Tag Archives: Toscana

I sogni dei ragazzi di Bolgheri

17 Dec
Giorgio, Francesca and Greta have given me a new notebook as a christmas gift. Totally lovely of them! I just so happened to finish my other diary too so it is perfect timing. Plus the fact that they filled the first few pages with memories and notes makes it all the more special. The first page of the notebook reads: I have a dream and underneath it leaves you lines to write your dreams…this is what they wrote for themselves: 

Sogno di Giorgio:

  • avere almeno lo porsche
  • fare sesso con m…f…
  • fare il vino più buono nel mondo

Sogno di Franceseca:

  • girare il mondo
  • imparare l’inglese come Krystina
  • fare tante vacanze
  • imparare surf con il fratello di Krystina (cioe Davide)
  • conoscere tanta gente carina

Sogno di Greta:

  • vedere NYC
  • fare passito
  • avere una mia cantina
  • imparare l’inglese
  • imparare il portoghese
  • comprare un paio di Jimmy Choo
  • venire a trovarti in Australia
  • sposare il cantante dei Green Day

E poi ho scritto il nel spazio vuoto:

Sogno di Krystina:

  • avere una cantina piccola come Sorrenberg
  • girare il mondo, avere tante esperienze
  • assaggiare i vini più buoni con il cibo più buono
  • avere una enoteca buonissima e figa con la Amanda
  • fare il mio Masters in Wine Business
  • avere una casa mia con tutte le mie cose
  • avere una macchina dell’epoca – Fiat 500!

Nice thoughts, no?

Ti disturbo?

23 Nov

This is one of those things that I wasn’t sure if I should write about, purely for the fact that my mother reads this blog…or is at least my most avid reader (perhaps my only reader)…and to whom this will be the most disturbing. Nevertheless, I believe it is worthwhile to not only recount on the events that were exciting and interesting…but also those that are a little more disturbing. This, I am afraid, is definitely the latter.

I was up at 6:30am for my usual walk down the hill and along the quiet road that runs parallel to Via Bolgherese. Everything was fine and totally normal during my walk up until about 7:30am when I was on my way back towards the house and heard a car through the music of my iPod coming up behind me so I moved over to the right to let it pass. Turns out it was one of those ‘Api’ utes, I think they call them, the tiny one-seater utes with only three wheels that old men seem to use to carry stuff from A to B and not much else as they don’t have too much potential.
Anyway I immediately recognised the driver as the nice old man I’d met two weeks ago out the front of a private Olive Oil factory. That time he had been out the front with his car and as I was passing by he stopped to ask me if I knew the German people who lived up the hill as they’d closed the gate on him or something. After a bit of conversation I obviously slipped up and he realised I wasn’t Italian but we had a quick chat nevertheless and then I continued on my merry way. After then, a few times a week he would pass by on his truck and we would give a wave and I always thought, ‘Such a nice old man’ … can you tell where this is going already?
Back to the present, and the old Italian man in his car drove by slowly and I waved, smiled, and he opened his window and paused his car and apologised for disturbing my walk.
Figurati. (No problem), I’d said.
So we had a casual chat, why I’m walking (the Italians don’t fully understand the concept of purposeful exercise), what I do for work, how my Italian is going, do I like it here, sei fidanzata? (am I single)…?
Si, non ho un ragazzo. (Yes, I don’t have a boyfriend).
Ma ti garba i uomini in Italia? (But do you like Italian men?) (OK so I thought we were kidding around here, it seemed like he was).
Si, non sono male, sono simpatici. (They’re not so bad, they’re nice), I had said.
Ti do un passagio su? (Do you want a lift up the hill?)
Ah no grazie, devo fare la mia passeggiata. (No thanks, I have to do my walk).
Sto lavorando nel oliveto, sai dove? Si passa….ti aspetto li? (I am working in the olive grove past such and such, I will wait for you?) followed by a rude gesture with his lingua.
Ah…no…., I said, stepping away further from the vehicle.
Ma dai, si deve divertirsi nella vita! Sei veramente bella! (But you need to enjoy life! You are really beautiful!)
No grazie, sto bene, buona giornata! (No thanks, I’m OK, good day!) and I slammed the car door and he drove off.
That’s the end of the story thank god…but suffice to say I will be taking a completely different route from now on. My boss Giorgio and the girls have said they will be my bodyguards from now on anyway! Or perhaps I’ll just carry a golf club around with me to knock these vecchi on the head the next time they try something!

