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Day Tripping to Brunello di Montalcino

Beth Ribblett

Kerry and Antonio picked up our rental cars this morning and we hit the road for our first winery visit. But this wasn't just any visit, as we were heading to one of the most famous wine regions of the world, the gorgeous hillside slopes of Brunello di Montalcino.

Our host today was Count Alberto Marone Cinzano, current owner of one of the largest landholding estates, Col D'Orcia. Having run into some major traffic jams on the route, we showed up more than a bit late and were quickly whisked off to the large tasting room by Nicola, the property manager. The count himself guided us through the tasting of 8 wines that included a red blend from his Chilean estate, a super Tuscan, 2 rosso di Montalcino, 3 Brunellos, and their single vineyard cabernet and merlot. From the softer juicy light summer style reds to big powerful riservas, it was an impressive lineup thoroughly enjoyed by all of our guests.

Next up was lunch, in their beautiful reception room where we were treated to a variety of dishes made mainly with products grown on their property. Panzanella salad, bruschetta,prosciutto, freshly made pasta from their own wheat, lamb, fried peas and fresh veggies from the garden accompanied by their estate made olive oil. And of course bottles of each of the wines were set out for us to try with the different foods.

As do most producers in the region they also make 4 different grappa, as well as a beautiful dessert wine, that were also brought out for us with a delicious apple tart for dessert.

At this point, most had over indulged a bit, so we kept the tour a little short. As this would normally take place before the tasting our late arrival mean switching the order of things. But we did go to the barrel room where Nicola poured us each a sample of the very young 2010 Brunello.

We said our goodbyes and loaded everyone in the cars to explore the hilltop towns of Montalcino and Pienza, famous for it's pecorino cheese production. The most gorgeous ride back took us through the sepia toned Tuscan countryside, dotted with fields of olive trees and grape vines and beautiful villas as we winded our way back to Cortona for dinner.

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