Tuscan wine guide

Friday, 26 December 2014

Tuscan countryside - day tours

Tuscan Countryside 

Tuscany today is not simply a name or just the translation of the italian version "Toscana", but since more than 20 years it became a  "brand" name.

Day tour - Valdorcia

The diva here is the countryside with its rolling hills, vertically soaring Cypress trees, renovated old farmhouses, medieval villages, castle ruins which made the tuscan countryside 
one of the world's most picturesque rural landscapes.

Day tour: Valdelsa

On the slopes vineyards and olive grooves stretch around giving Tuscany the worldwide reputation for typical products such as extra virgin olive oil and mostly for the red wine regions such as the Chianti and its Chianti Classico and Supetuscan wines, Montalcino and its Brunello or Montepulciano and its Nobile.

Organic farm- vineyard in Chianti 

The most popular small hilltop villages reside in the southern part of Siena and they include Pienza, Montepulciano and Montalcino but also off the beaten path hamlets few travellers would reach on their own such as Monticchiello, Montefollonico, Buonconvento. 

Montepulciano and its views

A day tour in the countryside is a great escape from the cities, from the museums and an intimate experience you cannot skip during your time in Tuscany. 

You can hire a car in the case of a stay in a country house- villa and surely for week long stays because generally speaking you will not have a supermarket or a post office down your front door, but there are with no doubts advantages in hiring a local tuscan guide with a licensed car to enjoy a day trip in the countryside: for a day the couple or the entire family-group will have a rest from the driving, the stress of finding places and reaching them on time if you reserved an activity.

Anna- tuscan wine tour guide

Everybody will be able to seat and enjoy a glass of one of the best tuscan red wines, or you can indulge in a professional wine tasting in a selected winery, have a wine tour guide on board and a specialized person sharing cultural insights and giving you a personal experience.

If you wish to know more about tuscan countryside and tuscan day tours have a look at:

Friday, 8 August 2014

Authentic Tuscany Experience

Authentic Tuscany Experience  - Hands down!

For most of the people I met in my six years of driving services, the trip to Italy and particularly the Tuscany time is the dream of a life.

Valdorcia- postcard perfect 

So the difference is getting in contact with the right people who are not simple business woman/ men but most of all are the locals and I'm sure this is the point to be sure that your Tuscany experience will be the highlight of your entire italian trip.

From now on rely on a local team composed of a native florentine travel agent, a group of high qualified city guides, a professional driver and cool wine guide at the same time surrounded by a bunch of local producers to savour the best of Tuscany and to have an authentic tuscany experience.

Spend your stay in an amazing B&B with the "dome" view.... 
Violetta is the travel agent and B&B host

Be driven around Tuscany for a scenic wine tour or through the jewels towns such as Siena and San Gimignano or the classy Lucca along with off the beaten path destinations such as the Orcia Valley

Anna is the professional driver and wine guide

Put your hands down to  learn how to make pizza but not inside a conventional restaurant but in a
typical tuscan house with a host at your disposal

Pizza making- hands down

Learn about Florence during an educational city tour with a qualified tour guide.....

So be ready to savour Tuscany and contact me to know more and get the Authentic Tuscany Experience!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Tuscan wine regions - year 2014

The weather and the vineyards in 2014

This 2014 is still uncertain regarding how much the weather is affecting the grape life and consequently the upcoming wine production.

In the passed days during my scenic wine tours in the Tuscan countryside I asked my friends wine makers about this vintage and it seems they all agree that it's " still uncertain" cause so far we had too much rain but we all have fingers crossed because a hot and dry August might turn the vintage into a good one.
It was during one of this conversation that I learnt a cool but serious rule every farmer and agronomist must know and apply at least in spring time.

The worst fungus like the "peronosphora"  has more chances to spread and affect the vineyards when three circumstances happen all at once: early morning temperature is higher than 10* centigrades, in 48 hours 10 millimeters of rains fall and vineyards are about 10 centimeters long. That's the rule of the three 10....
If it happens agronomists, farmers, wine makers they have to take care of the vineyards before the fungus spreads and although I repeatedly say that the best wine comes from the fields first and then from a chemical lab, a wise way to control the situation is to take advantage of technology and install a weather station in one good side of the property in charge of controlling temperature, humidity, rains and the circumstances under which the leaves and the grapes are developing.

All results will be sent to a computer and software and it seems an amazing help for wine makers.
I found this while my tourists where enjoying their wine time in Tuscany and if you want to check this out you might ask me to visit the winery itself and learn more during your cool wine tour in Tuscany.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Wine tasting with friends

Wine Tasting with friends 

Amo sulla tavola, quando si conversa,

la luce di una bottiglia di intelligente vino.

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)

Today is the woman's day and while reading one of my favorite book the above verses written by Pablo Neruda caught my attention....he wrote how pleasant is to be involved in a good conversation under a light through a good bottle of wine.

Anna's tuscan wine tours 

So what came to my mind is one of my typical Tuscan meal friends love specially in spring time or late September when all the colours around my house are vivid, still alive, charming and relaxing while looking at the hills of Chianti on one side and at the Pratomagno on the other.

