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Tuscany of Wine and the Wine of Tuscany

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Along the hundreds of road bends between the hills of Tuscany, the phones either do not work or work intermittently. Tuscany just doesn’t let you take your eyes off it. From the golden hills planted mainly with wheat and vines in the D’Orcia valley, through the higher and wooded uplands of the north, and all the way to the coastline, which we did not reach, but whose aroma, freshness and salinity can be felt even in wines from the interior of Tuscany. And when you walk on the million-year-old seashells almost 100 km inland, stand on one of the hundreds of hills and hear the story of each wine, you understand why we don’t need a phone in Tuscany. You only need to listen, watch, taste and soak up every drop of Tuscany. And then to go home, write and relive it.

This is why we are writing this article about Tuscany and its wine right now. It is neither a textbook nor a travel guide, nor can it be. But it is an account of some great Tuscan wines and magnificent Tuscan wineries that are worth trying and visiting. Or at least it was worth it to us.

Tuscany from South to North

Our trip to Tuscany started from Bologna airport . We will skip the mundane part of picking up a rental car and driving the otherwise pleasant highway south and land around 8pm at night near the town of Montepulciano, where we had booked a house in an agriturismo for the first 3 days of our stay.

Morning near Montepulciano, Tuscany
Morning near Montepulciano, Tuscany
Morning near Montepulciano, Tuscany
Morning near Montepulciano, Tuscany

We decided to explore Tuscany from southeast to northwest for a total of 7 days. Our main stops we selected primarily because of the remarkable wines that are made there. Montalcino, Montepulciano, Siena, San Gimignano, a detour to the villages of the Chianti Classico region and a few surprising wine places that will be discussed further down in this article. We didn’t quite see and try everything, but we had a quality and educational time. Spent in hours of walking through the vineyards, long conversations with the people behind them and tasting dozens, even hundreds of wines. This is how we imagined the perfect trip to Tuscany, and it happened.

The endless hills of Tuscany and the D'Orcia Valley.
The endless hills of Tuscany and the D’Orcia Valley. The vineyards and estate pictured are at Eredi Fuligni Cellar – one of the most respected Brunello di Montalcino cellars

Montepulciano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a charming town with a medieval and renaissance appearance, numerous churches and the typical cozy stone streets surrounded by tall buildings, many of them former palaces.

On the streets of Montepulciano
On the streets of Montepulciano
Montepulciano, Tuscany
Montepulciano, Tuscany

Vino Nobile de Montepulciano was one of the first three wines to receive DOCG status (Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita – Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) in 1980 – the highest stage in the modern classification system of Italian wines, which was establilshed in 1963.

Vino Nobile is made mainly from Sangiovese and rather one particular branch of it – Prugnolo Gentile, characteristic of the Montepulciano region. Vino Nobile must contain at least 70% Sangiovese, and the remaining 30% is usually a mix of several other traditional varieties of the region – Canaiolo Nero, Mamolo, etc. Vino Nobile itself has a very rich and dense flavor and aroma, strong tannins and by law must be aged for a minimum of 2 years before being released on the market, and a minimum of 3 years to be labelled a Riserva.

If you have obtained a high-quality Vino Nobile from somewhere, it is a good idea to leave it for a few more years before opening. We asked local winemakers which vintages they think are the best and worth the wait – keep an eye out for 2016.

A wonderful Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which we tried at the best restaurant in town – Le Logge del Vignola
A wonderful Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which we tried at the best restaurant in town – Le Logge del Vignola

Rosso di Montepulciano

Another famous wine from the region worth trying is Rosso di Montepulciano. It is made from the same grape varieties and is the lighter version of Vino Nobile. Rosso di Montepulciano DOC is required by law to age a minimum of one year in barrel.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano should not be confused with another famous Italian wine – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. As the name suggests, this wine comes from the Abruzzo region and is not made from Sangiovese, but from the Montepulciano grape variety, which is different.

Until the 1930s it was known as Vino rosso scelto di Montepulciano – or selected red wine from Montepulciano. In 1925, local winemaker Adamo Fanetti began using the name Vino Nobile, or noble wine. The wine was a spectacular success, and Fanetti’s winery went on to promote Montepulciano wine around the world. In 1966, Vino Nobile received DOC status (guaranteed designation of origin), and in 1980 it became one of the first three awarded with the DOCG appellation.

