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Tuscany is a land of beautiful scenery and delicious food. The rolling hills of the Val d’Orcia create a romantic landscape filled with passion. Much of modern Italian culture and language stems from the people of Tuscany, highlighting just how influential this rich culture is. As with other Italian regions, you can expect a unique culture of winemaking and vineyard practices. Tuscan wines are some of the most popular wines in Italy and they are known all over the world. Three of the most famous wines that are produced in the region, with DOCG status, are from the areas of Brunello di Montalcino, Montepulciano and, of course, Chianti. Read on to find out more about the Tuscan wine region.
Our Tuscany cycling holidays will have you meandering around the wine areas of Montepulciano and Montalcino as well as exploring the pretty town of Cortona. You’ll pedal over the sweeping Tuscan hills on a trusty e-bike, enjoying balmy evening sunsets looking out over the extraordinary vistas Tuscany has to offer. This part of Italy is one of the most spectacular in terms of scenery and sheer beauty. Thanks to thousands of years of careful pruning, the hillsides of this region are picture-perfect in every way. But we can’t forget about the wines produced here. Tuscan wine is some of the most delicious in Italy, known for being wonderfully dry.
Tuscany lies just north of the centre of Italy. The Mediterranean climate and constant sunlight make this region one of the best in Europe for winemaking. Tuscan wines have been popular ever since the 8th century BC, making them one of the oldest industries of Italy. The Tuscan wine guild was created around 1282 AD in Florence, establishing strict regulations on the wine in the region. Some of these included such rules as the prohibition of wine being sold within 100 yards of a church, or the selling of wine to ruffians, thieves and other ‘street undesirables’. It was also in the medieval era when Tuscan winemakers would invent the process of ‘governo’, effectively stabilising the wines during fermentation to create that characteristic Tuscan dry trait.
In Tuscany, the main grape variety you’ll come across is Sangiovese, which is used to create these famous dry wines. Luckily for the Tuscan winemakers, this grape struggles to grow outside of the region, creating many wines only seen in Tuscany. These include Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. It is believed that the many hills in Tuscany may have a tempering effect on the summertime heat, helping the vineyards on higher elevations. These many hills also help the vines to catch more sunlight, which is one of the reasons Sangiovese grapes thrive only here; they need a lot of sunlight to perform at their best. Tuscany is also filled with culinary delicacies that pair with the local wines excellently. The dry reds should be coupled with the meat and tomato-based dishes commonly found in the region. Try a Chianti Classico with a Pappa al pomodoro soup or a beautiful Bistecca alla Fiorentina steak, sourced from local Chianina cattle, for an unforgettable dining experience.
Chianti is easily Tuscany’s largest classified wine region and produces over eight million cases of wine per year. Usually a very dry, full red wine is made here and was known for being traditionally bottled in a fiasco; this is a rounded wine bottle that is enclosed in a tightly woven straw basket. Nowadays, most Chianti producers tend to bottle their wine in more standard shapes. This picturesque land of perfect countryside boasts countless vineyards. On The Tuscan Experience, you’ll have the chance to experience the Chianti hills and taste these vintages. In Greves, you’ll find the Villa Calcinaia, a vineyard with some of the most exquisite vintages in Italy. In their cellars, lies bottles of Chianti Classico from their 1969 harvest. These sumptuous bottles of red were made with Sangiovese grapes and boast floral notes of dried wildflowers, tobacco spices, and even coffee. A rich wine such as this begs to be accompanied with even richer food, preferably of the roasted variety. Villa Calcinaia recommends flavours of pistachios, candied orange and chopped walnut in the meal that marries this wine.
When in Asciano on The Tuscan Experience, you’ll notice that there is no shortage of wine shops. Thanks to its position near Siena, a supply of the best wines in the world has never been too far away for Asciano. This town’s passion for wine is palpable, and nowhere else is it more so than at Il vinaio di Mirallina. Known simply in Italian as the 'vintner of Mirellina', an unassuming wine connoisseur will take you on a journey of taste. Whatever the grape or colour, this shop will provide. Not only this but during your tasting, you’ll be offered a delicious selection of cold cuts to truly appreciate the wine flavours. You’ll be treated like family when you visit here, as the vintner is just as excited as you are for your tasting. This shows how Asciano lives and breathes for wine.
In the rolling hills of Cortona sits the beautiful Baracchi Winery. They’ve been making wines under the Tuscan sun for over five generations. The owner, Riccardo, believes strongly in hospitality, wellness, and fine dining, creating his wines for the utmost enjoyment of those who taste them. Together with his son, Benedetto, the Baracchi Winery makes exquisite vintages. One of the most exciting things about this vineyard is the variety of grapes grown. Thanks to the varying hills and soils, there are four distinct wine-growing areas, ranging from the classic Sangiovese to the more international Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. You’ll have the chance to explore Cortona and the vineyards around town on The Day I Saw Siena cycling holiday.
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