Consider a wine tour in Tuscany as a cocktail of first-rate wine tasting, dramatic views, and a peep of Tuscan rural life, not yet corrupted by tourism.
Many visitors to this region of Italy are interested in only one kind of art: the art of winemaking. Or, more accurately in the tourist's case, their interest is wine tasting. But whether for art or hedonism, the wineries around Tuscany are the place to enjoy both.
Super-Tuscans came to be when some local producers felt hindered by the restrictive DOC(G) norms and turned to other grape varieties.
Tuscany counts two regions: the coast zone running from Livorno to the border with Latio, and the central hills, encompassing the provinces of Sienna and Florence. Virtually red wine both of them. You will hear about Sangiovese grapes, also Canaiolo, as well as other local grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other foreign varieties are now added to the wines, especially those known as the Super-Tuscans, to give a more consistent quality.
There are a few things to consider when planning your Tuscan wine tour. First, you will need to contact the wineries to make an appointment prior to visit them. Once there, you will be able to sample some wine, talk to the winemaker if available, take an informal tour of the premises, and buy some wine, should you wish.
Wine events in Tuscany
Wine related events are a great way to learn about the Tuscan wines, while traveling the conutryside.
Corte del Vino – held every year on the third weekend in May at San Casciano. Wine makers bring their best wines, wine tasting sessions galore, and a shop to buy any of the wines on display www.principecorsini.com.
- The most important local wine event takes place in Greve, the second week in September www.chianticlassico.com, but every village has its own annual fun-filled wine event.
The Tuscan coast
Expect open spaces on flat land or gentle slopes and a warm, dry climate ensure a trouble-free harvest most years. This land is largely suited for intensive cultivation of grapes and it is indeed the rising star between the wine areas in Italy. You would like to visit the Bolgheri district and Maremma, in the province of Grosseto, and the southwest Tuscan coast. Lucca and Pisa have also some wine areas, though less known.
The Tuscan hills
Considered the prestige wine growing region of Tuscany; where the high vineyards mix with olive groves and where the hot, dry summer helps to grow excellent grapes. Unhappily, the region is prone to sudden rain at harvest time, and this can spoil the crop.
Vin Santo is a dessert wine from Tuscany; one of the most sought after is Avignonesi.
Tenuta di Capezzana, red, white, dessert.
Chianti may bring to mind cheap table wines. But rest assured the vintages produced in this area forty minutes from Florence are anything but a cheap, vulgar red. Close to Siena, there are dozens of wineries here with offerings that will suit the most discriminating of palettes.
On these hilltops are grown some of the finest grapes anywhere in Italy. They are then turned into some equally fine wines. Rocca delle Macie near Castellina, or San Felice near Siena even offer accommodations in the local villas.
Marchesi de Frescobaldi, red and white wines.
Several of the wineries are sited near medieval castles, lending the whole trip an authentically historical air. One outstanding example is the Castello di Uzzano renowned for its Chianti Classico. The castle is nearby a residential villa so visitors can taste wonderful wine and enjoy superb sights.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
San Gimignano may be best known for its medieval towers. But, this small town is also famed for its white wines. Il Grande Prato can persuade any connoisseur that the renown is well deserved. Wines are served to visitors who can watch sheep graze while they enjoy a light snack and sip their favorite vintage.
Set among the hills that provide a view of the towers, the villa occupies three acres. It offers seven guest rooms, but one can stay for just an hour and try some wine. Just an hour? Hah! Let's see any wine lover do that.
Montenidoli, red, white.
Brunello di Montalcino
Montalcino is also no slouch in the winemaking department. Tours of the Castello Banfi estate will persuade even the most finicky of wine drinkers of that. Over 7,100 acres provide this winery with ample stock from which to produce outstanding wines. Unlike many of its neighbors, the winery is only 25 years old, so it sports state of the art equipment. But the 11th century castle has been amazing visitors for centuries.
Site of one of Italy's most beautiful Gothic cathedrals, Siena also offers some outstanding wine tasting opportunities. Among the rolling hills outside the town are nestled many superb wineries. The Villa Dievole is only one example. Only 45 minutes from Florence and half an hour from Chianti, there are over 800 acres here.
Visitors can obtain accommodations with a large room bedroom and bathroom, along with a fully functional kitchen. That sort of home away from home is rare among travels to foreign lands. But it doesn't begin to compare to the outstanding breakfast served. Then it's off to tour the vineyards and, about lunchtime, sample some wines.
It's possible to tour much of Tuscany on a bicycle. But many will want to rent a car and take in several of the stellar villas and wineries that offer some of the best wines in the world.