Winery Tour – Castello di Verrazzano, Chianti Classico
The weather has been fantastic here, sunshine and hot. We’ve arrived in Tuscany during harvest, which has been exciting for my group since most of them have never seen a wine region this time of the year. The villa we are staying at is 7km outside of San Gimignano and surrounded by vineyards. Each day we watch the pickers as they move along the hillsides, clipping clusters of Sangiovese, filling up their baskets then the trucks with grapes. The air is filled with the aroma of ripe grapes, something all of us noticed the minute we entered the Tuscan area. Our first of two winery visits this week is located in the Chianti Classico region. It’s a short distance away (45km) but getting to the Classico region is quite the experience. The roads are very twisty, constantly climbing up then spiraling down. Once on the Chianti Highway as its known, the road evens out a little and the drive goes more quickly through charming villages.
The driveway leading up to Castello di Verrazzano is very dramatic and breathtaking. It is one of the bonuses of travelling this far just to taste vino. We are greeted by Gino Rossi, head of hospitality at Verrazzano and whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting twice before. Gino is very passionate about Verrazzano, the vineyards and Chianti wines. When he spoke to our group about the Chianti region he told us to stop thinking about wine with our heads; but instead to use our eyes, nose, palate and heart. This instantly put the group at ease, knowing we were not just on a tour, but in someone’s home experiencing how they live their life amongst grapes.
The castle of Verrazzano is located in Greve in Chianti which is the northern section of the Chianti Classico region. Originally an Etruscan settlement, then a Roman one and finally becoming the property of the Verrazzano family in the VII century. Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered the bay of New York, so the Verrazzano’s have strong roots in the New World as well. We began our tour with a stroll through the beautiful castle gardens, hoping to get a glimpse of the wild boars that roam on the property (they cure their own meats here). We then toured the original old cellars, which were a maze of dim hallways and cool rooms made out of stone.
After the tour we were all seated in their beautiful tasting room, to enjoy a light lunch and tasting of fives wines. The order of the wines we tasted were: Verrazzano Rosso, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva and a Supertuscan (Sangiovese/Syrah blend with rich plum and spicey finish). All the wines were delicious, and perfectly paired with the prosciuotto, mortadella and pecorino cheese we had. Our table was split between the Chianti Classico Riserva (aged 2 years and only produced in ideal vintages) and the Supertuscan as their favorites. We finished the tasting with cantucci (almond biscuits) and Vin Santo…It was an amazing lunch and tasting! I highly recommend a tour at Verrazzano if you get to the Chianti region. The wines are very good quality for the money, the people friendly and the food with the view is just stunning. (You can purchase Verrazzano wine from Portalis!)
Ciao for now,