Montepulciano, Southern Tuscany
Like many of you, DoinDubai has been travelling over the summer, to easy to get to destinations from Dubai. This is the first of a couple of posts from Southern Tuscany in Italy. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to visit at a later date.
The Salcheto vineyard is a seriously environmentally friendly vineyard that is only two years old and is supposedly Italy’s most sustainable wine estate. The estate is located in typical wine country just outside Montepulciano’s medieval town in the Val D’Orcia region of Southern Tuscany. But apart from it’s location, nothing much else is typical or traditional about this winery.
The Salcheto Wine Estate
One of the first things that strikes you when you arrive are the strange space helmet type bubble domes all over the floor. These we found were an ingenious way to let natural light into the cellars below ground. The helmets are lined with a mirror that immediately sends a shaft of light (from the sun) down to illuminate the lower floor, so no electricity is used for light. The cement used as grout for the tiles between the helmet domes is a type that lets in more moisture than normal so when it rains or when water is poured over, the damp seeps below to help keep the cellar levels (there are three) cool, completely naturally.
The vineyard boasts a vertical garden that was planted literally up the outside walls of the cellar and when watered helps keep the inside walls cool. Special gabion type cages filled with boulders are placed strategically around the base of the walled garden to limit any effects of erosion and stop the hillside being washed away.
The Salcheto estate grows six kinds of grapes, four red and two white and manages to produce around 10, 000 bottles of wine or just over 7000 litres per annum. (I noticed Selfridges in London was one of it’s customers) Broadly they make Rossato (Rose), Rosso which is a light red, Nobile and Nobile Reserva, the heaviest and most substantial of the wines in terms of colour and alcohol content. They also make a type of sweet wine that is not the typical vin santo but is made from Tresliano and Malbasia white grapes, it’s matured for around 18 months and smells of sophisticated honey and is much less alcoholic than Vin Santo. (I don’t like sweet wines but this was an exception)
Generally fermentation can take between 3 to 30 days depending on the wine being produced, and wine is left to ferment in hand made Slovenian/Croatian oak barrels that are made in Spain but wines are aged for much longer in their bottles.
Up in the modern tasting rooms they even have a geo thermal air conditioner. We visited the winery during a week in August that co incided with the Festival Val D’Orcia during which time the ancient Renaissance Medieval towns such as Montalcino (famous for it’s dark and brooding Brunello wine) and Montepulciano re enact events of by gone days: archery contests, street processions in full traditional dress and huge communal meals down the narrowest of streets. A couple of gentle hillsides away sits the Salcheto winery; an excellent example of modern, state of the art technology, that embraces sustainability while exuding an easy charm in modern day surroundings that made us feel as though we were in a bar in New York. This bit of Italy seems to have got the juxtaposition of the modern and the old in perfect harmony. Go and visit all the old hill top towns but only try one winery, the Salcheto, do the full tasting and tour and then have lunch, then buy as much wine and olive oil as Ryanair will let you carry back (if you’re flying to London) and take your clothes as hand luggage. As usual do share the warm feeling of the post on Facebook and let me know if this sounds like a visit you would do if you visited this part of Italy by leaving a comment in the box below, thanks Monica.
(The comments really help the blog so thanks to all my regular commenters and if you haven’t as yet left a comment then I look forward to hearing from you !)
Click here to read about how to get to Salcheto Winery (2 hours drive from Rome) and learn how sensibly priced the tastings and lunch are. A big THANK YOU to John Voightman and his team at La Bandita Townhouse for organizing this trip for us.
Next week where to stay in the gorgeous Val D’Orcia region of Southern Tuscany. Do subscribe to the blog for free mails if you haven’t already done so, some great competitions coming up to win meals in Dubai and beyond !
We bought this book
And thanks to Sally of Mycustardpie whose post encouraged me to write this !
- Pienza, Salcheto Winery, & Montepulciano (noelleinflorence.wordpress.com)