I first tried Brunello di Montalcino in the late-nineties when I sat next to Billy Joel in an Italian restaurant in Sag Harbour, Long Island. He had turned up to meet some old friends who were neighbours of a school friend of mine and had brought with him two magnums that he handed to the waiter and asked they be served. Don’t try this at your local Pizza Express, by the way, unless you happen to be globally recognised and sold 200 million records as I think this makes a difference. I had one sip of what was poured and it was like no wine I have ever tasted.
I turned to my friend Richard and said: “What on earth is that?” Richard knows a thing or two about wine and replied: “It’s a Brunello di Montalcino. There’s never very much of it and when it’s good, it’s very, very good. And that’s about as good as it gets.”
I’ve had it many times since and Lay & Wheeler have helped me navigate the various producers and vintages (and you do need a guide as producers and vintages are variable to put it mildly) but it’s only earlier this year, fifteen years later, that I finally get a chance to visit. So as I pass the road sign for Cite de Montalcino, I wonder if the town, the food and the wine can live up to the memory of that first encounter.
Osteria Porta Al Cassero is a simple trattoria that offers the opportunity to try – by the glass – various vintages from a selection of producers of the fabled stuff. Two couples from Birmingham at the next table discuss at length in that bemused lilt of the Black Country, the presence of a bidet in their hotel bathroom (“Wove nuvver rully yoused uh bouyday uv we luv?”…“Now, now, we uvnn’t”) as the first of three glasses is poured…
All are magical and match the rustic simplicity of the food. One is Il Poggione 2010 that I remember Lay & Wheeler enthusing about earlier this year. It has a grace and power that is humbling and takes me back to that scene from an Italian Restaurant all those years ago. I walk back to my hotel contented on all counts.
David Tymm, Epping
Lay & Wheeler customer over 16 years & highly valued member of our Cellar Circle. Many thanks for your contribution David.
Published on 25/08/2015 / By David Tymm