A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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Il Borghetto

November 23rd, 2003

Frances Mayes heightened everyone’s interest in Tuscany with her book “Under the Tuscan Sun”. She eloquently described the beauty of the rolling countryside, but more importantly, she illustrated how the local people make Tuscany the special place it is. Florence and Siena are magnificent Tuscan cities, but to truly experience all Tuscany has to offer, I suggest staying in the countryside. Il Borghetto is a tiny gem located 20 minutes south of Florence, in the town of San Casciano Val di Pesa, in the northern Chianti region.

Il Borghetto is a charming country inn perched on a hill overlooking rolling hills of vineyards and cypress trees. This 74 acre estate dates back to the 15th century, however a massive renovation has transformed the property into a tranquil oasis. The stone buildings are painted in a typical ochre color with terracotta roofs. The rooms are all tastefully decorated with local antiques and fine linens. There are 3 double rooms, and 6 suites of varying sizes with spacious sitting rooms and kitchens. The property is lined with vineyards, olive groves, vegetable gardens and a magnificent pool.

While strolling the grounds, passing pomegranate trees and reflecting pools, I came across an Etruscian tomb dating back to 650 BC. Every step through these hills is a journey through history.

Outside the main building is a stone terrace with majestic views of the Tuscan countryside. A full breakfast is served here. Lunch and dinner are typically not served because guests are usually off exploring, but the kitchen can accommodate requests. We had the pleasure of eating a magnificent meal here that included stuffed zucchini flowers that were exquisite and a delicious lasagna. Il Borghetto also offers cooking classes, so you too can learn how to master Tuscan cuisine.

Il Borghetto is not just a country inn, but also a farm. The property includes 15 acres of vineyards growing Merlot, Cabernet and Sangiovese. They harvested their first vintage of Merlot this year. Rows of olive trees cover the grounds, a total of 25 acres. Three types of olives are grown: Pendolino, Leccino, and Frantoiano; and they are blended to produce a first rate extra virgin olive oil. Ask the kitchen for a taste.

Exploring the countryside is part of the joy of Tuscany. There are dozens of hill towns to visit, each with something special to offer. Cortona, Montepulciano, Pienza and San Gimignano are just a few.

But let’s not forget about the wine. Tuscany is one of the great wine regions of the world. Brunello di Montalcino is perhaps the most prestigious wine of the region, while Chianti is the wine most often associated with Tuscany. There’s also a new kid on the block, the Super Tuscan, that incorporates different grapes and new production techniques that have captured the world’s attention. Antinori, one of the premier wine producers, has been very successful with Super Tuscans. Tignanello, one of it’s best, is harvested just 5 minutes from Il Borghetto. So get out your calendar and book a trip to eat, drink and explore.

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