In 2013, the Barone de Renzis Sonnino began production of what is basically an old condiment, AGRESTO, named for its base material “sour grapes.” The name “agresto”is from the word “agro” “sour” and is a take off of the medieval “verjus” a condiment that antedates the use of lemon in Europe. The traditional Agresto of Tuscany was a composed sauce, based on unripe grapes but more like a thin chutney, having herbs, onions, nuts, garlic, and bread added.
The AGRESTO of CASTELLO SONNINO is a thin, sauce-like concoction made from the green pruning of their vines in the area of Montespertoli. It is very flavorful and reminds me very much of classic Worcestershire sauce, with a Tuscan accent. The un-ripe grapes are pressed and then the juice is cooked in stainless steel vats to reduce; then honey, vinegar, onions, garlic, herbs and spices are added. Once cool, the blend is filtered and bottled.
AGRESTO is delicious. It can be used with anything. Traditionally, it was added to soup. Put with grilled meat, fried things, and in general, is the condiment that spiced up the otherwise rather simple, fresh taste of Tuscan cooking. It is one of the historical parts of Tuscan cooking which has happily been revived. It could not have come at a better time.