Brunello di Montalcino was the first wine awarded the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).
On my recent trip to Tuscany, I wanted to visit a smaller winery that grows and produces Brunello di Montalcino.
I connected with Laura Gray, a trained sommelier and the estate manager of Il Palazzone. Laura is an Englishwoman who has lived in Montalcino since 1995. She is married to an Italian, Marco Sassetti, the general manager of the property and they have the distinct privilege of living on the spectacular hillside of one of Il Palazzone’s three vineyards. Although in the picture below Laura and I are in the shadow, one can get a sense of the beauty of the property—you can see her home behind the Cyprus trees.
As the grapes start to grow and bud, they look like small butterflies, waiting to fly.
She described how Il Palazzone’s three vineyards vary in elevation, soil composition, the age of the vines and the direction they face. These factors can result in almost a three-week difference in the budbreak each year.
Laura focuses on this with beautiful photos in her blog article “Budbreak 2014: Montalcino terroir in action”. http://bit.ly/1hpZwZi
She and I soon discovered that we know someone in common!
Earlier in the week, Laura had been in Verona at Vinitaly 2014, the four-day event featuring thousands of exhibitors and visitors from hundreds of countries. There, on the train carrying visitors from an outlying town into Verona, who did she meet as the passengers were sandwiched together like sardines in a can? Laura was, as she put it, “armpit to shoulder” with a Denver restaurant owner, Blair Taylor of Barolo Grill. My husband and I are fans and customers of Barolo Grill and Blair was kind enough to map out an itinerary for us on our first visit to Tuscany years ago. I am continually reminded that it is indeed a small world.
Isn’t it strange how one can travel far from home and find a connection with someone they know?
I’ll share more of Laura’s insights into the making of Brunello di Montalcino in future posts, so stay tuned. To learn more about Il Palazzone, check out its website at: http://www.ilpalazzone.com
Blair has taken his staff on educational trips to Italy since 1995, which is certainly a reason to work there! Barolo Grill’s website includes recommendations on where they have stayed on their visits to Italy, and you can find them here: http://barologrilldenver.com/#!/italy-info
But right now, I think it’s the perfect time to open a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino to share with my husband, Ray…over dinner!