Wine Tasting in Tuscany
Tasting wine in the beautiful region of Tuscany is a must do on any wine lovers bucket list. There are some amazing producers with all kinds of history and accolades. Trying to decide where to taste is not an easy thing to do and given limited time and an established route in place even more difficult. Given all the the possibilities, choosing was, well just overwhelming. Somehow after a few glasses we managed to pull ourselves together and start to plan. Did we get lucky or do we know what we were doing? Truth be told, mostly lucky, but with a little bit of knowledge of one of the producers. With out boring you with how we came up with the four we visited lets just tell you about what and who we experienced.
First up was Fattoria di Montecchio. This beautiful 18th century Villa is in the heart of the Chianti Classico region between Florence and Sienna, and covers approximately 273 hectares. The majestic 18th century house stands on a hill overlooking the small medieval town of San Donato in Poggio. There is even an old tower that was used for defensive purposes during the struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines back in 920. The estate has a wine shop, an olive oil mill and very old wine and olive oil cellars as well as some state of the art production facilities. The estate still makes fine hand made terracotta from the Montecchio kiln that dates back to 1700. There is also a magnificent Agriturismo building used for farm stay holidays. We may need to go back and stay! That way we can let you know how comfortable the beds are and how the showers work. You know, doing the hard work.
We joined a tour group from the Tuscany Wine School being lead by Rebecca and they were gracious enough to welcome us along. We toured through the old library storage area and the new production areas and even some of the original barrel rooms with the old cedar barrels. Once we had completed the tour which took about an hour it was time to get stuck into it! We were then on our own as the group had their tasting and we had our own special tasting with delicious and generous tastings of olive oil and wines. Thankfully the olive oil was accompanied by some great Italian bread, or as they call it, bread. We are not big fans of just slurping neat olive oil like the pro's, so the tasty bread was truly enjoyed and appreciated. Their wines consist of Chianti Classico Gallo Nero Docg and Chianti Classico Riserva Docg, followed by two very nice Super Tuscan's. All very good and so we could not help but to leave with one of everything (yeah broke the one bottle rule, again). As we traversed our way around Tuscany the next wine specific stop was this somewhat remote but none the less magnificent family property Fattoria Corzano E Paterno. This purveyor of fine wine was one who we had met at an Industry tasting in San Francisco and so was selected based on some knowledge and although Aljoscha would not be there, he arranged for us to get a tour and taste from his cousin Arianna (yes another Arianna).
Arianna gave us a great tour of their new cheese and wine making facilities. The new facilities have been completed only recently and the modern finishes, although not having the character of the old buildings, will provide a more efficient and effective wine making facility. These new facilities are designed to make sure the goal of ever better wine and cheese, is not hampered by the limitations of old buildings. Off to one side of the new facility is the cheese making area. This small by our estimation puts out a lot of top quality sheep cheese that is highly sort after.After an interesting in depth tour of the facilities, Arianna took us back to the cellar door and put out a spread of the sheep cheese's, and guided us through a sampling of their wines. It is very different feeling tasting wine, sheep cheese and olive oil while surrounded by buildings and history that in some cases goes back to before 900 AD. There are seventeen hectares of vineyard and they produce more than 80.000 bottles of wine. Grape varieties run from the usual Chianti selection of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Malvasia, Trebbiano, to the foreign varieties (for Italy) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. We all enjoyed a great afternoon talking with Arianna about what had been, and what is to come for Fattoria Corzano E Paterno. The work that has been done to produce such world class wine, cheese and olive oil never ends we very much enjoyed the wine and again broke the one bottle each purchase rule.
Heading north west in Tuscany our next stop was a last minute opening because an employee Chiara had come in on her day off and was the only one on site that midweek day that spoke English and so was handed the phone. Come on over she said, I'll wait for you. This historic property is Fattoria di Fubbiano, and is only 15 km from Lucca, 65 km from Florence along the Lucca hills, between the villages of Tofori and San Gennaro, an area where wine has been produced since the 14th century.
After Chiara gave us a lovely tour of the facilities it was time for us to put our finely tuned palates to work. As fate, luck, or just strange happenstance would have it, we had had a bottle of the hall mark wine from Fattoria di Fabbiano while relaxing at an outdoor restaurant in Lucca just a few days earlier. A bottle of 'First Love'. An inexpensive and lovely to drink wine, but also one with significant importance to the owner. This is a great facility with very good wines, and we recommend you make an appointment and go check it out. Tell em we sent you... We enjoyed a great tasting of good olive oil (no bread, 3 cough olive oil) and wines, as we again broke the one bottle purchase per person rule again.
Travelling due south we headed to our last stop and proceeded to get completely lost. With the help of some non English speaking locals who managed to convey to us to follow them as they guided us to the beautiful Estate of Tenuta Del Buonamico is situated south-west of Monte Carlo, in the Cercatoia. This winery has history that dates back prior to 1870. Not old by Italian standards but very old non the less.
Arriving quite late in the afternoon (5pm) on a Thursday the modern yet inviting tasting room was almost empty which exaggerated the very spacious feel. We were lucky enough to get here after spending a lot of time at another place and being lost and so unfortunately did not get a chance to tour the facilities but we did get to sample their olive oil (the traditional way, 3 coughs) and all the wines being sold at the time (quite a few). Chiara (second Chiara of the day) made us feel at home and started out informing us of the process of picking and pressing the olives and how the terrior and olive tree clones give the flavour. Traditional olive oil tasting is for the pros and that is not us. Chiara also walked us through the wine line up starting with some bubbly, and then a bit more bubbly once we thought our taste buds were back in gear after the olive oil incident. After what was a great bubbly Chiara lead us through the list of wines on offer and was very informed about each of the wines we tasted. Some wonderful wines were tasted and once again we broke the one bottle each rule (seeing a pattern). We had a great tasting and wish we had arrived a little earlier to take a tour of the entire facility. From what we understand it would have been well worth our time.
Four places that do wine, olive oil and have places to stay on the properties that although we did not get to stay, we enjoyed their wines and olive oils immensely. While we are sure that there are many many more wonderful places to visit (we will be returning to discover more) these were the ones that fate, luck, happenstance or divine intervention had us go to. We give each a hearty "recommend" and when visiting tell em we sent you.
Happy Wine Adventures,