Fanetti Cellar, birthplace of Vino Nobile

The birthplace of Vino Nobile is located in a 14th century building. The winery is today run by his granddaughter Elisabetta Fanetti and her daughter Giuditta, who learned winemaking from family tradition and experience.

The 14th century Fanetti Cellar building
The 14th century Fanetti Cellar building

Everything shows the attempts of the Fanetti family to preserve their traditions as much as possible. The old large barrels of Slavonian oak and chestnut are still in use. The access of oxygen through the openings (and not only in this cellar) is isolated with a simultaneous device in the shape of a gas lamp, which is said to have been invented by Leonardo da Vinci.

The wine labels are still the same today as the first Vino Nobile. The wines themselves also carry the spirit of the past.

The wines of Cantina Fanetti
The wines of Cantina Fanetti

Where to stay near Montepulciano?

During the first three days of our trip through Tuscany, we decided to stay in the Montepulciano area, in one of the apartments rented by the Fanetti family . A wonderful place that looks especially promising for a longer summer vacation with or without children.

Podere San Giuseppe is set among the vineyards of Montepulciano and has several cozy apartments and a small pool.
Podere San Giuseppe is set among the vineyards of Montepulciano and has several cozy apartments and a small pool.
The pool of the guest house
Sunrise over Montepulciano

More Montepulciano wines to try

Here we share with you some more local wines that we tried in the good restaurants of the region.

Il Conventino Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2016

Croce di Febo Vino Nobile di Montepulciano MMXVI

Villa S. Anna Rosso di Montepulciano 2019

Cortona DOC – syrah from Tuscany

Twenty kilometers to the east of Montepulciano we enter another relatively new wine region – Cortona. In the 1990s, a visionary local winemaker decided to plant syrah in the region, and it turned out to be probably the best syrah-growing place in Italy , along with Sicily. Today, syrah is the most iconic variety for this region.

We were introduced to syrah from Cortona at the small but exceptional Via della Stella winery , part of a stunning rural tourism complex of the same name and run by the charming Chiara Vinciarelli.

Via della Stella is an infinitely beautiful estate with a boutique hotel, near Cortona
Via della Stella is an infinitely beautiful estate with a boutique hotel, near Cortona
Chiara Vinciarelli and her wonderful wines – twins Castore and Polluce
Chiara Vinciarelli and her wonderful wines – twins Castore and Polluce

Chiara’s wines are very interesting and very different and modern sounding, compared to the heavy aristocratic spirit of Vino Nobile, for example. The Chardonnay (2021) is unoaked, mineral and appley. Alcyone is Chiara’s wine from Sangiovese, fermented in a concrete tank, aged 1 year in oak and super fresh and fruity. And finally, we taste the two syrah wines together, which Chiara calls twins, because they are from the same grape, but with a completely different technology. Castore 2021 has only gone through stainless steel and is full of fruit and freshness. Polluce 2021 is tempting, dense, soft, settled, with a chocolate aroma and inducing dreams. Both are great, but we left with a bottle of the latter.

Most of Via della Stella's wines are fermented in concrete tanks. Chiara personally painted these pink to give them a fresh look.
Most of Via della Stella’s wines are fermented in concrete tanks. Chiara personally painted these pink to give them a fresh look.
The vineyards on the border between the regions of Cortona and Montepulciano
The vineyards on the border between the regions of Cortona and Montepulciano

Brunello di Montalcino – Brunello di Montalcino – The King of Tuscany

Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most famous Tuscan wines worldwide, and also one of the most expensive. Every meeting with him is exciting. It carries you like the wind through the Tuscan hills, its aromas meander between the sun-ripened fruits of this driest region of Tuscany, the spicy flavors of spices and powerful tannins that become absolutely irresistible over time, like Brunello itself.