Colle Massari winery visit

18 Nov
Before venturing off on a bit of a day trip today, my boss Giorgio and I had to stop off at the winery first. As instructed I was dressed nicely with my little red Dorothy-like shoes. When we arrived at the winery in Bolgheri, Giorgio decides to inform me that I will need to transfer the heating ‘banana-looking’ device from tank 21 to 20. Normally a job accomplished in pairs, it turns out that someone arrived and I ended up doing it on my own instead (safety first, I changed into my gumboots!). Then I got some water and sulfur and back in my little red shoes I scaled some barrels that were going through malolactic fermentation and cleaned one of them that had bubbled over and had vinegar flies around it. Finally we were ready and Francesca, Giorgio, Stefano & Fabio from Michele Satta winery and myself drove off in the sleek and silver Mercedes Benz to Grosseto, eventually crossing into the hills to at last visit Colle Massari – the winery business that acquired Grattamacco a few years ago from Piermario Meletti-Cavallari.

The guy who owns the business now is obviously rolling in moolah and has not overlooked any expense to create a magnificent winery of the utmost materials. The barrel hall is roofed and walled in the material that one uses for the interior of sauna’s… is that pine or spruce? Of notable cellar geek importance was that the winery has the Bucher Vaslin Flavy FX 5 cross flow, which can go through their standard-sized 100hL tanks in under an hour. Very impressive!
Luca, the director of Colle Massari and Grattamacco, gave us le grand tour and a taste of their current Vermentino in tank from one vineyard, and another in the huge barrels that was undergoing malo. In the barrel hall we tasted 2008 and current Sangiovese wines. Some that were quite powerful and others that were not so interesting.
For lunch they have a chef and waitress on duty so we had six sitting down for a deliciously, exquisite full-course meal of a small appetiser with some fresh white beans and barley, porcini mushrooms, and some liver pate’ artfully arranged on a white china plate. This was followed by the primo of a small amount of perfectly al-dente penne pasta with a chingiale (wild boar) and funghi sauce which I added a little pepperoncino to to really set it off. For secondo it was meat that melted in your mouth, and dolce was a little bowl of macedonia (fruit salad). Afterwards Luca took us to the other properties that this very rich owner behind the Colle Massari project has invested in, including a castle, more vineyards, and an agriturismo. I noted that the roads to these destinations have been recently asphalted to accommodate his Ferrari…typical.

A feast to remember

15 Nov


Ristorante La Conchiglia in Viareggio, Provincia di Lucca, Toscana.

Where one goes to understand the meaning of fine dining in the true sense of the word…with a price tag to match.

Being a restaurant that resides by sea side, what would one expect other than the very best in seafood produce?! We were a group of 7 in total, including Giorgio & Francesca, Luca & Helena, Alessandro & Claudia and myself. On entering we handed the waiter our coats then sat down in the private dining room surrounded by artwork and the kitchen in the background. We were then greeted by the chef, Patrizio, who ran us through the program he’d created for us today. We would only have to select the wine, the rest we would leave up to him.

We were left in fine hands. Giorgio chose a Franciacorta from winery Alice to start with with our tartare and pane appetiser. We followed on from that with an assortment of dishes, all with some form of seafood and drank Trebbiano from Abruzzo 2007 then Pinot Noir from France.

Two hours later we arrived at dessert which began with Castagnaccio (a delicious local cake using flour from chestnuts, pinenuts and not much else then you put some olive oil and rosemary on top once it’s finished). Followed on by three offerings on a long plate of semifreddo with a fresh concoction of chocolate sauce, creme custard with rasperries, and panacotta…which Giorgio later recollected was like a woman’s boobies, soft with movement but not too hard…that’s Giorgio for you. Caffe’ was drunk by all and then we took our well-feasted selves our for a walk. The portions and the lightness of the food meant we didn’t feel so stuffed that you felt sick, but more the fact that you knew you weren’t going to be eating dinner that night for sure!

