My family owned a Brunello di Montalcino vineyard and so I have exquisite gastronomic memories of the time when I was about fourteen to the time I went to university, as my family was going to Tuscany so frequently to the vineyard.
I cannot mention any specific location or trattoria, it was long ago, and back then, thirty five years ago they were all authentic.
We would most often then be drinking Brunello di Montalcino with wild game, pheasant, quails, wild boar, or the million different pasta and sauces in Italy.
I really remember those years. Those meals.
I remember the taste of the Brunello di Montalcino with those game meats - that's definitely something that looking back at it now, has influenced me as a person and most directly as a wine maker.
We'd stop in so many different restaurants, in Montalcino, Sienna, along the countryside...
The cooking was so good, there was no formal pairing or strict rules to abide by.
The game meats were heavy enough, and full of protein, to hold up against any of the Tuscan red wines of the region, and Brunello in specific.
More recent experiences are many as well..
Cingialli ragu is a delicious dish that is made most everywhere in Tuscany - but in this one place we visited recently it was surely incredible.
Another place was when Violetta and I were visiting outside of Naples on the peninsula of Monti di Crochilla and there was a tiny little restaurant that was at the end of a narrow street, and the room was tiny - just five or six tables - the kitchen was nestled in the corner - and I remember it was a family business, an uncle, nephew, grandfather...
Some would go fishing early in the morning and come back with the day's catch and cook up fresh dishes exclusively from that.
One in particular was a pasta with squid ink sauce.
And one last place that I’ll mention now that I really liked was a place in Verona, Valeggio sul Mincio...exquisite as well!
There, we opened a bottle of a great Supertuscan wine, instead of our classic Brunello di Montalcino...
If I had to pick just one, I'd pick South Africa wine country.
Australia comes in as a close second.
But for me - as an Italian, European countries and wineries are close to my heart, but also are more known to me.
I've spent time visiting France and french vineyards, and while I don't know Spain as well, I know it’s very similar to Italy.
Germany I've also experienced a little bit.
And I assume that in the South Pacific, in Australia, it's mostly similar to California or the American style.
So South Africa is sort of unique, different - it stands on its own geographically, culturally, etc.
It has northern European influence, origins, from Holland, the Netherlands, Denmark, some British...I cannot picture the wine culture as much so I'd be most interested to see and experience that wine scene.
I would love to have a bottle of San Gimignano - Vernaccia, in San Gimignano with...Leonardo da Vinci. I'd love to sit in the town square with Leonardo da Vinci.
That would be an amazing conversation...first I'd lean forward and say... "Honestly, Leonardo, how did you THINK of all those ideas and inventions?"
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