I was the guest of Castello di Meleto in Gaiole ~ In the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Hosted by Antonia Caserta (sales manager), their winemaker Matteo Menicacci, and their agronomist Giovanni Maria Farina. Antonia translated, and I was also in the company of Michael Yurch (Bluest Sky Group) and Michael Apstein from Apstein On Wine.
This was the beginning of an adventure that I like to think of The Rapunzel Phase.
The word “monk” comes from the Greek word “monachos” meaning “single” or “solitary.” It means to practice asceticism by living alone or with any number of other monks. Dedicating one’s life to serving others, or voluntarily choosing to leave mainstream society to live life in prayer and contemplation. In Greek the word can apply to women, but in modern English it is for men, as the word “nun” would be used for female monks.
[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, my bedroom where Benedictine Monks once lived. I doubt that the furnishings were anything like this; however I felt their spirit spirits still connected.]
Off to lunch I went… I’m sharing the menu with you, perhaps for curiosity, or perhaps as inspiration.
The following is their Tuscan Menu ~ Castello di Meleto
Surrounded by Italian history and elegance, originally a Benedictine monastery, now a winery and hospitality center straordinario, this was my time to learn about this slice of life.
Lunch Wednesday, October 10
I’m remiss that I didn’t get a photo of the Sformato di verdure, listed as the first course. My entire surroundings were so dazzlingly charming, it truly was like being in a fairy tale. It was a social gathering at first, and we were there to taste wine, with antipasti ~ Meet and greet… I had to finally pull myself back, to put what I was seeing and beginning to taste into photos and words. That was just as the second course was arriving. I was totally one with the castle for a while. I just lost track of everything, except for what I was seeing; a super Zen moment.
Sformato di verdure – (Vegetable quiche), paired with BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSATO 2017.
This Rosato is so invitingly aromatic and floral, reminding me of orange blossom in spring time. The flavors are deliciously refreshing. The wine is only 12.5 percent alcohol, a perfect food accompaniment, especially with cheese dishes.
From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are handpicked and placed in small crates in order to reduce skin breakage. After being gently destemmed and softly crushed, the must is chilled and left on the skins for a few hours. After pressing, a part of the must is cold-clarified and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of maximum 17°C [62.6°F].
Penne pomodorini e pesto (Penne pasta with pesto and cherry tomatoes), paired with BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSSO 2017.
This BORGAIO IGT TOSCANA ROSSO was Tuscany. This was what I’ve dreamed about, including an actual Italian dream. I understood every word. Did I mention I don’t speak a word of Italian? I do know how to taste it though. Slow and easy.
A garnet color; I remember a bit of light shining through and thinking, “this is going to be so tasty.” Yeah, it was all that and more. Rich, juicy, and expressive Chianti grapes, from this stressed out terroir. I was going to see the vineyard later, and I knew I was going to be liking all of this, as much as you would.
From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are harvested by hand and machine and destemmed and gently crushed before undergoing alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 25/28°C for a period of 15 to 20 days. After racking, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in cement tanks.
Arista con pecorino e salvia (Pork loin with pecorino and sage, with Patate al sesamo and oven roasted sesame seed potatoes), paired with Meleto Chianti Classico DOCG 2016.
Here came the big boy, showing its Italian muscle and flare, like a sophisticated Italian man wearing a grand scarf. They wear them so well, really, like this Reserve Chianti. It had flare, it had style, and it had perfect body, pairing really well with the pecorino and pork combination. The fruit flavors of the opulent Sangiovese grapes just blended with the pork dish. By now, the crisp potatoes were also becoming a favorite. I hadn’t thought of adding sesame seeds! It was all very much like comfort food, taken up a notch.
From Castello di Meleto ~ Vinification: Grapes are harvested by hand and machine and destemmed and gently crushed before undergoing alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 25/28°C for a period of 15 to 20 days. After racking, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in cement tanks.This wine is 100 percent Sangiovese, and very characteristic for Tuscany’s red wine backbone. The Meleto Chianti Classico is a very smooth and savory wine. Full bodied and rich, yet the softer tannins makes it wonderful to enjoy (alone of with food). Aging: 15
To finish our meal, and be ready for the afternoon festivities…
Cantucci al Vin Santo (Biscotti), paired with an in-house spirit. By the end of this meal. we were offered grappa, and we all just looked at each other and had a great laugh; not intended to insult our hosts. I was more of, we are all so satisfied, were would we find the room of it?
I did let down my hair on this one… Who wouldn’t?