Posts Tagged ‘wine’

The 2010 Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino Is the Taylor Swift of Wines



Wine tasting in the cellar at Le Chiuse a Montalcino

Much has been written about the recently released 2010 Brunello di Montalcino. Wine critics have raved about it, calling it everything from “The Vintage of a Lifetime” to “the greatest modern vintage of Italy’s most famous wine region.”

I tend to be skeptical of the overhyped, and I’m not enough of oenophile to rave about the 2010’s “fruit forwardness” or how it is a “greatest hits” collection of characteristics of the finest Brunello vintages before it. I also feel obligated to disclose that Sideways is one of my all time favorite films.


Lorenzo, one of the winemakers at Le Chiuse

During my recent trip to Tuscany I went to a tasting in the cellar at the family run Le Chiuse, where Lorenzo, one of the winemakers, had a lovely way of personifying each vintage. He mentioned that the hot days and cool nights in the vineyard make for excellent sangiovese grapes. I got to know quite a bit about Brunello di Montalcino. Here’s my take on the 2010 Brunello– It’s the Taylor Swift of wine.

Taylor Swift sighting in New York City

TSwizzle- a notable, likeable force who will be even more elegant and interesting in 5-10 years

The winemaker described the 2010 as a “Teenager who leads with their muscles.” All the signs of being important are there, but the vintage has not yet come into it’s “elegance.” That will happen in 10-15 years. In a few years they will be approachable, complex, and in “harmony.” Until then, you’ll keep hearing more from these wines as they are notable and their powerful tanins will allow them to “cellar well.”

Sitting with my friends Noelle and Devony, we mulled this description for a while before declaring the 2010 Brunello di Montalcino the “Taylor Swift of wine.”

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Future Brunello di Montalcino aging in oak barrels at Le Chiuse

All three of us appreciate the importance of Ms. Swift. Her songs sound like money to me. She’s a force that is going no where, and she’s  going to be even more interesting in 5-10 years when she either learns to dance, or at least stops looking like that scene where Bambi tries to walk on ice.

We are all curious to see where Taylor Swift will be in a few years, and the 2010 Brunello di Montalcino should grow into it’s own at the same pace.

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Left: The 2010 Brunello Reserva in the Cellar Right: An Italian wine library in the Le Chiuse Cellar

So what to drink now? We don’t want to drink wine the winemaker describes as “a teenager.”

We asked the Nicolo what to drink now the 2007 Brunello came up. The vintner described it as, “a man in his 40s who has got some game.” Interesting, complex, fully developed. Noelle, Devony and I quickly came to a consensus on how to remember the 2007. It’s the Dave Grohl of Brunello. Everyone of us appreciates a little Grohl in our lives.

47th CMA Awards - Show

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has already been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame once. He’ll get in a second time, too.

We tasted some other memorable wines including the 2013 Rosso di Montalcino, “a strong boy who is appealing now but might not be so interesting in 10 years.” I can’t remember if it was Noelle or Devony that made this connection first and dubbed it the Channing Tatum of  Tuscan wine.

"Magic Mike XXL" Los Angeles Premiere

Some nights you are in the mood for a little Magic Mike. Channing Tatum Pairs nicely with the 2013 Rosso di Montalcino

The 2009 Brunello di Montalcino was described to us as “a young father in his 30s. Starting to find harmony.” Hella Ryan Gosling of the wine world!

Cannes Film Festival 2014

If Ryan Gosling were an Italian wine, he’d be a 2009 Brunello di Montalcino

So many wines were being tasted, and Nicolo was such a warm host. He gave us a tour of the vineyards and winery.

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A glass in the Le Chiuse cellar

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The wine library at Le Chiuse

We also had the opportunity to taste the 2009 Riserva. Nicolo, the winemaker, described this one as “a man approaching 40” worth enjoying after 6-7 years.

David Beckham at The Queen's Young Leaders Awards

If Becks were Brunello, he’d be a 2009 Riserva

After some contemplation we decided the 2009 Riserva was the David Beckham of Brunello di Montalcino. He’s fine, but seems slightly less accessible than Grohl, Swift, or Gosling (maybe it’s the accent)?

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Brunello di Montalcino tasting at Le Chiuse

Noelle and I each ordered a case of wine from Le Chiuse after our tasting. Mine arrived the other day.


The Lineup at Le Chiuse

Now I need to figure out when Magic Mike XXL comes out on iTunes so I can open up a bottle of the Rosso and enjoy a movie night. Because some nights, you need a little Channing Tatum.

