December 16, 2022
Bask in Banfi Wines and Michelin Dining, Tuscany
This Winter, I got to take a deep dive into the Tuscan hills of Montalcino to visit the breathtaking 3000 hectares of the Banfi Estate for 72 hours of sampling Italian wines paired with the best Italian dining.
The property is truly magnificent with one-third of it being vines, and the rest shared between olive groves, wheat fields, truffles, orchards and forests promoting biodiversity. Aside from being Brunello wine producer of the highest quality, Banfi also produces some of the finest dried plums in Italy, honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, beautiful pasta and much more.
We stayed in the beautiful Collupino farmhouse, a few minute’s drive from the centrepiece of the estate, a dramatic castle which sits above Poggio elle Mura, surrounded by Banfi’s expansive vineyards and olive groves. The 18th century Castello Banfi has become a hallmark for Tuscan hospitality and food, and includes two restaurants (one Michelin-starred), enoteca, a private glass museum, and a Balsameria, producing top-class Balsamic as well as the critically acclaimed, luxury boutique hotel “Il Borgo.”
The wines of Banfi are born of a passion and love for unique terroirs, from continuous research, from the intimate knowledge of different territories and the ability to marry time-tested and respected techniques with innovative solutions in both the vineyards and the winery. The splendid vineyards of Montalcino and Chianti, of Piedmont and the Tuscan coast, are the ideal cradle for wines of great character and outstanding quality.
One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Enoteca to taste the incredible wines on offer. These exclusive and unique tastings guide you on a journey through the places and excellences that make Castello Banfi such a special destination. We even found out about Banfi’s most recent innovations – an area that can best be described as a micro-winery within the winery, conceived to exalt the wealth of our grape selection. This new area, in keeping with Banfi’s philosophy, is entirely open to visitors thanks to comfortable and innovative architectural solutions, including the new footbridge that crosses the entire vinification area.
Some of my personal favourite Banfi wines:
Poggio alle Mura
Riserva Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva 2016
A Riserva of great elegance and balance in its structure and aromatic profile. An Intense ruby red colour, with garnet hues that’s sweet and complex on the nose with balsamic notes and hints of tobacco combined with aromas of plums, ripe cherries and red berries. In the mouth, it is incredibly full, with powerful, yet sweet and well-honed tannins. A persistent finish is accompanied by excellent acidity. Long ageing wine, perfect as a meditation wine.
Poggio alle Mura
Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2020
A fresh and fruity wine with a ruby red colour and intense aromas of cherry and blackberry perfectly combine with notes of licorice and tobacco. The structure is large and enveloping. Long and pleasant finish on the palate.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2017
An intense, elegant and balanced Brunello. Ruby red with light garnet-colored nuances. On the nose, it is distinguished by a sweet and fruity bouquet with decisive hints of red berry jam, perfectly balanced with notes of liquorice and pipe tobacco. Soft and smooth tannins are well integrated with a strong acidity that gives this Brunello a lively and powerful structure. A wine with excellent persistence and great ageing potential.
After a long day on the vineyard, we headed to La Taverna, a classical Tuscan restaurant neatly positioned beneath the vaulted arches of the former barrel cellars of the castle where Brunello once rested in large oak casks. The environment feels authentically Tuscan, alongside the Tuscan bread which is enhanced only by the freshness and delight of the dishes, whereby local ingredients are essential.
The handmade pinci pasta from Senatore Cappelli organic flour with tomato and garlic sauce still to this day may be the best pasta dish I’ve ever eaten – simple but perfect in every way.
If you’re looking for fine dining in a refined atmosphere, one Michelin-starred La Sala dei Grappoli is perfect. Their seasonal menu allows you to select among traditional Italian and Mediterranean dishes, presented with a modern touch and accompanied by outstanding Banfi wines of course.
Whilst there, be sure you take the opportunity to visit the historic Balsameria, which is much more refined than most of the balsamic vinegars on the market today. This is nectar obtained using the traditional methods of the ancient Etruscans, with grapes harvested later when their sugars are concentrated, and gently pressed. The must is filtered and then simmered to reduce it in volume and further concentrate its flavour. After cooling, it is transferred to wooden casks for 4 – 8 months. During this ageing, the process of “balsamization” begins. Successively the balsamic is racked into progressively smaller barrels (from 60 to 25 litres) of different woods (oak, chestnut, cherry, ash and mulberry) until the filling of the last barrel, 25 litres, from which is emerges as salsa balsamica, following a period of ageing that can take about 12 years.
Each year, only three litres of Condimento Balsamico Etrusco are bottled from each of the smallest barrels, which is successively topped off from the proceeding barrels. This condiment is the one to drizzle sparingly on risottos and particularly adapted for using on white and red meats, steamed or roasted fish, on an omelette or in other bitter-sweet recipes. A must-try drizzled on fresh strawberries, aged cheeses, and even vanilla ice cream.
Banfi is committed to sustainability, looking at every aspect of its business to work towards a more sustainable model. Banfi’s CEO and proprietor, Cristina Mariani-May, has been recognised for Banfi’s efforts in making the wine industry as sustainable as possible. Her efforts have clearly been paying off as Castello Banfi was the first winery to achieve the ISO 14001 environmental certification and they even declined not to sell Banfi to LVMH as Cristina was motivated by the desire to keep major involvement in the operation.
Overall, Amore mio (my love) – what’s not to love at Banfi?
A Tuscan castle, incredible wines with a rich history, Michelin-star food, and friendly, attentive knowledgeable staff. I personally can’t wait to see what Banfi does next.
For more information on Banfi, see here
A: Castello di Poggio alle Mura 53024 Montalcino – Siena
T: +39 0577 840111
Written by Kaya Cheshire for Luxuria Lifestyle London and International