Saturday, September 21, 2013

Castello di Brolio

The Iron Baron and his Fairy-Tale Castle

Visiting the Castello di Brolio there are moments when you might imagine yourself inside a fairy tale. Not the slick Disney sort of fairy tale, the real thing: think Perrault or Grimm. Bluebeard. Those harsh cautionary tales warning of life's pitfalls and dangers, softened by happy endings. Mostly.

As you approach from the north on the SP 484, the castle is invisible. The enoteca or wine cellar/shop stands out on your right, flanked by large lattice-windowed storerooms. Before you a road winds up the hill amongst tall, dark trees. You can park and walk or drive on to park a little higher, but still the castle is hidden from view. Some old stone steps take you closer. You catch a glimpse of crenellated grey walls, buttresses, a tower where Rapunzel might have languished.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fruit of the Month: Figs

It's that fig time again

I wrote about figs last year but it is fitting to record this year's harvest of the most abundant, low-maintenance, stress-free gift of the gods we have at Le Ripe.

I predict I shall be bottling kilos of fig puree this season, but our guests will also be able to benefit from the bounty of our several trees.

To think that we did not have to plant, cage, prune, feed or spray these trees. Our only task is to harvest and eat.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vino al Vino Panzano's Wine Festival

Wine to Wine

 a September Highlight

Every year in the middle of September Panzano holds its wine festival showcasing the local vineyards. In the main square of Panzano, right on the 222 between Florence and Siena you can buy a glass and pouch to carry it in for 15 euro and taste as many wines as you have a mind to.

There is live music, a festive atmosphere, the local shops and tradesmen are all open and welcoming and there are even things for children to do...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Maps and Representations of Chianti - and Le Ripe - through the Ages

From Ancient Rome to Google

Over the centuries Tuscany and Chianti have been depicted in many different ways. From the allegorical to the digitally photographed, each representation has said something about the era in which it was created and much about the importance of this part of the world.

The above is a detail from the extraordinary Tabula Peutingeriana, probably dating to the 5th century CE, which depicts all roads leading to Rome; this section covers Tuscany with Florence (Florentia Tuscorum) and Siena (Sena Julia) in the lower centre. For a look at the complete Tabula, which is glorious, see here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The new Antinori Winery in Chianti

Twenty-six Generations under One Roof

Past and present: the timeless beauty of Badia Passignano from a model at the Antinori Chianti museum

Present and future: the grand plan for the streamlined winery to outdo all wineries
You have to admire the audacity of the Antinori family: to plan, construct and complete a project of this size and ambition in a territory where modernity is often anathema.