|Count Francesco Marone Cinzano|
The reds were all double decanted a few hours earlier.
We started with the simplest tomato bruschette served with an intriguing, yet delicious olive oil and Cinzano cocktail: 1 part Cinzano Bianco, 2 parts Prosecco, 2 parts watermelon juice, 1 part gin, and ½ part EVOO from the Col d'Orcia estate.
The first wine, a Rosso di Montalcino, was served with an excellent antipasti of (clockwise from bottom left) bresaola of Chianina beef, salame di Cinta Senese, a fabulous lightly smoked goose cured goose breast, and a truffled wild boar mortadella that redefines your perception of mortadella.
2013 Rosso di Montalcino Banditella, Tenuta Col d'Orcia, 14.5%
10,000 bottles produced. Some ageing in French barriques.
Bright red fruits and cherry. There's a hint of violets and savouriness of tobacco.
Young and vibrant palate. Very fresh and zippy in the mouth.
Very mouthfilling for such a young, simple wine.
There's a nice savoury touch on the very expansive middle.
I really like this. Lots of interesting flavours unravel as it sits in the glass, yet it retains a vibrant freshness.
The downside is that it certainly doesn't hide its hefty 14.5% alcohol.
The Col d'Orcia olive oil reappeared with some bread (and in the bread): two breads one (the paler one in the background) made with 10% olive oil, and one (in the foreground) made with 40% olive oil, but otherwise identical. The first was very tasty, with a good chewy texture; the second was remarkable, with an almost brioche-like friability.
Primo piatto was pici (a thick handmade spaghetti) with an intriguing wood pigeon ragu.
The pasta was excellent, though the ragu, while having all the flavour you'd imagine it could, was a little underseasoned and a bit dry - to the point that I wondered if the pan had been left to boil dry. Though I think this was how it was intended, as we were recommended to season it with the olive oil, which did indeed bring it to life, and add the seasoning that was needed. Probably would have been best to do that in the kitchen though, as I noticed a reticence to add the oil on other tables.
This was served with the 2010 Brunello di Montalcino.
2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Tenuta Col d'Orcia, 14.5%
c.20,000 bottles produced.
A very poised nose showing a fair bit of maturity. Great restraint. Some cherry fruit.
Immediately attractive on the palate. Very silky.
Then it explodes with big, slightly sour fruit.
Very integrated, and showing a nice elegance.
Very, very long.
Complex without being overly deep.
Much improved with the food.
In an interesting, and quite brave move for rural Lancashire, we moved from two reds, to a white, with Caciucco de pesce azzurro con gnocchi soffiati. We couldn't quite work out all the fish that were in this light stew, but there was definitely mackerel, tuna (possibly a couple of varieties), monkfish, possibly swordfish. I'd never had gnocchi soffiati before: light, free-form, airy; like a poached mashed potato maybe.
2013 Pinot Grigio Sant'Antimo, Tenuta Col d'Orcia, 13.5%
A mid straw colour.
Rich nose with almonds and ripe stone fruit - peach, pear. Lots of peach. Bright citrussy note too.
Bit of a buttery, creamy note on the nose with aeration (apparently there's a splash of chardonnay in it).
Some talcy minerality. Really developing on the nose in the glass and with aeration.
Some white flower and honeysuckle aromas now.
Very intense, deep palate. What a mouthful! There's lots of fruit, but also some extraction.
This is very far from a typical Italian pinot grigio, and indeed there's something reminiscent of an Alsace Pinot Gris.
With that bit of extraction, there's even something of an Alsace gewurztraminer about this (though without the flavour).
Maybe if Zind Humbrecht made Italian pinot grigio?
There's a hint of woody spice on the finish. Maybe a little hot.
A fascinating wine, but it's a bit to big and pushy for me.
Meat course was a very good coniglio in porchetta con fagioli all'uccelletto. Rabbit that had been boned out and beaten flat, then wrapped around some sort of cured sausage, slightly reminiscent of morteau sausage, except that it certainly wouldn't have been anything French. The beans are cooked with tomatoes and sage in bottles in a bain marie. This was a fantastic dish (which I hope to find has made its way on to the à la carte next time I go), though very filling, given the denseness of the meat. It was also, very sadly, a singularly poor match with the 2007 Brunello Riserva, which it completely dominated. However, reverting to my glass of the Rosso di Montalcino with which we'd started the meal, that was a much better match: a bit like the classic Beaujolais and charcuterie match.
2007 Poggio al Vento, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG,
A big, unusually meaty nose. Though there's also some semi-dried ripe red fruit, with tobacco, leather and a touch of sous bois.
Very integrated nose. Nice elegance.
With aeration, a bit of a bitter chocolate note comes along giving it a very rich feel. There's a nice floral perfumed note too - sort of purple flowers.
The palate is enveloping and cossetting, with some deep, slightly sour fruit. Very integrated palate.
Soft integrated tannins.
I think this is clearly benefiting from having been double decanted several hours previously, as it is nicely softened and feeling very integrated.
But there's also a fairly primary feel to the fruit, and it's clearly got lots of life ahead of it. 30-40 years easily.
Elegant and delicate too.
While the rabbit bullied the Poggio al Vento, it was superb with some Pecorino Toscano DOP, the saltiness of the cheese really lifting the wine.
The Pecorino Toscano was one of three pecorino cheeses, alongside a rather lovely pecorino al tartufo, and a wonderful pecorino di grotta (matured in caves till strong and a bit spicy).
With the cheese was served Col d'Orcia's super-Tuscan.
2012 Olmaia Sant'Antimo Cabernet, Tenuta Col d'Orcia, 14.5%.
100% cabernet sauvignon from a single vineyard (Olmaia).
A very, very young, intense deep inky colour.
Big black fruits on the nose. But also lots and lots of smoky oak, together with a dried leaf note.
Deep, yet precise.
On the palate, it's just huge and massive. Lots of ripe fruit. Massive grippy tannins (apparently 2012 was drought-ridden, which has emphasised the tannins).
On its own, this was hard work and really needed the cheese to make it enjoyable.
Finally, after what had been a bit of a marathon meal, we moved onto a sfogliatina con crema al Moscadello, or what we'd call a custard slice in English.
This wasn't entirely successful, as it looked like either the puff pastry had risen too much or they'd not made enough of the muscat-flavoured cream, as there was just a bit too much pastry in relation to the filling.
The cream was flavoured with Col d'Orcia's muscat, which we naturally drank with it.
2011 Moscadello di Montalcino Pascena Vendemmia Tardiva, Tenuta Col d'Orcia, 12%
A very charming nose. Lots of muscat character.
Some clear lemon-orange notes on the nose.
Really poised, elegant palate. This is delightful, with none of the showiness that muscat can have.
Very balanced and elegant.