Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

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Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:43 pm

Wednesday is with us again already, so it's time tonight for midweek forum chat. As usual, we're free to talk about any wine-related (or not) subject that crosses our minds, but since I'm headed for Tuscany next week, I'd be delighted to hear from anyone who's been there lately and might have some pointers. (Given that I'll be tied up in wine judging and ceremonial stuff all week and probably won't get out of Siena or away from the "minders.")

Usual time and place, about four hours from the time stamp on this post: 9:30 p.m. US EDT, 6:30 Pacific, 0130 Thursday GMT, in The WLDG Chat Room. See you there!
Last edited by Robin Garr on Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby Paulo in Philly » Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:29 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Wednesday is with us again already, so it's time tonight for midweek forum chat. As usual, we're free to talk about any wine-related (or not) subject that crosses our minds, but since I'm headed for Tuscany next week, I'd be delighted to hear from anyone who's been there lately and might have some pointers. (Given that I'll be tied up in wine judging and ceremonial stuff all week and probably won't get out of Siena or away from the "minders.")

Usual time and place, about four hours from the time stamp on this post: 9:30 p.m. US EDT, 6:30 Pacific, 0130 Thursday GMT, in The WLDG Chat Room. See you there!


As I will not be able to join tonight's Tuscan chat, I do hope you get to taste the most traditional Vino Nobile di Montepulciano I tasted in Southern Tuscany this summer made by "Sanguineto". I don't think they export yet to the US.

Cheers!
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Re: Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:17 pm

Paulo in Philly wrote:I do hope you get to taste the most traditional Vino Nobile di Montepulciano I tasted in Southern Tuscany this summer made by "Sanguineto". I don't think they export yet to the US.


I'll watch for it, Paulo! More likely than not it will be entered in the competition, which incorporates a very wide range of current Tuscan releases from all DOCs and IGT, but of course those wines are all judged blind.
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Re: Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby Clinton Macsherry » Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:43 am

Robin--
Is envy still a sin? I simply love Siena. You've probably been before, but if not, you're in for a treat. PM or email me if you'd care for any reccos. Hope you'll get at least a little time for a road trip--Montalcino is a short drive, and Altesino is beautiful place to visit. Regardless, I'll be supremely disappointed if we don't get a detailed report. Buon viaggio!
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Re: Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:19 pm

Clinton Macsherry wrote:Robin--
Is envy still a sin? I simply love Siena. You've probably been before, but if not, you're in for a treat. PM or email me if you'd care for any reccos. Hope you'll get at least a little time for a road trip--Montalcino is a short drive, and Altesino is beautiful place to visit. Regardless, I'll be supremely disappointed if we don't get a detailed report. Buon viaggio!


Clinton, I'm sure hoping and planning to cover the visit "live."

Because it's a judging gig run by the Consorzio and the Italian Trade Commission and only runs for four days, I have a feeling that they're going to keep the international judges' dance cards very, very full, and at this time of year I'm too busy to extend the trip for a few days on my own (dammit!)

If you don't mind, though, it would be great if you'd post a few reccos here for the public record. After a while, I can move this thread over to the Wine Travel forum.
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Re: Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby Clinton Macsherry » Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:59 pm

Robin Garr wrote:If you don't mind, though, it would be great if you'd post a few reccos here for the public record.


Well sure. My wife and I made Siena our base for a week-long visit to Tuscany during our honeymoon in 2001. So, a caveat: most of my recollections date back to an extremely happy time five years ago. On the other hand, little seemed to have changed when we returned on a day-trip with another couple last June.

For orientation purposes, you might think of Siena as a steep-sided bowl. At the bottom lies the “Campo,” one of the most celebrated public spaces in Italy. It’s a roughly semicircular piazza, with a town hall and bell tower on the flat side and cafes lining the rest of the perimeter. Pedestrian streets and alleys wind up the sides of the bowl. Many of the Renaissance buildings along the way have street-level shops and are connected by enclosed upper-story bridges. Legend has it one can walk around the entire city center and never set foot on the ground. For a pageant known as the “Palio,” the Campo is converted into a racetrack. Marchers and jockeys from the city’s historic neighborhoods compete twice a year for bragging rights.

My wife and I stayed at the local outpost of the Jolly Hotel chain, at the top of one bowl side, right across from the main inter-city bus stop and a 10-minute walk from the Campo. It was perfectly serviceable, 70s moderne in style, with good breakfasts and view into Siena’s soccer stadium. I’d stay there again, primarily for the location. It’s also a short walk from a church with two of the town’s creepier attractions—the preserved head and thumb of St. Catherine of Siena, who died in the 14th Century.

It’s hard but not impossible to get a bad meal in Siena. I highly recommend Ristorante Guido, on small side alley about halfway up the bowl from the Campo to the bus stop. Great food, fine local wine list, very good value. My wife still considers the carpaccio served on arugula with ribbons of shaved parmesan one of her favorite dishes of all time. We ate there twice. Just off the Campo, to the right of the Town Hall, is La Torre, a somewhat rustic, family-style place that can be a lot of fun. When my wife asked for a menu, the chef (who was our waiter that evening), said “I am the menu.” Much of the food is roasted in a wood-burning oven. My roasted pigeon was served with its head on.

Off the Campo to the left of the Town Hall runs a street with several restaurants, the more popular of which are on the left side. On the right, there’s Ristorante Nello, to which I will never return. Truth be told, the food is outstanding, but the chef-owner is a colossal jerk who tried to publicly humiliate one of my companions for putting too much balsamic vinegar on her salad. Even his staff was offended. I’m not surprised that every other place on the street is more crowded. I'll check my notes for other possible restaurant recommendations and add them later if I find any.

Any of the cafes on the Campo are wonderful spots to sip a drink and watch the world go by. Smaller and more local, Caffe del Corso sits halfway up one of the main streets climbing the side of the bowl. In the early evening, they seem to pour their way through a case of prosecco an hour.

For any wine lover, a visit to the justly famous enoteca inside the walls of the old fortress is a must. Wines from all over Italy are featured, with rotating offerings by the flight, IIRC. I didn't eat there, but they're reputed to have lovely small dishes. Siena is also a relatively short drive from several lovely wine towns, including Montalcino (with its own fine enoteca), Montepulciano, San Gimignano, and the various stops along the “Strada di Vino” that winds through Chianti. Of the wineries we visited, Altesino (north of Montalcino) and Castello di Brolio and Badia a Coltibuono (both in Chianti) were most interesting destinations in their own right. Badia has more or less restored an old hillside hamlet, has a superb restaurant, and offers cooking classes.

Rental car is the best means of transport for winery-hopping, but there are probably buses to the larger towns. Also accessible by bus from Siena, I think, is the nearby Monteriggioni, a jewel-box of a little town (I think I'm stealing that phrase, but I can't remember from whom)that would make a great lunch destination.
Last edited by Clinton Macsherry on Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby Ian Sutton » Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:36 pm

Robin
Have a great time - we'll wave to you from the Mole in Turin (or from Barolo if you prefer :wink: ).

Hope you find this useful (but don't have need to use them all :shock: )
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVCuyrPk7P4

regards

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Re: Wednesday Forum Chat tonight: Tuscan talk, or whatever ...

Postby James Roscoe » Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:00 pm

I missed the chat again. I wish I had been there to talk over my days in Tuscany.


Of course I have never been to Tuscany. I have been to Kitchener, Ontario.
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