The endlessly beautiful vineyards in the Montalcino region, near the village of Sant'Angelo in Colle. On the left are the buildings of the Collemattoni winery, which we talk about a little below
The endlessly beautiful vineyards in the Montalcino region, near the village of Sant’Angelo in Colle. On the left are the buildings of the Collemattoni winery, which we talk about a little below.
The vineyards in the southernmost part of the wine region where Brunello di Montalcino is made
The vineyards in the southernmost part of the wine region where Brunello di Montalcino is made

Brunello is a wine worth waiting for and spending years in blissful dreams of the bottle which is getting better and better. Long aging is the nature of this wine, and the test of patience of its owners is severe.

Through the aging rooms of Fuligni - one of the most respected wineries in the Montalcino region
Through the aging rooms of Fuligni – one of the most respected wineries in the Montalcino region.

Brunello di Montalcino comes from the hills near the town of Montalcino. It is made from 100% Sangiovese from the local Brunello branch, which until 1879 was considered a separate grape variety. The Montalcino region is one of the driest in Tuscany and produces rich and complex wines. For a wine like Brunello di Montalcino to come out, at least 5 years of aging are required, of which a minimum of 2 in oak. This is one of the reasons for its high price.

Brunello di Montalcino from Fuligni Cellar
Brunello di Montalcino from Fuligni Cellar

The wine from Montalcino was famous among conoisseurs for centuries

The wine from Montalcino was famous among conoisseurs for centuries

The history of Brunello as we know it today began in the late 19th century when local farmer and war veteran Federico Biondi-Santi released a Sangiovese wine aged over 10 years in oak barrels. Until the end of the Second World War, Brunello di Montalcino remained one of Italy’s rarest wines, Biondi-Santi was the only registered producer of this wine and there were only four vintages – 1888, 1891, 1925, 1945. But soon the high price and prestige of Brunello stimulated more winemakers from the region. In 1968, the region received DOP, and Brunello di Montalcino was one of the first three DOCG wines in Italy in 1980, along with Vino Nobile and Barolo. Today there are over 200 producers of Brunello di Montalcino, most of them small family estates.

Another wine that should not fall into Brunello’s shadow is Rosso di Montalcino. It comes from the same terroir and is again 100% Sangiovese, but is legally required to age “only” one year in oak. That is why Rosso di Montalcino comes to the market much earlier and has a fruitier and lighter character.

Brunello from 2 worlds

The vineyards south and north of the town of Montalcino produce different wines, local winemakers say. Some cellars that have vineyards on both sides and combine the best of both. However, we head to two localized cellars – one to the south, almost to the border of the region, and the other to the north, overlooking the D’Orcia Valley.

Collemattoni

Colematoni Cellar, they also have an olive grove
Colematoni Cellar, they also have an olive grove

Collemattoni is a former ecclesiastical property next to the village of Sant’Angelo in Colle, about twenty kilometers south of Montalcino. Today the property is owned by the Bucci family, and the main driver of the winery is Marcello Bucci and his wife Francesca. Both are successful oenologists. They grow 11 hectares of vineyards, mostly Sangiovese. They make exactly 5 wines and stick to tradition – the leading ones are Brunello di Montalcino (including Reserve), Rosso di Montalcino and 1-2 other wines, again based on Sangiovese.

Brunello di Montalcino matures here - Collemattoni cellar
Brunello di Montalcino matures here – Collemattoni cellar

We go through several vintages of Brunello di Montalcino that tell us the story of each year that has passed. The best vintages in the last 10-15 years, according to Francesca, are 2015 and 2016. Brunello 2016 is truly mind-blowing. And the wine takes us to worlds of peach and cherry jam, smoke, spice and red pepper in the taste. Complex and rich flavors and aromas intertwine, and the spicy aftertaste proves to us that this is truly a remarkable wine.

The only thing more exciting than it here is Fontelontano 2016. It spent 4 years in oak and 6 months in bottle to become a tempting wine with aromas of black and red pepper, chocolate, sweet oranges complemented by cinnamon and chocolate in taste. Amazing wine. And although our luggage was very limited, we left here with a bottle each of the last two wines. Yes, this was not to be missed.

You can learn more about Collemattoni in our separate article about the winery . It’s worth a read.

You wonder

How do we find such places?

