At home in Montepulciano

At home in Montepulciano

Lockdown in Italy

As we all know people in Italy have been staying at home since 9 March. Schools, shops, restaurants, bars and many offices are closed. Since then I only go out for a good reason: grocery shopping. I live nearby the Conad grocery. It’s only 5 minutes walking.

Not only people but also cars are in lockdown. Like my car. The battery is low. I cannot even unlock the doors by pressing the button. Not that I have plans to drive but for getting some heavy stuff home from the supermarket a car will do well. I don’t know how to fix this problem though but every problem has a solution!

It’s a very strange and hard period. I am doing ok. At the very beginning I watched the press conference at the Rai24 station every day. Now I hardly see it anymore. For me it’s fine now to stay updated by reading some Tweet news from two Dutch journalists in Rome.

Walking in Montepulciano

The last two days I was trying to get some walks and short runs nearby my house. I am allowed to do that only if I stay 200m away from home. I have run a piece with a face mask. It’s inconvenient. You can’t get fresh air. A face mask is not for runners. But in case the police stops me I have one with me.

I haven’t been fully recovered from my knee arthroscopy. My meniscus was very bad damaged because of the runnings. As doctor Ceppi told me so. I do my exercises every day to develop my leg muscles. It helps but it takes much longer to be back to my previous running shape. I guess..

Sylvia Italy

Risotto agli asparagi

I didn’t stop tasting wines and eating good food during the lockdown. Honestly since we are at home I prepare more often delightful dishes for myself.

I am not disappointed about my cooking! But I am always struggling with a good Carbonara… any tip?

Risotto agli asparagi

Wines

And yes I have good wines in my wine cellar. There’s no day without a good glass of wine. I do not only drink Sangiovese wines. As you might know Tuscany is known for it’s Sangiovese based wines.

Poggio alla Sala “il Parceto”

To improve my palate I recently purchased some nice wines from winery Piandaccoli in Florence. They make excellent Chardonnay-Malvasia and Rosé wines. These wines pair well with fish dishes, antipasti and pasta.

@ Home in Montepulciano

In Holland we say every disadvantage has it’s vantage. That’s true. I got to know new neighbors since I am at home. They are lovely people. We got friends. This is wonderful. I can’t wait to have a dinner or an appetizer with them. Hopefully soon!

WSET Study

I also started studying my WSET level 3 wine exam. Every time when I read new things about wine I realize that I love the world of wines. It is interesting to discover new wines from all over the world.

Knowing more about different grape varieties, how wines are made and how they might taste. I hope to be well prepared for the upcoming lessons and wine tastings.

WSET study level 3

Wine webshop

And the good news is, I am working on a new wine project. A friend of mine suggested me to realize a new wine adventure now the tourism in Tuscany is shut down.

An awesome idea! It is a lot of work, but I like it. I see this as a new career opportunity for myself with a lot of possibilities for Sylvia Italy in the nearby future.

Stay tuned!

Vasco Rosso wines from Tenuta Pian delle Ginestre

 

Wine and Spirit Education Trust

Wine and Spirit Education Trust

WSET

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust provides education and qualifications in wines for professionals and enthusiasts. Level 2 Award in Wines is an intermediate level qualification.

During the course we studied about wines, grape varieties of the world, the regions in which they are grown and the styles of wine they produce.

Through a combination of (a lot) wine tasting and theory we explored the quality, the style and how to describe the wines.

Emily O’ Hare

Our teacher for WSET level 2 is Emily O’Hare. Emily is wine writer, sommelier and she teaches WSET courses in Tuscany. Originally she’s from London but is now based in Siena.

Review

I personally enjoyed the wine study and the courses with Emily. We had a lovely group. Some participants were from my FISAR Sommelier course and some people were new. It was a nice experience and definitely a do thing.

I look forward to start soon with WSET level 3.

Diploma

I got my classification! I passed my exam. Result 94% and Grade Pass with distinction. Now I have two wonderful certificates, FISAR Sommelier and WSET level 2 Award in Wines.

I still need to learn a lot more about wines. But I have a lot of interest and I am passionate about wine. I live in a wine growing area and I work in the tourism and wine business.

The best is yet to come!

WSET diploma level 2

 

Olive oil mill in Montepulciano

Olive oil mill in Montepulciano

Il Frantoio di Montepulciano

Frantoio means olive oil mill or olive oil press. Many olive oil producers rely on an external frantoio. Il Frantoio di Montepulciano is established in Montepulciano and counts 600 members. It is a farmers cooperative that supply members various services for the production of extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil production in Siena

The olive groves are cultivated in the province of Siena. The gently rolling hills around Montepulciano are suitable for cultivating olive groves. The altitude of the hills are about 300-650 m above sea level.

In the province of Siena are many small producers who cultivate olive trees. The farmers take care of the plants by pruning and harvesting for having good olive oil every year.

After harvesting by hand or with mechanical shakers the farmers bring the olives in boxes to the olive mill “frantoio”. 

The olives are washed to remove dirt. When ready, the olives will be crushed and pressed cold (26-28 degrees) in a modern machine.

Thanks to the cold press the olives keep their properties for a high quality extra virgin olive oil.

After the extraction of the oil, the olive oil will be soon packed in bottles, cans or in small tins.

