“Wine is bottled poetry,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. I like to think he would have appreciated the wines I am sharing with you this month, which come from a land of poets, artists, and renowned natural beauty. Besides, as an adventurous writer, Stevenson appreciated treasure hunts and plot twists, and I’m offering you a bit of both. Tuscan wine is rightly treasured throughout the world. And although you may know it, I suspect that I have some surprises in store for you.
Fattoria Poggio Alloro, located in the Tuscan hills near the stone towers of San Gimignano, is actually many things: a vineyard, a farm, and an agriturismo destination that offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in traditional farm life for a rustic and yet sophisticated experience. “Fattoria” means farm, in fact—a translation I learned in an amusing way when I was visiting relatives in Italy. My grandmother’s cousin was very excited about using ricotta that was fresh from the “fattoria.” That seemed surprising, since to English speakers, “fattoria” could sound like “factory.” When I learned that it really means “farm,” her enthusiasm was much more understandable.
Along with the vines, there are olive groves providing golden oil, pigs that will eventually be turned into prosciutto (in accord with the Tuscan circle of life), and an array of grains that will be used for pasta and bread. Beehives provide natural pollination, and an endangered breed of white cattle is tended. The most surprising crop is saffron, which is more often associated with Morocco than Italy. Flowering saffron adds a brilliant purple hue to the fields— which may also be a surprise, since by the time it gets to your table as a spice, it is golden orange.
One of the wines made here is distinctive to the area: Vernaccia di San Gimignano. While you may associate Tuscany with bold reds, Vernaccia is a white wine, and an unusual one at that, offering surprises even to experienced wine enthusiasts. It has fragrant floral qualities and rich flavors reminiscent of honey. There are also vibrant notes of apricot and white peach. This is a truly complex white wine. It would pair well with good-quality seafood, making it a natural choice for Vero Beach.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for bold reds from Fattoria Poggio Alloro, you will not be disappointed; it offers fine examples in a wide range of price categories. For example, its endearingly named San Gimignano Rosso “Convivio” is made primarily from the grape known as Sangiovese—the classic grape of Tuscany—blended with a dash of Colorino, a lesser-known variety that, as the name implies, imparts rich color. This is a robust and full-bodied red with characteristics of fig, dark chocolate, and espresso, along with spice notes (cinnamon and allspice leap to mind). This would be a great steak wine, and it would also pair well with lamb or game.
These fine wines reflect the richness of the Tuscan landscape and traditions. You may find them to be a new discovery from a classic region