Afterwards us girls took off in the big Land Rover and drove along the backstreets towards the gorgeous town of Petrasanta in the province of Lucca also, swiping off a mirror of a blue Renault parked a little wider than normal. The mirror of the Land Rover was in the same condition…decapitated. We didn’t stop…though I suggested we should. Typical Italians for you.

At Petrasanta we arrived to find some sort of festival taking place involving lots of food, cheese and other produce…we didn’t touch a thing. Instead we took a look around the town then stopped for a drink at a bar which played music that reminded me of bars in Melbourne. In other words, modern.

After a long hard day of nothing we all drove back to Grattamacco, this time taking care to drive a little wider when passing parked cars, then watched ‘Italians’ on the big screen at home. It’s like ‘Manual of Love’ for those of you into Italian movies, entertaining, and always unpredictable. That’s one thing I can say about Italian movies in comparison to typical American ones. You can generally guess where the story line is headed with other movies, but with this one we were taking stabs during the film and of course nothing ever eventuated like we thought it would! Great movie though.

Il giorno perfetto!

13 Nov

Whoever said Friday the 13th was an unlucky day?!?! Today being Friday I would normally be dressed in my shabby manly man work clothes but instead I got to put on a dark blue dress I bought in Firenze and my new boots with my hair au naturale for a tasting that was being held at San Guido. I hopped in the ute with Giorgio and Francesca, excited to hopefully get to sample some wines! For those of you who don’t know what San Guido are, here is what Wikipedia says:

Tenuta San Guido is an Italian winery in the DOC Bolgheri in Toscana, known as a producer of “Super Tuscan” wine. Its wine ‘Sassicaia’ is considered one of Italy’s top Bordeaux-style red wines.

Here at Tenuta San Guido there were 7 journalists tasting the wines under blind conditions. There was a spot up the front on the panel where my bosses father, Piermario Meletti-Cavallari (founder of Grattamacco winery) had just completed the tasting and had since stepped outside to chat with the ladies so it was now free. Lucky Francesca got in first and went in and got to taste the wines at the head table.
After ten minutes of waiting outside with Giorgio, the Chairman of the tasting exited after having also finished and walked over to where Giorgio and I were standing. After some chatter between the two men, Giorgio asked him if Krystina could take his spot.
Krystina? Chi e’ Krystina?‘ (Krystina? Who is Krystina?), he queried.
I gracefully interjected, ‘Sono Krystina!’ (I’m Krystina!)
Thankfully due to my attire they must have noted I’m not a complete bogan and I got to waltz past all the journalists and sit up front next to Francesca and try the 20 wines from the 1999 vintage that were set in front of us.
There were photographers there who were taking photos for the Association Grand Cru delle Costa di Toscana and I must admit, considering the journalists were all male, the photographer took the opportunity to take an ample amount of snaps of the two young ladies in dresses seated up the front…spitting…hehehe it has to be done I’m afraid. Work hazard!

Article by Claudia Orlandi - il 1999 dei Grandi cru della costa Toscana

The wines were all from either the Pisa, Lucca, Livorno or Grosseto provinces, and some of the outstanding ones were that of Tenuta di Valgiano, Sassicaia and Grattamacco. It’s hard to do a tasting like this because you’re not just looking at wines of one variety, like I did a tasting last year in Piemonte of wines that were solely of the grape variety Nebbiolo. No, instead here in the ‘Bordeaux-inspired Bolgheri wine region, you have wines that may contain Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante, Colorino, Cabernet Franc, or most likely a mixture of some of these. Hence there are a lot of variables. But it was interesting nevertheless and afterwards they discussed the results and it’s always full of debate when there’s talk amongst journalists.

