This is a double issue.

The first story is based in Italy.

This was a special dinner for a thousand people at one long row of tables in Bolgheri, Tuscany. Bolgheri is situated south of Livorno along the Mediterranean coastline.

Tables named after grape varieties—this is Vermentino
Sunset imminent
Beautiful lighting beside the cypress trees
Attractive place settings

This was the second such dinner. The first was two years ago, for 750 people, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Bolgheri wine consortium’s beginning in Tuscany.

This 2021 event was to celebrate the first ‘en primeurs’ tasting of Bolgheri wines, and was organized by the Bogheri wine consortium.

I spent time with the wonderful Merli family of Le Macchiole—Cinzia and her sons Elia and Mattia.

Cinzia (center) and sons Elia (left) and Mattia (right)

The dinner was for 1,000 diners at a table 1.07 kilometers long. A total of 136 sommeliers served thousands of bottles of wine from some 300+ labels from 65 producers.


Pasata de pomodorini toscani con marzolino e basilico

Tuscan tomato puree with marzolino sheep cheese and basil

Tomato gazpacho

Germelli di pasta fresca con ragu bianco al rosmarino

Fresh pasta genelli with white meat rosemary ragout

Filetto di maiale con bacche di ginepo, purè di patate e julienne di verdure

Pork tenderloin with jupiner berries, mashed potatoes and julienne of vegetables

Gelato all vaniglia con granella di mandorle e lamponi

Vanilla ice cream with almond crumble and raspberries



I began with a Poggio ai Ginepri rosatto, moved onto a Podere Sette L’Iracondo 2020 Vermentino, a Beccaia Tirreni 2019, a Guidalberto 2019 from Tenuta San Guido and also enjoyed a delicious 2004 from Le Macchiole.

Wines to begin …


This was a beautifully coordinated event on an evening with temperatures deliciously warm, but not hot. We arrived about 8:00 p.m., departed about 11:00 p.m. The place settings were beautiful, with linen napkins and gift boxes including an event-titled corkscrew for each guest. The food was delicious. I walked from one end of the tables to the other, which took well over 10 minutes. After sunset, colored lights lit up the tables as well as the cypress trees lining the road—named Viale dei Cipressi—on both sides of the road.

Evening kicks in …


Our second dinner is set in France.

There are surprises everywhere in life. During past weeks I’ve discovered restaurants and hotels within an hour of where I live that I never heard of before.

Last night I stayed at Moulin du Val de Seugne—which is both a hotel and restaurant. The hotel includes spacious rooms that look over a river and onto deep woods. Ducks, horses, swans, sheep and goats wander around, and in the evening otters plunge into the water.

Moulin du Val de Seugne
Local denizen

The ‘restaurant gastronomique’ includes a seven course tasting menu paired with seven wines, which I did not touch because it would have been too much. Instead, I chose a four course ‘menu gourmand,’ paired with the chef’s recommended wines.


Ceviche de pêche local, leche de tigre et sorbet coco-combava

Local ceviche and vegetables topped by a deep frozen coco-combava sorbet

Gambas confite, candele farcie à l’ail noir et siphon chorizo

Gamba shrimp, stuffed candele pasta, black garlic and chorizo

Ceviche (right), amuse bouche (top left), gambas (second from top left), lamb (third from top left) and dessert

Selle d’agneau rôti, purée de panais au café, eryngli, jus réduit

Lamb with parsnip puréed with coffee, eryngli mushroom

Dessert – La Farandole de choux: choux chocolat noir, choux praliné, choux chocolat lait, choux chocolat blanc

Dark chocolate, praline, milk chocolate and white chocolate pastries


Domaine de Garancille. Saaute-Bergère. (Poitou-Charentes). 2020.

A 2020 Sauvignon Gris from Domaine de Garancille in Charente. Green apple and floral aromas. Grapefruit and shortbread and limes in the mouth. Crisp, easy drinking, delicious. Bright mid palate—crispy, tangy energetic finish.

La Tour Pénédesses. AOP Faugères (Launguedoc Roussillon). 2018.

Lemon and hibiscus aromas. A light wine, sort of the Pinot Gris of Chardonnay—brittle flint and limes in the mouth—a wispy and low key white. Firm structure, mild acidity. Serve cool and have no Chardonnay expectations.

Château La Rose Bellevue. (Blaye-Cötes de Bordeaux). 2019.

Cherries and smoke on the nose, and in the mouth tastes of Dutch dorp licorice and tarragon. 

Château Loupiac-Gaudiet. (Loupiac). 2016.

Beautiful sweet wine.


Fresh air, gorgeous countryside scents and ample bird and wildlife make this setting excellent for chilling for a weekend. Breakfast was also wonderful.

Thanks for tuning in again …

My latest Forbes pieces are here.

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