Tuscany. One of the most prestigious wine-growing regions of the world, the rolling hills of Chianti-shire are probably the iconic picture-postcard image of Italian vineyards. Beautiful hilltop towns and villages adorn the landscape, vineyards and olive groves are in abundance, and gastronomic experiences await. The cultural sites and splendour of Florence and Sienna make this the complete wine destination. Truly the land of ‘La Dolce Vita’.
There are numerous and diverse well-known ‘appellations’. Chianti Classico in the heartland of the region produces probably the quintessential Tuscan wine, but there are several other Chiantis like Ruffina, Senesi and others. To the south of Sienna, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano offer a different take on Sangiovese. On the coast lies Bolgheri, which, interestingly, produces outstanding reds from French varietals, and Maremma. San Gimignano, with its famous towers, produces fine whites.
Sangiovese is almost synonymous with Tuscan wine and is THE dominant black grape of the region. The style and quality of wines made from this grape vary considerably, depending on where it’s grown and whether it’s blended with other grapes. In Brunello a different clone, Sangiovese Grosso, is used. Other local grapes are Cannaiolo, and Barbera. French varietals are used in Bolgheri exclusively and in other regions are sometimes blended with Sangiovese. Local whites are Vermentino, Vernaccia, Malvasia and Trebbiano.
Tuscany has a warm Mediterranean climate with the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. The hills have a tempering effect on the summer heat, with many vineyards planted on the higher elevations of the hillsides. The terrain is quite hilly (68% of the terrain is classified as such), and even more so further inland toward the Apennine Mountains. This is a large region and soils vary. Montalcino and some parts of Chianti Classico have some friable marl-like soils called Galestro. Montepulciano has sand and heavy clay soils, and San Gimignano has sandy soils, often over compacted clay.
Past Tours to Tuscany
What comes to mind when you think of Tuscany? Charming hilltop towns, quaint villages dotted with olive groves, cypress trees and fragrant vineyards, centuries-old villas and medieval castles. That’s exactly what our Tuscan tour was about. We stayed in the beautiful town of Sienna, burnt by glorious sunshine into that inimitable burnt yellow. We visited San Gimignano, nestled between its fourteen towers and the picture-perfect village of Brunello. We sipped glorious wines from Sangiovese, Vernaccia and more. We tucked into exquisite gourmet cuisine and explored the art of eating proper Italian pasta. Life was indeed beautiful.