The long journey down from Lake Como had really wiped us out so there was no chance that we were going to see the sunrise over the Tyrrhenian Sea! When we did eventually wake up we were in awe at the stunning views from our room.
The room was really well appointed inside too with a large bathroom comprising of a walk in shower, deep bath and his/her twin sinks.
Our decadent lie in precipated a quick turnaround if we were going to make breakfast which finished around 10:30am.
We made our way down to the restaurant which afforded similar views of the cove below to our bedroom but with the added benefit of parasols to shade you from the increasing burn factor of the sun.
Breakfast was a feast in itself! We were given a table at the edge of the restaurant with one of the best views by the charming Alessandro. Then its was down to the serious business of making some tough decisions about the buffet.
For me a no brainer, salty prosciutto and sweet melon, toasted sesame bread with local cheeses and honey rounded off with the obligatory double espresso!
As we breakfasted with the azure blue sky and olive green pine trees providing a natural wallpaper behind us our thought turned to how we were going to spend our next four days in paradise.
I’d already researched that there was as interesting Antinori coastal vineyard near Castiglione della Pescaia and we thought the coastal town itself would be worth a punt. Chatting with the guest relations team we also discovered a guided walk in the nearby Maremma national park and the thermal springs at Saturnia were a must.
I phoned Le Mortelle, the Antinori vineyard only to discover that the only English speaking tour was on Saturday, the day that we had booked to do the national park walk. We decided to head down towards Castiglione della Pescaia anyway and do a drive by if the vineyard was on the route!
As luck would have it as we neared Castiglione dell Pescaia we picked up some tourist signs for Le Mortelle (Antinori vineyard).
As we drove down the dusty track to the tenuta (estate) it was flanked by rows of vineyards.
On arrival we were met by the charming Barbara who explained that although the full English tour was as we knew the next day she could do a personal tasting of their wines for us!
The estate covers a huge 270 hectares of which 160 are planted with grape vines. There are also 15 hectares of organic fruit orchards. The two main varietals planted are Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Recently they have also begun to cultivate white varietals such as the local Ansonica, Vermintino and Viognier.
It’s also remarkable for it’s commitment to sustainability, with the design of the cellars underground on a system of levels to allow production “by falling”. The grapes arrive at the upper level with the vinification process continued on the middle level and the ageing on the lowest level before the wine is ready for sale.
The cellars are lit by lateral openings in the ceiling and a huge one at the top of a helical winding staircase which connects all the levels.
After an introduction to the estate it was down to the tasting. This took place outside on the terrace with stunning views over the terroir.
2014 Vivia – Maremma Toscana
Using the typical Tuscan varietals of Ansonica and Vermentino with Viognier added after years of experimentation to find a suitable aromatic varietal to balance the blend. The result is light pale straw coloured wine, with a nose of stone fruits , white blossom and candied pineapple. On the palette, white pepper and spice with peach with fresh acidity. A fat and full flavoured wine with a smooth finish. Ansonica whether in a blend or on its own should usually be drunk young.
2013 Botrosecco – Maremma Toscana
Taking its name from a now long dried out ancient moat on the estate this blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% Cabernet Franc for balance. Notes of vanilla on the nose from the oak barriques, fruity aromas when mixed with the vanilla reminiscent of blackberry crumble. A dark cherry colour with a fuller finish. Still some tannins, pepper, star anise and spice on the palette.
2012 Poggio Alle Nane – Maremma Toscana
The premium blend from this estate. 80% Cabernet Franc with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. the terroir and microclimate of where these grapes are grown on the state yield the highest potential on the estate for fine wine.
A nose of tar and cherry, intense blackcurrant fruit and peppery spice on the palette with soft tannins and a full long finish with complex flavours. Would be an ideal partner for bistecca fiorentina.
Barbara also arranged for me to taste 2 other wines which are produced only for sale at the estate.
A dark rose colour with a nose of cherry boiled sweets, continuing onto the palette. A full dry finish with rose hip acidity and freshness. Would be a great as an aperitif or with canapés.
Made with 100% Sangiovese , this had notes of black cherry on the nose with a light fruity style on the palette and a hint of young slightly spicy morello cherries. The finish was short. Drinking young as an everyday wine with charcuterie, pizza etc…
The final tasting treat was an Eau de vie made from organic plums. A whopping 42% Alc, a strong clear spirit with a background flavour of plum. Unusual and one that I felt compelled to purchase.
Distillato di Susine – Le Mortelle
This was one of the most scenic estates for a tasting on the whole tour.
Laden with our purchases and some tasty produce from the organic farm shop we made our way back down to the coast. Our energy levels slightly sapped by the heat of the Tuscan sun we found some cheap parking just a few hundred yards from the public beach in Castiglione dell Pescaia.
Taking a dip in the warm but still refreshing waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea we cooled down sufficiently before heading back to Monte Argentario and our hotel at Cala Piccola.
That evening we decided to dine al fresco in the hotel restaurant. Their chef, the very talented Salvatore Cioce had a 5 course tasting menu on offer, it looked to go to miss!
Taking pre dinner drinks on the terrace of our room before sunset we were anticipating a gourmet evening ahead of us.
Although by the time we sat down to dinner the sun had set it was still magical to be eating under the moon and stars.
We turned out attention to the menu and without hesitation plunged into the 5 course course tasting menu that had caught our attention earlier in the day.
Whilst salivating over the menu the sommelier, the charming Emiliano Leuti, recommended us this stunning wine from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. A Vintage Tunina Bianco 2013. Made from Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana, Picolit grapes. This is a fantastic blend. Brilliant straw-yellow colour with golden highlights. On the nose the aromatics hit you with elegant notes of honey and wild flowers. On the palette, Its taste is dry, velvety, and complex with fat flavours of quince and lychee and a hint of mandarin, ending on a rounded and long finish. Still relatively young but with definitely another 5 years in the tank! This is also a very versatile wine that was perfect for the tasting menu and its range of big flavours!
The Amuse Bouche set the standard for the gastronomy that followed. A Buffalo cream ricotta cheese with black pepper and light and crispy crostini. The ricotta was light and velvety in texture yet rich in flavour.
Following on; the next course was scallops wrapped in pancetta in hazelnut butter with apple jelly and spinach foils. The scallops were sweet and cooked to perfection and lifted to heady heights by the sweet mango sauce.
Canteloupe melon gazpacho with whole langoustine lightly marinated in citrus fruits with mandarin flavoured mayonnaise. Beautifully decorated with wild flowers! My first ever melon gazpacho which balanced perfectly the sweetnesses of the soup with the saltiness of seafood.
Veronese Vialone Nano risotto with local squid, salmon caviar and sepia powder. Visually stunning and theatre in itself, this dish contained concentrated seafood flavours, rich and al dente risotto with a dusting of squid ink for show!
Monkfish fillet in panchetta on crovarelle potato cream and crustacean bisque. A classic combination, well executed and cooked to perfection.
Valrhona chocolate dome with passion fruit ganache and dried fruit crumbs. The last course and definitely a show stopper! The king of chocolates used creatively for a chocolate boat with passion fruit cream and then as a chocolate carpet to bind together fresh seasonal fruits and toasted sweet biscuit! Absolutely sensational. Emiliano also wanted to make sure this triumph had its own special partner and so recommend a lovely slightly sparkling red from Montalcino.
The Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Acqui from the famous Banfi house in Montalcino was the perfect partner to the chocolate fest; almost like a sweet low alcohol (7%) sparkling cherry cordial! Delicious.
We strolled back from the restaurant taking a post dessert espresso on the terrace listening to the sounds of waves crashing onto the rocks before we headed off to bed.