Easter Bolgheri: The Day After

Easter Bolgheri: The Day After by Ivano Martignetti

The contrast between earth and sea, the green of the vineyards and olive trees populated hills against the pines standing on the side of the beach. Why should we choose? We are in the “Etruschi Coast” (Costa degli Etruschi) and I have to say those Etruschi were very smart to choose a place like this.

Upon our arrival in Marina di Castagneto, after a quick walk on the beach, we were guided by our instinct to the first stop of our “eno-gastronomic” weekend, a restaurant on the seaside, “Il Poeta”, were we let them spoil us with remarkable “Spaghetti with clams” matched with a local Vermentino. Nice to be at the seaside..

Walking on the desert beach, for a moment I thought I was in Dublin, I am not used to see an “umbrella-free” beach in Italy, even if I missed the cars driving as crazy on the sand, almost defying the Ocean. Yes, in Ireland this is part of the fun.. :)

But in order not to fall off topic, let’s focus on the main reasons of this trip: tasting, visiting old villages and discovering something new. And so we went to the beautiful Castagneto Carducci, where the view on the hills full of olive trees gives you a sense of peace and fulfilment, especially when beyond the green you can spot the azure of the Mediterranean Sea, enhancing even more the imagination and the expectations for the local food, bringing back not only the colours of that territory but also the fragrances in the air.. and the mind-blowing flavours they release..

Now, as we didn’t book anything, we jumped in the car and got lost in the countryside, between uneven roads and beautiful vineyards, Bordeaux style but even more extreme.. Before stopping by a wine cellar, there’s a thing we have to do: tasting a good Tuscan (extra-virgin) olive oil! And this is why we stopped at the Serni oil mill, where a very kind host showed us the machineries and served a delicate blend of “cultivar” on a slice of Tuscan bread, even if my imagination went straight to having this delicacy in my kitchen..

At this stage it’s time to go back to the road, my satellite navigator went crazy, but it’s funny to keep it switched on, while my attention gets caught by an amazing winery disguised in the green: “Guado al Melo”.

The inconvenience of going on a trip without booking anything, takes shape when we learn it won’t be possible to have a full tour of the winery, but they let us look around in the winery and we understand the love for the wine culture of the owner, who created a beautiful library dedicated to the wine and put in display windows some ancient wine books dedicated to viticulture and mythic bacchanals..

The tasting part did not disappoint us at all. Excellent wines, but I have to start from the end, precisely from the Jassarte 2006. This wine has a story, a nice one. The winery was founded by Attilio Scienza, professor of Enology and Viticulture, leading a project for the study of around 40 grape varieties, Caucasian and Mediterranean. These grape varieties are produced on their own to study their qualities and potential and to fund these studies Jassarte was born. Jassarte is a blend of around 25 grape varieties, full bodied, with Mediterranean fragrances (like resin from the pines) and lots of spices; in addition to this, it funds the studies of a team of future oenologists, whose wines I would love to taste!

Under torture, I managed to get the names of some of those grape varietals used for this unique wine: Alexandrouli, Mujuretuli, Olgialedri, Saperavi, Tsicobilia, Kerdiagi, Agiogitiko, Arinoroa, Babic, Caladoc, Egiodola (Caucasian varietals) + Grenache, Teroldego, Mourvedre (Mediterranean ones). To be tried.

First wine we tasted was a white (Guado al Melo Bianco), very different from the local Vermentino we had at the restaurant earlier in the afternoon. This blend of Vermentino, Verdicchio, Fiano, Petit Manseng and Manzoni spent some time at the “Barrique” gym, you could taste it, but it kept the fragrances which reminded us of the territory it came from and also kept a nice acidity. The beautiful thing about this journey is that you smell many fragrances in the air and then you find them in the wines you taste, some of them recognizable straight away.. Amazing!

The two Bolgheri we tasted, Bolgheri DOC Rosso (Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot)and Bolgheri DOC Superiore (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot), were very convincing, even if the Superiore was too cold, therefore I had no choice but buying a bottle of it, so that I could taste it at home at the right temperature.. Yes, these are the sacrifices that a true wine lover should be willing to do..:)

The Osteria Magona, in Bolgheri, is a place that I already knew. The place is nice, food is outstanding and the wines cost almost as in the wineries, as in the other local restaurants. Well done! This is the best way to enhance the value of the local products and to prompt tourists to taste local wines, which are not cheap but don’t discourage the customers, as it happens elsewhere… Also, the expertise of the staff is something you can’t buy at the supermarket and I really would like to find the same expertise in the Sannio area, where in some local restaurants, even if the area is producing amazing wines, they don’t even know at what temperature they have to serve red wines..

Gnocchetti allo strolghino with carciofi and tomatoes, panzanella with potatoes, good memories..

Easter lunch had to be special, so we went… to the Butcher! Correct, the butcher on the other side of the road decided to expand and then created a restaurant, where they serve their meat, ina very pleasant and cosy atmosphere. I rememeber their porchetta, their tasty xxl hamburger, definitely approved!

It has been a beautiful experience, because of the weather I can’t give a A+ to the trip, but overall we’re very close..!

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