Dining with Castello di Volpaia

Served with Mushroom and Potato Cake


While visiting Castello di Volpaia last fall, I couldn’t help but notice that Giovanna Stianti, the proprietor of Volpaia, also ran a cooking school on the premises. Now, I couldn’t help but notice it because November, not exactly known as prime time for tourism, sees very few visitors to the Volpaia compound. In fact, I had to wander around the grounds for a good half hour before finally finding the office.

During my wanderings I happened upon Volpaia's gleaming kitchen classroom, among other facilities, as it seems that I really have a nose for stainless steel appliances.  After my tour of the winemaking facilities (really, the entire village which is worth a look, as I reported in  "Tasting Wines in Chianti Classico"), Giovanna and I spoke about all that is Volpaia. I inquired about the kitchen and we discussed the cooking classes while enjoying the wine, and olive oil of Volpaia.

Cooking at Volpaia

Giovanna looks forward to teaching the cooking classes whenever she can, not surprisingly focusing on the cuisine of Tuscany, wine, food pairings, and having fun in the kitchen! These cooking lessons generally last about 3 hours, and always finish with a leisurely meal under the Tuscan pergola attached to Volpaia’s Kitchen. For more information please visit Volpaia’s website.
While Giovanna’s classes are designed to teach the cuisine of Tuscany, they are also meant to be fun, so the recipes feature rustic country cooking that is delicious yet simple to prepare. These two recipes feature ingredients common to the Tuscan countryside. In this land of grapes, olives, and foraged foods, a meal made without olives or mushrooms might come as quite a shock.

The dishes work as a wonderful foil for the Volpaia Chianti. The acidity of the wine is tempered by the richness of the olives and the béchamel, and the fresh fruit of the wine is drawn out by the contrasting savory tones the olives and mushrooms provide. While Giovanna suggests pairing these dishes with the 2004 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva I might opt for something a little older, with more developed savory tones.  That is simply my preference, though. This is a wonderful dish to pair with many reds wines, so find one you like, and let us know how it worked with your favorite wine.

Click here to download a printable PDF file of this recipe. Serves 6 as a Main Course


1 5lb free range roasting chicken
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 lb black olives
1 lemon, halved
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 sprigs, Flat leaf Parsley
5 oz. dry white wine
Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 400F (200C)
Pit the olives and set aside.
Remove any excess fat from the cavity of the chicken and sprinkle with salt and fresh milled black pepper.  Fill the cavity with the olives, garlic, half a lemon, and the parsley. Truss to close.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the outside of the chicken and rub the skin with the olive oil.
Place the chicken, breast side down, in a heavy roasting pan and transfer it to the preheated oven.
Cook for 30 minutes then turn over to brown the breast for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the wine to the cooking juices, stir well and cook over low heat until the wine is reduced by half. Check the seasoning and adjust as needed.

Presentation: Carve the chicken and arrange on a serving platter. Pour the cooking juices over the chicken, garnish with the olives and serve paired with the 2004 Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva.

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  • Can you suggest a comparable olive to use here in California? Thx.

    Mar 05, 2010 at 1:06 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,983

    Marisha, why not explore a bit and try the dish more than once with mission, sevillano or some of the many other olive varietals available fresh in CA? Let us know what you think works best? Lucky you for living where there's so much good, fresh produce, whether olives, grapes or so much else!

    Nice roast chicken recipe, by the way. Will definitely try this (though with bottled Spanish or Greek olives, since that's what's available where I shop in Tokyo...)

    Mar 05, 2010 at 2:04 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,983

    BTW, Greg et al., when I try to download the recipes I'm getting 404 notifications with nothing available to download...

    Mar 05, 2010 at 2:06 PM

  • Me too. PDF recipe links are 404 errors

    Mar 05, 2010 at 2:17 PM

  • Snooth User: acparti
    195672 1

    sounds interesting will try also getting 404 error

    Mar 05, 2010 at 3:00 PM

  • Snooth User: Redgrapes
    371228 9

    Mmm...Love olives!

    I also got HTTP 404 error :-(

    Mar 05, 2010 at 3:06 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Links are fixed.

