Tuscan wine guide

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Tuscan wine regions

Chianti and Chianti Classico are they two different tuscan wine regions?

Today my post is the result of my researches linked to my activity as wine tour guide in Tuscany and to the aim of spreading an accurate wine knowledge out of the Italian borders during my day tours in the tuscan wine areas.

Some comments caught my attention and I believe my readers need to get a clarification about the largest wine zone in Tuscany : the Chianti area.

Chianti region lies in central Tuscany and it's characterized by some high mountains although shortened over the millenniums by the erosion due to the atmosphere agents and some soft rolling hills the tuscan countryside generally is known for.

From a technical point of view the area planted on vineyards is mostly in the hills and anyway not over 2000 feet of altitude where the microclimate stays almost humid with a tendency of dryness during the summer season and strong temperature excursion around the harvest period ( September - October ) and the vineyard soils predominately composed of marl and chalk.

Although the origins of the word "chianti" are still discussed by scholars cause the word can be associated to the Latin word used to describe a noise ( maybe the one during the hunting season) or can be associated to the Etruscans last names as first inhabitant of the area or can derive from the Etruscan word "clante"= water.... For sure we know that from the 18th century for the first time the word "chianti" started to be used to describe a red wine region near Siena and specifically composed of three villages:  Gaiole, Radda, Castellina.

But it's in the 20th century that the borders and composition of the area has been redrawn so the entire Chianti region started to be divided in 7 sub zones which eventually resulted to be 8 only in recent years: Chianti Classico, Chianti Colli Aretini, Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti Colli Senesi, Montalbano, Rùfina and Montespertoli.

Wine zones in Tuscany 

Among these zones 7 of them are labelled under the denomination Chianti DOCG wines, but Chianti Classico has its own DOCG and it's uniquely labelled as Chianti Classico DOCG. 

So if you are touring one of these areas you are in the Chianti wine region and if you spend a day in Chianti Classico you are still in Chianti but you are exploring one specific sub zone which is the oldest wine area because it is composed of the villages of Gaiole, Radda, Castellina which originally gave the name to the wine region itself as previously stated plus these three villages have a relevant historical aspect being part of a military legacy the so called Lega del chianti which played such  a big role in the struggles between Florence and Siena over the Middle Ages and specially in terms of strongly defining their borders.

As a matter if fact Chianti Classico DOCG has a unique extra label, a black rooster, which represents only this historical wine region being the original code of arm of the above mentioned chianti league.

The restyling of the logo

And if you are drinking a Chianti wine or a chianti Classico wine for sure you are tasting two different style wines coming from the same family.

For sure the second wines follow a strict set of guidelines but resulted in high quality wines which surpassed the old fiasco!

I hope I helped in understanding the way we classify our wine regions and wines in general but for thirsty people an educational wine tour in tuscan with a wine consultant will 
enrich your wine knowledge with this and several other stories!

See you for a tuscan wine tour with cultural insight!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Truffle Hunting in Tuscany

Tuscan countryside: a day in truffle hunting 

Truffles are the fruit of underground mushrooms which grow among the roots of a few very specific trees such as oak, hornbeam and birch. 
Many attempts have been made to cultivate them commercially, with very little success.

White truffle from San Miniato 

There are around 1,400 licensed truffle hunters in Tuscany, each hunter has his own territory and secret truffle-rich locations are written down in the hunter’s notebook, and passed  from one generation to the next. 

Truffle hunting with clients

Generally speaking the renowed areas for truffle hunting in Tuscany area: San Miniato a hilltop town village looking down the misty Arno valley and San Giovanni d’Asso a small village perched on a hilltop in the scenic area named Crete Senesi or as Dante defined it, the Desert of Accona.  
Surely more popular the first town, less known off the neaten paths the second where the locals used part of its medieval castle to open a museum devoted to truffles.

Until the 1970s in Italy pigs were used to hunt truffle but had a strong tendency to gobble them before the hunter could intervene.
Today dogs – such as the Lagotto breed- are considerably less attracted and therefore less likely to snaffle such a worth fungus, plus hunters and dogs form an inseparable team for ever and it makes sense to hear stories of the best dogs being stolen or poisoned and hunters spying on their competitors’ high-yielding grounds.

Hunting dog..

When a fresh truffle emerges from the ground and is cut, it gives off a distinctive aroma not easy to define: garlic, hay, honey.
The prized white truffle, sometimes called the white diamond of Italy, grows from September to December. And the late spring sees the waning days of the bianchetti truffle, a milder one,  is found widely throughout Tuscany.

My friends doing truffle hunting

Regardless of the season, skillful hunters and their faithful dogs will help us finding some delicious truffles during our truffle hunting followed by a gourmet lunch with the possibility to take part to a cooking class to understand better how prepare this precious fungus.

Join me for a private day tour including a truffle hunting and a cooking class.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Educational wine tours

Educational wine tours

Since centuries, Tuscany region showed its vocation to wine making and specially red wines production as testified by the DOCG/ DOC denominations such as: Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano but also the white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a younger appellation which is imposing now its reputation outside every tuscan borders!

Tuscan wine regions

After more than 25 years of our tuscan vintners' efforts, the result is the outstanding quality of the tuscan wines, very far from the stereotype idea of the so called fiasco- bottle with the straw basket around the bottom- specially Chianti was associated with.

Fiasco- the old Chianti bottle

The wine was simply fermented,  maybe aeged for a few months in old, sometimes too old chestnut, walnut barrels,  and tannins released were strong, aggressive, the bouquet of aromas was not much more than grape juice and wood!

The knowledge, the technology and the awareness of wine making changed the wine world, a new era where Italy is exporting more wines and where Tuscan wines are the best sellers.

The wine world is fascinating and is attracting more people who want to learn but wine education and wine tasting does not mean to drink no matter what or to go to hundreds wineries in a day.

It means to slowly enter the wine world by visiting wineries, meeting the winemakers, the producers and taking part to some wine tasting sessions.

Wine tasting and food pairing 

If you are spending a vacation in Italy and you come to Florence, a day tour in the tuscan wine regions is highly recommended and although a wine tour in Tuscany has to be a cool experience be sure you are in the hands of an expert wine tour guide who knows about wine regions, winemaking and wine tasting and who can help you in the selection of the wineries you will visit during a day tour.

Every tuscan has some Sangiovese grape juice in his blood stream by birth, but the technical knowledge your guide has comes from years in the wine business, professional sommelier courses, and a continuous exposure to wine producers.

Wine regions are not difficult to reach, anyway Florence and Siena are good home bases to easily reach the Chianti Classico area and enjoy a wine tasting tour.

Generally speaking Montalcino area and its Brunello wine is easier to reach from Siena also to avoid a long time in the minivan, anyway if you do not mind a longer day trip a Brunello wine tour from Florence is doable as well.

Considering that all wineries sell and ship their wines,  I like to remember that when you taste a wine you liked and you decide to ship a case back home you are not simply buying wines but you are bringing back a little bit of your tuscan experience, which sounds to me one of the main reason to buy a bottle of wine at the producers and I like to believe that once you will open your wine you will recognize some Tuscany in a bottle and you will remember your tuscan wine tour!

 Anna- your Tuscan Wine Guide
Anna- your Tuscan Wine Guide