"Would you like to go for an ATV ride to see our vineyards on the other side of the mountain?" How could there be any other answer to this question but yes? We were visiting friends in Montalcino when this generous offer was extended to us by Edward Corsi the owner of the Poggio Rubino winery. We had spent the previous few days at the winery tasting the extraordinary Brunello that they make there and learning how much the land and terroir influences their wine so of course we jumped at the chance to see the vineyards and get a look at parts of Montalcino you can't see while driving around in your car.
Montalcino is most famous for its local wine - Brunello di Montalcino which can only be produced in this small part of Tuscany. As Montalcino sits on a hill (the name Montalcino means mountain of oaks in reference to the oak trees that are plentiful in the region) there are tiny vineyards tucked away all over each side of the "mountain"
Poggio Rubino has vineyards in several locations around Montalcino and as we learned from our tour with Edward and a subsequent tasting there are distinct differences in the wines from different parts of the mountain. It was amazing to taste wines all from the same year but from different sides of the mountain and see what a difference the terroir and microclimates truly make.
After touring through several of the vineyards, stopping to walk through the vines and check the grapes in each one - a testament to the level of detail and craftsmanship that goes into the wine here Edward took us to see the Abbey of Sant'Antimo. The Abbey is a Romanesque church dating from the 12th century. It is still used, Edwards children had the privilege of being baptized there and if you time your visit right you can go and hear the local monks chanting. It is a beautiful place and walking the grounds it's easy to imagine that you have somehow slipped back in time.
This was an experience that I will not soon forget, looking back on it now, it reminds me not only why I love to travel but how much you can gain from going slowly and getting off the main tourist track.