Shannon Wolf | October 14, 2015 9:00 PM ET
Chianti Wine Tour: Amazing Vino Tastes in a Cinematic Landscape
PHOTO: One of the stunning viewpoints we stopped at during the wine tour overlooking the Chianti Region with San Gimigano in the background.(photos by Shannon Wolf)
We started the day at 10 a.m. for a seven-hour wine tour and were greeted by our babe of a tour guide — a local from Florence with the smile of an angel who crushingly turned out to be 5 years younger than me. (I’m no cradle robber so that daydream instantly vanished and I went back to thinking about the consumption of wine to come).
We arrived at our first winery — Tenuta Torciano in the famous Chianti region of San Gimigano. It was surrounded by lush rolling hills and cypress trees, like something out of a movie.
We were greeted by one of the members of the Giachi family who humorously taught us how to properly hold a wine glass (hint: it’s not from the top or the stem), how to use all your senses to taste the notes. And these subtle variations run the gamut, such as the pineapple in the Pino Grigio or the cherry, chestnut and oak in my favorite full-bodied red. (Don’t I sound fancy?).
We were given FIVE surprisingly generous portions of expensive wine ranging from €35-€54 a bottle, a specialty extra virgin olive oil, truffle oil and a 15-year-old balsamic vinaigrette costing a small fortune of €73.
Lets just say the wine accompanied by truffle oil must have gone to my head because my credit card magically floated away and brought back two bottles of the most expensive four-year-old wine called Baldassarre “Super Tuscan” IGT. Nonetheless, I justified my spending by telling myself I got a great discount of €32.50 a bottle rather than the standard €54 (and that I would be living off home-cooked pasta for the remainder of my time in Italy).
Next, we headed off to our second winery, Pietraserena, where the owner’s wife took us on a tour through the process of making wine — from the vineyard to barrels to packaging of the wine and what constitutes the prestigious Chianti seal of approval.
We were then brought to a beautifully set terrace reminiscent of the iconic film “After Sunset” then had some fresh bruschetta, baguettes and olive oil while sampling three different types of wine while overlooking a magnificent landscape.
The final part of the day was left to quickly explore the medieval town of San Gimigano, where we wandered the ancient streets to the picturesque lookout point.
PHOTO: A first view of the medieval town of San Gimigano.
Of course, we also dropped by Gelateria di Piazza to try its world-famous homemade gelato. My taste buds reached new levels after trying three unique flavors consisting of: chocolate/hazelnut, raspberry/rosemary and (my favorite) white chocolate/pumpkin seed oil gelato!
Cost of tour: €60, two bottles of wine: €65, three scoops of gelato: €3. The experience? PRICELESS.
Note: I will point out that I have never been one for tour groups nor was I hired to write any form of review, but I love wine and seeing this region without a vehicle is challenging, so I opted to try my first official tour. With that said, Italy On A Budget’s “The Grape Escape Winery Tour” was truly special and an experience I highly recommend if you have the chance. (Just leave your credit cards at home!)
Cost of tour: €60
Total Hours: 7
Locations: 2 wineries in the Chianti Region, side trip to San Gimigano for its famous gelato and lookout point.
Sample: 8 wines, 1 truffle oil, 2 extra virgin olive oils and 15-year-old balsamic vinegar.
Fun level: 10/10
Worth it? ABSOLUTLEY.
If by chance a tour is not in your budget, yet you would still like to try the real Chianti wines while in Tuscany, below are some of the best I had sampled:
• Vernaccia Di San Gimigano (DOCG): Also known as Pinot Grigio. A great summer wine! Goes well with fish, meat and cheese.
• Chianti (DOCG): A light red wine for everyday drinking. Smooth and really nice!
• Chianti Classico (DOCG): Has a symbol of a black rooster. Pair with beef or strong cheese.
• Baldassarre “Super Tuscan” IGT: A spicy, full-bodied red. Known as a “meditation wine” made of cab sauvignon and merlot. Notes of cherry, chestnut, tobacco and oak.
• Caulio (Chianti Colli Senesi): A full-bodied red.
• Toscana Rosato: A rose.
• Vernaccia Di San Gimigano
PHOTO: I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful display at Pietraserena Winery where we sat sampling their flavorful wine and bruschetta.
How to spot real Chianti at a store
• The top seal
• The symbol of a rooster
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