Our trip to Italy was, by design, all play and no work except for one very, very special day spent at Castello Romitorio in Montalcino. TJ loves this producer, and their wines at all price points do incredibly well at UG. I had tried a couple of their wines, but honestly hadn’t really focused on them yet because we’ve had so many new wines on the shelves this past year.
Well no more. These are fantastic, approachable, engaging wines made by lovely people who are family oriented, passionate and kind. The complete package!
Our trip to Romitorio started with an email from TJ that went something like this – “Hadley and I are coming to Italy and we’d love to come visit! [Oh, did we mention we are a group of 13 and 6 of them are kids and that we probably will need a meal somewhere in there to avoid complete nuclear meltdown by the children?] Let us know, thanks!”
Ever the gracious hosts, Daniele and the crew at Romitorio welcomed us all with open arms, and fed both our minds and our bellies.
Romitorio is an old fort that sits up on one of the tallest hills surrounding the town of Montalcino. The fort was originally an outpost used for the protection of Siena. A sister fort that sat on a distant hill of equal stature was used to keep an eye on Florence. Between the two cities and the two forts, they were able to keep that whole area on lockdown. Amazingly, secret tunnels between the two forts were built and were reopened during World War II. We all were dying to see them, but no luck.
The fort was then turned into a monastery. I believe that Romitorio loosely translates into “hermit” and that several monasteries were called by that name in Italy. It wasn’t until late last century, in the 1980s, that renowned artist Sandro Chia bought the fort and the surrounding lands and turned them into a winery.
Sandro Chia is Italian, but spent most of his time in New York where he was a contemporary with Basquiat and Warhol. Warhols now hang in the fort, while Sandro’s artwork graces the landscape and the wine labels on his wine. Seeing his artwork in person was even more exciting than tasting the wine at its place of origin.
My mother is an artist with a bold sense of color and graphics, and my brothers and I were raised with that appreciation for color. We were loving Sandro’s bright hues, imagery and technique. His paintings would look fantastic in my dining room!
After a tour, we sat down in their tasting room to have a simple, yet mouth-watering multi-course meal offered to us by the staff at Romitorio. Bruschetta, cured meats and cheese, pasta, something that was like quiche but oh so much better, thinly sliced local pork with homemade gravy, vegetables, and local Tuscan cookies – all paired with their white, rosé, and offering after offering of their red wines. I didn’t even know they made a white and a rosé, so those two bottles were the biggest surprise of the day for me. Absolutely delightful!
The kids were maybe “generally” interested in the process of making wine. They loved smelling the wine stained aging barrels and learning why the aging rooms were kept so cold. They enjoyed seeing the new grapes growing and getting to prune a cluster themselves. And the labeling machine was a pretty huge hit. Our nephew Jackson was the most intent on the process, and asked TJ if he could send him wine questions this summer as he thought of them. So freaking adorable. Maybe he’ll be the one we train to take over the stores so we can move to Italy!
This is just the start of a great relationship between UG and Romitorio. If you’re looking for an Italian wine and haven’t tried one of theirs yet, please do. They are powerful but graceful, elegant but rustic. They taste amazing with pork loin – I can tell you with certainty from first hand experience! We have several labels at various price points, so there really is something for everyone from this producer. We’re hoping to have them come visit the stores soon so you can experience their hospitality first hand – and so that maybe I can make a few courses for them myself!
It’s not an easy feat to make a day on the farm fun for 13 people of all ages and interest levels. Thank you to everyone at Romitorio for giving us such a special adventure. None of us will soon forget the wine (or little Lupo, the one year old lethario!)