Our endless curiosity helps us make contacts everywhere, especially in wineries. That is how we met years ago with   Federico Ricci , the Italian consultant of the “Zlaten Rozhen” wine cellar , which can boast of some of the most exciting Bulgarian wines for us in recent years. Federico is also a renowned oenologist in his native Tuscany, and naturally we asked him for recommendations. Thanks to him, we visited amazing wineries, and got to know the wines he makes in Italy. And now we can recommend them to you too. This is how we reached the next cellar, again from the Montalcino region – Fuligni . Before we start our story about it, we will just add that it was recommended to us by many winemakers to whom we talked in Tuscany.

Eredi Fuligni

Eredi Fuligni
Eredi Fuligni

Fuligni is one of the most respected wineries in the Montalcino region, both by local producers and the public, and by international critics. Their Brunello di Montalcino, vintage 2015, is one of the highest rated wines in the world, receiving 100 points from wine critic James Suckling. Their other wines also regularly receive high marks.

We tell you the full story of the winery in a separate article .

The Fuligni believe that terroir is the foundation of great wines. Therefore, their entire farming and production is based on the characteristics of the terroir. Their consultant for 20 years is Federico Ricci, who is first and foremost an incredible agronomist. Even today, Fuligni’s Brunello is woven from a lot of history and professionalism. Each array is vinified separately to accurately assess its future and follow its development. The wines are aged in legendary locations, including the cellars of one of the Medici palaces in Montalcino.

The cellar of Eredi Fuligni
The cellar of Eredi Fuligni

Tasting legends

And the wines – they are rich, dense, noble, mindblowing. Every year they reveal new and new worlds, and their potential seems endless. The opportunity to try them is a lifetime value, not only because they are extremely good, but also because they are not budget at all and yet they sell out of the market very quickly. Fuligni – just remember this name.

The endless beauty surrounding the Semiti estate, around which part of the vineyards of the Fuligni winery are located
The endless beauty surrounding the Semiti estate, around which part of the vineyards of the Fuligni winery are located
Several vintages of Fuligni wines
Several vintages of Fuligni wines

Chianti and Chianti Classico

Chianti is the largest wine region in Tuscany and probably the most famous in the world. Wines from the Chianti region have been mentioned in historical sources since the 14th century, where they talk about wines from the “Chianti Mountains” near Florence. In 1716, Cosimo III Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, determined by edict 4 villages that officially had the right to call their wine “Chianti” – Castellina, Gaiole, Rada and Greve. Today, the Chianti region is quite expanded and divided into several sub-regions. At its heart is the Chianti Classico area, where these historic villages and their surroundings are located.

The vineyards of the Chianti Classico region and the Riecine winery
The vineyards of the Chianti Classico region and the Riecine winery
The Sangiovese-ripened vineyards of Riecine
The Sangiovese-ripened vineyards of Riecine

Classifying all the wines, appellations and sub-regions from Chianti is probably more complicated than listing all the other wines from all of Tuscany. Several DOC and DOCG denominations are produced in the zone, which sometimes overlap, but quite a few producers are also betting on IGT wines and experimenting with foreign varieties. Chianti wine is again based on Sangiovese, but usually in combination with a few other local varieties. Chianti is an ocean of styles, traditions and wines. The general thing is that Chianti is synonymous with elegant red wines, mostly with medium body and light tannins, fruity or floral, easily drinkable and extremely tasty.

Riecine – Chianti Classico and more

Riecine is a winery in the heart of Chianti Classico, namely Gaiole in Chianti. The soil is a former riverbed, speckled with pebbles, and to this day gives the wines a strongly mineral and slightly salty undertone. The winery was founded in 1971 by the Englishman John Dunkley and his Italian wife Palmina Abagnano.

In the Riecine vineyards, there are still some of the old vines planted in the 1970s, and their philosophy is to preserve the traditions of their founder. Vinification takes place entirely in concrete vats, and the recipe for making the iconic Chianti Classico has not been changed since the beginning.

