Today was another bucket list item – wine tasting in Tuscany. And it did not disappoint. I was happy to find a Viator tour that fit the bill – wasn’t too long and took in some sites as well as wineries. It was run by Caf Tours for anyone who is interested.
It was amazing that within an hour’s drive of busy and crowded Florence we were in the countryside (I suppose that is true at home though). Rolling green hills, lines and lines of vines and beautiful stone farmhouses dotted amongst the foliage.
Our first stop was an organic winery which was a very small operator. She said they only produce 10,000 bottles a year, whereas the large wineries produce that amount every two hours! Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the venue 😦
But we were treated to a taste of a white wine, two reds, as well as some salami, cheese and olive oil on bread. Delicious! Sangiovese is the wine of the region with the rules stipulating that it must have 80% sangiovese grapes to be considered true sangiovese. The other 20% is determined by the producers and the flavours they want to create. There are also strict rules around what can be considered a Chianti wine, with formal boundaries and everything. If the neck of the bottle features a black chicken, then it’s authentic Chianti.
I don’t remember hearing too much about what makes them organic or any specifics about notes or varieties etc, but I may have been distracted by a certain small person!
After this venue we stopped in Greve in Chianti – a tiny little (but very old) town. For some reason the main piazza was closed off and it was riposo so the town was dead.
But their famous Tuscan butcher was open and it was a site to behold! Chunks of meat hanging everywhere, a dedicated cheese cellar, as well as “wine vending machines” and gelato. Something for everyone for sure!
We unfortunately only had half an hour in Greve but I guess with everything shut that’s probably all you needed anyway. I could see quite a few of our fellow tourers indulging in the wine machine though with what time they had.
Our next stop was the main winery of the day and a larger producer (technically located in Siena) – the Familiglia Mazzarrini (also known as Poggio Amorelli). Set high amongst the hills it offered great views and the sommelier was fantastic.
The sommelier Andrea kind of made fun of the wine reviewers and basically said if it’s described as or tastes like oak, it’s bad. A good wine is one which everyone can agree on the notes, regardless of whether they like it. Their wines also have no sugar which he says is often used in excess to mask poor quality and which is also what gives you headaches after drinking wine. They were very generous with their presentation – a sparkling, three reds, truffle oil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I didn’t know the intricacies of oil or vinegar until today but even though it tasted sublime (as did the wines) I wasn’t inclined to pay 140 Euro for some vinegar! Even if it was 20 years old!
By now I could see a few people getting droopy-eyed, and the bus became very quiet as many people dosed off. I over heard one lady from Canada absolutely raving about their wines and vineyards. She even showed the sommelier a picture. Love, as if he gives a fuck! You’re literally standing in his business talking about how good someone else’s is! My god. Shut up. I did notice she always had a glass in her hand though. The poor old Tuscan wines can’t be too bad then aye?
Our next stop was Castellana in Chianti which was another beautiful town. By this time it was about 6.30 pm but instead of being given ample time to look around and maybe grab dinner, the tour guide gave us 10 minutes. Ten bloody minutes! Everyone basically said bugger off, and within 5 minutes the street was full of the group continuing to drink. The more they drunk the more they played with Hardy too – high fives, feeling his muscles, ‘where are you from?’ ‘Oh my he’s just the cutest!’ Again I heard the Canadian with her British Columbian wines. I wanted to knock that fedora right off her head. NO ONE CARES CYNTHIA. She was still drinking though bless her. Chianti Classico just had to do!
The guide actually said “chug chug chug” in an attempt to get everyone going. Not a pretty site!
We got carried away with Hardy playing tour guide again that halfway back to the bus I remembered – THE PRAM. Hardy and I ran back to get it, then ran to catch up with the group. I needn’t have bothered running – the group was so slow by this stage we caught them easily! Not that they would have left without us mind you. Poor Hardy did fall over and drop his ice cream though, but no bleed, just a scrape.
The return to Florence took about 50 minutes but as the sun was going down we got to see a beautiful sunset, the moon becoming brighter, and the twinkling lights of the various little towns. I couldn’t get a decent photo though sorry. Annoyingly the bus drove right near where we were staying but the actual drop off point was near the main train station. I didn’t want to walk but the taxi queue was huge so it would have taken longer to wait. But as I unfolded the pram a wheel fell off! Shit! Managed to stick it back in but goes to show how much of a toll the walking has had on it! I must admit for a European model it’s pretty shite at handling the uneven paths. Need something off-road!
Tomorrow is our last day in Florence and there’s a lot to fit in. I dare say we will be very tired by the end of it!