Day three began bright and early with a quick drive to Croce di Mezzo. If you’ve ever driven in Italy, you know the cars are compact, the streets sub-compact, and the native Italians follow their own set of traffic rules. Needless to say, navigating can be tricky and our designated driver that day (we won’t say which one of us!) came within an inch or less of the walls on the side of the small town as we made our way.

Croce di Mezzo is an “agritourismo”, meaning it makes wine, grows food, raises animals and olive oil, etc. They also have rooms you can rent. Critics and consumers have been going nuts for their wine in recent years, and they were just finishing harvest. Too busy for a full tasting (grapes were arriving pell mell), we rocked our way through four recent vintages in the tasting room. They lean a bit more toward the traditional style Brunello, and each vintage showed beautifully. Just like we expected!!


Sangiovese grapes in the destemming tool.

Our next stop took us on a gorgeous 20-minute drive through Montalcino to Pinino Winery. This devastatingly beautiful property is situated in a small valley near the “grand cru” vineyard of Montosoli. It’s the kind of place where you instantly start planning your retirement to Tuscany!!

Pinino was taken over a few years ago by (now) solo owner Max Hernandez after a wildly successful fashion career. He basically retired from fashion and now invests himself 100% in making killer Brunello. They just finished building a top notch facility (micro in size!) and courted a big-time consulting winemaker to make some seriously AWESOME Brunello. The upcoming vintages we tasted are probably the best yet. We will make sure to keep you covered!!

Next up, a visit with up-and-coming rockstars, Terre Nere. We spent a full hour barrel sampling with daughter Francesca Vallone, who took us through all the upcoming wines. WOW! We were blown away by their sexy, modern-style. This winery is just starting to get huge recognition (95 points for their 2010 Brunello) and we know there will be plenty more to come.


Coincidentally, the family was staying very near our house, so they invited us to dine family-style – another wow. A massive amount of food arrived – bruschetta, cheese, smoked meats, then into the pasta course (a fantastic sauteed pear and ricotta lasagne) and THEN into the meat course followed by dessert, all paired with the correct releases and a cool dessert wine.

After that we literally rolled back to our place. What a wonderful family and experience!