|Judges taste food & wine at a Contrada|
We were honored with an invitation to be judges at A Tavola con Il Nobile in Montepulciano, Tuscany. Our “job” would be to taste foods created by chefs at eight different contradas (divisions) of Montepulciano with select Vino Nobile wines over two days. To top it off, we were thrilled to learn that this year’s main ingredient would be duck (locally called Nano), one of our favorites.
The trek from Denver to Rome via Detroit was smoother than one could imagine. Considering that Detroit was actually in bankruptcy, we were concerned about changing flights there. To our surprise, the Detroit airport was modern and loaded with restaurants, bars and shops. The flights took a combined 16 hours and when we arrived in Rome the next morning, a friendly man named Guido of Etruria Tours greeted us. After gathering up three other journalists who flew in from other US cities, we boarded Guido’s Mercedes van for Montepulciano. The ride took just a little more than two hours.
After resting a while at our hotel, we were all picked up by our generous host, Thomas Francioni, Marketing Manager of the Consorzio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Thomas is responsible for the worldwide marketing of Vino Nobile wine.
That evening we enjoyed an open-air tasting of Vino Nobile conducted in the town square “Piazza Grande”. About twenty local producers poured their wines. While the tasting was serious, the mood was fun and playful. Many of the pourers were obviously vintners with their wives and even teenage children pitching in to represent their family’s wines.
For the next two days we enjoyed visits to wine producers in the morning and the competing contradas in the afternoon to taste food and wine pairings. We tried four different duck dishes each day, made in a kaleidoscope of preparations and styles. On day two, we started feeling like judges for “Top Chef”™ Montepulciano! The Contrada Chefs were taking this competition very seriously. They were in it to win it. Duck represents part of the farming traditions on which Montepulciano's economy is historically based. One thing for certain, we determined early on that duck pairs exceptionally well with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!
|Competition President with Winners|
|Wining Chef with Dish!|
Sixteen judges (5 American, 11 Italian) selected three winners. We were pleased that our favorite dish, 'La nana di Talosa' or Talosa Duck (roasted with crispy skin, duck liver, and garnished with zucchini flower) accompanied with Montepulciano Nobile wines from Poliziano, Le Bertille, Dei and Triacca wineries, won first place. A spectacular awards ceremony and celebration took place that afternoon in lavish Theatre Poliziano. Afterwards everyone was invited back to the Talosa Contrada for a celebratory dinner overlooking rolling Tuscan hills.
|Chefs making celebratory dinner at the Talosa Contrada|
I was happy to learn that the 2014 main ingredient will be Chianina Beef !
For more information visit the website of the Consorzio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: