What does Tuscany have to offer the seasoned wine traveller or emerging oenophile? Quite a bit actually. Just take a look at the long list of DOCGs. From the Chianti Classico and Rufina, to age-worthy Brunello di Montalcino, and elegant Vino Nobile di Montepulciano… and we haven’t even started on the Super Tuscans. Tuscany is often referred to as a perfect wine country, but its timeless landscape is a treat in itself. Discover a picture postcard of gentle rolling hills emerging from the soft morning mist, exposing sculptural alleys of cypress trees, cathedral domes, golden wheat fields, and verdant vineyards. This is an endlessly enchanting area.
This is Italy’s most ancient wine region, and home to its most famous wine – Chianti – but this is anything but a one note region. In the 1970s, Super Tuscan wines made their way to the table, thanks to talented winemakers who embraced new ways of winemaking. Blends of traditional local varieties with international grapes, these wines have tantalised many a palate since their inception. Of course, no man or woman can live on wine alone…
Luckily, Tuscany’s gastronomic reputation is just as strong. Immerse yourself in the slow food movement: locally sourced, seasonal fare produced with pride, in charming family-run trattorias. Buon appetito mei amici — enjoy a feast for the five senses!
Our tour begins with a delicious dinner at Ornellaia, a leading estate in Bolgheri – one of Italy’s most interesting and expressive winemaking areas. After a visit to vineyards and cellars, we taste their wines over dinner.
The home of the original Super Tuscan cult wine, Tenuta San Guido belongs to the Incisa della Rochetta family. Their Sassicaia is made predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon, and is quite simply one of the world’s best wines. We continue to Guado al Tasso — it sits in a perfect position surrounded by the sea and enclosed by the hills. After a visit to the cellars, we enjoy a tasting followed by lunch at this lovely property, which may well include salami from their cinta siennese pigs. We end the day at Ca Marcanda, famed in the North for revolutionising a very traditional wine region. They make extremely appealing wines with good structure and impressive body.
The Orcia River marks the South West border of the Brunello di Montalcino territory and the name of the estate, ‘Col Orcia’, is intrinsically linked to the physical location where the vineyards are planted. We tour the whole estate, from the vineyards to the olive groves and gardens, farmed following exclusively organic agricultural practices. Afterwards, we hear about the long and varied history of the Argiano estate, before tasting their superb wines over a rustic Tuscan lunch in their lovely renaissance villa – accompanied by fruit filled Rosso and refined Brunello di Montalcino. We also enjoy a charming wine named after the estate’s motto, Non Confunditur, which, just as its Latin name suggests, is ‘unique and unmistakable’.
You can enjoy a leisurely morning at our hotel or join an optional transfer to the beautiful ancient hill town of Montalcino for some free time to explore. We continue to Biondi-Santi. It remains a beacon for traditionally made Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino. The Greppo vineyards of the Biondi-Santi family date back to the 1800s. The estate has been passed down through the family to this day, and is currently managed by Franco Biondi Santi, along with the help of his two children, who will eventually take on the business themselves. Visiting Brunello del Greppo, we are offered the unique opportunity to learn more about traditional agronomy (scientific methods of winemaking) and cellaring practises, which are used to produce wines of great character and quality.
We travel to the medieval masterpiece of Siena for a guided tour this morning. This is an open-air museum of Gothic, spiritual and secular monuments. Its vibrant streets open onto inviting restaurants, enoteche, delis and more. We stop for a light lunch and then we meet with Giovanella Stianti, the charming owner of the beautiful hamlet of Castello di Volpaia. Following a brief visit to the cellars we taste her elegant, fragrant wines over a superb dinner of Tuscan specialities.
We enjoy a final visit to Isole e Olena before our return home. The wines will leave a lasting impression on all of our palates…
Jane Hunt MW organises the UK wine trade tastings on behalf of the Chilean, Argentine and Italian wine industries. She previously ran the South African Wine Bureau. Jane has been a Master of Wine for over thirty years and is passionate about Italy - as well as her olive trees!
We stay in a wonderful selection of hotels during our tour. We spend our first two nights in the 5* Grand Hotel Tombolo on the Etruscan Riviera and then we enjoy two nights in the medieval hill-town of Montalcino. There will also be one night at the 4* Palazzo Leopoldo at Radda-in-Chianti.
Indulge in multiple lunches at excellent Tuscan estates and discover the secret to pairing food with Tuscan wines. Meat and mushrooms alike work well with Sangiovese grape wines. Their vibrant acidity makes them a perfect match for tomato-based foods and simpler cheeses.
Tuscan wines are universally acclaimed. We enjoy Sassicaia, developed in private at the San Guido estate for decades before being made available to the outside world. We also taste fresh, elegant Volpaia wines, grown in some of the highest vineyards in Chianti.