Photo by Francesco Tenuta. All Rights Reserved milodiscorpio74

After the privilege of being at that tasting we then got the privilege of going to Bolgheri, to Enoteca Tognoni (one of the places you can guarantee will be busy even on a weekday at lunch) and as a group of say 20 people we sat down and were treated to delicious offerings of prosciutto, lentil and pumpkin soup, tagliatelle pasta with pigeon, scotch fillet cooked to perfection and caffe. Did I mention that at Tognoni we ran into the proprietor or San Guido, the grand Mario Incisa della Rochetta who voluntarily joined our gang of people and put his magnum of 2006 Sassicaia on the table. GRAZIE! Along with that there were magnums of Michele Satta 2005 i Castagni (which is sitting on our dining table right now half-full still), 2006 and 2005 Tenuta di Valgiano, 2001 Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso Superiore and many many more. Lunch was finished off with a Vin Santo di Sorelle Palazzi. Che buonooooo!
After lunch Giorgio and Francesca had to go pick up something so I suggested I would drop off the caffe’ to our friend Francesco in the work pick-up. So the elegant young lady in her dress hopped into the dirty work pick-up and chugged on down Via Bolgherese, thankfully no Carabinieri around, stopping at Villa Vallone to drop off the goods where Francesco and Roberto noticed I was awfully happy and rosy-cheeked for someone who had just finished a lunch at the enoteca. Thankfully no problems were had and I drove back to the winery after that with a 10 metre ladder hanging off the back of the ute without any dramas again. Don’t worry ma, I’m not bad at driving manual on the wrong side of the road now!

Chitty chitty bang bang!

8 Nov

6:15am BOOM!…….BOOM BOOM BOOM!!!

6:30am Krystina wakes up and heads outside to begin her walk
6:32am and on the road…
6:33am BOOM BOOM BOOM!!!
The hunters are out and a firin’!
So I’m in Bolgheri, living at Podere Grattamacco with the Meletti-Cavallari family in their villa and it’s a little weird at times, because this is cacciatore (hunter) season, and especially when the gunfire going off sounds like they’re only 50metres away from where you are and you begin to wonder if they just shoot anything that moves or if they actually wait to see if it’s a wild boar…or me…. :-S
There was a death a few years back they tell me when two men were out hunting individually, one went to the toilet and was there…crouching…doing his thing….when the other heard a noise or a struggling animal low to the ground and shot off a whack of bullets before realising he’d just shot a man who was having a bit of trouble letting one go….disgusting…and disturbing.
I think when I hear the successive shots it’s hunters who are going for birds as they’re more difficult to aim at I imagine instead of the wild boars…the season must be finishing soon though, or at least I hope so. They tend to wake you up pretty early and here in the mountains there are heaps of prime hunting spots so it can’t really be avoided. The only thing that stops them I suppose is the rain…which I can hear outside my window right now…hey I might get a good nights sleep!

Olives Olives Olives

29 Oct

The olives are being harvested for oil. How does one know? You walk past a tree and there’s a carpet surrounding it and you hear a compressor working it’s little butt off in the distance whilst a person stands under a tree with a stick and a strange thing at the end that moves and shakes off the olives. After which, the olives are gathered up and put into a case. Cool stuff, just wouldn’t want to be shaking a tree when spiders and whatever other insects that live in trees fall on your face too whilst doing the work! Glad it’s not me. I’ll just have the end-product thanks very much!

Vintage Festa!

27 Oct

Ieri sera e’ passata la festa della vendemmia! We ate at Federico’s pizza restaurant and we were about 18-20 of us all up. We had a lovely meal set up for us with seafood salad, prosciutto crudo and crostini to start with, then I chose matriciana penne pasta which was delicious, and finally porcini atop scallopini. For dessert my end of the stick was a bit of a disaster. I’d made pavlova and:

1) I didn’t beat the eggs for long enough before adding the sugar so when mounted on the plate it was soft, and
2) it stuck to the aluminium foil I’d put underneath because in this house they don’t seem to understand the concept of baking paper! So when I attempted to pull the pavlova off I eventually had four individual pieces of meringue. But instead of making a mountain out of a molehill I said to myself, “ma chi se ne frega”, we’ll assemble it as per normal, pile on the cream and the fruit and we’ll see how we go!
Then, Federico, who prepared the final assemblage for me, chucked the mixed berries and their juices with the bananas and kiwis and mixed it all together…so basically in the end we had a purple mound of fruit atop my shitty meringue! Lucky I have no photos to post!

