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Posts tagged ‘Bolgheri’

Tuscan Towns #2 – Bolgheri

Bolgheri is a tiny town, more of a hamlet really, based as it is along one main street which latterly converges into two, a sunny square and a row of delightful little houses and restaurants precipitating the divide. For the majority, the closest they will come to knowing Bolgheri will be to read its name upon one of the plethora of nectarean bottles of wine produced by the region every year. Yet for the lucky few, who are led, magnetised, down the perfectly straight cypress-lined Roman road to the tiny little village, finding Bolgheri will feel like stumbling upon a hidden jewel.

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While Bolgheri has a castle, it is as proportionately small as the village. It is not a place for museums, nor a city for those wishing to stroll endlessly from one new corner to another. No, the real attraction of Bolgheri is its atmosphere. It is enchanting. While a visit at any time of the day will be enthralling enough, there is a poetic grace about Bolgheri in the late afternoon, as the sun starts to set over the vineyards and rolling hills to the West, and every cafe and shop and house seems to fling open its shutters greedily urging the peach coloured light to spill into its small little terracotta buildings.

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Bolgheri in the afternoon is a place in which to sit and close your eyes, feeling the sunlight spill across your face. It is a village where sipping upon an aperol spritz takes on new majesty, and where an ice cream glimmers with a precious golden aura. It is a time which is all about relaxing, chatting, strolling, thinking, and if I wanted to do anything when I set out to take these photos, it was to capture this time of utopia. So apologies in advance to the fellow visitors who ended up in the photos on this post, but without the look of sheer pleasure and relaxation written all over their faces, I don’t think I could ever have properly expressed the blissful experience of an afternoon in Bolgheri.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Tuscany Part IV: My Photographs

My blog’s adventures through the golden-rich lush-green lands of Tuscany are well under way, and after three days of tales, I think it’s about time I shared a few more of my photos with you. Tuscany is so ripe in photographic inspiration that I was worried my mega-sized memory stick would not be big enough. The views are so complex with multi-layered landscapes which beg for photographic capture from a multitude of angles and viewpoints, each shot capturing something new, some fresh insight into this rustic, sun-kissed land. From russet soils sprouting innumerable rows of verdant green vines and plump purple grapes, glorious golden sunflowers and shiny little olives, to the sun-dappled shady paths lined by pine trees, old derelict villages gracefully ageing with an insuperable elegance, with long shadows cast by the evening sun falling upon broken shutters and flaking paint work, and an expansive soft, sandy beach, edged by a calm lazy seashore, whose waters are silky warm, and its breeze heavily soporific.

Tuscany is poetry in sight, in sound, in smell. It tickles all of the senses as its natural bounty bares fruit across the undulating land. It’s a peaceful, restful, bucolic region, where the great pleasures of life are celebrated and manufactured, where long afternoons pass in a somniferous haze, where the evenings are bountiful in gastronomy and wine, and by morning a vivid yellow light makes every object, every plant, every building glow with a picture-perfect radiation.

These are my photos of Tuscany.

All photos are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2012 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. 

 

Tuscany Part II: Cooling pines, perfect vines and fine Tuscan wines

While the sea may refresh and the sand bounce sunlight upon pleasure seekers and sun worshipers, the real attraction of Tuscany for me is its stunning countryside. Rolling green hills interspersed with meandering roads and picture-perfect villas, extensive vineyards painstakingly laid out across slopes and valleys with mathematical precision, and pine trees and cypresses majestically crowning the landscapes, proudly lining driveways and cross-country roads, and providing visitors and residents alike with a naturally regal sunshade unsurpassed by the multi-coloured parasols along the coast. This greenery is emblematic of lush, bucolic Tuscany, playing host to the hundreds of cicadas whose relentless chirp readily informs that you are enjoying the hotter climes of continental Europe and presenting, at each turn of its snake-like roads, a vast array of sensational vistas and uplifting, awe-inspiring views.

The cypress trees of Bolgheri

A typical Tuscan landscape

Such is my obsession with the countryside spectacles all around the Tuscan region, that my partner’s family became all too accustomed to my relentless requests to stop the car so that I could take countless photos, both for their own sake and as pictorial research for the Tuscan paintings already building in my head. Having been fully satisfied of my desire to mingle amongst sunflowers, my next wish was to fully immerse myself in the vineyards for which the region is so famous. Often closed off behind large elegant wrought-iron gates, and cordoned off from the public, more to prevent the feasting ravage of the local wild-boars than the trespass of passers-by (I’d get in if I could!), I have gazed in wonder at so many perfectly-planted vineyards, but never been able to walk amongst them. This year however, I realised my wishes and more.

On our first vineyard outing, to a vinery close to the tiny castle-topped town of Bolgheri, I was treated to sensational views of the rolling vineyards below, from a platform build under the shade of a magnificent old oak-tree which, in Harry Potter style, bore the scar of an attack of lightening some years before.

On our second vineyard outing however, we were treated to the ultimate in winery indulgence – a personal tour around the vineyard, the vast cellar where they make the wine, and an exclusive tasting of some of the vineyard’s most celebrated wines. The vineyard which played host to this unique insight into the manufacture of Tuscan wine was the Tenuta Argentiera estate, situated above the Alta Maremma coast just along from Donoratico and owned by brothers Corrado and Marcello Fratini. As wine manufacturers go, the Tenuta Argentiera estate is fairly new. As recently as fifteen years ago, the estate was all but barren. However, only a few years after acquiring the land, some 60 hectares was cultivated with row upon row of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, grape varieties which are said to achieve outstanding quality in the Bolgheri area. But that quality is assured not just by local conditions. The estate now boasts a fit-for-purpose stunning fortress-like cellar, with huge thick walls guaranteeing the natural thermoregulation of the cellars. Inside, huge stainless steel tanks ferment and macerate the freshly-picked grapes which reach these sifi-resembling machines within 20 minutes of picking. Thereafter the wine is stored in French oak Barriques, where the vinification process is completed, bottled and sent out across the world.

Vineyards with a stunning sea view

The intricacies of this process, and the care taken in the manufacture, is obvious from the sublime flavour of the wine. Our tasting enabled us to indulge in three truly thrilling wines, from the highly drinkable entry wine Poggio ai Ginepri, to the smooth, fresh Villa Donoratico and the deep and complex Argentiera Bolgheri Superiore as well as a sample of an exquisite extra vrgin olive oil, also manufactured from produce grown on the estate.

The wine making process revealed

Those immaculate barrels

We left Tenuta Agrentiera with bags several bottles heavier and our heads certainly, indulgently, lighter, to face another afternoon in the intense but all-embracing Tuscan sunshine. La Dolce Vita? Indisputably so.

All photos are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2012 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.