Riecine Winery is one of the great places to try Chianti Classico with tradition. On the right is a bottle from the winery's first vintage - 1973
Riecine Winery is one of the great places to try Chianti Classico with tradition. On the right is a bottle from the winery’s first vintage – 1973
From the terrace of the Riecine cellar you can see the oldest Sangiovese vineyards.
From the terrace of the Riecine cellar you can see the oldest Sangiovese vineyards.

And a walk through the cellar itself is like an art gallery, which takes us along the path from grapes to wine.

The ceiling in the fermentation room of the Riecine cellar depicts wine in its earliest form, namely grapes
The ceiling in the fermentation room of the Riecine cellar depicts wine in its earliest form, namely grapes

The wines of Riecine

on the one hand they reflect the typical spirit and terroir of Chianti, but on the other hand they have a wonderful character of their own. The salty note is present in many of them, and elegance is imminnent. The signature labels are Chianti Classico and La Gioia, but all their wines are worth trying. Infinitely curious was their IGT Rosso Toscana , fermented in concrete and aged in concrete eggs for 24 months. The exotic of the winery is the orange wine from Trebbiano , with 5 months of maceration, aged in amphorae. White wines are not at all characteristic of Chianti Classico, but in several places we came across orange ones. Given that the wave of natural wines is extremely strong there at the moment, it is not at all unexpected.

Some of the Riecine wines we tasted after a long and endlessly enjoyable tasting
Some of the Riecine wines we tasted after a long and endlessly enjoyable tasting

See more about the winery and the individual wines in the Riecine article .

Vernacchia di San Gimignano – the only white DOCG wine in Tuscany

A total of 11 wines with the DOCG label are made in Tuscany, meeting the highest criteria for controlled and guaranteed origin. The only white DOCG wine is Vernaccia di San Gimignano . The Vernaccia variety is characteristic of the hills around the picturesque medieval village of San Gimignano, which more than one tourist has fallen in love with. The wine of this variety also became Italy’s first DOC wine when the modern classification system was created in 1966. In 1993 it was “promoted” to DOCG.

The Vernaccia grape in literature is immortalized in the second part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Vernaccia wines are generally very dry, with high acidity and delicate aromas, with a slight bitterness at the end. Light and delicate, described by some critics as “table wines”. It’s true that they are excellent company for any afternoon and you don’t need food to enjoy a fresh Vernaccia. Once aged in oak, however, the variety shows a completely different face that won’t let you put it down. The body becomes dense and mineral, the fruit unfolds and you can explore aromas and combinations with food for a long time.

Poggio Alloro – wine and great food with a view of San Gimignano

The place we chose to try Vernaccia is Fattoria Poggio Alloro . Again recommended to us by Federico Ricci, who is also their consultant. Poggio Alloro is actually a large eco-farm with a hotel part and a wonderful restaurant, with a spectacular view of San Gimignano.

The vineyards near San Gimignano
The vineyards near San Gimignano
Fattoria Poggio Alloro Eco Farm and Winery
Fattoria Poggio Alloro Eco Farm and Winery

We spent hours there, enjoying the wine and the food, while the towers of San Gimignano appeared and disappeared from our view behind the clouds on a rainy day.

The towers of San Gimignano shrouded in clouds on a rainy day.
The towers of San Gimignano shrouded in clouds on a rainy day.
The Poggio Alloro farm also breeds Chianina cattle, from which the famous Fiorentina steak (Bistecca Fiorentina) is made.
The Poggio Alloro farm also breeds Chianina cattle, from which the famous Fiorentina steak (Bistecca Fiorentina) is made.

And since, as we said, the weather was very favorable to stay long, the number of wines tasted by us reached a dozen. Poggio Alloro also has wonderful sparkling wines, and last but not least, dessert wines. Given our very limited luggage space, we left with just two bottles – Le Mandorle (Vernaccia, aged 2 years in oak) and the dessert Vinsanto 2016, from Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes, aged 5 years in oak.

The classic combination of the finish and cantuccini dipped in Vinsanto
The classic combination of the finish and cantuccini dipped in Vinsanto

BIO or where are the Tuscan winemakers looking?

For more and more winemakers in Tuscany, the future is in organic and biodynamic production. More and more businesses are certified to these standards. There are also wineries that are currently making the transition to BIO and even those that have been working this way for years, although they do not have all the certificates. During our journey we met many such people looking in this direction, each with his own philosophy. But most of them are united by the idea of ​​the inseparable connection between man and wine, which must be preserved at all costs.

