Friday was our last night out in Tuscany and we dined at Ristorante Il Pozzo, in the small hilltop town of Monterrigioni. The walled city, which is about the size of a breadbox, was stunning with several turrets set against the clear night sky. The restaurant offered good, simple Tuscan food (my grilled chingiale steak was deliciously bacony), and a decent wine list.
I hooked up with Alberto Antonini and his family for dinner. Our four daughters played a series of silly games at their end of the table while we worked our way through our meal. Antonini, who works with a host of wineries in Tuscany, from the Da Vinci co-op in Chianti to Bibi Graetz, is also active in South Africa, Chile and Argentina. We talked about the harvest in Tuscany, among other things, before heading out into the cool night air. The small piazza in town gave the girls a chance to run around while we finished off a few small cones of gelato.
After a slightly rainy end to August (though you wouldn’t have known it from the sunny week we had while here), Antonini was hoping for a little wind to dry things out. He got his wish on Saturday, which was a supercrisp, dry, breezy day that finally blew off the haze over the region and cast the hillsides in a purer light. With Casole sitting in the distance, I was beckoned into the small town one more time. We got some fresh chicken and sausages from the local butcher for our last Tuscan dinner, to be done alla griglia at the villa. Another small cup of gelato was in order as well.
|The town of Casole, as seen from the swimming pool at my villla, beckoned one last time.|
Saturday was also my father’s 66th birthday. So we picked up a bottle of the San Giusto a Rentennano Toscana Percarlo 1999 at the enoteca in town, and served it along with Solaria Brunello di Montalcino 2001 and Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2001. After 10 days of drinking almost nothing but Tuscan wines, I had pretty much settled on the fact that there’s Brunello and then there’s the rest of Tuscany when it comes to wine. The Percarlo was elegant and silky but the Solaria and Gianni Brunelli easily outclassed it (’01 was a far better vintage as well, so perhaps it wasn't a fair fight), with the Brunelli really fleshing out as it aired in the glass.
On Sunday we awoke before dawn to make the three-hour drive down to Rome and catch our flight home. We toyed with the idea of ordering in Italian food for our first meal back in New York (since the fridge was obviously bare) but decided not to lessen the lingering memories on our taste buds with an imitation of the original. After a quiet Labor Day that I’ll spend getting caught up on my sports teams—did Michigan really lose to Appalachian State?—it’s back to the office on Tuesday.
Richard F Dyer — Frederick, MD — September 3, 2007 4:16pm ET
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