We spent three days in one of wine country’s most beautiful and exciting locations, Chianti Classico in central Italy. We visited several wineries and tasted perhaps as many as 70 different Chianti Classico wines from producers both big and small. Our tour and tasting was all part of the European Wine Bloggers Post Conference sponsored by the Chianti Classico Consortium. They wined and dined 30 wine bloggers as though we all were potential Robert Parkers. They rolled out the red carpet to impress, and that we were. We loved the wineries and producers we visited and had a most memorable time. We learned much about Chianti Classico, its wines, tradition, and its many characteristics. We begin a series of posts with some general information and background about Chianti Classico and its wines.
Chianti Classico runs from Florence to Siena in the region of Tuscany and two thirds of the land consists of forests of oak, chestnut, and conifers. What a delight to drive along these beautiful backroads that lead to many wineries and small villages and to view stunning hillsides of olive trees, vineyards, and wondrous Tuscan villas. Every turn in the road is a new adventure. It was a good thing that we were on a bus or surely, if I’d been driving a car, I would have driven off the road, distracted by the beautiful landscape.There are some very serious regulations in Chianti Classico that have been in place since 1926. Some call it the “recipe” for Chianti Classico. All the wines produced must contain 80% to 100% Sangiovese grapes, and all the grapes must be from the official zone of Chianti Classico. The wines must be released no sooner than October 1 from the previous year’s harvest. Reserva wines must be aged for 24 months and bottle aged for a minimum of 3 months before being released. There are also requirements for vines per hectare and for yields from a vineyard.
What we discovered in our visits is that there is much more than just rules and regulations behind the wines of Chianti Classico. There is a passion and love for the land, the people, and the desire to produce wonderful wine. In Chianti Classico wine is food and a way of life. It is a pleasure to visit wineries and see how proud the producers are of their wines. It’s easy to love the taste of Chianti Classico wines, with aromas and flavors of red fruit and spice, and with balanced acidity and low alcohol.
If you want to plan a trip to the Chianti Classico wine region there are several small cities that you can make your home base. We stayed in “Radda in Chianti” at My One Hotel, but all the towns are charming and have several hotel choices. You can also rent a villa in the countryside with friends and explore the wineries during the day, and come back and feast on food and wine in the evening without worries of finding you way back. You can hire a cook for the villa or be your own chef, scouring the markets during the day to plan your menu and choose your Chianti Classico wines. Oh, don’t forget this is also the land of extra virgin olive oil, and there is plenty of that to be soaked up by fresh Tuscan bread. You can go to the wineries on your own, but an appointment is needed at most wineries. There are many tour companies out of Siena that have organized tours. With our next few posts, we will tell you about some special wineries and experiences that are not to be missed if you plan to visit this fabulous wine region.