Posts Tagged ‘Brunello’

Thanksgiving in Tuscany: Sesti Monteleccio Brunello di Montalcino Rosso

In Drinking, Eating, Potato, Sangiovese, Special Offers on November 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm

From the hamlet of Argiano, drugs near Siena in Tuscany, story there is a panoramic view of the raisin-gold sunlight drenching the hillsides.  It is the kind of place that gives rise to all the romantic visions of Tuscany and Tuscans – their overwhelming generosity, order their love of their land, and their perpetual state of appreciation for food, wine and the fellowship of visitors. 

Giuseppe Sesti is one such Tuscan, and if you knock on his door at Argiano you’ll be welcomed into the old piazza’s garden.  His daughter, Elisa, will invite you to taste their wine – Brunello.  And if you stay a while they will begin cooking – plates of pancetta and sage crusted turkey, chestnuts pureed with black truffles, savory spiced sweet potatoes and cannellini beans in fresh olive oil with orange and rosemary – and you too will fall in love with Tuscany. 

In 1975, when Sesti came to Argiano, Brunello was distinguished as one of the two elder janissaries of Italy.  But it was also dying out.  Only 25 producers remained in the area and many assumed Brunello would become a historical footnote tied to Giuseppe’s friend Biondi-Santi.  Sesti set out to spend the second half of his life (he is actually one of Italy’s most famous astronomers) restoring the ancient vineyards at Argiano. 

His years in Montalcino serve as an indication to the style of wines he and his daughter make.  These are not brash wines attempting to make a splash on the cover of American wine magazines.  They are Tuscan vino di tavola and should be loved with great food and fellowship at a common table.    

Monteleccio is Giuseppe’s bambino Brunello.  It is distinctively Sangiovese Grosso, the one and only grape of Brunello, with its classic aromas of dried cherries, cedar, truffles and tobacco.  The palate is concentrated but has the assertive sternness of all good Brunello, with its arenaceous, palate cleansing tannins.  The finish is lengthy; with notes of chocolate, mocha and reglisse emerging as the wine reveals itself.  It is the perfect wine for Thanksgiving – if you are willing to share in the Tuscan spirit with Giuseppe and Elisa. 

Giuseppe’s bella figlia is the Sesti Brunello (which is made by his daughter).  It is unyieldingly dense, needing the love of time in your cellar.  Here they follow in the path of their great friend Biondi-Santi.  You buy this wine now only to enjoy it with the next generation.        

These wines are why Giuseppe Sesti loves Argiano, and this Thanksgiving – with a little help from his wine, our recipes, and your friends – you too will fall in love with Argiano.  Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Tuscan style – by drinking Sesti’s Monteleccio Brunello di Montalcino Rosso.

2008 Sesti “Monteleccio”

Brunello di Montalcino Rosso

Suggested List Price:  $25.99

Special price via this email:  $19.99

2004 Sesti Brunello 

Suggested List Price:  $89.99

Special price via this email:  $74.99

The recipes for your Tuscan Thanksgiving:

Pancetta and sage crusted turkey

Tuscan mashed potatoes

Pureed chestnuts with black truffles

Roasted savory spiced sweet potatoes

Cannellini beans in fresh olive oil with orange and rosemary

Seared Brussels sprouts with garlic and parmesan

We will taste this wine on Friday afternoon and Saturday all day (unless we sell out of it!)  Stop in and give it a try!

All orders must be secured with a name, credit card number, and phone number.  All orders will be available at the time of purchase.  Half case (5%) and full case discounts (10%) do apply to this special offer.

When the wine is ordered your credit card will be charged.  The wine will be held in climate controlled conditions until you are ready to pick it up, free of charge.  Offer is good while supplies last. 

Sitting in at the editing desk is the greatly appreciated Tim Hansen – where would we be without him?

Seared Brussels sprouts with garlic and parmesan

In Brussels Sprouts, Eating on November 9, 2010 at 1:55 am

If you can get away with it this makes a great lower calorie Thanksgiving side dish.  Most people complain but only until they taste it – and then the complaining stops and the second helpings begin! 

Wine pairing

Really, salve the perfect pairing here is Gruner Veltliner.  And if you can get away with serving a Veltliner at Thanksgiving god bless you – it goes incredibly well with every traditional dish at the table! 

But my inspiration for this dish was really Italy and while a red like Brunello or Dolcetto might pair nicely it was Italian white wine that I think would go best.  Try Bucci’s Verdicchio, try Valentini’s Trebbiano (if you can find it), Jerman’s Pinot Grigio or even, for a blast, Elena Walch’s Gewurztraminer.


16 oz (one package)                 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 tbs.                                        olive oil

8 cloves                                    garlic, roughly chopped

1 bottle                                     Kabinett Riesling

2 cups (approximately)             vegetable stock

1 oz (or to taste)                       Parmesan, grated

To taste                                    salt

To taste                                    black pepper


1.   Add the oil to an oven safe sauté pan.  Heat on high.  

2.  When hot place the Brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan.  The goal is to blacken them, “sear them” a little bit.  Usually this takes about 2 -3 minutes.  You can always turn one over to check if you want.  Brussels sprouts are not steak, they will forgive you indiscretions. 

