Sunday, September 23rd

Sunday is a day of rest.  So we slept in.

Our plan for today day had been just to take it easy around the barn.  The morning was quite overcast but actually quite a pleasant temperature.  It was perfect for sitting on the terrace enjoying our morning coffee.  Helen and Keith had friends visiting from Rome and we enjoyed watching their little 5-year old girl who was having great fun with Alba.

Late in the morning Keith stopped by with some information on a fair taking place across the valley in Terranuova.  A little while later Helen stopped by to say they were on their way to Radda with their friends.  She also asked if we would be interested in driving with them later in the afternoon to a winery that Keith hadn’t yet been to.  Obviously we jumped at the chance.Salad making

We had half a loaf of bread that was now about a week old and we thought that it might make a good panzannella or bread salad.  So Susan threw it into a pot of water to soak for a while.  After about an hour or hour and a half she chopped some vegetables, squeezed the water out of the bread and crumbled it into the bowl with the veggies.  To that she added some olive oil and some cubed pieces of roast beef for a very delicious salad for our lunch.  That Tuscan cooking course has already paid off big time!!

At the appointed hour we loaded into Keith’s jeep.  Helen opted not to go as she wanted to rest up a bit between after the departure of their friends and get ready for the arrival of a cousin on Tuesday.  As Helen says, when you live in Tuscany you find that you have a lot of friends and relatives!

I have absolutely no idea where the winery was but as Keith was driving it didn’t really matter.  It was wonderful to finally sit back as a passenger and drink in the sights around us.  As a driver you need to concentrate so much on the road that you miss much of the passing scenery.  As we drove along Keith explained that the owner of the winery was a long-time friend who he had been promising for years that he would visit his winery.  His friend, Roberto Droandi, was also an olive oil maker and this was the connection to Keith.

We eventually arrived at the winery and at the tiny wine-tasting room and store.  There was already a group of six people there who were finishing up a tasting.  Roberto said if we could wait a bit he would finish up with them and then conduct a tasting with us in English (the tasting that was underway was being conducted in Italian).  Naturally we were more than agreeable to waiting.  As we waited we discovered that 3 of the people were from near Albany in New York State.  The couple actually didn’t speak Italian either but their daughter did and was translating for them.  So we visited with them while the tasting was being concluded and everyone was purchasing their wines.

Wine tasting

Soon it was our turn.  The Mannucci Droandi winery is a fairly small winery with two vineyards.  One is located near Gaiole in the Chianti Classico region and the main vineyard and winery, where we were, is near Montevarchi. All of their wines are organically produced. From the other vineyard they are able to produce a Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva.  From the Montevarchi location they produce a Chianti Colli Aretini, a Rosado, an IGT, and wines from three old grape varieties.

Wines from 3 old grape varieties

For a number of years Roberto has been involved with an experimental program to reintroduce and grow a number of old grape varieties that had almost been decimated when vines were pulled out to make way for more “modern” grapes.  Along with the other wines we tasted three wines that were each made from a single old grape variety.  We finished off with a vinsanto.  Our companions for the tasting were two delightful young ladies who, as the evening progressed, we learned were Aga from Poland and Stefania from Italy.  Both spoke excellent English.  Aga lived in England for several years and Stephania teaches Italian to foreigners at a college in Arezzo.  Aside from being very interesting in their own right they were both very interested in wine and very inquisitive, asking some very good questions.  All of us were having such a good time talking about a number of things besides wine that at one point Roberto disappeared and a few minutes later reappeared with a little book for each of us written by his mother about life Montevarchi (she was born here in 1924).  Unfortunately it is written in Italian so we will have to wait to get an English translation but it will be a very special and personal keepsake of our visit.  Apparently Roberto went to get the booklets because of a conversation he was having, in Italian, with the girls who obviously were showing some signs of interest in his family history in the area.

Before we knew it we had been at the winery for nearly three and a half hours and it was quite dark outside.  We purchased some wine and piled back into Keith’s jeep for the ride home.  What had started off as a somewhat spur of the moment invitation had turned into an absolutely wonderful evening of sitting around a table with some truly wonderful people talking about wine and other things.

I’m sure that someone has written something about life being a series of little vignettes in time.  Tonight was truly one of those little vignettes that I will treasure for a long time to come.

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