Summer in Tuscany 2012: Tasting Wine in Greve

Vineyards near Pietrafitta

If you’ve seen photos of Tuscany, you know it is covered with vineyards. In Chianti, wine growers mainly produce Sangiovese grapes. The Tuscan scenery makes it impossible to ignore wine and, if you like wine, irresistible for tasting it. On Thursday, Michael, Steve (Cade’s dad), and I went wine tasting, leaving Julie, Jenny, and Cade in Pietrafitta to swim and be lazy. Our hotel recommended the Verrazano Winery just north of Greve, so we headed there late in the morning to taste and buy wine.

Vineyards at Verrazano

We stopped at the Verrazano tasting room and interrupted a surly saleswoman who reluctantly parked her cigarette on the edge of an ashtray outside the tasting room. She unhappily poured us each three tastings of wine, telling us the bare minimum about each one. Michael asked her if the Verrazano rosé was dry, and she retorted unhelpfully, “Well, it’s Sangiovese.” We knew that, but we were hoping that she’d be a little more expansive—perhaps even offer us a taste—but no! Michael bought a couple of bottles of wine, and we got back in the car. Come to find out, Verrazano has a gorgeous wine cellar just up the hill and does interesting tours that include hunts for wild boars, so don’t skip this vineyard based on our bad experience. Just scoot past the tasting room at the bottom of the hill.

Discouraged, we drove back toward Greve. Michael suddenly turned left and started up a steep gravel road. He’d seen a sign trumpeting the Terrano Vineyard and offering wine tasting, so up (and up and up) we went. This experience couldn’t have been more different from the cold reception that we had at Verrazano!

Wines from Terreno

Terreno is owned by a Swede, and the wine production is managed by an Italian—a wonderful blend of efficiency and good flavor. The warm delightful hostess happily welcomed us and took her time pouring us wine, describing each one, and telling us how Swedes happened to own an Italian winery. We liked the wine so much that we left with some red, white, dry rosé (which we love in the summer), and Vin Santo! The setting and the experience reminded me of Pollak Vineyards just west of Charlottesville, Virginia—a relaxing place to taste good wine and enjoy the central Virginia scenery, especially if you can avoid going on weekends.

That was enough wine tasting for one day, so we headed into Greve for lunch. Although the Terreno hostess had recommended a place just across the highway from Terreno, that restaurant was closed on Thursday. It was a shame, because the view was spectacular. It was not the end of the world, however, because we got to return to Nerbone [now named La Terrazza], where we’d had such a remarkable meal last spring. This meal was even more spectacular, at least for me!

Steve and I split an order of mixed bruschetta, which was wonderful and included a liver bruschetta, a lardo bruschetta, a tomato bruschetta, a bruschetta with truffles, and one other bruschetta that I can’t remember.

Making steak tartare (bravo!)

The piece de resistance for me, however, was steak tartare–the old-fashioned steak tartare mixed right at our table with raw beef, a raw egg, lemon, capers, parsley, pepper, Worcester sauce, and other divine things! It was glorious! I knew it would be, because Tuscany has such delicious beef. It was a hefty portion, and I wanted to lick the plate clean, but I resisted. I think Steve had pasta with cinghiale (wild boar), and I can’t remember what Michael had, but I’ll never forget my steak tartare. In my book, Nerbone=good eats!


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