    Mar 05, 2010 at 3:47 PM

  • Snooth User: Redgrapes
    371228 9

    Thanks Gregory! That was quick!

    Mar 05, 2010 at 4:03 PM

  • Gregory: My wife and I loved Volpaia. Everyone in that little hamlet works in some way for the winery. We enjoyed walking to someone's cellar to see the olive press. There was a little cafe just across the path from the main tasting room. The space was being rented by a very friendly young couple. We enjoyed a long luncheon getting to know them. They had just come back for San Diego where they spend a year. He, the chef, and she managed the money and the serving staff. They took us to the special tasting area where we saw bottles of wine from the early 1800's. We loved our afternoon there and even enjoyed our tasting. I have some pics of Volpaia, the special tasting area and the young couple renting the space for their cafe.

    Mar 05, 2010 at 4:05 PM

  • Snooth User: Nimasu
    268844 4

    This sounds sooo good. I can hardly wait to make it. In fact, I'm heading out to Whole Foods today to shop for all the ingredients and will have it for Sunday dinner tomorrow. I'm going to try it with Chantrelle mushrooms, too.

    Mar 06, 2010 at 12:04 PM

  • My wife and i had the pleasure of having lunch with Giovannella and her husband Carlo on their property in the late summer of 2004. Giovannella cooked a wonderful lunch and we toured their winery, olive oil press, et cetera. Afterwards tasted many of their wines and we loved all moreover the "Coltassala" single vineyard Chianti Classico Riserva! One of the best producers of the Chianti Classico/Riserva, Vinsanto and of course a Super Tuscan. We plan to visit once more hopefully sooner rather than later! Graze Giovannella!

    Mar 07, 2010 at 3:29 AM

  • Snooth User: cepe
    273685 3

    Here is the thing. I cooked this on the weekend. It was fantastic with a 2005 Reserva, but the chef needs a watch.

    You can't cook a five lb. chicken in one hour. Even preheated at 400 degrees in a heavy (cast iron) roaster. Mine took more than 2 hours.

    If you cook this, give yourself time. At one hour, the olives were warm, the lemon had begun to get nice an warm, and the chicken was a bloody mess!

    Chef: Please give us something we can work with. Maybe your 400 degree oven is different from mine...

    Mar 15, 2010 at 11:17 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    I only translated the recipe. I'll inquire with the chef and see if she mis-stated the cooking time. Thanks for trying the recipe, and letting us know about the issue.

    Mar 15, 2010 at 11:25 AM

  • Snooth User: cepe
    273685 3

    Hey, Thanks a lot, Gregory. I'll be very happy to know what chef has to say about the cooking time and temp. My cast iron roaster was just about the same size as the chicken, so it being 'closed' rather than 'opened' may have something to do with it, but I followed the recipie more closely than is my custom, and the results could have been disasterous!

    By the way, the wine I served was 2005 Rocca Della Macie Chianti Reserva, a very full bodied Sangiovese with a touch of Merlot and Cab. It was spectacular with the chicken, and only about 15 bucks here in Canada. The olives really set up the pallet for the round, succulent reserva.

    Mar 20, 2010 at 12:48 PM

  • Snooth User: Ted Alper
    435353 1

    I have been to the Castello Volpaia many times as I live in the area 3 months a year. Another
    possible locale for cooking lessons is the Chianti Kitchen where wold famous chef Seamus Derpentheny O'Kelley is the instructor. He used to be an owner at Castello Spaltenna and also ran the Osteria at Castello Brolio. Seamus is one of the most entertaining and informative chefs I have had the pleasure of meeting.

    Mar 24, 2010 at 7:50 PM

  • Snooth User: cepe
    273685 3

    Hey, Gregory. Any word from the chef? I've seen this recipie, with your translation on a few other pages... it might be a good idea to try to correct the recipie... the time is important for a whole whack of reasons, not the least of which, the integrity of this site!

    My own experience with the recipie is that the time required is about double what is called for... in my gas convection oven.

    It would be very helpful to have correct instructions, and it would give us the confidence to try some of the other recipies offered here.

    Thanks a lot.


    Apr 04, 2010 at 12:53 PM

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