Might as well confess at the outset that I am violating one of my internal rules for the club this month. (No, not that one. Don’t worry these wines are both from Italy - no more California juice.) In April, we sampled two wines from La Vecchia Posta in Colli Tortonesi; both great, but I generally try to avoid using the same producer for both bottles in a given installment. However, for a variety of reasons, such is the case once again in May; for the second consecutive month, we are visiting only one winery. 

The good news? Well, first off, we are in Tuscany just in time for the great weather. As you probably know, Tuscany is a rough triangle covering 9,000 square miles of “relentlessly undulating” (per Jancis Robinson) countryside in central Italy, responsible for Pisa’s lean, the Renaissance (via the city of Florence), arguably the most famous wine region in the country in Chianti, and most of the modern Italian language. Nowhere, apart from Rome itself, and maybe Venice, all-caps ITALY as visibly as this place; its influence on global history and culture, from art to science to literature, has been profound; 50 million tourists visit each year to bask in all the accumulated greatness. 

And perhaps more importantly: we are going to be avoiding most of those crowds and focusing on one of PlumpJack’s favorite wineries, Montenidoli. If the name rings a bell, it’s because we have carried their wines, and featured them in the club before. I had the red wine (which is new to PlumpJack and the club) picked out from the beginning of this month, and then the white I had selected from another producer became suddenly unavailable. Following an extensive search for another outstanding Tuscan white, I ended up back where I began, at Montenidoli. You’ll soon see why. 

Montenidoli, which translates to “the mountain of many nests”, occupies some 200 hectares (only 24 of which are under vine) of alpine repose above the town of San Gimignano, with Chianti Classico visible in the distance. Winemaker/owner Elisabetta Fagiuoli arrived here in 1965 from Genoa, along with her companion, Sergio Muratori and nine children, two of whom were her own, the rest special needs kids that Sergio taught and wanted to educate outside the stresses of the city. At the time Monteidoli was all forest - “no road, no water, no electricity”, Elisabetta says - with some long abandoned vineyards. Elisabetta, who hails from a winemaking tradition in Valpolicella (“I know how to make wine. It's just how to make soup. It's something of the family”) immediately began restoring the land, releasing her first vintage in 1971, and garnering immediate acclaim for her (then exclusively) red wines. The soil on the mountaintop where the reds are grown, dark red, rich with iron and other minerals, is the oldest in Tuscany, dating back to the Triassic era some 250 million years ago, the only such dirt planted to vine. Our red this month is 100% Colorino, a frequent blending partner of its more famous cousin Sangiovese, where it plays a role similar to Petit Verdot in Bourdeaux, adding color and tannic grip. 

Elisabetta didn’t start making white wine until 1984, when she discovered the soil lower down the slopes was calcareous and composed of fossils and sea shells left by the Ligurian Sea 65 million years ago in the Quaternary period. Working with the indigenous local varietal Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Elisabetta and the Montenidoli label have in the years since become the standard by which all other expressions of this grape are measured. We are featuring the Vernaccia Tradizionelle this month, made in the old style, with significant skin contact and aged in the bottle. 

Today Elisabetta continues to model the spirit of solidarity, craft and care embodied in Montenidoli’s literal meaning. After Sergio passed away in 2012, she started the “Sergio the Patriarch” foundation which continues his work by turning part of the property into a retreat to bring young and old people from different perspectives, cultures and viewpoints together to share ideas and to commune with the earth. And with 50+ vintages now under her belt, the wine continues to be among the most outstanding the Peninsula has to offer. 

Alan Hicks - Wine Buyer, Noe Valley

Montenidoli Vernaccia Tradizionale 2022

Region: Vernaccia di San Gimignano

About the Winemaking: Elisabetta is proud of the fact that her land has never seen the use of pesticides. She has farmed organically as long as she has had the property and can attest that previous to her it had been farmed organically. Given that her property is isolated on a mountainside, she has the added benefit of not having any close neighbors, relieving her of any concern about systemic, non-organic treatments being used in adjacent vineyards.

The Vernaccia Tradizional is sourced from estate vineyards around San Gimignano with calcareous soil with marine sediments. Grapes are harvested by hand and the farming is certified organic. Vinification is in stainless steel with five to seven days of skin contact, after which the wine is aged in glass-lined concrete tanks followed by aging in the bottle for about one year. About 2,100 cases produced.

