Wining and Dining Near the Vine
Perfect Partners: Wine Country Restaurants and Great Wine Companies by John Mariani
In Tuscany's glorious hills of Montalcino, Castello Banfi is a winery of astounding, ancient beauty, run by the Mariani family (alas, no relation to this writer) since the 1980s. They turn out some of the finest red wines in Tuscany, including SummuS, ExcelsuS and the brawny Brunellos, the most notable being the Poggio alle Mura and Poggio all'Oro. The wines are made on a rolling 7,100-acre estate in the beautiful golden hills of Montalcino. The 11th-century castle lies in the foothills of Mount Amiata.
One can visit Castello Banfi with advance notice and dine at the estate's two restaurants, a rustic, Tuscan taverna and a superb finedining restaurant. The consulting chef at Ristorante Castello Banfi is Heinz Beck, of Rome's La Pergola. Chef de cuisine Guido Haverkock's food expresses the regional bounty of Tuscany, enhanced with seafood from the Mediterranean. There are tasting menus that range from €66 to €90 with wine options available. Depending on the season, you might be dazzled by gnocchi with caviar and chives; roast quail with a Tuscan bean purée and truffle oil; and a dessert of apples, raisins, and pine nuts with caramel and vanilla ice creams, all accompanied by those superb wines.