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The pool in the vineyard at Le Chiuse

Azienda Agrituristica “LE CHIUSE”
Via delle Fonti, Località Le Chiuse
58014 Manciano (GR)

Telefono +39 0564/625060
Fax +39 0564/620928
Cellulare +39 335/6920736


Le Chiuse’s US importer is:

307 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022

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In The Vineyard at Le Chiuse di Montalcino: a Photo Essay

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 Sangiovese grapes in the vineyard at Le Chiuse

The focus of my recent trip of Italy was exploring Tuscany while getting to know more about the 2010 Brunello di Montalcino “vintage of the century.” While editing my photos I realized I should devote a post to images of grapes and vineyards, separate from the one where I get to know the differences in my Brunello di Montacino vintages.

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Morning skies and tractor at Le Chiuse

Le Chiuse di Montalcino is a small wine producer in the north of Montalcino where Sangiovese Grosso grapes are grown on seven acres to make Brunello, Riserva, and Rosso di Montalcino wines.

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Lines of grapevines

Brunello di Montacino is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes. What makes for a notable vintage? The weather during peak growing season has a major impact.

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These 100% Sangiovese grapes are future Brunello

2010’s growing season was marked by hot days and cool evenings– a winning combination if you’re a winemaker. Weather like that makes for a vintage that has both bright acidity and lush fruit forwardness. The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino is described as  “best of the new millennium,” a merit I am a tad dubious to declare after only a decade.


The Vineyard, pool and cypress trees at Le Chiuse di Montalcino

I came away from the trip with the feeling that you’re going to be hearing about the 2010 Brunello for a long time.

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Left: stairs to the cellar at Le Chiuse Right: Bucolic view overlooking the Le Chiuse Vineyard

While it’s been released, it’s not yet ready for prime time– the 2010 Brunello di Montacino is expected to be approachable “in a few years” and at peak during the next decade.


Otto, Le Chiuse’s resident vineyard dog

The setting of Le Chiuse is pure bucolic Tuscan dream. Even teetotalers would enjoy the gorgeous hillside scenery.


Otto, the vineyard dog GIF

Le Chiuse tastes as good as it looks. In my next post I’ll explain what I learned about 2010 and other Brunello di Montalcino vintages in their cellar.

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The picnic table at Le Chiuse di Montalcino 

Azienda Agrituristica “LE CHIUSE”
Via delle Fonti, Località Le Chiuse
58014 Manciano (GR)

Telefono +39 0564/625060
Fax +39 0564/620928
Cellulare +39 335/6920736

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Where To Eat in Chianti: La Cantinetta di Rignana

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The antipasto and Italian Rosé at La Catinetta di Rignana

Located about an hour’s drive outside of Florence, La Cantinetta di Rignana is the sort of place that inspires “I want to move to Tuscany” dreams. Arriving at this hard-to-find restaurant in the rolling hills of the Chianti region feels like being transported to the set of a Bertolucci movie.

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The Tuscan villa that houses La Cantinetta di Rignana Ristorante

Our driver had to call the restaurant twice for directions since the signage in Greve is a bit misleading. But the logistical stress dissolved the second I set eyes on the rustic chic villa that housed La Cantinetta. It’s just plain dreamy. But La Cantinetta di Rignana’s curb appeal is only one of it’s charms.

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Views of Chianti country at La Cantinetta di Rignana

The Tuscan fare is fit for foodies. For good reason, this  restaurant is popular with Italians and tourists alike. It’s got fantastic Tuscan farmhouse atmosphere, incredible views of the rolling hillside, and delicious food. Props to my foodie friend, Charlie, who arranged for our group to have lunch here. We were all seated at long rustic farm table when we started sipping the Italian Rose.


Views of Tuscany from La Cantinetta 

Charlie ordered for the table, and due to my position as a latecomer seated farthest from the kitchen I missed bruschetta course entirely. My fellow diners raved about it. But I never sweat skipping the bread in Italy. If I’m going for carbs, my preferred form is pasta.


In the kitchen at La Cantinetta di Rignana GIF

Next up was antipasto. While usually this course is not the most exciting, the perfectly ripe melon at La Cantinetta made the prosciutto & melon combo seriously next level. Paired with pink wine, I felt seriously relaxed for the first time on this trip.

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Perfectly ripe melon and prosciutto

Next came the pasta, which was sublime. Everything was served family style, and the fettuccine was served with a generous amount of truffles and sausage.


They do not skimp on the truffles at La Catinetta di Rignana

I was completely full after this course and had no idea that the the house speciality at La Cantinetta is the secondi: platters of grilled meat including chicken and pork ribs.


