I got into Rome at about 5 in the evening. Luckily I already cleared customs in Amsterdam and could head straight out of the airport and start the process of picking up my Abarth Cinquecento.
When I finally hit the road it was grey and raining and it looked like I wouldn't make it to Montepulciano until 8: not so great. It got progressively darker and wetter as I got closer and then I discovered that the road Google Maps wanted me to take into Montepulciano had been washed out at and was closed. Rural Tuscany isn't so built up so it took a good extra half hour to sort it out. When I got to Montepulciano it was black, spitting rain, and the town seemed utterly dark and deserted.
Google Maps wanted me to drive up a staircase, so after even more driving around I finally just ended up ditching the car and walking to the hotel.
I'd just about given up hope of finding dinner but after a quick explanation to the owner of the hotel about the pazzesco run that I had planned early the next morning she told me that there might still be a restaurant open down the street.
As soon as I walked into La Pentolaccia I could tell that they were getting ready to close but I asked me if they would still feed me and I guess my broken Italian was endearing because they showed me to a table. I started to get a good feeling when I noticed that all the diners were Italian. The space was small, only maybe 30 seats, and cozy with lots of brick and terracotta. They had pictures of a little local rally team on the wall that they sponsored. The wine list was small and almost all wines from Montepulciano. All of these were positive signs! I recognized some of the wines, including Sanguineto: a fantastic traditional producer that I work with. I explained to the lone woman working the front of the house that I worked with wine, knew Sanguineto, and liked small producers working manually without chemicals. She got excited and said she had just the wine. It was from a farm owned by her friends and called Macchione.
So of course I got that and it was a perfect balanced structured Sangiovese from 2016. The menu was just as good once I turned my attention to it. I ordered a dish of Tagliatelle that they had made with a bit of coffee mixed into the pasta dough and it gave the pasta a great earthier flavor. She said it was a recipe she and her sister had come up with just playing around in the kitchen!
I followed that with a traditional Tuscan beef stew that was super hearty and full of peppercorns which had been cooked with the beef. The long cooking had taken some of the spice from the peppercorns but they were still spicy and gave the dish more warmth and fire.
They also gave me an appetizer to eat the next morning once I explained that I would be running back and forth around Montepulciano and would be up too early to get food anywhere. I headed back to my hotel a little later than I had wanted to go to, but so happy, so grateful, and with a completely different feeling about Montepulciano. La Pentolaccia saved the day!