Shells 50 km from the sea and wines that have no analogue – Usiglian del Vescovo

We already told you that we consulted Federico Ricci for much of our wine travels. And it couldn’t be otherwise – he is one of the famous agronomists and oenologists not only in Bulgaria, but especially in his native Tuscany. His passion for the soils and the vines is contagious and it is always an endless pleasure and adventure to leave yourself in his hands to take you around a winery. And despite his busy schedule, we managed to meet at Usiglian del Vescovo , where he is also a consultant.

Usiglian del Vescovo is an amazing winery, with an amazing location, even more amazing soils and, you guessed it, absolutely amazing wines that defy all expectations. The winery is located on a hill near the village of San Miniato, the truffle capital of Tuscany.

The sky of Tuscany on a slightly humid September day - Usiglian del Vescovo winery
The sky of Tuscany on a slightly humid September day – Usiglian del Vescovo winery

The vines are about 250 m above sea level, planted on soils covered with sand and ancient

shells discarded from the Mediterranean 6 million years ago

The organic vineyards of Usiglian del Vescovo
The organic vineyards of Usiglian del Vescovo
A layer of mussel shells millions of years old is clearly visible in the soil
A layer of mussel shells millions of years old is clearly visible in the soil

How exactly they got here, we tell in our separate article about Usiglian del Vescovo . Now on to the wines.

The wines are aged in tunnels underground where there were once olive oil mills
The wines are aged in tunnels underground where there were once olive oil mills

Each of Usiglian del Vescovo’s wines shines with its own madness. Aromas of flowers, fruit and sweetness collide with strongly mineral and salty flavors. Undoubtedly one of the most memorable Tuscan wineries, going beyond all expectations.

Mimi and Federico Ricci taste the new wines from the concrete fermenters.
Mimi and Federico Ricci taste the new wines from the concrete fermenters.

You can read the full notes about them in our article about the winery , don’t miss them. And save it for your next visit.

The Bulgarian trace in Italian wine

After three days in the south of Tuscany, we took the winding roads north and entered the villages of the province of Pisa. It was already dark and we were climbing and barely passing the stone houses along the narrow streets of the village of Chianni. In the Tuscan villages, the lack of asphalt is not uncommon. Many people live and host guests in farm-type properties (Agriturismo), which are often accessed by a dirt road. So we went up to the big red house that once belonged to the bishop of the village, who was also something of a ruler.

San Donato in Bellaria
San Donato in Bellaria

We arrived at San Donato in Bellaria , Nicoletta and Stefano’s home and BIO farm where you can stay. Both share a passion for the nature-friendly way of life, man’s relationship with the earth and the organic production of grapes and other crops.

San Donato in Bellaria next to the village of Chianni in the heart of Tuscany
San Donato in Bellaria next to the village of Chianni in the heart of Tuscany

Stefano has been making wine from his own vineyards, tended biodynamically, for over 15 years. The brand is Terre del Ving, translated as “Lands of the Engineer-Winemaker”. In parallel, they are developing another project called “nomadic viticulture”, which started with the idea of ​​saving an old vineyard by the sea (Montescudaio), which the owners would have otherwise abandoned. They already have young vines planted on the hills near the house and next year they are expecting their first harvest.

In the wines they have made so far, you can feel the fruit, the earth, the terroir, intertwined by the spontaneous gifts of nature. Gattamatta 2017, an IGT from 100% Sangiovese, was extremely curious . Made with a long maceration of almost 5 months with the skins, the result is a really curious wine, very dense, with distinct earthy flavors and aromas. We can’t wait to taste the new wines that will be made from the still growing young vines. And in the new massif there are Sangiovese, Vermentino and other local varieties, in a cup-shaped formation (bushwine), mixed in the rows, as the vines were once planted.

The new vineyards in San Donato in Bellaria
The new vineyards in San Donato in Bellaria

The wine project of Nicoletta and Stefano is a member of the association of organic wine producers in Tuscany. The trend towards organic production there is getting stronger.

