One of the more interesting parts of traveling and exploring a new area is getting lost. And that’s a pretty easy for me, especially in Italy. But while this little tale starts off with dead ends at every where, turning right lead us to the most perfect day of Montalcino wine tasting at Caparzo…
On our first trip to Italy The Husband and I set out to explore the wines in Montalcino, a small village in Tuscany outside the Chianti region. When we reached the outskirts of town we were greeted by a mass of signs pointing us to dozens of wineries. Turning to our trusty Italian Wine Guide to help direct us we became flustered and frustrated with all the choices. So we put the book down and just turned right. It was the right way to go we just didn’t know it yet.
Having visited a several vineyards in Chianti earlier in the week we thought we could just show up in Montalcino for a tour and tasting. We were more than disappointed to learn this was not the case. I mean really, making reservations for a wine tasting? Who does that. =)
We were sent away at three different locations before one was nice enough to let us stay for a SHORT tasting. The tasting room at Altesino had been serving a large group that was wrapping up so one of the vineyard employees was able to give us a short tour and tasting. It was very nice for them to do and helped us discover their amazing wines. (We’re able to buy the Rosso at home in Colorado, and do so regularly. Try it!)
Even though Altesino had been kind enough to let us get in without a reservation, we didn’t think we would luck into that again given the number of cars at each tasting room we passed along the dirt roads in Montalcino. Needless to say we were discouraged. Having spent two hours in the car to get to Montalcino we had really wanted to experience more of the Montalcino wine. Before completely throwing in the towel we thought we’d try one more. Why not? If it was a bust we’d head into town to an Enoteca and try wines there.
Tenuta Caparzo Vineyard
As we drove by the Tenuta Caparzo vineyard, rated a five-star vineyard in our trusty book, The Italian Wine Guide we noticed there was only one car out front. Perhaps we were in luck. Sure enough, Lady Luck was now on our side.
We were greeted by Mirco, who immediately offered to give us a tour of the winery and do a tasting. He informed us a large group had just canceled so he was free for the next few hours. Thank you Lady Luck (and perhaps Altesino who was still serving that large group).
Mirco took us through the entire process of wine making at Caparzo – from picking the grapes and separating those only good enough to make into their high-quality Brunello wines. (The grapes that don’t make it into their top wines are used for table wines. This is a pretty common thing in the wine business and explains, at least to me, why some $10 bottles of wine are better than $40 bottles.)
The best part of the tour was entering the cellar where the owner saves several bottles from each vintage. One of the first bottles of wine the vineyard produced was the same year I was born. According to Mirco that was a good year for the wine. I’m not sure if he was serious but I had to agree, it was a great year…I asked if I could try it (or buy it) and was denied.
While the tour was great and Micro was highly entertaining the real fun was just about to begin.
Being in the Right Place at the Right Time = Amazing Montalcino Wine
Life is all about being in the right place at the right time and that was exactly the case when we entered the tasting room. Three travelers from Poland had just begun their tasting and we were invited to join their group. Micro quickly caught us up and the festivities began.
Only one of our new wine tasting buddies spoke English but he acted as the translator for his friends. They were hilarious and such a delight to be with. What made it even more delightful was when one of them convinced Mirco to open a bottle of La Casa Brunello di Montalcino 2001, which at the time had not been released. Given they were purchasing 10-12 cases to take back to Poland, it wasn’t very difficult to convince him. The Husband and I were simply in the right place at the right time. It was like having a sip of heaven. Amazing. Love. Love. Love.
After a VERY long wine tasting at Caparzo – I seriously think we opened every bottle we could – we were in need of some nourishment, aka food. Our Polish friends had an appointment at another vineyard so we parted ways. We asked Mirco for a recommendation on a place to eat lunch at in Montalcino. The next thing we knew we were being told they would cook us lunch and not to worry about going into town. What? We were so thrown off guard we weren’t really sure what to do. And so we just went with it.
Grabbing two bottles from the tasting that were half full (or half empty – however you want to look at it) Mirco lead us through the grounds and into a private room that is only opened for parties or importers coming in for a tasting. It was here we met our chef. She spoke little English and just smiled and nodded when we spoke. Needing time to prepare the meal she escorted us to a veranda overlooking the vineyards. The wine, the view and the company was amazing…
Mirco and two of his friends joined us for lunch. We had a four course traditional Tuscan meal. It was simple yet amazing and just being invited up for lunch was such a treat.
This was one of those amazing travel days when getting lost and frustrated worked in our favor. It’s the little things in life that make life great and the people who make those great things happen don’t always realize it. Thanks, Mirco. Cheers!
Have you ever had one of these travel days? We’d love to hear about it. Even better, did it happen at Caparzo? =)
I love this piece about Montalcino. I’ll be travelling there very soon and never knew you had to make reservations for the wine tasting. Is that for all wineries in Montalcino?
I would suggest you do that. You may get lucky and get into one without reservations but no point in going out there without a few lined up. Enjoy the trip!
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