3.  Add a cup of Riesling to the pan.  It will bubble up so be cautious.  Add the garlic to the pan after the Riesling.  Do not let the garlic burn as it will taste bitter.  Turn the heat to medium. 

4.  Turn on your oven’s broiler.

5.  Place the remaining Riesling (or all that will fit) in a glass.  Drink deeply. 

6.  Check the Brussels sprouts – if they are tender turn off the heat.  If they are not tender add stock to the pan, 1 cup at a time (leaving on the heat).  When that stock is absorbed check them again.  Repeat steps 5 & 6 until Brussels sprouts are tender.

7.  When tender turn off the heat.  Top the Brussels sprouts with the parmesan and broil until cheese begins to melt.  Remove from oven.  If your pan is fancy enough go ahead and serve them right out of the pan.  Otherwise, place them in a dish and serve!

Cannellini beans poached in olive oil with orange, rosemary and sausage

In Beans, Eating on November 9, 2010 at 1:50 am

It’s so easy, order yet so good.

Wine pairing

This dish can go with almost anything.  Top the beans with some roasted venison and it’s perfect with Syrah.  Add a roasted turkey (with pancetta and sage, click of course) and Brunello is the ultimate choice.  Add a seared piece of halibut and chardonnay does wonders.  Add more oranges, olives and dates and Viognier is the answer.  It’s handy and user friendly and takes about two minutes to make. 


The quantities here might be a bit low – my wife and I can usually go through one recipe in the course of a meal.  It scales easily though, just double all the quantities!

¼ lbs.                                       sweet Italian sausage, chopped

15 oz (1 can)                           cannellini beans, (yes I use canned beans – sorry!)  

3 tbs.                                        very fresh olive oil

1                                              orange, zested and juice squeezed out

2 branches                                rosemary, chopped

To taste                                    salt

To taste                                    black pepper 


1.  Cook the sausage in a pan.  Remove the sausage from the sauté pan and reserve.  Drain the fat out of the pan. 

2.  Over medium heat warm the olive oil.  I used to actually use twice this amount of olive oil (hence the title – poached) but nowadays I figure three tablespoons is enough.  Add the rosemary to the pan.

3.  Drain and rinse the beans under cold water.  I do use canned beans but feel free to use fresh or dried if you have the time – I would if I could!  Add the beans to the heated olive oil.  Warm the beans through.  Add back in the sausage 

4.  Just before serving squeeze the orange juice into the pan.  Heat all the way through.  Add the zest and serve (but don’t forget to salt and pepper!)

Pancetta and sage crusted turkey

In Eating, Turkey on November 9, 2010 at 1:46 am

Not for the faint of heart this recipe is decidedly high calorie.  But at Thanksgiving – the only time most of us eat turkey – is there any real chance of avoiding the calories?

I specifically created this dish for Sesti Monteleccio, cheap the gamey, sweet, sudoric notes of the pancetta; the earthy, loamy and slightly minty twinge of the sage combining with the high toned arenaceous cherry of the Montalcino.  The turkey (as long as it’s not over cooked) giving a sweet juiciness to the palate cleansing tannins of the Sesti. 

Wine pairing 

I think Brunello makes this dish come alive.  I could see Sangiovese making do, but Barolo or Barbaresco would probably be my second choice.  Traditionally styled Barbera’s would fit, and “claret” Zinfandels, like Ridge Geyserville or Nalle would brighten the fruit tones.   


1 – 20 lb.                                 Turkey, defrosted if from frozen

2 lbs.                                        Pancetta (yes two pounds), sliced

2 packages (2/3 oz)               sage, chopped

4 heads                                    garlic

3                                              lemons, quartered

4                                              onions, quartered

To taste                                    salt

To taste                                    black pepper


1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Remove the turkey from the fridge.

2.  Using your hands work them under the turkey’s skin, beginning at the back of the breast.  Work slowly so as not to tear the skin.  If you do tear the skin don’t worry – this turkey is still going to taste good.  Work your hands as far up the turkey breast as possible, lifting the skin slightly as you go. Rotating the turkey and do the same procedure working from the neck down, gently lifting up the skin as you go. 

3.  Place the sage in a bowl.  Pick up one piece of pancetta and “dip” it into the sage.  Quite a bit of sage should stick the piece.  If it is heavily coated brush some off – you want enough sage on each piece to evenly season the bird.  Lifting up the turkey’s skin move the pancetta onto the middle of the bird’s breast, again, underneath the skin.  Continue with a second piece placing it slightly overlapping position on the breast.  Continue until both breasts are covered with pancetta.  Salt and pepper the breasts.