Tempranillo 100 years old in Tuscany

It sounds incredible and almost absurd given the Italian traditions of winemaking and the passion for local varieties, but yes, there are Tempranillos in Tuscany, and on old vines, some almost 100 years old, which also grow without rootstocks.

Leonardo Beconcini shows some of the old Tempranillo vines at the Pietro Beconcini winery near San Mignato
Leonardo Beconcini shows some of the old Tempranillo vines at the Pietro Beconcini winery near San Miniato

Nicoletta took us to the Pietro Beconcini winery , another organic producer from their association, to see this phenomenon live. Tempranillo’s roots in Tuscany are believed to date back to the 18th century, and the grape’s seeds were probably carried by Christian pilgrims traveling to Rome . For a long time it was not clear exactly what this grape was, until in the 1980s a large-scale study by the University of Florence discovered that it was Tempranillo. Of course, it is different from Tempranillo from Rioja, for example, due to many factors – evolution, terroir and whatnot. Today’s owner of the winery, Leonardo Beconcini, says that some of the old vines, still alive today, date back to before the Second World War, or at least that is the information he has from his predecessors.

Interestingly, due to the sandy soils of the region, they grow successfully without rootstocks and are resistant to phylloxera.

The Tempranillo vineyards of the Pietro Beconcini winery
The Tempranillo vineyards of the Pietro Beconcini winery

Pietro Beconcini’s wines are dense, rich and full of character. With aromas of black fruit, blueberry jam, spices, smoke and even sandalwood. Endlessly curious wines, some of which we now regret not having bought, because we were distracted and in a great hurry.

The Tempranillo
The Tempranillo

Sparkling wines in Tuscany

Tuscany is so fertile for winemaking that surprises abound. Although not world-renowned for its sparkling wines, we discovered that it also has great producers of naturally sparkling wines from local varietals. One of them is Cupelli , a family winery right next to the town of San Miniato, established in 1952. For decades, the family has cultivated and vinified varieties such as Trebbiano, Canaiolo, Cileggiolo, Colombana. Their favorites are the white Trebbiano and the red Canaiolo, which is part of Chianti.

After decades of working with these varieties on the sandy soil with remains of marine fossils and some clay, they found that they produced wines of remarkable freshness. Thus, in 2008, they decided to focus entirely on the production of naturally sparkling wines using the classic method.

Four exciting sparkling wines from Tuscany - Cupelli Spumanti
Four exciting sparkling wines from Tuscany – Cupelli Spumanti

The journey through the bubbles

of Cupelli is exciting. L’erede Brut 2016 is 100% Trebbiano and aged for 36 months in bottle. With fresh fruity aromas of strawberry, peach and citrus aftertaste.

L’erede Brut Nature 2015 stuns us from every direction. It is made from a special branch of Trebbiano, from very old vines they have on their property. It envelops us with its delicate aromas and denser taste and makes us think of truffles, fish or tartar. We can call it a gastronomic wine, or a wine suitable for a gastronomic experience.

The rosé from Canaiolo is also wonderful with the aromas and flavors of red fruits combined with a little paprika. Slightly spicy and very pleasant. And finally we try the semi-dry red sparkling wine of Sangiovese and Cinegiollo, which floods us with aromas of fruit, roast and rosehip marmalade, complemented by herbs in the taste.

We left with a bottle of each, we couldn’t resist, although it was not at all clear to us how we would be able to carry it in our luggage.

Sarah Cupelli, the granddaughter of the winery's founder Amelio Cupelli, who today runs the business together with her mother and brother
Sarah Cupelli, the granddaughter of the winery’s founder Amelio Cupelli, who today runs the business together with her mother and brother

More notable wines from Tuscany

No, we have not quite visited all the important wine regions in Tuscany and we have not quite tasted all the great Tuscan wines. We have many more times to go. But while we avoid writing about things we haven’t touched, here we’ll also add a little more information about wines and places worth seeing.

Bolgheri and SuperToscana

The term SuperTuscany is as popular around the world as it is obscure. In general, when you hear Super Toscana, you should imagine wines from international varietals, most often in the Bordeaux style – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, made with great attention to detail and great aging potential.

