Tuscany, a journey through the vineyards

What must you absolutely taste when you visit Tuscany? How do you choose from so many amazing wines? Let’s try to answer that with a brief guide for beginners.
Tuscany’s production of excellent wines is almost intimidating. When you read a list of the DOC and DOCG wines from this region, you immediately realise that it takes many years of passion and tasting to really get to know them.
But when you treat yourself to a holiday in Tuscany, you will naturally want to at least get an idea and somehow map the flavours and delicacies of this region. That’s why we have asked the sommelier of the historic hotel Bagni di Pisa, XXXXXXX, XXXXXXX, for some expert assistance. We asked him for a list of the essentials that you absolutely must try. Any list like this can only be a starting point, but it will give us the basics to start tasting the treasures of the area.

The first one to taste is Morellino di Scansano, a red from the Maremma region. This wine is consumed when it is still young - so perhaps that makes it the best place to start this journey. It is made predominantly from Sangiovese grapevines with some Alicante and Malvasia Nera added. It can accompany sauce-based starters and a second course with meat. To taste it, you could choose the one from Fattoria Le Pupille, made by Elisabetta Geppetti. She is known as “the Signora of the Morellino”, and for good reason as she has made it the showpiece of her winery.

The tasting continues with Vernaccia di San Gimignano, an intriguing white wine boasting centuries of history which improves after a few years of bottle-ageing.
It comes from a very specific area of production, namely the lands around the small town of San Gimignano. It is consumed cold as an aperitif and at moderately cool with a meal. It is the perfect accompaniment to “Cinta senese” pork.

Vermentino di Toscana dei Bolgheri is produced on the Guado al Tasso estate and is one of the wines of the Antinori wineries. Vermentino is a renowned vine which has an immediate association with the lands facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Bolgheri version produced at Guado al Tasso is straw yellow with green highlights. It has a fresh and intense aroma and a fruity, zesty, long-lasting taste.

Chianti looms high in the world of wine-making, both in Italy and around the world. You can get quite lost among its different subtleties, however our guide recommends trying one from the Pieve de’ Pitti wineries in their local area on the hills of Pisa. It is produced according to the classic Chianti recipe, exclusively from Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia Nera grapes. It is consumed with grilled and roasted meats and game, but on a culinary tour of Tuscany you must try it with ribollita or cacciucco.

Brunello di Montalcino is the jewel in the crown of Tuscan wine-making. Along with Barolo, it is Italy’s greatest ageing wine and can even reach ages of up to 80 years. To get to know this wine, you should choose one from the Biondi Santi wineries, the family that first created the wine centuries ago. Prepare to make a sizeable purchase, and taste it carefully and respectfully.

There is another Chianti you cannot miss: Chianti Classico Barone Ricasoli. The Barone Ricasoli wineries date all the way back to 1141, making it the oldest family business in the world. This family, and this winery, invented Chianti as we know it.
With touchstones including Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, you might think that producers were only interested in preserving their prestige and tradition. However, Tuscan producers have also shown great innovation with a true revolution in wine-making. Since the 1970s, several new wines have entered the limelight on the global stage, created as variations of the Chianti Classico discipline, by replacing white grapes with grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The first of these wines was Tignanello, from the house of Antinori. It has now gone on to become one of the most sought-after and award-winning Italian wines.

And finally, a dessert wine par excellence: Vin Santo. Made from dried Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes, and in one variant Sangiovese grapes, it can be either dry or sweet, but always with a high alcohol grade. In pursuit of perfection, our guide recommends the version of this wine that is produced in Lamporecchio, which will not be easy to find.

No journey to explore the wines of Tuscany would be complete without visiting where they are made. In the Chianti region there are two visits that are not to be missed. The first is the Castello di Brolio estate owned by the Barons of Ricasoli, where the Chianti classico was born.
The second is the Tignanello estate of the Antinori wineries, where the revolution of great new wines all started.
These places are the starting point and the destination, tradition and innovation, almost hallowed ground for wine enthusiasts from around the world.
They will a reference point in this journey, bringing together the history, tradition and creativity of the intriguing world of Tuscan wine.
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