4.  Gently open up the turkey’s cavity (remove the innards if there are any) and salt and pepper the inside of the bird.  Stuff the bird with all the remaining pancetta, sage, lemons, garlic and onions.  Gently rotate the bird to a roasting pan, breasts facing down. 

5.  Roast the turkey until the legs are golden brown.  Estimate what golden brown is (probably two hours).  Go with your instincts – the turkey is a very forgiving bird. 

6.  Using a pair of oven mitts (we here at Waterford actually only ever use pink colored dish washing gloves to complete this step, but to each their own), pull the turkey out of the oven.  Rotate the turkey breast side up.  Place it back in the oven.

7.  Roast the turkey until the breasts are golden brown.  Probably another hour and a half.  Remove the turkey from the oven and check its temperature with a thermometer by inserting into the meat between the leg and thigh.  If it reads 145 you are done.  If lower stick the turkey back in.  If higher you are definitely done – plan on making a sauce (see note just below). 

8.  Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes at least.  Carve and serve!

The note:

You don’t want to serve a turkey straight out of the oven.  You need to let it rest, for a couple of reasons. 

Turkeys of this magnitude will climb at least 10 degrees after being removed from the oven.  Therefore, if you “oven” cook this turkey all the way to 165 degrees it will be 180 by the time it hits the table – overcooked and dry.  By removing the turkey from the oven “early” you essentially finish the cooking internally, allowing the turkey’s juices to flow back into the meat – yielding a more succulent turkey.         

The ultimate goal in turkey cookery is roughly 165 degrees and it really doesn’t matter how you achieve that – you don’t need to hit a bull’s eye.  If you pull the turkey out, let it sit 20 minutes and it hasn’t hit 165, just put it back in the oven.  If you pull the turkey out, it hits 165, and then starts to cool, put it back in the oven to warm when the guest are about to sit down at the table.  The latter is my preferred method of cooking and always makes the meal that much easier.  Enjoy!

Pureed Chestnuts with Black Truffles

In Chestnuts, Eating on November 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

A splendid treat for Thanksgiving (or really any fall day), seek this magical dish, clinic despite its luxurious texture, ailment is actually not all that high in calories.  It’s not low, low cal but ain’t a gut buster either!  And it is delicious.  It fills you up easily without leaving you longing to eat more.    

I have a tendency to over salt this dish.  Chestnuts, especially in combination with butter, tend towards sweetness.  I enjoy savory and sour tastes more, so with this dish I tend to keep adding salt until it dominates the natural sweetness.  So, lesson learned – know your palate and be cautious with the salt on this one.

Wine pairing

I once made a grown man cry by paring this dish with Amarone.  Amarone gives you “rich on rich” sensation but here it really works.  The balsamic and fig notes of the Amarone seamlessly compliment the rich, truffly, sweet notes of the dish.  While my personal preference is to back off the scales a little bit and serve a Ripasso, most of my dinner companions are much more excited by the magnitude of the former.  I tend to pour Bussola (why not go HUGE if you are going to go big) but Mazzi is more to my personal taste.   

In the opposite direction, Brunello lights up this dish in a completely different way.  Brunello gives a contrasting spirit, a levity and liveliness to the combination.  In this case the more traditionally styled the Brunello the better – Constanti, Sesti and, if you have the means, Soldera Casse Basse are enlivening pairings.

Syrah works well too, but make it a domestic Syrah.  A little bit more fruit heft and weight is desirable.  Northern Rhones alongside this dish’s sweetness come across as tart and thin.


Serves four people as a side course at about 210 calories.  But much here depends upon the pre-packaged goods – chestnuts, stock and truffle puree.  For those of you hard core kitchen folk this recipe is far better by starting with whole chestnuts, homemade stock, and whole truffles but I just don’t have the patience, especially for Thanksgiving dinner!  But if you have got the time then go ahead!  Alter at will.

15 oz (1 large jar)                     whole roasted and peeled chestnuts

16 oz (half of a box)                 vegetable stock

2 oz                                          dry sherry

4 leaves                                    bay leaves

2 tbs.                                        butter

3.2 oz (1 jar)                            truffle puree

To taste                                    salt

To taste                                    black pepper


1.  Place chestnuts, stock, sherry and bay leaves in a stock pot.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes or until chestnuts are heated through and soft.

2.  Place the butter in a food mill.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the chestnuts (and chestnuts only – leave the bay leaves behind) to said food mill.  Reserve the liquid.  You can transfer them to a food processer and proceed with the rest of the directions but I prefer the texture a food mill provides.  Add the jar of truffle puree to the food mill.  Puree the chestnut / butter / truffle mixture through the food mill.      

3.  Once fully processed scrape the bottom of the food mill free of chestnuts.  Check the consistency of the puree.  Usually it is quite stiff.  Add salt and black pepper to taste. Begin adding the cooking liquid into the puree checking every ¼ cup of liquid.  I like a fairly thick puree, you may prefer yours looser.  There is no correct answer – just keep tasting and checking until you are satisfied.  Serve!

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