Tales from the Tuscan Road

Having just returned from conducting a wine tour in Italy, I thought it would be fun to share some highlights as we ate & drank our way through Tuscany visiting 6 wineries in 7 days. During our week long stay, we visited wineries in the Chianti Classico region, Montalcino and our home-base in San Gimignano. In Tuscany, where the Sangiovese grape is king, the best way to enjoy their local wines was with their regional food. I won’t torture you with the details of all of our wonderful winery visits or the exquisite meals that accompanied each one, but perhaps just a peak at our ‘tough week.’ This is not for the weary, I mean the Tuscans take their food & wine very seriously. It’s common for us to pair Chianti with a tomato based pasta dish, but here in Tuscany, it goes literally with everything.

Our day would start out with  a, um…a light lunch, you know the kind that includes several platters of local cured meats, a selection of aged & young pecorino cheese, and some bruschetta with garden tomatoes. Just for starters and just to kick off the real show…which was of course the vino! At Castello di Verrazzano winery (near Greve), we savored the aforementioned delights  with their 2009 Sangiovese Rosato and 2005 Chianti Classico, moving then to roasted pork loin with white beans paired with Verrazzano 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva. We finished with a seasonal specialty, stracciatella cake made with Sangiovese grapes and paired with a dessert wine called Vin Santo (made from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes).

One of our favorite visits was with Mannucci-Droandi, a family-operated winery near Montevarchi in the Chianti sub zone of Colli Aretini. Owner Roberto Droandi took us to a nearby site where we walked through a small vineyard of ancient vines, some nearly 100 years old. We also visited his experimental vineyards that was home to over 40 different indigenous varietals, many closely related to Sangiovese. Mr. Droandi explained that he was working with the local university to help preserve these varietals and testing a few for the market. We felt so cutting edge!

Afterwards, we experienced an amazing lunch inside his home. Here we feasted on local meats of sopressata, finocchiona, wild boar prosciutto, garden tomatoes and pecorino cheese (getting the idea?) which were paired with his 2007 Chianti Colli Aretini and 2006 Chianti Riserva “Ceppeto”. Next up was rigatoni pasta with homemade peperoncini sauce paired with Mannucci-Droandi 2006 Toscana Foglia Tonda and 2006 Toscana “Campolucci” (Sangiovese/Cabernet/Merlot). We finished with cantucci (small Tuscan almond biscotti)  paired with his delicious Vin Santo.  Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday… oh I love the Tuscan hospitality!

 

– Cheers, Gina!

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