The cinghiale (wild boar sausage) was the standout dish

The platter of grilled Tuscan meats looked and smelled fantastic, and I made room for one delicious pork rib.

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Roast Tuscan meats were the secondo (second course)

The last course was the standout–cinghiale, wild boar sausage served grilled simply with herbs and lemon. I had one bite, and then found room for a few more. It was exceptional.


We washed it all down with a lot of Rosato (Rosé wine)

Rumor has it La Cantinetta di Rignana has fabulous desserts but we skipped the course entirely. I still feel I got the complete Tuscan Feast experience.

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The atmosphere at La Cantinetta di Rignana is stuff of Tuscan fantasies

La Cantinetta di Rignana is considered one of the best restaurants in Tuscany, so reservations are essential. Also allow extra time for getting lost in an attempt to find the restaurant. It’s all part of the experience.

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 A cozy seating nook at La Cantinetta di Rignana

La Cantinetta di Rignana made for a memorable meal that was well worth the effort to get here. It’s a great choice for a special occasions.

La Cantinetta di Rignana Ristorante

Loc. Rignana
50022 Greve in Chianti (Fi)
Tel. +39 055 852601 | +39 055 8560200 | +39 347 4534884

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Where to Eat in Melbourne, Australia: Cicciolina Restaurant and Back Bar, St. Kilda


Cicciolina has a great lunch special: Pasta of the day + a glass of Wine for A$29.50

One of my favorite things about visiting St. Kilda is checking out the ever-changing restaurant scene. On my recent trip, I decided to try Cicciolina Restaurant and Back Bar. According to the restaurant’s own website, Cicciolina’s has been a “St. Kilda Institution since 1993.” Despite Cicciolina’s long running presence in the area, the restaurant was still new to me.


Art filled walls and mid-century touches add to Cicciolina’s funky vibe

I liked the restaurant’s mid-century modern space and art-filled walls. I was a bit surprised that an Italian restaurant had limited pasta options, but it all worked out in the end. The Special Pasta of the Day, featured ribbons of pasta topped with tomato sauce, basil topped with a light dollop of mascarpone cheese and garnished with shaved almonds, was rather delightful. My husband and I swapped pastas halfway through the meal.


Tubetti all’Amatriciana – guanciale, bacon, tomato and oregano ragu (A$29.50 )

Non-pasta eaters will appreciate the fresh seafood options marked up on the chalk board like wild barramundi filet and kingfish carpaccio. The standout deal was the Monday to Friday Pasta + Wine Special for  A$29.50, which is available from 12-6pm. My husband got that I helped myself to his Little Angel Sauvignon Blanc 2013. It made for a delightful lunch.

The Cicciolina menu also had gluten free dishes available, including some gluten free pastas, and an extensive wine list. My biggest complaint about Cicciolina is that the bathroom is extremely difficult to find, even after getting instructions.


130 Acland Street
St Kilda, Victoria3182


T: 03 9525 3333
F: 03 9525 3397


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Where to Eat in Milan: Alla Cucina Delle Langhe


Caprese di bufala (€ 12,00)

It’s not hard to eat well while in Italy. But when I heard that Alla Cucina delle Langhe is one of Tom Ford’s preferred lunch spots when in Milan, I decided to make a point to eat there.


Left: Rigatoni pomodoro e basilico (€ 11,00) Right: Tagliolini al burro fuso con grattata di tartufo “Bianchetto” (€ 26,00)

Located on the Corso Como, Alla Cucina della Langhe isn’t a tourist spot, but is popular with locals as a business lunch spot. Be sure to book ahead if you want a table. The menu focuses on foods from the Piemonte and Lombardia regions.


Filet alla griglia (€ 24,00)

The atmosphere was sedate and business-y and the service was top notch. The best dishes were the pastas, with the standout dish being the truffle-laden Tagliolini al burro fuso con grattata di tartufo Bianchetto (€ 26,00). It wasn’t particularly photogenic but it was delicious.


1998 Sugarille 

My husband and I split the grilled filet, which was served rarer than the medium we ordered…. because Europe.

The restaurant’s wine list is extensive, with a few “by the glass” options and a lot of different price points. We ordered a bottle of the 1998 Sugarille Brunello Di Montalcino, which unfortunately was corked when our server attempted to open it. The server handled the situation appropriately- seeking the manager and quickly and replacing the bottle with another.


That being said, I can’t recommend the 1998 Sugarille. Go for another Brunello Di Montalcino.


Alla Cucina della Langhe exterior

 Alla Cucina delle Langhe

Address: Corso Como, 6, 20124 Milano, Italy
Phone:+39 02 655 4279
Closed on Sundays and the month of August

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