Friday, October 5, 2007

My Chianti experience...

Ok, now that I have two minutes, I want to share my Chianti experience. This is my 4th trip to Italy and my 2nd with Rustico Cooking Tours.

We stayed at a villa just up the hill from the Castello di Meleto’, located in Gaiole, Chianti. Cooking classes were held at the castle everyday at 10:00 a.m. Then we would eat the food we made at noon, ‘al fresco’, under the Tuscan sun overlooking the the spectacular view. The afternoons were spent sightseeing in the picturesque towns in Chianti. We ate suppers at traditional Tuscany restaurants.

I managed to visit a vineyard called Terrabianca in Radda, Chianti. They make a very nice wine called Campaccio available in 750ml as well as 18 liter bottles. We serve many of their 18 liter bottles at our wedding receptions. I wanted to see if they could offer another of their wines in a 12 litre bottle so I can offer this one as well to my couples. Unfortunately no one was available to speak to me about this at the time although I had made an appointment with them. I think it may have been a Macho thing. I do not believe that they thought a woman visiting them could be an actual buyer and that I was just there to taste wines not to buy them. Too bad.

The next day we visited the La Sala Winery in San Casciano, a female run company (8 women!) Now, here they gave us the grand tour and a wine tasting. I was able to speak to one of the owners about importing their wine here. When I returned from my trip, I called my wine broker and gave him the info on this wonderful vineyard and the Super Tuscan wine that I so enjoyed. My broker should be visiting La Sala Winery in the next two weeks.

Did you know that a 45$ bottle of wine at the liquor store costs about 8 Euros??? I was in shock when I found this out. Imagine the taxes and transport cost 5 times the cost of the wine! So when the restaurant buys it, we pay extra taxes and then store it for months and even years. We mark up the wine 50% to pay for the inventory that is sleeping in our wine cellar as well as the crystal glasses and decanters that cost a fortune and are broken everyday, the sommelier's salary, as well as all the other expenses incurred. I think it is important for people to realise that there is no profit to be made on the food side of our business unless dealing in fast food which is all about quantity.
So if you want to visit your favorite restaurant again next year, order a bottle of wine this year and enjoy knowing your money is being invested in more wine and good service with competent staff. At least that is how it works here at Auberge des Gallant.


At October 17, 2007 at 2:08 PM , Blogger Tina said...

I am envious of your adventures! We were just in Chianti this past summer and loved it so much we will be married there in the spring. How did you enjoy Castello di Meleto?

At October 23, 2007 at 8:22 AM , Blogger Linda Gallant said...


To be honest the Castello di Meleto is now owned by a coop. The original owners took all the nice furniture with them so the rooms are empty for the most part. The frescos on the wall are nice but it would be so much nicer with the period furniture. There is a lot of repairs and work to be done on the building.

The food was nothing to rave about. As a matter of fact it is very, very ordinary. Thank goodness that we were cooking our own meals at lunch time with Rustico Cooking and most evenings we went out to restaurants. I would not do a wedding at this castle, unless I was able to plan the menu and staff in detail. The banquet rooms are small
So you cannot have many tables in the room. I think most of their weddings are done outside; at least this is what I would do.

There was a very nice English woman named Peggy that warmed up to us after a while, otherwise the staff was not very friendly. The Villa has the basics. The view is spectacular and I must admit I did enjoy sneaking off to read a book on our back porch overlooking the Tuscan hillside. Would I go back there? No. Am I glad to have visited the place? Yes.

Make sure to bring along some Gravol or Bonamine for travel sickness! The roads are so winding that many people were ill every time we left the castle to drive around the country side. Thank goodness I had some.

Linda Gallant


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