On a cold clear November night, under the sliver of a crescent moon, about thirty people gathered in the cosy rustic interior of the seat of the Misericordia of Tiglio at the 10th annual meeting to taste and judge 15 new wines produced by 10 local families. To accompany the wines, abundant food was served and the menu, to suit the wines and season, included Cinghiale (wild boar) and Hare, both in savoury sauces with small tuscan olives; locally produced polenta, salads, finnochio (fennel), pecorino and gorgonzola cheeses, and a sumptuous selection of home made cakes.
There were twelve reds which ranged, usually in mixture, in variety from the classic Montepulicano, Sangiovese, and Merlot, to the lesser known varietals Ciliegiolo, Carnaiolo, and Dolcetto.
One red was exclusively Syrah, recently researched, planted and cultivated to suit the local terroir. There were wines of which the variety was unspecified as having been from generations old vines. The three white wines included varieties, in mixture, of Vermentino,Trebbiano and Colombara.
The evening was masterfully organized by Leonello Diversi, the head of the Misericordia of Tiglio and put on with the expertise of several other members who set up, cooked, served and cleaned up afterwards.
The Misericordia (which translates to compassion, mercy or may be a translation of the hebrew word chesed, or loving-kindness) of Tiglio is a 400 member organization whose activities benefit local charities, work and repairs of the church, and the cemetery.
The parish of Tiglio has been commendably led by the venerable and revered Don Giuseppe Cola for over 57 years.
The wines were first tested for degree of alcohol, with an accuracy certified ebulliometer, and ranged from 10% to the highest of 12.5%.
Identically bottled and labelled by number they were divided among the three dining tables where there were lists with criteria including nose, clarity, appeal, and flavour to complete with a rating from 1 to 5.
There were three prize categories which included, Best overall, Highest Alcohol Content, and one for the Best White Wine.[wunderslider_nggallery id=”2564″]
The best overall category was won by the red wine produced by Renato Bernardi of Tiglio Alto who cited an unidentifiable mixture of grape varieties some of which had been planted by his father over 60 years ago. This wine also won the highest alcohol content with the level of 12.5%.
From about 70 vines Renato produced two demijohns (54 Liters each ) or about 144 bottles of wine. Renato also has the distinction of being the only, and perhaps last, ironsmith in the area with a functioning forge.
The winner in the white wine category with a mixture of 50% Vermentino, 40% Trebbiano and 10% Colombara, was Leonello Diversi.
Leonello serves as vintner for several small local vineyards as well as Frantoio (olive oil press) for his own several hundred olive trees and in his spare time collects thousands of saffron flowers to harvest the threads for the spice.
The overall quality of the wines was very pleasing, generally light bodied and refreshing, but one can only imagine at this point how good they will be with more time and depending on how the remainder of the processing is done, in stainless steel vats or wood barrels.
The wines are produced from vineyards which range from about 70 to over 500 vines. The area is in redevelopment after a Tuscan regional initiative of about 25 years ago which gave incentives to individuals to reduce the quantity of vines and production to increase the overall quality of regional wines.
The other distinctive wines were contributed by Tiglio residents, Ivo Pieri, Francesco Marchetti, Giovanni Dinelli, Ademara Marchetti, Paolo Balducci, Sandro Marchetti; and from Fileccho, Nicola Lunatici; The American owner of Palazzo Salvi in Barga, Bill Furman; and from Località Grifoglia, Pietro Messina who produced, for its first year, a unique and promising Syrah, with its distinctive peppery quality.
Two international visitors from Germany staying at the Agriturismo Cerretelli in Tiglio Basso, one from Bavaria and partner from Lisbon, expressed their enjoyment and appreciation at having been invited to join the party.
Two strong and flavourful Grappas produced by Leonello Diversi and Paolo Balducci finished off the delicious and delightful evening, if not just the diners.