Isole d’Elba

23 Oct

Today is Friday and after work and moving furniture around at Villa Vallone where they’re going to be commencing restorative work on Monday, we left for Isole d’Elba from Piombino to spend the weekend at the resort where Giorgio’s father, Piermario, manages the winery Tenute di Ripalte. We were a group of seven: Giorgio, Francesca, Camila, Greta, Helena, Francesca and myself.

We missed the 9pm boat by only a few minutes so grabbed a caffe’ and bought the tickets for the 10pm boat. On arrival an hour later at Portoferraio we took off with the ute and grabbed the green Fiat panda left in the carpark that belongs to Piermario and drove off into the buio (darkness), passing most of the time along dirt roads that curved their way dangerously along the coast’s cliff edge. We arrived at the hotel before midnight and found our gorgeous rooms awaiting us: Greta and I crashed together on the matrimonial bed and slept in as the hotel is closed in this less busier period.

The itinerary for the following day was to check out the winery which is in the process of being built and is humungous and amazing. There’s like only 15 small tanks in it at the moment but clearly they have some spanners in the works for accommodating the amount of space they’re creating the winery for!
We all hopped onto the hotels 12-seater bus and drove along the southern coast of the island eventually reaching Campo nell’Elba. Its a coastal town but due to the fresh wind there weren’t that many people around and the chance of swimming was clearly rejected.

Afterwards, traversing along the countryside we made our way to Marciana where the girls found a marmelata shop that made weird but delicious combinations like Pear and Ciocolato, plum and rhum spreads! Onwards from here we made our way past more towns stopping at Villa San Martino – the residence of Napolean on this Elba Island. There wasn’t much to see there, just killing time before we were heading back to Capoliveri for dinner. Here Giorgio and I grabbed an aperativo whilst the other ladies checked out the rest of the main street. We eventually made our way down an old cobbled street to a restaurant that seats less than 20 people called Lo Sgarbo. Luca, the winemaker of Tenute di Ripalte was eating with us and once he joined the gang we ordered away! I chose well and for antipasto had fresh tuna with a light soy sauce on a bed of salad, eaten with an 08 Greco di Tufo white wine from Campania. Poi, for primo I got the tagliatelle white sauce pasta with black tartufo shavings on top. Bloody hell my nose was going crazy, the smell in that restaurant was unbelievable! For dolce, Greta and I went halvies and shared the chocolate and chilli cake, and castagnaccio – a thin cake made from Castagna flour, then you put pinenuts and rosemary on top…weird but delicious.
Back at the ranch we all climbed into bed after a long day of sightseeing and just as I was about to knock off to dreamland the door burst open and two people jumped into the bed between Greta and I! I heard the voice of one and realised it was my boss Giorgio and started laughing then called out for his daughter Camila as I thought it’d be her, but it was Francesca! We had a giggle then they jumped off, Giorgio in his undies…a very funny sight indeed!
We all took the extra hour that the loss of daylight savings gave us and slept in! After I awoke I prepared pancake batter for like the first time in my life thanks to the recipe mum sent me and whipped up a banana concoction too that worked a treat on top of some nutella spread.
Today we checked out all the villa’s as part of the Costa dei Gabbiani resort then drove along the more isolated part of the southern coast to a part where there were some private boats anchored in the bright blue sea with perfect rocky shores.
We stopped by one in particular and I wadded my feet in the water. The weather today could not have been more perfect. Really warm, not windy. Just right…Kellogs just right. If I had my bathers with me I would have swam for sure! After a cruisy day of sightseeing again we caught the 3pm boat just in time again back to Piombino. It’d been a good weekend away and great to see a part of Italy that is normally reserved for Italian’s on holiday or Germans.


