Fine wines and starred cuisine. For those who want to treat themselves to an authentic and refined food and wine experience nestled in the hills of the Val d’Orcia, the ‘place to be’ is Castello Banfi Wine Resort, an intimate and exclusive place that, since 2019, has joined the Relais & Château association.
Before we sit down to eat, our gaze embraces the breathtaking view. We are located in an ancient stone hamlet established in the 1700s to house farmers who worked for the owners of Poggio alle Mura Castle.
Castello Banfi Wine Resort, all the charm and history of Tuscany
Today, the hamlet has been restored and transformed into an ‘albergo diffuso’ capable of maintaining the most striking Tuscan imprint. On the outside, one can still appreciate the ancient architectural forms that have remained unchanged over the centuries, while the interiors have been enriched with all modern conveniences and attention to detail with unique designer pieces.
In the shadow of the Castle, our culinary experience awaits us. Restaurant ‘La Sala dei Grappoli’ boasts a Michelin Star, obtained in 2020 thanks to Chef Domenico Francone‘s ‘storytelling’ cuisine.
We chose the term ‘narrated’ not at random, because the dishes prepared by the Apulian-born chef and his brigade encapsulate like precious little books the variety of flavors and colors of the Italian tradition, stories of foods that belong to us and that are enhanced, from time to time, in their infinite potential in novel and fascinating pairings.
The Hall of Grapes, harmony in the kitchen
A staple of menu selection is seasonality. Here you will find only fresh ingredients processed by the skilled hands of those who have always known respect for raw materials. Most interesting is the role of vegetables, which never serve as a frame but become an integral part of theharmony of the dishes.
This is due to the training of the chef, who grew up in a southern family with a strong culinary tradition. His childhood stories take him back to walks in the countryside with his grandfather who led him to the vegetable garden and where he produced wine and oil and also had a small cattle farm.
“Upon returning home, I was fascinated by the cleanliness of the vegetables and everything we had harvested. The fascination continued with the subsequent preparation of dishes with those same ingredients, from vegetables to fruits and meat.”
His experience in the kitchens of the starred restaurant Apsleys of Heinz Beck in London only increased his desire to work with the raw materials of his homeland.
The opportunity comes with Banfi’s offer to become executive chef of La Taverna, the village’s other restaurant dedicated to traditional Montalcino and Tuscan dishes.
Between Tuscany and the Mediterranean
And there follows the reopening of La Sala dei Grappoli, where Italian and Mediterranean cuisine predominate. Two heart dishes? The Red shrimp crudo, pappa al pomodoro, burrata and basil, fresh and tasty, perfect in view of the warm season and the Maremma tortelli ‘my way’, as the Chef calls them, with a ragout filling with creamed spinach and ricotta mousse, a delight for the palate and the eyes.
Castello Banfi, where wine is the protagonist
Accompanying the dishes is another great protagonist of our table: wine.
When we talk about Castello Banfi, we cannot fail to mention the wines that make it world famous. Made from grapes harvested exclusively from the estate’s specialized vineyards, they ‘bottle’ the perfect blend of the most innovative techniques and ancient winemaking tradition.
A visit to theEnoteca is a must: the interior is recreated like the Tuscan stores of yesteryear, a warm and familiar environment where you can taste fine wines but not only. Also grappas, sparkling wines and other local products such as extra virgin olive oil and Salsa Etrusca, not forgetting the fabulous local pecorino and salumi.
An interesting option for those who want to indulge in a real escape from the city is to choose one of the stay packages that Castello Banfi has pre-packaged with sartorial care and that include tastings, tours to wineries, vineyards and the Balsameria, where the Etruscan balsamic condiment is made.
Castello Banfi – Wine Resort
Castle of Poggio alle Mura
53024 Montalcino (SI)