Soon a friend asked me how I cooked my stewed wild boar and an interesting conversation started: when in your recipe you add some wine, in this case red wine, that course will be served with the same wine.
So if I stewed my wild boar with Chianti Classico 2010 the same wine will be at least one wine served during the meal.

But what about a big meal composed of several courses? Each one needs to be paired with a different wine but remember to follow some rules!

Aperitif usually is a Prosecco, sparkling wine or a white wine possibly with a pretty high acidity, so I would say a rich white wine not just fermented and aged in stainless steel vats ( too fruity), not too oaky but a good compromise like one Tuscan Chardonnay produced with good results in some wineries in Chianti Classico area.

If you are thinking about serving also some rosè wines, do this in between the whites and the reds you will serve after and do not go backward by serving whites again! When you start with red wines, whites will be served along with a dessert only.

From the point of view of the serving temperature, we start by serving fresh wines, then the ones at a room temperature. About dessert wines usually the ones like Tuscan Vin Santo are served at a room temperature and they are never chilled or cold otherwise you will completely cover the aromas and complexity and only a strong sticky sugary sensation will be experienced by your palate.

Then another general rule, we start with the wines with a lower alcohol content and we step up with the wines with a higher level, we start with the youngest wines and we end with oldest....

These tips and more by joining a cool wine tour in Tuscany with me! For beginner, experts and cool people in general....

Check this out: http://www.wine-tour-in-tuscany.com

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Valdorcia and cheese making

Among the experiences you cannot miss while visiting Tuscany is: cheese making.

Podere il Casale- Pienza

Have you ever heard about pecorino? I am sure you all did several times although the kind of cheese which is widely exported abroad for obvious but technical reasons is a specific aged pecorino cheese the so called Pecorino Romano.

But let me entertain you by explaining a couple of details :

"Pecorino" means sheep milk cheese as in Italian sheep is pecora  (* I am still laughing at me remembering what happened to me- a native italian speaking great english but with some "italian accent"... while talking to my clients. I wanted to stress that in the specific area we were touring, they were not going to see any sheep and goats...but I sounded like "You are not going to see any ships and boats"!-- I bet they will never forget such a cool tour escort eh?).

German, English and Spanish share the same old latin roots: Kase, Cheese, Queso 
Italian and French have the same late latin roots: Formaggio and Fromage
The old latin root was linked to the material used to make cheese, so caesum=milk, the late latin root was linked to the time of the year this product was made and the shape of the wheel...in Italian it would be "forma" di "Maggio" = formaggio  (the wheel made in the month of May!)

How was cheese discovered? By chance or simply observation.....how the enzymes in a lamb's stomach were transforming the milk leftovers from a liquid to a solid composition.

Pecorino di Pienza

Mass and industral production requires of course tons of controls and certifications as well as the procedures to make cheese (everywhere) begin with the pastorization process but in Tuscany specially in the Valdorcia area and specifically all around Pienza, a few farmers are allowed and certified to produce cheese with raw milk. Is that scary? Not at all it is simply the tradition and a great way not to kill the aromas inside the milk of course a milk coming directly from the animals raised by the farmers and not imported from another area or country!

So during a Valdorcia tour you need to ask to be introduced to organic farming and organic cheese making so that you can experience a delicious cheese tasting where every single bite will be terribly tasty.

Cool tours

Cooltours by Anna

I think a little introduction to my blog is essential, so an easy post to express where and why Cooltours came to my mind 2 years ago.

By chance I have been "hired" by a tour company located in the USA, pretty known and highly recommended on travel guide books, this happened when I was working at a winery in Gaiole in Chianti, Capanelle estate, a winery-cellar I still consider one of the very best in the area!

The tour guide looked at me while I was running one of the thousand wine tasting tours of the year and said " I believe you are a Ferrari in a garage".....
It took three years for me to realized I wanted to venture in this job, I started thanks to that and other colleagues trusting me and welcoming me in their companies and still today I dream of a cooperation between human beings although the inside of several people is "struggle" all the time and for everything, what again I do not like at all.

Finally I trained myself by working and I thought that I was ready to show and share my personality and do it my own way.

What about the name? At the very beginning I wanted to call my company  "wine something", "Tuscany something" , "blue sky, sunflowers".....then I looked around and said: WOW how many companies are using names like these? So I came out from the touristy flow and I decided to combine in my company name the words "culture" and "tours" so the idea of giving clients a 360 degrees experience, not a wine focused one or a historical one , but a combination of both so cultural knowledge and wine&food tastings thanks to off the beaten paths exploration in the Tuscan countryside, visits of less known touristy villages where we can savor the locals, the real lives and people with their good, background, experiences.

Of course the combination of the two words resulted in the informal English word COOL which highly describes ANNA, the tour escort and professional driver I am today.

Anna the tuscan wine guide

But most of all I'm a passionate human being full of energies and willingness to make people happy, yes happy because it takes a little bit sometimes to be happy at least for a day and forget all the pains.