Thursday, June 11, 2020

Conti Capponi Chianti Villa Calcinaia Greve




One fine example of  the connections that give me  special  inside entry to private tours,  tastings, parties lunches and dinners with the winemakers or the proprietors of wine estates around the world would be a fabulously memorable lunch I had
with Conti  Sebastiani  Capponi  and his brother  Conti Nicolo  Capponi  at  their families estate in 
Greve, Italy,  the Villa Calcinaia which  was purchased by the  noble Capponi  family  in  1524.

Villa Calcinaia was once a Florentine outpost on the medieval road of Greve. The Capponi’s have
been producing wonderful wine, olive oil, and vinegars since the Renaissance. I  will  always  remember  the lunch I shared with Conti Sebastiani and Nicolo Capponi one beautiful Spring  day  a few  years back. Nicolo gave us a whimsical  tour  of  the vineyards  and  its cellars. We first started in the beautiful old kitchen of the villa which apart  from the gas stove looks  almost  exactly as it has for over 500 years, incredible. Before we started on our sojourn of the cellars of Villa Calcinaia, Niccolo  treated  us to  some the extraordinary  Salami and  Prosciutto that they make on the estate, soley for the Capponi family consumption, along with any guest who are lucky enough to partake as well.

It was quite an especially unique treat, eating the private artisnal Capponi Family Salumi while sipping their superb Chianti in the medieval kitchen as the house cook was grilling veal in the ancient fireplace, the veal that would be the main-course of our glorious lunch.

Nicolo then took us through the labyrinth of the Calcinaia Cellars and into a room where the Capponi's have a 300 year old mother. Yes that's right, a "300 Year Old Mother." A Mother is the starting process of making vinegar and it can be kept alive for hundreds of years, thus in this case, a 300 year old one, so they say. The vinegar it produces is exceptional.

Nicolo then led us into the adjacent room and proclaimed, "These are from Ali Baba." What Nicolo was referring to, were large terra cotta vessels where the estates fine Tuscan Olive Oil are stored before bottling, and by the way, they do look as they may very well come from the caves of Ali Baba himself.

The Count (Conti) then led the way to the fermentation room where the pressed Sangiovese grapes make the estates fine Chianti, as well as their amazing Vino Santo made from Trebbiano of Calcinaaia. 
From the fermentation room we went into the cellars where Chianti was being aged in large Slovenian Oak Cask. We took barrel samples out of the 1994 Chianti Reserva and the Chianti Classico 1995 as well. And yes, they were quite tasty to say the least.


The Road to Calcinaia

   After barrel-tasting  the Chianti, Niccolo brought  us  into  the room  where thousands  of  bunches
of  Trebbiano grapes were hanging from nails on beams so  they could  dry out  before being turned  into the  lush nectar of  Tuscan Vin  Santo which  we  would  be drinking later  on to finish off our unforgettable lunch.
   Conti Niccolo then led us  outside to the Capponi vineyards  and to their herb and vegetable garden in back of the castle.
   After seeing the garden and walking through the vines of  Sangiovese  we joined up  with  Niccolo’s brother Conti Sebastiano Capponi in a beautiful little dining room for our  incredible lunch to come. 
  The dining room was decorated in the perfect combination of country elegance of which was unchanged for some 500 years.
   We started this wonderful meal with an antipasto misto  of  Crostini  Toscano,  Prosciutto,  and  roast peppers. The antipasto was followed by a simple but tasty  Rigatoni Pomodoro. We were served the Veal that we had observed being roasted by the cook previously,  along with some sautéed  escarole from the garden.
  We  then  followed  the Veal with some Pecorino Toscano while enjoying the Capponi’s great Chianti throughout the meal.
   For desert we ate succulent Oranges while sipping on  the  extraordinary  Calcinaia Vin Santo which to me is the best expression of  this  famous Tuscan dessert  wine that I have ever tasted, ever better than the superb Avognesi Vin Santo  1990  which received the highest score possible for  any wine,  a  100 from the Wine Spectator. The Vin Santo from Villa Calcinaia is  perfectly balanced  with  the sweetness of ripe Pears and Apricots,  with hints of  Wild Flowers and Walnuts and at the finish, utterly Perfecto!
   This meal was one of the most memorable of my life,  dining  with  the Capponi’s  in a lovely  dining room in the Castel  which dates back to the Renaissance,  at the Villa Calcinaia in  the heart of Chianti Classico, drinking their fabulous wine with our meal, it  was an  experience that  not many  people ever get the chance to do, simply extraordinary.

   On the third day in Panzano we went to visit the stunning  wine estate of  Vignamaggio. This estate has  quite a history  behind it. La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) was born at this  stately  villa, and the painting  is  believed to been painted by DaVinci on the grounds of Vignamaggio.
    The estate  is  absolutely beautiful. If you look at the background  of the painting Mona Lisa you will get  an idea of the beauty of the estate and the panoramas  you  see from  its various vantage points, they are spectacular.

Villa Calcinaia

Conti Cappono

Greve in Chianti


Lunch with Conti Capponi


Villa Calcinaia



Read About the Conti Capponi

Villa Calcinaia, Chianti

and More ...

With Conti Sebastiano Capponi

And Joseph Macari Jr.

New York, 2009


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