Different types of olive oil

Il Frantoio di Montepulciano produces different types of high quality olive oil. Olive oil extra virgin from il Frantoio di Montepulciano is obtained from the olive varieties Leccino, Frantoio and Moraiolo.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva 100% Italiano

Oil produced with a range of traditional Tuscan olive varieties and other Italian olives (Puglia). This extra virgin olive oil presents a bitter taste.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva DOP Terre di Siena

DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) guarantees the area of production and qualitative characteristics of the olives. Olio extra virgin di Oliva DOP Terre di Siena is a very high quality olive oil.

The olive oil is green in colour. It has a strong taste. An excellent olive oil for dressings.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva IGP Toscano

IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) is similar to DOP. IGP olive oil extra virgin is obtained with olives grown in Tuscany. This oil is quality guaranteed.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva Biologico

Organic extra virgin olive oil is olive oil produced following the European regulation on organic production and labeling on organic products. The olive oil must be obtained from locally grown organic olives. These olives are not treated by chemicals.

This organic oil has a smooth flavor and a soft taste. 

Information olive oil

All products mentioned above have different flavors. But the fresher the oil is, the better it tastes. Above all extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and consumption of olive oil may benefit your overall health in several ways.

Throughout the year you can visit the mill “Il Frantoio di Montepulciano” and taste the oils that are produced.

A video of the production process

From harvest to olive milling to hand-bottling: extra vergine olio d’oliva.

 

Hand picking the grapes

Hand picking the grapes

Grape harvest

Hand picking the grapes means that pickers go through the vineyard and pick the grapes bunch by bunch. They can choose the ripe grapes, or rather, they can avoid picking rotten or bad grapes.

Grape harvest Poggio alla Sala

The grape harvest in Tuscany usually occurs between September and October. The right period for harvesting is determined by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels. Also the weather is important by planning the time of the harvest.

Some winemakers determine whether to use hand-picker workers or mechanical harvest machinery. Some benefits of hand picking the grapes are:

  • Grapes are handled gently
  • The hand picked grapes are carefully laid out so that they arrive at the press intact
  • Hand picking means you care and care is what matters…

Winemaking process red wine

Wine making is a natural process that requires human intervention, but each winery guides the process though different techniques. In basic, there are five components of the wine making process:

Harvesting, Crushing and Pressing, Fermentation, Clarification, Aging and Bottling

After the grapes are sorted they are ready to be de-stemmed and crushed. Mechanical presses the grapes into must. Must is a freshly juice that contains the skins, seeds and solids.

Crushing the grapes

After crushing and pressing the fermentation begins. The fermentation continues until the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide CO2.

The crusher – destemmer

Grape skins and solids float to the top and need to be pushed back. The red wine juice is pomped from the bottom and splashed over the top of the grape cap.

When the fermentation has finished it is the time to clarify the wine. Filtration occurs by a filter. The clarified wine is ready for further aging in stainless steel, oak barrels or in bottels.

Poggio alla Sala

A group of workers at the vineyards of Poggio alla Sala picked the grapes with secateurs and put them in a basket. Then the grapes are put in a container and finally transported to the winery to be processed.

Hand picking

Hand picking Sangiovese grapes

Sangiovese grapes

Hand pickers

Poggio alla Sala

Poggio alla Sala

The most planted grape at Poggio alla Sala is the Sangiovese grape. Poggio alla Sala is exposured in the southern part of Montepulciano. Some Etruscan objects are found here.

Sangiovese grapes

Winemaker Luca Gattavecchi

If you want gorgeous views as well as a good glass of wine than head to Poggio alla Sala. From here you see the Monte Amiata which influences the local climate of the lands and the vineyards.

Grape harvest

Poggio alla Sala

Youtube video “hand picking grapes”

Sangiovese is the most widely planted grape variety in Italy. Prugnolo Gentile is a clone of Sangiovese and is mainly grown for the expansion of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.

The grapes are high in sugar, tannin and acidity. Winery Gattavecchi produces high quality wines.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has potential for aging. After 3 years up the wine can be sold. 

 

Official certified FISAR sommelier

Official certified FISAR sommelier

FISAR sommelier

In 2017 I started with the FISAR sommelier study with the aim of becoming a professional sommelier. My dream came true…

I have successfully passed all exams. I am an official certified sommelier now! FISAR is an official recognized diploma. They organise wine courses, tastings and exams throughout Italy.

Over the past three years Emiliano was our teacher. Every week we had guest speakers in our class to teach us about wine, and everything in between.

It was hard work because there’s a lot of information to know about wine.

Written and oral examination

The written exam contained multiple choice questions and open questions. FISAR (Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori e Ristoratori) focuses on the understanding of wine and food pairing. A sommelier must know how to pair food with wine.

In the tasting and practical examination we tasted and evaluated the wine I choose: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2015 from the winery Fattoria del Cerro.

There were three examiners asking me questions on different topics. Emiliano and two colleagues assisted us before and after the exam. 

Fattoria del Cerro

Celebration dinner 

By the end of our oral exam we planned a nice dinner with lots of wine in restaurant La Solita Zuppa. We all were very happy and excited. 

La Solita Zuppa

La Solita Zuppa

FISAR Diploma

It wasn’t easy to get here. Being a Dutch native speaker and doing speaking and writing tests in an other language isn’t the easiest way to get your Italian sommelier degree.

FISAR sommelier

FISAR sommelier

FISAR sommelier together with Luca and Emiliano

Now that I am having my FISAR diploma I hunger for more. I want to keep on studying, tasting, working and keep on organizing more wine tastings.

I live my dream and nothing is impossible. I have so many future wine projects to realize.

The best is yet to come. Cheers!

FISAR sommelier