find all kinds of fried fish and fried vegetables such as “fiori di zucca”. Fiori di zucca are blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese. It’s really worth a try!
This small market is mostly frequented by locals.
Why going to the market?
I love to buy local produce at the market. I like knowing where the food I eat comes from and supporting local farmers. It is good for the environment and it benefits the local economy.
The food is super fresh compared to the grocery store foods. The market stalls showcase their locally fresh (seasonal) fruits and vegetables. The vendors are more than friendly and they will always choose the best pieces of fruit and vegetables for you.
Every week I go the market in Montepulciano. I often do my shopping at my favorite market stalls. Barra Francesco from Foiano della Chiana (AR) is the best stallholder to buy fresh mozzarella and burrata.
They have a small market stall, not only for cheese, but they sell also other delicacies from Southern Italy. It is a real family owned businesses where mother, father and son are all involved.
Mozzarella di bufala is a traditionally soft cheese produced in the region Campania. Mozzarella is a ball of fresh cheese and has a better texture, richness and overall flavor than the mozzarella cheese from a grocery store.
The family Barra also sells delicious olives, anchovies, taralli (typical snack from Puglia), taralli napoletani, different kinds of cheeses and dried tasty sausages.
Tuscany is rich in traditional, mainly pork based, dishes. For instance “porchetta”. This is a roasted pork with fennel, bay leaves and pepper. It is a real specialty from Umbria and Southern Tuscany.
Many locals eat a porchetta sandwich for lunch.
Furthermore the bistecca Fiorentina is a famous meat dish in central Italy.
Every day I try to cook fresh. I do not always have the time for that, but I find it important to eat fresh and healthy. The dishes I prepare are mostly seasonal.
Autumn is coming and at the moment you can find a big offer of funghi porcini at the market. So what do we eat tonight? Pappardelle ai funghi porcini!