With the arrival of the spring travel season, people’s thoughts turn to Tuscany, the place that, for many, symbolizes Italy. Whether you’re a first-timer or returnee, the experience never fails to impress. If you’re planning a Tuscan vacation, this wine-themed A-Z might prove helpful as you eat and
drink your way through the region.
Antinori, a venerable Tuscan family, has been in Chianti since 1385 and is responsible for some of Italy’s most iconic wines, many
of which can be sampled at their enoteca
Bolgheri is the birthplace of Super Tuscan wines such as Ornellaia and Sassicaia, cult favorites renowned for their quality, consistency and elevated price.
C stands for Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo and Colorino — three native grapes that have been a part of winemaking in Chianti for centuries. The interest in “new” varieties has prompted winemakers to bottle them individually.
Durella is a grape, Durello the wine made from it. The popularity of high acid-low alcohol wines has given it new life as a sparkling wine.
Elba, the island off the Tuscan coast, is where Napoleon was exiled and likely drank what was then mildly oxidated, semi-sweet Aleatico, still the island’s main grape.
Fattoria denotes a farm that makes wine, olive oil and other agricultural products. There are hundreds of them in Tuscany,
many on or near SS222 that runs from Florence to Siena.
Greve sits on the Conca d’Oro (golden shelf), a prime vineyard area. Every September the town hosts a three-day wine-tasting put on by the Chianti Classico consortium. You know you’re in the right place when you see the metallic sculpture
of “Il Gallo Nero,” the black rooster.
Hosteria, an alternative form of osteria, is an inexpensive spot for cucina tipica so simply prepared and authentic you’d swear there’s someone’s nonna in the kitchen.
Isola e Olena, one of Italy’s most respected estates, produces classic Tuscan wine in the heart of the Chianti Classico DOCG by focusing on the unique qualities of their vineyards.
Jacop Banti was the first producer to bottle wine in Val di Cornia in 1931. His son Lorenzo still uses only local grapes — Ciliegiolo, Aleatico, Vermentino and Pugnitello.
“Kepos” is a proprietary wine blended from Alicante Nero and other Mediterranean grapes at the Ampeleia winery in the mineral rich Maremma area.
Lunigiana, the less-traveled mountainous corner of Tuscany bordering Liguria, is a well-kept secret that combines obscure wines, rustic regional cooking, and rugged natural beauty for a Tuscan trifecta.
Morellino di Scansano is the lighter, fruitier variety of Sangiovese found along the coast.
Silvio Nardi crafts single vineyard Brunello di Montalcino from only the best grapes of each vintage. His riservas can age for over
Occhio di Pernice is Vin Santo made from air-dried Sangiovese sealed in 50-liter chestnut casks containing wine from the previous harvest. The heavenly nectar ferments naturally and ages five to 10 years before being bottled.
“Pergole Torte,” made by Montevertine, can reasonably be ranked among Italy’s top 10 wines. Named for the vineyard where it grows, this 100% Sangiovese is faithful to
the area’s traditional winemaking methods.
Quarto, 8 ounces of wine, is the way to go with a quick bite at a wine bar, as a pick-me-up, or just because you’re on vacation.
Radda’s location and altitude provide panoramic views of the Chianti hills, as
well as typically quaint restaurants, wine
bars and cafes.
Strada del Vino, or wine road, is the easiest way to explore wineries. There are
14 well-mapped itineraries, including not only Chianti but Bolgheri, Maremma,
Massa Marittima and Carmignano.
Tignanello was created by Piero Antonelli almost 50 years ago by blending Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Originally a vino di tavola because it didn’t conform to the regulations for Chianti, it’s now considered a benchmark of Italian wine.
Uccelliera, Andrea Cortonesi’s artisanal winery near the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, has established itself in the upper tier of Brunello producers. Both are worth the time to seek out.
Val d’Orcia’s scenic roads wind through a picture postcard setting of olive trees, vineyards and rolling hills connecting the must -see wine towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano.
When you want to visit a winery, call ahead to be sure they’re open. Many don’t keep regular hours and require a reservation.
The X factor keeps drawing people to take in all that Tuscany offers — art, history, incomparable scenery, food, wine, and local culture.
Y? Because where wine is concerned, Tuscany is Italy’s epicenter, as deservedly famous as Bordeaux or Burgundy.
Zio Baffa is the nickname of California surfer/filmmaker Jason Baffa, creator of organic wines that reflect his commitment
to low-impact agriculture.
So, what are you waiting for? Book a flight, pack your bags and indulge your senses in the good life, Tuscan style! IAH