The first “Super Tuscans”

appeared in the 1970s, when winegrowers from the Bolgheri region decided to experiment with foreign varieties and technologies, instead of sticking to the established ones. The first of the popular wines in this style is Tenuta San Guido ‘s Sassicaia , which today is one of the most expensive wines in the world. Another world-famous wine from this stream is the Tignanello of the Antinori winery . It became the first barrel-aged Sangiovese and one of the first red wines in the Chianti Classico region that did not include white varieties.

Out of standard wines

At the beginning, these wines, although of high quality, did not enter any of the classifications of the Italian wine market and were sold as the lowest class – Vino da Tavola. Since 1992, there has been the category IGT – Indicazione Geographica Tipica, which is one level above Vino da Tavola, but lower in the hierarchy than DOC and DOCG. Later, the regulations underwent further changes and currently some Super Tuscan wines are now included in the DOC classification as well, such as Bolgheri DOC. The legendary Sassicaia has its own DOC designation – Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC.

If you want to visit a winery in Bolgheri, especially one of the legends, plan your visit from afar and keep in mind that they still may not accept you – due to busyness, vintage or other reason. Another thing to be prepared for is the high cost of tastings. However, for us the visit would be worth it and next time we will try harder to visit this region as well.

Meanwhile, SuperTuscan style wines can also be found in many other wineries in the interior of Tuscany, for example in the Chianti Classico region. Just be aware that no label will say SuperTuscany. You can orient yourself by varieties, technology and price. Legends such as Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tignanello and some others are sold for several hundred euros a bottle. And somehow SuperTuscany has become a term synonymous with terribly expensive wine.

Vermentino and the sea of ​​Tuscany

Amazingly good wines also grow along the coast of Tuscany, and there you can finally enjoy wonderful fresh white wines. One of the most popular varieties is Vermentino, which we love very much. We have tasted Tuscan Vermentino in several restaurants and can only recommend that you too enjoy it when you have the chance.

A wonderful vermentino that we were served at the lovely restaurant Le Logge del Vignola in Montepulciano
A wonderful vermentino that we were served at the lovely restaurant Le Logge del Vignola in Montepulciano

And a few more DOCG wines

As mentioned several times, DOCG designates (in theory) the most prestigious and high-quality wines of Tuscany, made on the basis of established traditions and good practices in viticulture and winemaking in certain regions. Tuscany is one of the regions with the most DOCG wines – there are 11 DOCG appellations. We already told you about some – Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti Classico, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chianti. The rest are: Carmignano, Elba Aleatico Passito, Montecucco, Morellino di Scansano, Suvereto, Val di Cornia. We make this list not because you can’t find it elsewhere, and not because these wines are necessarily better or more important than the thousands of other wines produced in Tuscany. But they are a good orientation for wines with traditions and proven quality, characteristic of this wine region of the world. If you have the opportunity to try any of them – do it. At least that’s what we would do.

Tuscany of wine

Even if you are not a big wine lover (I don’t know why I am writing this, it is unlikely that such a person would read the whole article and come this far), the wine spirit of Tuscany will touch you. Every meter of this land is connected with wine. Every restaurant has a special relationship with wine. Every village has a wine story. And even if you decided to pay all your attention to the cultural and historical sights in Tuscany, which are simply amazing, you will see that their history also intersects with the history of winemaking. Tuscany is a land of wine and wine is one of Tuscany’s wonderful children. Therefore, wherever you look at Tuscany, let its wine touch you.

A sight that cannot be forgotten
A sight that cannot be forgotten
Even if you don't visit a winery, don't refuse to try Tuscan wine, especially with food – there are also great offers in restaurants and bars. There will be separate articles about restaurants and food in Tuscany, stay tuned.
Even if you don’t visit a winery, don’t refuse to try Tuscan wine, especially with food – there are also great offers in restaurants and bars. There will be separate articles about restaurants and food in Tuscany, stay tuned.

Rimessa Roscioli – the best wine bar in Rome and a journey through the legendary Italian wines – here we recommend you a wine bar in Rome where you can really enjoy great wines both from Tuscany and from all over Italy.

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