Reflections on Autumn and what it offers in the Chianti Classico Region.
Some of my friends ask me what I find so fascinating about autumn in Tuscany and especially in the Chianti Classico region. They are all lovers of hot Tuscan summers, while I prefer the calm serenity of the fall months.
I think it has to do with completion of so many different things tied to my life and to that of the Tuscan people in general. At the end of September/beginning of October, we harvest the grapes and so you can feel the anticipation of this fundamental aspect of our lives in the air around us. Everyone follows the weather patterns, worries about the sugar content of the grapes and prays that it doesn't rain. Then we harvest and everyone relaxes while the grape juice ferments in the cellars and turns into wine.
Next, with October comes the olive harvest, with the climate dominating when we can pick and when we have to just watch and wait. The olives need to be dry and the ground underneath them, where we lay the cloths and nets into which we comb the olives from the trees, also need to be nice and dry. This harvest is a slow and long one, protracting itself until end of November. All the excitement is based on how the quality is going to be and we only see this with the first pressing of the first batch of olives. Let it be said for the record that 2009 is a fantastic year for quality, but quantity is less than in 2008.
But the excitement doesn't end here by any means. Autumn brings the winding down of the tourist season, and those who you see visiting are all people who know exactly where they are going and why they are here: be it to follow one of the harvests, or to taste the foods, or to visit the quiet museums and historic cities. It is a time for meditation and peaceful travel.
I always tell my friends who have been here in summer to come in autumn at least once to taste the fresh wild boar dishes, the truffles and the new extravirgin olive oil just as it is at the peak of its fragrance. All it takes is a slice of bread and a dribble of oil on it and this is one of nature's pure delights. Or cook a plate of tagliatelle, slather in butter and slice up white truffle on top. Heaven in your mouth. If you like wines, now the "new" or "Novello" fresh wines are already hitting the markets and some are truly magnificent.
And what about all the chestnuts served in a variety of ways? This is also their season to be enjoyed. So, here I sit eating a bruschetta with my fresh olive oil, a slice of cinta senese prosciutto in hand, and a glass of Novello wine in front of me. And you want to know why I like autumn in Tuscany?