Tasting Notes: Straw yellow with golden reflections. Aromas of herbs and almonds, acacia and yellow stone fruit. The palate is round and savory, with notes of citrus, orchard fruit, spice and mineral stippled earth. Long and nutty finish. Chill before serving, but don’t drink ice cold.

Winemaker: Elisabetta Fagiuoli

Price per bottle / per case


Suggested Food Pairing: 

Crustaceans, oysters and prawns, sushi, quiche, seasonal vegetarian dishes and vegetable-based flans, tannin-rich foods such as artichokes or asparagus, and iron-rich foods such as liver or spinach.

Montenidoli Colorino 2021

Region: Toscana IGT

About the Winemaking: Elisabetta says: “Tuscan tradition blends this variety with the grapes of Chianti in order to give colour. At Montenidoli it is fermented by itself. After a long maceration on the skins it matures for 12 months in barrique and is bottled to be ready to drink.” 

Hand harvested from estate grown, organically grown grapes. Fermented in a concrete vat and aged in bottle before release. Unfined and unfiltered. 

Tasting Notes: A deep, dark red colour hides a gentle wine, with an inky nose redolent of cedar and earth, a round palate with bright and spicy black brambly fruit, hints of violet, savory accents of licorice and ground coffee and a long, velvety finish.

Winemaker: Elisabetta Fagiuoli

Price per bottle / per case

$33.99/$367.10 cs 

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Appetizers, sliced ham and salami. 

Paglia e Fieno (see recipe on next page) 

Paglia e Fieno (Straw and Hay Pasta)

A wonderfully creamy Summer pasta that is pretty easy to make and will pair well with either of our wines this month. 


  • 5 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto (Classic versions of this dish saute the prosciutto along with the rest of the sauce. Here you roast it separately until crispy and then sprinkle over the top like croutons. You can also sub shitake mushrooms to make vegetarian) 
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, cleaned and diced or sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound combined egg and spinach fettuccine or tagliatelle pasta + salt for pasta water (See NOTE below.)
  • 8 ounces frozen peas, thawed (If using fresh peas, I suggest adding them to the pan along with the heavy cream as they will need to cook a bit longer than frozen.)
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan) cheese + more for top


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Prepare the Crispy Prosciutto: Arrange rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Carefully arrange prosciutto slices or cut pieces in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Roast on middle rack until crispy (about 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven). Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool, then crumble into smaller pieces if roasted whole. Set aside at room temperature, uncovered. (You can make this topping 2 to 3 hours in advance and hold it, uncovered, at room temperature.)
  3. Alternatively, make Crispy Shiitake Bacon* (See below for details) 
  4. Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Then add garlic and cook until softened and browned a bit, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add the mushrooms, salt and black pepper and toss well to ensure that the mushrooms are coated with the butter. Then, increase heat to medium/medium-high. Cook until all the liquid that the mushrooms give off has evaporated.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add heavy cream to the mushrooms. Cook until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Then, turn off the heat.
  7. Meanwhile, once the water comes to a boil, add salt, then the pasta, stirring frequently. Turn the mushroom sauce back on to medium-low heat and add the peas after the pasta has been cooking for about 5 minutes.
  8. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions, or about 2 minutes before you think it is al dente. Be sure to reserve at least 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  9. Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and toss well, allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the wonderful flavors of the sauce. Add pasta water for additional moisture, about ½ cup at a time.
  10. Once the pasta is al dente, remove the pan from the heat. Then gently stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp butter and the parmesan cheese until well-combined.
  11. Sprinkle with a bit more grated cheese. Transfer to a serving platter, top with crispy prosciutto and serve immediately. Buon Appetito!

*Thinly slice about 6 ounces shiitake mushroom caps and arrange them in a single layer on a lightly oil-sprayed, parchment-lined sheet pan. Spray the top with a bit of oil as well. Then, roast them in a 400°F oven until very crispy (about 10-12 minutes or longer depending on your oven). Remove them from the oven and immediately sprinkle them with fine salt. Set aside at room temperature, uncovered. (You can make this topping 2 to 3 hours in advance and hold it, uncovered, at room temperature.)

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