Tag Archives: Castello di Monsanto




by Filippo Bartolotta

I thought this summer I had had the chance of a few days of holiday, but between the tasting days for the “Espresso Guide on Italian Wines” and a wine and food show with the US main entertaining network I got stuck in Chianti.

So I decided to enjoy work as much as possible, making the most out of it. And when the attitude is positive good things come your way. And so it happened that after our ItalyatYourTable.com US RoadShow we have been asked to show a few Americans a couple of segments of an authentic Italian Food and Wine Experience.

So we immediately said yes and went for it. This meant a couple of months of story boards, logistics, wineries, chef and gourmet shops to coordinate for the US Tv.

It was also my first TV show and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Lisa and Gary -the executive producers-, Lary and Carlo -the producers-, Jim -the sound man-, Douglas -the camera man- and Michael -the conductor- helped making this an amazing experience making me feel part of the team. This show has been running for decades and I am very flattered I have been asked to be part of it. Very soon we will let everyone know when it will be aired.

Meanwhile some pics of this amazing adventure which will be broadcasted to over 2,5 million Americans twice!

So let’s start the day with Rome’s best coffe: Caffè Sant’Eustachio.

Here from the 1930’s over 4000 coffees a day have been served with their own coffee beans toasted on location to brew the naturally sweet and creamiest espresso in town.

Granted our caffeine fix, now is time to buy the ingredients for our cooking class at La Terrace, Sofitel Restaurant.

First thing first then with our Gourmet Market Walk of Rome in Campo dei Fiori, where we try and buy the tomatoes for the Amatriciana, garlic and herbs for our sea bass and some fruit. Claudio’s kiosk is the most reliable of all!

Considering that the main courses of our cooking class were three ancient Roman pasta sauces -Gricia, Amatriciana and Carbonara- the main ingredient had still to be purchased: guanciale  -a non smoked beacon with a little more fat to add up sweetness to the sauce- and pecorino romano (salty hard sheep cheese) Best bet for this is the gourmet heaven Roscioli in via dei Giubbonari.

The Gricia sauce: Guanciale and Pecorino Romano

Get some guanciale and cut it into little stripes. Cook it for 2 min. Through the pasta in the pan when ready and add up the Pecorino Romano to taste.

The Amatriciana sauce: Guanciale, Tomatoes and Pecorino Romano

This is a Gricia with Tomatoes. Gricia is more ancient as tomatoes arrived in Italy only after the discovery of America. So once the guanciale is crunchy add up the tomatoes for two minutes cooking and then one you stir the pasta with the sauce, add up the pecorino cheese.

The Carbonara Sauce: Guanciale, Eggs and Pecorino Romano

Fry the Guanciale for a few minutes, then prepare a few eggs (at least one egg yolk per person plus a full one), then pecorino cheese as much as you like on the pasta.

Stir the pasta on the frying pan and while you do that slowly add up the whipped eggs with the pecorino cheese and serve as soon as possible.

Before going to La Terrace at the Sofitel we had to purchase some sea-bass. So we go to Emiliano near Campo dei Fiori. This is a tiny little fish shop with fresh produce only. Emiliano is so proud of his product that whenever I happen to go go there he would show my the freshest fish and let me taste it there on the spot: authentic mediterranean sashimi! The Americans looked at my a little puzzled but happy to see how much I trust the guy:)


Now…time to go cook!

Our destination is the Sofitel in Via Lombardia, right in front of Villa Borghese next to Via Veneto, near the US Embassy.

Talking about positive moods, the Sofitel of Rome played a big part on our success with this project. Marie, the Director has been looking after us from day one, making us all feel at home. The Sofitle MyBed is so comfy making my-real-bed just a couch! ouch! Whenever I end up in Rome and I sleep at the Sofitel I know is going to be tough to sleep somewhere else for the next two nights! The main reason though why I choose Sofitel is related to the roof top restaurant LA TERRACE on top of the world. Sunset and sunrise are my two favorite moments there as rome seems to be talking to you then. Villa Borghese is right there, great for walks, jogging or resting in the park to get away from the city traffic. the rest of town is right there starting from Dolce Vita via Veneto one block south.

So La Terrace was our setting for the cooking class with Claudio and Luca.

Here we learnt how to cook all those traditional pasta sauces from Rome, dining al fresco with a glass of the crisp, floral and creamy fruit driven Luna Mater Frascati of Fontana Candida.

No better way to drink something made 15 km away from the immortal city, by one of the leading wineries of the nearby Frascati Area.

From Rome we got to north a couple of hours drive to Florence to the The Grand Hotel Excelsior.

One night of relax and then off to Chianti with a little pit stop in Barberino Val d’Elsa to buy Extravirgin Olive Oil at Il Canto di Baccio. This is a tiny cozy little shop were Danila, the owner, sells the organic products of La Spinosa Farm.

Once we got the Extravirgin Olive oil we launch ourself to Castello di Monsanto for a Wine Tour and a Pasta Challenge with Tina.