18 Oct
Today Greta and I went to have breakfast in town so after saying farewell to her mum and Zio who have been down for at least a week, we took the bicycles out from the hut (they’ve all been recently fixed thankfully) and pedalled on down to Donoratico.
We chose our local caffe’ haunt and had a pasta con crema and a caffe’ latte. Then we strolled up the street with our bikes and browsed through shops, ran into Alessio down the street, ran into friends at a homeware store, etc then pedalled on back home.
We decided to make the journey over to Volterra for the day as it would take just under an hour to get there. The road we needed to take wound round and round and round as you made your way up the large hill to the top of the town. They’re working a lot of the land down below at the moment so it was less green and more browny in some parts as you’re driving up. Once you reach the top though, park the car and get out it has breathtaking mountainous views, and you can see the blue sea beyond.
We made our way through the streets and browsed in some shops, watched a kids potato sack race in the main piazza, strolled around some more and took some photos.
One shop we went into had lots of paper things which I’m a sucker for and I found two gorgeous postcards in the Old Pubblicita’ format that I adore so bought those: only 0,50 E each.
Then they had some larger posters for which I found a cool wine one with Greve, Chianti on it for only 5 E, a real bargain so got that. The old lady behind the counter was so lovely and cute and wrapped it up for me so it wouldn’t get damaged. She reminded me of our old cousin Anna in Asiago.
Another lovely story was when Greta and I walked into an artists shop that had the best music playing. It was like you were in a musical film from the 1920’s. To the right were some stairs where you looked up and saw the mad artist at work. He saw us, and we walked on into the shop space to browse around and he came singing down the stairs, grabbed two little things and presented us each with one saying in Italian ‘one for you, and one for you’ and gave us this tiny ceramic man head!
Then he walked back up the stairs singing his sweet little tune. We thanked him and said goodbye and went on our merry way too.
Finally on our way back through the streets we’d just been along the side of the town that faces the sea beyond the mountains and an older woman walking past us spoke out (it seemed to no one in particular) about how one can see Corsica today because it’s so clear. Greta and I had seen the land mass of la Cipria (i think it’s called), a small island off the coast from Tuscany. But thought that the large mass further in the background couldn’t possibly be Corsica because it is very rare that one can see it from Tuscany. Well, in fact it was and this woman who obviously lived in the town was clearly very excited by that fact!

Fish – Pesce

17 Oct

The good thing about living in a coastal town is that they like to eat fish frequently. I remember mum telling me you can never say no to fish as it’s so good for you, so I take her advice and make sure I sample each morsel that is offered my way. Most of the time I’m not sure of the exact translation of what sort of fish I am eating, but I’ll take a stab at listing some of the things I’ve eaten so far whilst here:


Fresh Calamari






Dried salted cod (baccalà)



…and the list goes on my friend


7 Oct

Sai cos’abbiamo mangiato sta sera alla casa di Alessio? Cinghiale! Or for those of you who don’t know what I’m on about…’we ate wild boar!’

Alessio’s mum cooked it perfectly using olive oil, onion, a little garlic, carrot and celery, sage and thyme and cooking the meat in small 2-3cm cubes with some sugo di pomodori e olivi for about 4 hours. The meat was tender (hunted only a couple of days ago by Alessio’s dad Michele in the hills nearby) and we ate it with a little polenta. Michele had also found like 100 porcini mushrooms the other day which the mum cooked some up in a spicier sauce. One of the best meals I have had here so far.

Last picking day

25 Sep
Today we picked the last of the fruit that will eventually go into Giorgio’s wines at a vineyard belonging to some ancient lawyer dude from Milan called Meda, or as I like to called him, Merda 🙂
We had only 24 rows of Cabernet Franc so by midday with six of us picking and one on the tractor we were already done!
Me with the snips! Watch out!
Roberto and Alessio
Back at the winery we processed all the 10 bins of fruit (whoo babbbbyyy 10 bins crazy!) then Greta and I worked on the pumpovers again. She’s been wearing gloves lately so she doesn’t ruin her lovely hands…I on the other hand as you can imagine do not have elegant hands, much to the mothers dismay, so I’m the one the majority of times on top of the tank.

General happenings

21 Sep

Ahh so we had our first drama in the winery yesterday and fortunately it was not my doing. What a surprise.

