Skiing and celebrating Carnival with my children might be more typical pastimes in late February; instead, I chose to return to Tuscany in the off-season to savor the excellence of this blessed region along with the silence and the peacefulness of a pre-Spring pause, off on a jaunt to the seaside alone with my thoughts. I decided to register to the two-day Terre di Toscana wine and food celebration, which is organized each year by the local association L’AcquaBuona in the fashionable resort town of Lido di Camaiore abandoned by the tourists up to Easter. Open to the public for a nominal 20 Euro per day fee, one can taste the new releases of hundreds of great wines and lots of fantastic food — the perfect antidote to a long winter and a window into better things to come in Spring.
I must confess that my attraction for food and wines from Tuscany is really strong and often inexorable. Authenticity and tradition are there preserved with jealousy and the food is in a certain way simple and poor but really good and unique, while the wines look like the perfect local matching. It’s true I am not Italian but French and I was adopted 15 years ago in Milan, the Lombardy capital. I love Italy for its astonishing beauty, fashion, design creativity and lifestyle but not only — wines are there very different in style and they make you feel like an artist or a musician looking for the right nuance or change in key. They are mainly made with indigenous varieties and it is no coincidence that Italy was namedEnotria (“land of wine”) when the Greeks discovered hectares of planted vines along the Mediterranean coast.
So I decided to take my car to visit the Tuscany coast, where all the shutters were still closed and the dead grass in planters on balconies were the only remnants of the previous summer. The sea was still in its continuous rolls but there was no superfluous entertainment to follow or unnecessary artifice around, just a sort of empty and stubborn song that invites you to concentrate on your senses and to enjoy walking on the large sandy beaches that characterize this part of the Tuscany coast. It was an off-season time and there was no good reason to ignore it.
During two days – Sunday and Monday – Terre di Toscana gave me the opportunity to taste more than 600 wines made by 130 outstanding Tuscan producers and to participate to different cooking shows leaded by Italian best chefs and organized in a laboratory called “Golosizia”. When Daniele Fagiolini (Antico Ristoro Le Colombaie in San Miniato) explained us how to make fresh paccheri pasta cooked with tomatoes juice and buffalo mozzarella adding then a crème made with seasonable vegetables such as asparagus or zucchini; the Michelin star chef, Silvia Baracchi (Il Falconiere Relais & Chateaux a Cortona) talked about the art of cooking the Chianina meat coming from Val di Chiana.
Wines were tasted outside of there in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in company with the wineries and a large public of local restauranteurs and local wine lovers. I was really happy to find several of our new vintage wines presented in anteprima there and I am actually really excited that you’ll be the next to discover them at home. From the Chianti Classico land to the little towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano moving to Maremma and Bolgheri, an important part of the prestigious Tuscan lands and oenological excellences were presented here. Fontodi, La Massa, Le Macchiole, Monteverro and Podere Il Carnasciale were all there to tell the story of the 2010 vintage.
Regarding 2010 in Tuscany, the growing season was generally long and the spring was unusually cold and rainy but the summer was hot and lovely and it allows to the wine growers to harvest in optimal weather conditions. In that sense, I think that the vintage 2010 gave expressiveness and freshness to the wines, which are balanced and well-integrated. In this vintage, I may add that wines are guided by the pureness and the elegance of the fruit more than by the structure living, hopefully, an important place to the varietal expressions. So wines are definitively more discrete in style, in comparison with hotter vintages, but they have an overall impressive finesse made of flower and fruity aromas and flavors which are a real promise in ageing.
In conclusion, I could argue that it is a good choice to get the vintage 2010 and put it away for a couple of years or more in your cellar, but I am generally too curious and I personally can’t resist that long. So, I look forward to sharing many stories of the wines made in Italy, simply because they all tell a unique great story: the symbiosis between the huge number of unique varieties and the diversity of terroirs.