Here our Television learns how to make pasta from scratch with flour and eggs, some pesto -basil, garlic, pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil sauce- and Peposo -a veal stew with Chianti.

At the Castello di Monsanto we open a magnificent

Chianti Classico Riserva il Poggio 1982: Orange peel, licorice and leather with an amazing truffle and cherry finish. Smooth tannins track loads of refresching acidity.

With this stunning Sangiovese 100% Chianti Classico the group learned how to taste wine: what a wine to start the day and then we went ahead for the cellar tour.

The end of the morning was spent making pasta with Tina and having a great Italian lunch paired with Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva il Poggio 2004. Great match to see the same wine 25 years on. The 2004 was way denser and more extractive style with a lovely Sangiovese cherry touch and very slick tannic structure. I love this vintage.

PS: you can find these wines in the US at www.italianwinemerchants.com

The meal and the morning was finished off with the Cantuccini di Prato by Corsini Biscotti which went deliciously with the Castello di Monsanto 1995 Vin Santo.

Corsini Biscotti make also a chestnut flour and chocolate luscious cake called Polendina: a great surprise also for me. I had half a cake left from the photo shoots and my kids polished the whole tray the next available breakfast!

Finally at 1430 we made it for lunch eating our very own pasta. Thank you everybody, including Benedetta Marinelli who just joined LEBACCANTI, helping me with ITALYATYOURTABLE.COM. Welcome Benedetta in the crazy Baccanti world.

These were three amazing Italian days which soon will become a TV show. I’ll keep you posted!





A trip to Italy featuring sustainable

food and wine

Benedetta Vitali and Filippo Bartolotta, Italian masters in cooking and wine respectively, are coming to America and bringing with them the Italian culture of fresh local ingredients, traditional foods, seasonal eating and pairing of healthy food with good wine. They will be hosting events throughout the month of February to highlight Italy as THE place to go to experience enogastronomic travel and to learn about healthful sustainable eating. You will spend the evening immersed in Italian food and wine culture with a slideshow, Italian music and tons of tips for planning your next trip to Italy. The knowledgeable and entertaining duo will serve up fresh, authentic Tuscan cooking classes accompanied by hand- selected fine Italian wines, and take you on a journey to Italy without ever leaving the premises.

Each event will be tailor-made and will include either a cooking demonstration or hands-on cooking class. The cooking portion will highlight simple, delicious dishes using local, fresh ingredients. The wine portion will include wine tasting games and activities as well as more traditional wine tasting know-how and information about organic and biodynamic wines in Italy.

The festive atmosphere will be complete as your hosts take you on a virtual vacation to Italy, and help you to start planning a visit to the undisputed king of food and wine culture. What better way to get inspired for your next vacation than to hear about a spectacular biodynamic vineyard in the Chianti or a restaurant in Sicily that serves up the freshest catch of the day.

Make a Reservation!

Let us know if you are ready to discover authentic Italy by creating fresh tagliatelle pasta with ragù, swirling your glass of Vernaccia di San Gimigniano, and taking a guess at the definition of the word “umami.” Events will be offered during the month of February on the East and West Coast. They will be booked on a first come, first serve basis so please contact ….. for more information today.

Filippo Bartolotta is a wine journalist, writing for major European and American wine publications such as Decanter Magazine and serving as the editor for the bestselling L’Espresso Italian Wine Guide (English version). He also teaches about wine at the prestigious University of Siena and hosts countless wine events each year in Italy and abroad. His unique, entertaining style creates the ideal environment for anyone to fall in love with wine.

Benedetta Vitali

is a chef and owner of the renowned Trattoria Zibibbo in her native Florence. Zibibbo has received high prise for its authentic Tuscan flavors in the NY Times, Gourmet magazine, Food and Wine and in all major Italian restaurant guides. Benedetta is also a published cookbook author. She loves to host cooking classes and share her knowledge of the Tuscan kitchen with others, always emphasizing fresh and locally purchased ingredients.


Prosciutto di Parma Dop of the Prosciutto di Parma Consortium

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena Malpighi

Pasolini Dall’Onda Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Arnaldo Caprai



Bruno Giacosa

Castell’in Villa

Castello di Banfi

Castello di Monsanto




Col d’Orcia


Guicciardini Storzzi

Fattoria di Valiano


Fratelli Revello

Gigi Rosso


Il Palagione

Isole e Olena



Mauro Molino







Tenuta delle Ripalte

Tenute Friggiali

Tenute Nardi

Tenute San Leonardo




Christmas comes but once a year…with "Italy at Your Table"!


Christmas comes but once a year…with “Italy at Your Table”

by Filippo Bartolotta

Christmas comes but once a year and since the arrival of the two monkeys in the old mill, we have decided to make it a big children moment.

Every year we build a green Christmas tree picking branches from the woods around the house and decorating them with various wild berries and leaves and then adding up the most beautiful Christmas balls made by Catia Massai in Barberino.

