Bringing the Talent to you

Relaxing in the shade on a sunny terrazza looking out onto a stunning natural landscape, taking in the peace and tranquility of the moment whilst sipping a delicious Vermentino – sheer paradise. I can’t think of a better way of spending a lazy summer’s (Italian that is!) afternoon.
A beautiful stop in the "Strada Del Vino e Dell' Olio"
Wine and olive oil tasting form an enjoyable part of the Tuscan experience. Amazingly, on the gently sloping hills outside the Lucca walls and in the Montecarlo area there are over forty fattorias, some large, some small, all producing excellent wines and extra virgin olive oil, all with a different story to tell.

The fattoria Al Dotto is well worth a visit. It is a small family run business situated in the tiny hamlet of Carignano, which can be found in the hills about 4 km from Lucca. Travelling by car you need to cross over the river Serchio following the road with a sign for Monte S Quiroco on the right. As you approach Carignano, the fattoria is clearly sign-posted. It is also possible to travel there by bus from Piazzale Verdi in Lucca.

The present tenuta was formed from the union of three ancient farms, giving 25 hectares in total. Apart from vines, olives and mais, the famous cannellini beans were also grown on the flatter part of the land.
The vines now grow on the gentle slopes facing S. S. West, 150m above sea - level, and their proximity to the River Serchio, the coast and the protecting hills which for centuries have been rich in minerals, all provide a micro – climate in which they can flourish. This year in particular, due to plentiful rain followed by hot, sunny days, the grapes and olives are thriving, strong and healthy, large and juicy and perfect for harvesting.
Vittorio took over the running of the Azienda when his father-in-law died. He met his wife in Lucca while working for an insurance agency and initially had no knowledge of or interest in wines or their production. He began his new career by training to be a sommelier in Viareggio, and his interest now kindled he travelled to Montpellier in France to learn more about the successful growing of vines and their physiology. He speaks enthusiastically of his travels to France and Spain, which have increased his knowledge and kept him up to date with all the latest developments in the industry.
Visitors to the fattoria are always given a warm welcome by this charming Italian who speaks good English (his wife is half Irish) and excellent French. His hospitality is legendary and he’ll happily relate some of the history of the tenuta whilst serving up a delicious merenda (if you book first) to go with the wine and olive oil tasting.
Merenda means snack, but Vittorio serves up a veritable feast of delicious culatello, cheeses, bruschetta swimming in Al Dotto’s finest olive oil, a basket of freshly cut bread (integrale) and salad, all beautifully laid out and washed down with three different wines – red, white and rosetta.

The Lucca area is renowned for its excellent extra virgin olive oil and Al Dotto lives up to that reputation. The oil is very light with a distinctive green colour, a fruity flavour and is wonderful drizzled on fresh bread, salads and pasta etc.

Of the wines the rosetta wine, called Rosapenna has a charming history. It is named after an English journalist who whilst covering the troubles in Ireland with the IRA was expected to report solely on the English side of the conflict. However, he met and fell in love with an Irish girl and this rather changed his perspective. The family’s strong Irish connection led to the naming of this wine which is light and fruity and perfect for a summer’s day.
Vittorio is justly proud of his white Vermentino, which is really delicious. It has a floral bouquet and is both light and refreshing. Of the red wines a favourite is the Sangiovese, which has a delicate bouquet and a warm, rich red colour.
Vittorio is passionate about his wines and oil. For him their production is not just a means of earning a living but a way of life, and one which he is clearly delighted to share with his customers whilst offering his excellent produce at realistic prices.
Like several other wine and olive oil producers his philosophy is built around the motto, carpe diem or sieze the day, a phrase found in the writings of Lorenzo il Magnifico, also known as Lorenzo de’ Medici. He was the grandson of Cosimo de’ Medici and was a great patron of the Arts when ruling Florence in the fifteenth century. He supported Da Vinci and Michelangelo among others and was largely responsible for the great flowering of Florentine art at this time. He was himself a poet and in his Carnival Songs of the Renaissance of Tuscany he told the youth of Florence to carpe diem as Horace had originally said in his Latin poem, or sieze the day. Throughout his life this is what Vittorio has tried to do – and with great success!
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