Okay, while in Italy, we visited several vineyards! One of our goals for the trip was to drink great local wine from places that it is nearly impossible to get it from anywhere else.
While we were there, we visited a total of five vineyards and a couple of wine stores. So, here are our experiences …
Casanuova di Ama – This small vineyard was just around the corner from our villa. The tasting was done by the lady of the farm, who was very proud of her products, and who welcomed us graciously! We tried a large portion of their range (Chianti Classico, Riserva, IGT, Super Tuscans, and their Olive Oil) and everything was excellent! It was so good that we had a serious debate about how much wine to purchase (and whether we should ship wine back to the USA) because it was such good value. In the end, we ended up with two bottles of wine and a bottle of olive oil, but at some point in the future, I would still be interested in having some shipped to us.
The Cheesiest (aka The Most Touristy):
Dievole – This place is a full-blown tourist attraction. They offer a tour of their cellars, with snacks, that includes a taste of four of their wines (Vendemmia – Chianti Classico, Broccato – IGT, Novecento – Chianti Classico Reserva, & Vin Santo). It is clearly set out to be a tourist destination (complete with €10 charge for the tour). On the other hand, they do a good job of explaining the difference between the wines and the types of grapes that are used in each wine. If you have been to vineyards & cellars before, then give this one a miss … but it was the one where we got to see the cellar and the wine making process. Additionally, the winery and vineyards are surrounded by breathtaking scenery and the drive in is very lovely (and quite easy, when compared to many of the roads leading to other vineyards).
The Most Interesting:
Poggioantinora – The location, the museum, and the wine … nothing was boring or commonplace about this vineyard. Situated on the top of a hill overlooking a picturesque little village, this winery has a very interesting museum of local culture. It covers the common tools of traditional farming (see photo on right) and, more interestingly, has a decent display of historical photographs from the local village – San Giusto in Salcio – that document a style of Tuscan life that has vanished. Their wines were also very interesting … most particularly, their red dessert wine – Chiacchiera … which was the only bottle that we left the vineyard with. For every reason imaginable (including the drive up the winding traditional Tuscan dirt road), I would recommend visiting this wonderful hill-top retreat.
We went to two vineyards where no one seemed to care about our presence. The first one, which is supposedly owned by the family who created the ‘original’ Chianti recipe, said they were open when we called but no one seemed to be interested in helping us when we arrived (the shop appeared to be closed but we saw two people who did nothing to help us). The second was a place similar to Dievole with a huge castle (which also appeared to be a hotel). At it, no one even bothered to talk to us or to see if we needed anything. At both places, after a few minutes of looking around/waiting, we just left!
The Others (where we visited their stores in a town):
Caparsa (in Radda) – Pretty good wine … this was the first place that we purchased wine. It was good value (especially since the vintage we got was reduced because it was for immediate consumption).
Signano (in San Gimignano) – Most of Italy, especially Tuscany, is know for its red wines, but not the area around San Gimignano. It is known for Vernaccia. We stopped at this little store because I wanted to taste (and purchase) some of this interesting white wine, made from a grape that was traditionally mixed with red grapes in blends such as Chianti. This particular producer is especially inexpensive and so we got two of their cheaper wines (1 x Vernaccia & 1 x Chianti Classico) for consumption with dinner while we were in Tuscany.
Overall, we had a lot of fun visiting vineyards and tasting wine! If we go back to Tuscany, we will definitely spend more time visiting vineyards and tasting wines.