I buy one a year  to pull them out every Christmas. Artisan products last longer then us, they are all unique pieces and they give a special touch to our home.

And so when opening that refreshing and invigorating liquid that we all love during this time of the year one fills even more pampered and loved.

Usually now is when I manage to take a break, relax and enjoy a slower working peace. But this year is different.

Last summer Vanessa and I decided to organize a long winter break  to the US.

As we were telling friends&family, clients&suppliers about it we begun to realize that we were bound to put together some wine tasting events as we were going along.

So one of our older customers calls us to book an evening, then is time for another and in a couple of months a thirty dates road show was set around the US.

All of a sudden the couple of wine tasting to some of our private collectors and clients became a huge project now called “Italy at Your Table”.

The idea is to get a group of 20-30 friends to gather around one of their homes with me presenting some of Italy’s finest wines in the most friendly way possible. Once the first dates were set and the first wineries signed up for it we understood that Benedetta Vitali from the Zibibbo Restaurant would have gone for a cooking road show on the same period: in a blink of an eye, rather then Tasting with Filippo or Cooking with Benedetta, now is both experiences at once.

This has given the whole project a new boost up. And now we are going to be holding evenings not only with our precious and faithful clients but also at famous restaurants, like Rialto in Boston or Quince in San Francisco.

On top of this in Washington, together with the great Chef Alice Waters,  Tom Colocchio, Josè Andrès and the atomic food&wine journalist Joan Nathan, we will be part of a big charity event “SUNDAY NIGHT SUPPER“. Here LeBaccanti and all the Italian Producers with us will try to make the difference! I’ll be up-dating all this with more details as I go ahead, of course.

These the magic wineries and producers which are kindly and proudly part-taking at this great adventure.

LeBaccanti will of course give a more “serious” account of all the events and press release.

Aceto Balsamico Malpighi

Arnaldo Caprai



Bruno Giacosa

Casa Vinicola Luigi Cecchi e Figli


Castello di Monsanto



Col d’Orcia


Consorzio Prosciutto di Parma

Fattoria di Cusona



Fratelli Revello

Gigi Rosso

Giovanni Panizzi


Il Palagione

Il Solatione

Isole e Olena

Latium Amarone


Mauro Molino

Marchesi Gonzaga-Tenuta di San Leonardo


Poderi Boscarelli

Proprietà Sperino


Silvio Nardi

Terra al Sole

Tenuta delle Ripalte-Meletti Cavallari



Our home is going to be the East-Village in NYC next to a lovely kindergarden for Milo and Daphne.

I will though be spending most of my time on the plane or opening bottles of wine:)

This is a very exciting project that was embraced by almost all of the people I have spoken to with the most up-lifting and energetic approach. Another time, in another post, I’ll give a more precise account of everything with the credits to each and everyone who helped making all this happen.

Actually another little great news coming from Italy at Your Table is related to the Techno-Bohemian movement with John Malkovich, Simone Ramilli, Pierpaolo Moroni. I was asked to join in the group as the wine-guru and so more news to come from this new big project.

Very soon the real thing…

Meanwhile these were my Christmas presents which I had with great joy and pleasure.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Tenuta di Fessina-Musumeci 2007 (magnum)

Juicy and peppery wine with a perfumed nose and a perfect cranberries and cherry velvet palate. Very easy to finish even the double size bottle!

This is the first and well executed  attempt of Silvia Maestrelli of the Tuscan Petriolo Estate in Etna. A few years ago she kicked off with the reserved help of Federico Curtaz.

Chianti Classico Il Solatione 2006

This is one of the rare examples of pure, simple Sangiovese fruit at its best. A wine with an amazing alcoholic balance, smooth tannins and plenty of depth for a regular Classico from a small and cute family run Azienda Agricola.

Barbaresco Punset Barbaresco 2004

Awesome vintage for the only organic estate in Barbaresco. Marina Marcarino has been starting this adventure alone with a great energy and motivation which is somehow dripped into her wines: rich and savory this Barbaresco with plenty of complex earthy tones and clean fruit.

Tenuta Friggiali Brunello PIetranera 2003 (double Magnum format)

A massivily black cerry packed Brunello with a lot of leathery and tobacco complexity.

Very rich and quite hot palate with a lengthy licorice and forrest fruit finish.

This is the open friendly South-East vineyard Brunellos of the Centolani family in Montalcino.

Tenuta delle Ripalte Aleatico dell’Elba 2006 and 2007

Here comes the end of the Holiday dinners with one of Italy’s most respected wine makers. Piermario Meletti Cavallari after making his Super Tuscan Grattamacco famous around the block he sold it and begun a new venture in the Island of Elba in Tuscany to make an extremely difficult wine: Aleatico Passito. Its a red dessert wine with plenty of juicy refreshing character of forrest fruit and hezelnuts combined with a touch of crounchy chocolaty mouth-fill. The ’06 has got more vanilla and structure, the ’07 is more on the jucy savory fruit. A delight with the Marron Glacè from the Badiani Pasticceria!