Located in Southern Tuscany is the Medieval town of Montepulciano famous for its wine. Previous to visiting Montepulciano for our tasting at Cantina de’ Ricci I had never had a taste for wine, but the four types of vino rosso we were served were each better than the last.
Prior to our tasting we were able to go into the vineyard where the grapes are grown. We met the owner and he explained the differences in his grapes and a bit about his organic production system. Interesting, even though the grapes grown are organic, the wine is not. The owner explained that he chose to switch from conventional to organic production for environmental preservation and water conservation. He also utilizes a method of fermentation where the grapes are left whole to reduce the amount of added sulfates needed. We were shown the graft union between the scion and rootstock of his vines and he explained his pruning methods.
While in the field the owner explained that each of the wines we would be trying at the tasting are aged to different degrees. The first, and my favorite, was not aged at all but the third and fourth wines were aged for years. The same or similar blend of grapes tasted completely different after spending time in the large oak barrels kept below the winery.
After leaving the vineyard we went to the winery where the wine is kept to age. The winery is located partially underground where the temperature and humidity are ideal for the massive oak barrels used to age the wine. Although the vineyard tour and walk through the maze of barrels was amazing, the best part of the experience was the tasting. After being offered an initial three glasses to taste we were served the best lasagna we'd had this entire trip and a fourth glass that had been aged the longest and bottled in 2005. To finish off the meal a sweet dessert wine from 1995 was served. Although not my favorite, after learning about the production systems and aging process of the wine, I felt an appreciation for all that had gone into that small glass I was offered.
- Kait Richter