Well, we’ve just been travelling through Italy, and on our way south we passed through Pienza. We stayed the night at the Agriturismo Il Macchione – one of the best agriturismi we’ve discovered to date, with a stunning view (see featured image above), and an imaginatively restored old country building.
After exploring charming Pienza; enjoying an excellent dinner (see ….); savouring a nightcap; and benefiting from a refreshing night’s sleep, we were relaxing with a coffee and fresh pastry when I asked Francesco, our host, to tell us a bit more about the property and in particular about the wine and olive oil that it produced.
The olive oil and wine made there
“It covers an area of about 400 hectares” he told us, “but most of it is dedicated to olives. The wine is just a hobby really – what chance have we to make a name for it positioned as we are equidistant between the famous brands of Montepulciano and Montalcino?”.
He went on to explain that they also processed the olives of other surrounding olive farms. “They care much more for their olives than their grapes” he explained. “When they bring the grapes, they just bring them, and leave them. With the olives they arrive, promptly, by appointment, because the timing is so tight. And they stay to watch them being processed”. We bought some of the oil, labelled Fattoria Fregoli, and it is indeed noteworthy with a bright peppery aftertaste.
Francesco’s grandfather’s horse racing exploits
Francesco turned out to be a raconteur of quiet comic genius. He told us a very funny story about his grandfather. Much to the alarm of the rest of the family his grandfather had bought a race horse which lost race after race.
Family coffers were becoming alarmingly depleted when, entering a race after a downpour, the horse finally exonerated itself – it turned out that whilst not fast, it was strong. Its now-proud owner began carefully scanning weather reports, with rewarding results, but finally the horse had to be entered into an important race in Rome.
As the sun beat down mercilessly the family collectively wrung its hands and prayed….and God must have been listening because early that morning below the race course an underground arterial pipe burst and the horse galloped solidly to victory. “Race horses are like yachts”, Francesco told us, “the two happiest days of your life are the day you buy them and the day you sell them.”
Macchione DOC Orcia 2015 – a peach of a wine at a very good price
So we were fascinated to try the wine – coming from just between two such celebrated regions we had high hopes. But we were circumspect. The wine had been badly treated – jiggled in the front boot of our car for miles as we travelled south down through Italy, and then left for hours in 34°C temperatures while we explored Ostia Antica. Nevertheless, we were not disappointed.
“Hmmm” observed the Saucy Dressings’ Chief Taster meditatively, “it’s got a good colour, not quite as deep as a lot we drink, you can see through it in the candlelight”.
He sniffed, and tasted.
“My goodness, this is a very pleasant wine!” he was then exclaiming, “worth every bit of the 6€ it cost. But this is better, a whole step up from what we might buy for 10€ either in Calais, or elsewhere in Italy.”
He then began planning how we might return to Il Macchione with a larger vehicle than our two-seater and organise a serious stock-up.
Macchione is a robust 14% ABV. You can buy it from the agriturismo Il Macchione – here is the link.