A tapestry of grapes

The empty drying racks.

About four months ago, a couple of friends and I had a wine tasting at the Frescobaldi vineyard at Castello Pomino. During the tour that preceded it, we saw the racks on which grapes would be hung to dry for Vin Santo. We asked if we could come back to see that, which we did the other day.

What a treat! I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the tapestry of grapes that met our eyes as we entered the loft. Three kinds of grapes—Trebbiano, Malvasia Toscana, and San Colombano—hung in rows. Our hostess explained that one of the advantages to hanging the grapes, as opposed to laying them horizontally to dry, is that the rotten grapes fall to the ground. The grapes will dry (which concentrates the sugar) until March when they will be made into Vin Santo and age in the barrel for seven years.

Naturally, we had to buy a bottle of Vin Santo before we left!

Images © Melissa Corcoran.

Castello Pomino

Peter Sagal, of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, will often say to the Not My Job guest, “What a pleasure to talk to you.” That’s what I would say about a recent tour and wine-tasting at Castello Pomino—what a pleasure!

Castello Pomino is one of the Frescobaldi vineyards and as we learned, the one highest in elevation. Driving there took us through a forest that eventually opened into hillsides covered with grapevines. It came into the Frescobaldi family via Leonia degli Albizi, who married Angelo Frescobaldi. The branch of the Albizi family from which she was descended was banished from Florence in the 14th century and made their way to France. They were eventually called back to Italy in the 19th century by the last surviving member of the Italian branch of the family. When he died, the estate passed to her family.

As our tour went on, I developed a ‘girl crush’ on Leonia. In addition to introducing, with her brother Vittorio, French varieties of grapes, she built the first gravity-fed cellars in Italy (we saw the building plan!). A recent addition to Pomino’s wines—the first sparkling wine produced in Tuscany—was named Leonia in her honor.

Our guide was excellent and made the history of Pomino come alive. Tasting the wines was even more interesting than usual, as they seemed so much a part of the stories we heard.

Images © Melissa Corcoran.