A luxury boutique Tuscan wine resort and hotel – Conti di San Bonifacio.
Ever since reading Lampedusa’s The Leopard in my twenties I have wanted to be an Italian aristocrat of noble lineage. However, the Count of San Bonifacio got there first and his family line can be traced back for over 1000 years whereas mine goes back to a chip shop in Oldham in 1953.
The Count and his British Contessa bought a large acreage of Tuscan land in 2002 near to where he grew up and just 90 minutes away from Pisa Airport. The original idea was to convert a house that stood in ruins on the site into a family holiday home, however on realising that they would not have enough time to enjoy to the property the couple planted nine hectares of organic vineyards and in 2010 opened the renovated property as the Conti di San Bonifacio boutique wine resort and hotel with just seven exclusive rooms.
I was travelling from Florence, a two-hour drive, and once off the autostrada, we traversed forests gradually heading to higher ground. The last section of the journey is off-road and there was a sense of relief on seeing the sign for the resort as it felt as if we were in the middle of nowhere, even though the beach is only 20 minutes away as is the local town of Grosseto.
The building is stunning and makes wonderful use of reclaimed wood and stone to create an organic and natural atmosphere. There is an air of relaxed comfort about the place and a certain quirkiness with animal skulls and other found objects turning up in unlikely places.
The light-toned stylish interiors were designed by the Contessa – who doubles as a high-powered banker in her spare time. The same ethos spreads to the bedrooms which make wonderful use of wood.
You are guaranteed a great night’s sleep as the bedrooms are incredibly peaceful whilst being equipped with all the modern comforts. With super-comfortable beds and great linen, it has a rough-hewn sense of luxury.
The bathrooms continue the same rustic theme with animal skins on the floor and Ortigia toiletries adding that luxe touch.
And then it was time for lunch – a charming rustic salad softly dressed with the estate’s own gentle and clean tasting olive oil and herbs from the garden. Whilst eating we could take in the life-affirming views of the Tuscan hills and the vineyards where their award-winning organic wines are grown.
On the estate they make a local appellation entitled Monteregio and two super Tuscans. Dining is informal – there is a dining room with an outdoor terrace or if you are in the mood you can eat next to the pool with its stunning location.
If you’re staying at the resort there is plenty to keep you occupied. As well as a range of treatments you can do courses such as ‘A day in the life of a winemaker’, and the hotel can arrange an almost endless list of outdoor pursuits including hunting, fishing, sailing, canoeing and biking…
However, I was really happy to walk around the estate and take in the landscape. Climbing up the hills opened up some wonderful vistas and I was able to have a poke around the winery.
After an enervating G&T and a floral glass of Pinot Grigio Conti di San Bonifacio overlooking the Tuscan plain, it was time for dinner.
And of course at Conti di San Bonifacio dinner means wine. Our first tasting was of the Monteregio 2015 reserve 14%, an easy-drinking medium-bodied red bursting with raspberry flavours. At 85% Sangiovese blended small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah it was a perfect match for the starters. My Ravioli Maremmani was beautifully executed – the pasta had a proper al dente bite and the delicate organic ricotta and spinach stuffing was slathered with a gentle butter and sage dressing.
With a deep pink hue, Beetroot Risotto with goat and sheep cheese fondue contrasted the slight crunch of the rice with the softness of the small chunks of beetroot and the unctuous melted cheese.
The first of two super-Tuscans was the Docet 2013. With its name meaning Teach Me this 50% Cabernet Sauvignon 50% Cabernet Franc blend is unusual for a Tuscan wine as is its deliciously herbal flavour, It went beautifully with my crisply-seared fillet of sea bream from the Argentario coast. The fish had a wonderful flavour and came with celeriac, broccoli and crunchy sweet and sour onions.
Cinta Senese pork fillet with mustard was served with steamed artichokes and plums and a sauce made from the Monteregio wine. The pork was a little too dry for me, but the sticky, sweet sauce was lovely. The second of the two super-Tuscans was named Sustinet 2012 meaning Sustain Me. The grape was 100% Shiraz with white pepper and fruits of the forest flavours – perfect with the pork.
For dessert, a ricotta cheesecake with honey and seasonal fruit consommé was a light delight and given a luscious caramel note by the paired red Vin Santo, Occhio di Pernice, Focarile, 2004.
Pannacotta and Amaretto with matching rum pralines were subtly flavoured with the pannacotta having just the right amount of wobble and it came paired with the bittersweet almond, orange and peppercorn flavours of an Amaretto sour cocktail.
After a blissful night’s sleep, it was time for breakfast, served with delicious coffee and freshly pressed orange juice. As well as a sumptuous selection of cereals, pastries, breads, juices, fruit, jams, cold meats and cheese you could even choose a rustic Tuscan ‘Full English’ with eggs, bacon, toast, mushrooms and tomatoes – but after the amazing dinner I stuck to something lighter! Conti di San Bonifacio is a magical place, perfect for lovers, families and friends who want to get away from it all without being too cut off from the world. You can almost breathe in the sense of tranquility and with all the treatments and activities, the wonderful food and wine and the breathtaking location it’s a truly special place to go for a rejuvenating break.
Società Agricola Poggio Divino
Località Casteani 1
58023 Gavorrano (GR)
Telephone: 0039 0566 80006
0039 0566 028072
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