Chapter 3: Tuscany
In this third episode of our Regional Tour of Italy, through Wine and Food we finally landed in Tuscany.
Because, if Sardinia and Lombardy are our native regions, then Tuscany is the region that connects us. We both arrived here from different paths and decided to move at a certain point of our lives.
Tuscany is an amazing region, I felt in love with her beauty right the first time I saw it. Some of the most beautiful towns in the world are in Tuscany: Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, just to name a few. Here you have probably the biggest artistic heritage from the Renaissance, in whole Europe.
But Wine and Food are also part of this cultural heritage. Indeed some of the most beautiful Tuscan vineyards, like the area of Montalcino and the Val d’Orcia are part of the Unesco World Heritage.
Today for our food and wine pairing I decided to move from Montalcino to Siena, which are approximately 40km. As Carlotta decided to cook one of the masterpieces of traditional Tuscan dishes, the Pappa al Pomodoro, I felt somehow challenged to find a proper wine, according to the characteristics of the food.
The Pappa indeed looks like a simple food but it is not, especially in terms of pairing. Click here to scroll until the Pappa al Pomodoro section.
We usually eat it as entree, before the first course, or as a first course, but you can also have it as a main course.
The bread and the tomato sauce gives it the structure while the spices brings a lot of aromatic flavours. In the palate the sensations you will find are mainly the acidity from the tomato sauce and a bit of oiliness.
So the wine should be a one with a good structure but not too big body, as it would be too much for the dish, a complex and aromatic nose, but gentle. In the mouth it should have a good acidity but not too high and some smoothness to balance the acidity of the tomato, better if with a savoury and mineral finish and a little tannic to clean up the oiliness sensation after each bite.
Sounds pretty complicated to find a wine with all these characteristics. Well not if you are familiar with orange wines, which luckily I am.
I love orange wines because they are very flexible in terms of food pairing. For this recipe I choose one of my most recent discoveries: Santa Tre orange wine, from Santa10 winery.
The wine is 100% Trebbiano and it ferments in stainless steel tanks in contact with its skins for 15 days. Also ageing happens in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and after it does 6 months in the bottle before going to the market, my bottle was from 2018 vintage.
The wine is fermented with natural yeasts and no additives of any sort, it is non filtered. The color is very orangey, very bright which comes all from the contact with skins, also if just for 15 days. Remember that the color of an orange wine does not always reflect how long the skin contact had lasted. You can have lighter colours, even pale yellow for orange wines made with skin contact for 8 months and a very dark, amber colour for wines which have been in contact with their skins for a few days.
On the nose the wine is very aromatic and very complex, I usually don’t expect it from a Trebbiano, which is generally a more neutral variety, so it surprised me positively.
You can find notes of ripe pear, yellow melon, candied orange and orange zest, orange blossom, hazelnut, bit yeasty notes, acacia honey, sealing wax and mineral notes like wet stones. In the mouth the body is pretty light but acidity and minerality are the solid bases of this wine. Very pleasant sip and a bit tannic at the end (a soft tannic sensation is normal in orange wines as some tannins might be extracted from the grape’s skins) which goes perfect with the oil from the pappa al pomodoro.
The winery Santa10 which produces this wine is a small family run winery, they have around 1.5 hectares of vineyards near Siena and also a very nice Bed and Breakfast in their property.
From their website:
“Today Santa10 is a 100% organic farm having an “ICEA” certification, recognition awarded only to those who have an organic production and use a set of methods, systems and practices clearly orientated to corporate social responsibility towards employees, the environment, local communities etc. In addition we are part of “Vinnatur”, an association of winemakers who aim at preserving the integrity of their areas as well as its history, culture and art. We do not use chemicals, pesticides or artificial fertilizers in our vineyards. Soil management comprises grooving and row extirpation in harmony with nature. In our cellars, most of the activities are carried out manually. We do not add any yeast, we do not use temperature control/wine filtration systems for fermentation and we do not use electrical pumps for bottling.”
PAPPA AL POMODORO
Pappa al Pomodoro is one of Tuscany’s most celebrated dishes, which has rural and waste-free origins. It is in fact supposed to be made with overripe tomatoes and stale bread.
Bread is at the basis of Tuscan cuisine, it is eaten with every salume, formaggio, used to do scarpetta on a tasty sauce – although, alas, it is always sciapo, without salt – so it is a natural consequence that most traditional dishes have as a main ingredient stale bread.
There is almost a ritual aspect of cooking the pappa, traditions state that you must only mix the soup as it cooks once a thin veil has formed on the top, and then wait for the veil to form again before mixing it – one must repeat this process seven times.
Pappa, as it is known by Tuscans, can be found throughout the whole region, although every town and city has its own slightly different variation, some add onions instead of garlic, others add wine to soften the bread, and so on.
MY FAVOURITE PLACES IN SIENA
Siena it’s a wonderful medieval town, Piazza del Campo is for sure one of the most fascinating squares in Italy. It is where twice a year the famous Palio race takes place.
Getting lost in its narrow streets is one of my fav weekend activities and also if now it’s two years that I live near it, I still get lost 🙂
One of my fav places for a special afternoon tea is the TEA ROOM. They have a huge incredible selection of tea and infusions from all over the world and also a delicious selection of cakes and desserts to pair with. Booking is highly recommended especially during weekends as they have few tables and get crowded easily.
While for the Aperitivo time, the Bottiglieria SaleFino is my top wine bar in town, they have an amazing wine list and make wonderful tapas, that sometimes make me stay even for dinner also when not planned.
They also have a restaurant just a few steps from the Wine Bar, SaleFino Vino e Cucina, which is the place where I go when having dinner in Siena: wide seasonal menu and a smart wine list.
(We actually both agreed with the above) plus:
PAPEI – trattoria just below Piazza del Campo where you can taste an excellent dish of pappa al pomodoro
Continue following us through our virtual tour and do not hesitate to suggest the next region !