After several days in Montalcino we drove two picturesque hours to Chianti Rufina near the town of Pontassieve, but along the way we did a bit of sightseeing in Siena, certainly one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our destination was another longtime Last Bottle favorite, I VERONI. We settled into our rooms, drank some Prosecco on the patio, then piled back into the Scudo for dinner in Siena at their favorite classic local place (we’ve forgotten the name, sorry!). That was where we had our first really killer truffle pasta dish of the trip. Heady, wonderful stuff!

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Day 4 was all about I VERONI — and what a day. We toured the steep, immaculate vineyards in Chianti Rufina in a the back of what we could only call an Italian version of a Jeep Wrangler, bouncing along for the morning seeing the sights. It was clear, beautiful and iinvigorating to say the least! The winery itself is a modest affair, with very little of the high-tech refinements seen in many Napa or Bordeaux houses.

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The highlight was touring the second story (be REALLY careful going up the rotted staircase!!) “fruttai” where the grape bunches for the dessert wines are dried before pressing. Heady aromas, stunning colors, and something you’d never see in Napa Valley!

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Actually, the highlight was what we did next — a cooking class at the winery. The local chef was brought in to show us how to make focaccia, potato-filled ravioli, steak tartare and biscotti, which we then ate, of course, with legendary winemaking consultant Andrea Paoletti (the man behind such superstars as Ornellaia, Valdicava, and many more) plus the winery principals. There might have been some risotto and filet mignon added to that menu, too! We’d say we did alright in the cooking department….not to mention the 12 or so wines we tasted along with dinner! I Veroni’s wines are fantastic finds for us….we hope to keep getting as much as they will sell us!

From there we stumbled to our beds to get ready for the 5-hour drive to Barolo!!