Greta and I rocked up to the winery at 9am and were about to begin the routine Babo (sugar level) check then do the pumpovers of the reds when we noticed that Tank 3 was sitting at a unusually cool 10C instead of a more convenient 29C during its fermentation. The reason being I hear you ask? The day before we had done the rounds Greta decided to turn on the cooling to bring it down a degree or two from 30C and…well…she forgot to close the valve and turn it off. At first she claimed she definitely did close it, but the valve was fully open and I think she later came to the realisation that she must have dreamt she closed it. Now we had a wine that was not fully fermented with the good chance that we’d shocked some of our precious yeast into an earlier sleep…whoops.
So, whilst Greta scurried off to go crush some grapes and avoid questioning from Giorgio, Francesca and I prepared some new bayanus yeast and got some wine heating up, added some sugar and made a nice brew. Then we had the problem of how to heat up a tank as quickly as possible when you do not have the machinery or hot water capabilities possible…it does probe an interesting question! Giorgio thought we could put the gas cylinder under the stainless steel tank and try heating up 80,000L of wine that way…umm…no. All my ideas involved using at least 200L of hot water, and they can’t even manage that. What we did in the end was use a probe light that emits heat convections throughout the wine and left it in there overnight so this morning when we came in it was 19C, and our yeast brew was content and had been accustomed to the alcohol so fingers crossed that things flow smoothly from now on!
Other concerns are that it has been raining quite heavily lately…seriously when it rains here…it rains! Amazing I haven’t seen anything like it in Melbourne in yonks.
Francesca will be heading off to Firenze next weekend and is planning on getting some Thai ingredients and so I’ve asked the mother to email me some recipes that we’ve enjoyed at home of Thai cooking to show off here and hopefully will turn out in a similar way. Some of my Moroccan or Turkish cooking is on the menu too at some stage, and a traditional pavlova when time permits! Other than that, I think chingiale (wild boar) is on the menu at some stage…it’s hunting season here so if you’re really lucky (not) you’ll get woken up by gunfire! Yay!

I uomini!

2 Sep

So I have been at work a few times now and nutted the place out. It is located in Donoratico – a nice 15minute bike ride from our place (I’m referring to a pushbike Nonna, not a motorbike)! We have lent some bikes to ride to work but I have to have mine repaired after a dodgy pedal continually wants to fall off and onto the road when I ride it. The winery itself is nothing like the winery I worked at last year that was obviously completely ostentatious in order to live up to its name and appeal to the tourists. Giorgio makes his wines here but there are also about three other wineries who come in and process their fruit and do their own thing too at the same time. Giorgio also makes wine on the side for a couple of very small businesses apart from that. The winery at least is very clean, and efficient and easy to work with. There is the main cellarhand Roberto who is lovely and non-chauvinistic to work with. Thank goodness. I have already come across some rich man and his ‘I’ve never worked a day in my life’ son who used to own Simenthall (crappy meat in a tin Company) and now venture in wine I suppose who saw that there were three women working in the winery (Francesca, Greta and myself) and said to Giorgio, “Why have so many women? Your wine will not be as good this year because of it.” To which Giorgio replied that he had no problem with us bimbe’s as he calls us. I’m extremely glad that Giorgio has turned out to be quite the modern guy, he loves to cook and as I mentioned, is not in any way chauvinistic. I think I’m lucky he’s like that. There aren’t too many guys in Italy that are like this, I can tell you that.

Come verde sono tutte le cose qua!

31 Aug
One of the first things I have noticed about this part of Tuscany that I am in after travelling around with Greta quite a bit in the car to the beach and around the place, is that is is really green. Being towards the end of summer I would have thought (just based on pictures I’d seen of Tuscany) that it would be more like golden cascading hills with the odd Cyprus tree thrown in there. But it’s actually quite cool, since I’m only a few kilometres from the Tyrrhenian Sea it obviously has a more maritime climate and thankfully a soft sea breeze that makes the world of difference in the afternoon and at night.
Apart from that, that landscape is overtly green and everywhere I lookfrom my bedroom window I can see just heaps of different shades of this colour! It’s great! The other thing is that this Maremma coastline is covered in forest…so where I would have thought there would be bare countryside, I’m surrounded by trees…and lots of sea pines.

