Wine Tasting at Podere Le Ripi

At Siena House we excel at helping you tour and taste Tuscan wine – like a local.

Whilst often we recommend adding our favourite wineries in to you day; mixing one winery with lunch in a gorgeous unspoiled hill town and a good scenic drive (tasting ‘sip and spit’, staying legal and bringing the wine back to enjoy at the house) we can also drive you if you prefer.  This is the story of a visit to one of our favourite Tuscan wineries to give you a taste of wine tasting in Tuscany.

Words and pictures by Amandai

On a hot hot July afternoon I took Chris and Kyla (and their little son Truman) to a Tuscan vineyard for some wine tasting. We chose Podere Le Ripi, a boutique biodynamic winery at Castelnuovo dell’Abate, in Montalcino. This winery has been a big hit with our guests, we love their wine and are big big fans !

Podere Le Ripi is the personal project of Francesco Illy (of Illy Coffee fame). Incredibly, despite having booked many a tour and tasting for our guests, I had never actually visited this vineyard, Malvin usually went.  The journey was scenic and we had time to talk about wine on the way, whilst enjoying the views. Most of the journey was easy, but the ‘white road’ ascent for the final few km is narrow, steep and winding. No problem with the Range Rover! 

We arrived to the tasting area and were greeted by the winemaker – Sebastian Nasello, who sent us to meet our guide.  Martina took us first to the Cantina Aurea, (The Golden Cellar) Podere Le Ripi’s beautiful and innovative winding wine cellar (designed by Francesco’s son, Ernesto Illy). Built according to the proportions of the Golden Section, the cellar’s internal path brings you gently down the sloped hillside inside which it is built, passing all production stages of the wines stored within. Spirally gently down you barely feel the slope…

…entering exiting you are always at ‘ground level’.

It’s really a pleasure to walk inside…

Chris and Kyla’s little boy, who is not long walking enjoyed this curious, richly coloured spiral cavern.

The cellar was beautifully cool, of course, that’s the idea.  During the descent we passed various stages barrels and boxes, finally to the aging of the Brunello in Oak casks, resting in a circular hall where the atmosphere is very special; the wine is ‘listening’ to music.

From the cool calm of the aging cellar, we stepped back outside into the blinding sun.  It was tempting to head straight back up top to the cool of the tasting room but we had to see the innovative and unique Bonsai vineyard whilst we were here !

Bonsai is Podere Le Ripi’s most special wine, a Rosso di Montalcino. Two small experimental vineyards with the most densely planted vines in the world. I remember trying Bonsai for the first time in 2014 at the Benvenuto Brunello event.  It was truly a blind tasting for me – I had no idea of the Bonsai story and knew nothing of Podere Le Ripi – its ethos or its reputation. At the end of the second day of the wine tasting event, just as I was about to leave, I paused at Podere Le Ripi’s stand. Something had captured my interest – most likely the names of the wines…

Love and Magic, Love and Foolery, Wolves and Mermaids… I detected a sense of humour and an independant spirit and that’s always appealing. Despite my decidedly jaded palate – following hours of serious tasting, this collection of wines were different. And not only in terms of identity… I remember being astonished by the the ‘Bonsai’…

Tasting at the winery, I think Chris agreed!

We were lucky that the winemaker, Sebastian Nasello, was present during our visit.

There’s nothing like a tasting guided by the winemaker himself !

Podere Le Ripi is a relatively new winery, the property and views are beautiful. Staff are passionate and welcoming. We passed an idyllic couple of hours here. The experience is relaxed and personal and yet so professional; highest quality and highly recommended.

It was impossible to resist buying a case to relive the Love and Magic back home !

Update: Love and Magic 2014 (late release Rosso di Montalcino) presented at Benvenuto Brunello, Montalcino in Feb 2018. (link to post talking about the event featuring a guided tasting of Love and Magic 2014 with the winemaker, Sebastian Nasello)  Despite 2014 being in general not a great year for wines this particular example is outstanding – and Love and Magic 2014 is already sold out by July 2018.

Our rates for driving are competitive at Euro 40 per hour (Range Rover Vogue) with the benefit that you don’t have to book or commit to anything way in advance.  Driver Service is offered exclusively to guests resident at the house.

About Siena House

Siena House is the Tuscan home of a Wall Street trader (Malvin) and an Artist (Amanda) It’s a real luxury home with gorgeous rooms and views in a hub location for wines, hill towns and scenic routes.  We offer both Villa and B&B type accommodation for both long and short stays.  Search availability or contact us HERE. We speak English and our concierge service begins way before you book… so you should never hesitate to get in touch if you are planning a luxurious stay in Tuscany and would like to know more!

Post – storm Spring sunset (Chris Borg)
Cortona: our most loved room

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