AD Travel - Tenuta Vallocaia, art in the cellar

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A trip to Montepulciano to discover a winery with deep ties to the territory, where you can experience a journey of taste. But it also proves to be an artistic experience among classic and contemporary works of art.

By Marilena Pitino

7 October 2021

Tenuta Vallocaia: art in the cellar

If you are looking for a wine destination imbued with beauty, you cannot miss a stop at the new Tenuta Vallocaia, immersed in the scenery of the Val Di Chiana. Here you will experience nature, art and food where Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has a centuries-old heritage, capable of expressing the best story of the territory. The wine-making culture dates back to the Etruscans and over the centuries has been refined to achieve a perfect balance of taste, colour and aroma.

Tenuta Vallocaia
Tenuta Vallocaia Credits Alessandro Moggi

A story that was born from the enlightened mind of Rudi Bindella, of Swiss origin, and grandson of the pioneer, Jean Bindella, who at the beginning of 1900 with only two horses began to transport demijohns of Chianti to Switzerland. So Rudi, following in his grandfather's footsteps, developed the family business, starting in the 1980s to import and distribute Italian excellence in the Swiss market.

On arrival at the estate, we are greeted by Rudi himself, wearing an informal look, jeans, checked shirt and a red and blue shoe, accompanied by his wife, young daughter and trusted collaborators. His eyes immediately reveal a passion for the place and especially for Italy. A love for the beauty and goodness that this gentle landscape rich in history offers to all visitors. And it is among these vineyards that, after six years of work, his dream came to life. A space for sharing wine and food, which respects the environment but is also able to look to future generations.

Tenuta Vallocaia

Perched on a hillock is the red-brick structure that houses the cellar and restaurant, characterised by huge windows and high ceilings with curved lines that create a unicum with the surrounding landscape, as in a Renaissance painting. The kitchen offers an authentic gastronomic experience, with traditional Tuscan recipes, enhanced by the raw materials from the Estate's vegetable garden, local farms and livestock and enhanced by the extra virgin olive oil produced in the estate's olive groves. Classic dishes such as pappa al pomodoro, pici with white rabbit ragout, braised Chianina cheek are accompanied by the delicious wines from the cellar.

Restaurant Tenuta Vallocaia
Tenuta Vallocaia Credits Alessandro Moggi

A route enriched by the surrounding scenery, the Vallocaia, an estate of 175 hectares, where the gentle slopes culminate in Montepulciano and perched Cortona. The winery was designed by Studio Fiorini Salerno using the latest energy-efficient technologies that allow for maximum attention to be paid to each operation. The space is pervaded by natural light and spread over two levels: in the basement it is possible to follow all the stages of production, while in the upper part one walks along long corridors to admire the exciting spectacle of rows of barrels, vats and tonneaux, illuminated by crystal chandeliers from Swiss theatres.

Tenuta Vallocaia
Tenuta Vallocaia Credits Alessandro Moggi

But what makes this place even more evocative is the personal collection of art and antiques that Rudi Bindella has chosen to accompany the wines as they age. In the different areas there are paintings of great chromatic and material strength, commissioned from Christopher Lehmpfuhl, and contemporary bronze sculptures by Flora Steiger-Crawford and Rolf Brem that populate the interior and exterior spaces.

Tenuta Vallocaia
Tenuta Vallocaia

The passion for Classicism can be found in the collections of fragments of Roman capitals and friezes, terracotta jugs from the 18th and 19th centuries and the extraordinary bronze bells of various shapes and sizes in the tasting room. A sort of scenic Wunderkammer in which nature, passion and art find their highest expression.

Rudi Bindella

A visit to the Estate is also an opportunity to discover Montepulciano, a small medieval town perched on a hill. A gem of rare beauty, guardian of artistic wonders, Renaissance palaces and ancient churches. Strolling through the alleyways you will be struck by the dazzling light and the suggestive views of the Val D'Orcia, full of cypresses and vineyards, with all the shades of green.
Among the places to visit is the Civic Museumwhich is housed in the Palazzo Neri Orselli. This 14th-century Sienese civic architecture houses the Crociani Art Gallery, which contains about one hundred and eighty paintings from the 14th to the 19th century, donated to the town by the Primicerio della Cattedrale Francesco Crociani. The museum also houses other important nineteenth-century works from local convents, a series of Della Robbia terracottas from the sixteenth century and a rich archaeological section, including Etruscan grave goods and cinerary urns from the collection of the Pisan nobleman Pietro Bucelli. Not to be missed is a stop at the historic Poliziano Caféa cultural landmark in the city, where you can have a coffee or sip a glass of wine and be enveloped in a timeless atmosphere. Founded in 1868, the Poliziano was one of the most important meeting places for local intellectuals between the 19th and 20th centuries, and was frequented by writers, poets and personalities of Italian culture such as Carducci, Prezzolini, Malaparte, Pirandello and Fellini.

A real gem that still retains the original external sign, the stucco on the walls, the ceilings, the large windows and doors, which were part of the original design. There is also an evocative balcony overlooking the Valdichiana, with a splendid view that frames lunches, aperitifs and dinners.
Another gem is the Magnanet antiques bookshop, just a few steps from Piazza Grande, where you can browse through books and prints from the 16th to the 20th century. This place belongs to the ALAI circuit, Associazione Librai Antiquari d'Italia, which groups together about a hundred bookshops in Italy that have specific expertise in the conservation and promotion of antique books, prints, manuscripts and maps.

Finally, if you are visiting in the summer, don't miss the Bravìo delle Botti, a challenge that takes place every year between the 8 districts of Montepulciano (Cagnano, Collazzi, Gracciano, Le Coste, Poggiolo, San Donato, Talosa, Voltaia), on the last Sunday of August in honour of the patron saint, John the Baptist.