Sono arrivata a Bolgheri!

28 Aug
Alright so I’m finally here in the Bolgheri area of Tuscany. It wasn’t as bad a flight this time, after you’ve done it once, you get the gist of how to time yourself to be as little jetlagged as possible on arrival. Plus the fact that I knew what I was doing with the Italian train system gave me that edge of confidence I’d lacked last time.

The flight itself was your typical 25 hours including the stopover in Singapore. I bought myself a nifty little laptop bag to replace the dodgy one I’d created back home and that had already given me a nasty pain in the shoulder. I’d been so positive about my packing leading up to today thinking that I had just 20-21kg of stuff, being so proud of myself with the work clothes, normal clothes, shoes, etc…then I realised that I hadn’t been measuring the whole backpack properly and in actual fact my bag was a hefty beast at 27kg. Hence I had to do the bogan country thang and wear my manly work boots on the plane, then somehow cart them with me after I’d converted to thongs in Singapore. Let’s just say that if carry your sports bag on just one arm like a lady and make it look like it’s really light and under the required 7kg (when it is really cutting off your circulation and you can feel your pulse slowly fading in the one arm)…well hey, they don’t ask you to weigh your bag and you walk right through, one functioning-arm less!

Once the flight was over I was lucky enough that my bags came through in the first decent load onto the carrier. Then it was just me and my three bloody bags to lug around the airport until I reached the station, got my tickets from the airport to Roma Trastevere, then continued on from there to San Vincenzo. Once I reached Roma Trastevere I made a phone call to my boss Giorgio to let him know I was alive, and well and truly on the way to the area. He sounded absolutely lovely and reassured that I’m not a complete liar and can actually speak some Italian and wasn’t lying in my curriculum vitae and emails to him. Two and a half hours later, after spending the train ride to San Vincenzo with a man who had a staring problem sitting directly opposite me, I arrived at the coastal town of San Vincenzo where I was greeted by my boss Giorgio Meletti-Cavallari, his girlfriend Francesca and the other girl who’d just arrived yesterday from Milan, Greta.

We drove off together in the car and talked about how everything went, how my last name is said with an emphasis on the ‘g’ in MeneGazzo and not like a C to make it MeneCazzo…you Italians out there will get it. In summation, they are all equally lovely. Giorgio is 30years old, is very open and always has a smile on his face. He started his own business back in the early 2000’s and his father, Piermario Meletti-Cavallari is the man who owned and ran Grattamacco, a very well-known label of some beautiful wines from the Bolgheri area. Francesca is 24years old and just this year finished studying Enology too. She is your typical Italian, brown haired, though with green eyes, tanned and gorgeous. Greta is my age and too finished her degree this year in Enology but has had very little experience working only one vintage a couple of years ago. Her and I are living together in separate rooms in the large villa that will eventually be Giorgio’s house.

La Villa Borgeri

For now he still lives with his parents in their gorgeous estate surrounded by vineyards up near Castagneto Carducci.

That night we go to Giorgio’s friends place for his birthday party and swim in their pool, eat some lovely food, and drink some of Giorgio’s wine he shows me. By the end of the night I am about to fall off my chair from extreme tiredness so I’m off to bed by 11pm. Poor form, but they understand with what, my almost 30hour journey to get here!

La festa a Toscana!

8 Sep

The winery crew congregated at 8am to take a large white bus all the way to Toscana for the two-day party that was going to celebrate the official opening of the La Spinetta Casanova winery. It took 3.5 hours to get there but that was compensated by stunning views (quick scenic snapshot of Portofino or Pisa for example) to pass the time.

The countryside here is beautiful and considering we’re not even in the Chianti DOC area I can only imagine how stunning it must be where the majority of wineries are.

The afternoon and evening were spent incredibly well-made food and drinking all Tuscan La Spinetta wines. They sure know how to through a party!

On the night of the second party just after midnight once the majority of guests had departed, Giorgio Rivetti, his brother Bruno and the head chef of the function decided to cook three huge T-bone steaks. The meat was cooked to absolute perfection, raw on the inside! Giorgio thinks I speak nice Italian too, which is good to hear.