Friday, January 29, 2016

Wine in Tuscany

Executive summary by Darmansjah

Dante, Petrach and Boccaccio waxed lyrical about Tuscan wine, Sample Brunello di Montalcino and Sassicaia in sleek wine bars, renowned wineries and centuries-old estates to see what they meant.


Castelo Di Ama, Chianti

The highly reagarded Castello di Ama wine estate near Gaiole produces a delicious Chianti Calssico as well as Showcasing the work of some the world’s best-known sculptors such as Anish Kapor in its formal gardens. There are guided tours of the cellar, villa and gardens by appointment (; Apr-Oct; tour and tastings US$13.80).

Badia A Passignano, Chianti

This 11th-century abbey, located three miles west of Montefioralle, is owned by the Antinoris, one of Tuscany’s most prestigious winemaking families. Tehre are guided visits to the vineyards and cellars, including a daily tour that ends with a tasting of four signature Antinori wines, plus lunch or dinner in its Michelin starred restaurant. There is also a wine shop (; daily wine tasting tour US$212).

Tenuta La Chiusa, Elba

Upon being exiled to the island of Elba in 1814, Napoleon stayed at Tenuta la Chiusa, a walled estate by the sea. He chose well, this 18th-century villa with vineyards and olive groves is Elba’s oldest winemaking estate. You can taste the wines it produces, including a sweet, red Aleatico dessert wine, and there are apartments if you overindulge (; Localita Magazzini, 93; tastings US$21, including three wines).

Wine Bars

Gustavino, Florence

The place to relish Tuscan cuisine, Gustavino restaurant’s well-stocked cellar offers a choice of more than 800 different labels. Pair Terricci from the restaurant’s own winery with creative entrees of pecorino and pear tortelli, stewed cuttlefish and eggplants parmigiana (; via della Condotta, 37R; Rosso della Lanciola US$4.20 a glass).

Costiccio, Montalcino

Montacino is the home of one of the world’s greatest wines. Brunello di Montaicino, and the launch of the new vintage each Februray is eagerly awaited. Enoteca Osteria Osticcio has a selection of Brunello and its more modest, but very palatable, sibling Rosso di Montaicino. After a tasting, claim a table upstairs for a glass of wine accompanied by a cheese and meat platter or a meal (; Via Matteotti, 23; tasting of three Brunellos US$19.80).

Enoteca Tognoni, Bolgheri

Bolgheri is home to Sassicaia, a ‘Super Tuscan’ wine revered by the international press. And there’s no better place to try it than at this high-profile wine bar on the pretty central square. Wines of the day are chalked on the board outside, Sassicaia always featuring along with 40 or so wines totaste by the glass. A plate of its mixed crostini makes the perfect accompaniment (; Via Lauretta, 5; wine from US$11.40 for 100ml, Sassicaia US$31 for 100ml).

Wine Roads

Strada Del Vino E Dell’Olio

Begin this 90-mile route in Livorno and head south through a hinterland of medieval villages and vineyards. Great tasting stops include San Guido and Blogheri, from where it is a wiggly 12 miles further south to Sassetta (stay at la Cerreta, a pretty agriturismo; next day, focus on Val di Cornia DOC wines in Suvereto (

Strada Del Vino E Dei Sapori Colli Di Maremma

Unlike chianti, the treasures of Maremma have only recently been discovered, so it’s still a peaceful region to explore. This wine route ranges from the sea to the slopes of Monte Amiata. The highlights are its DOC and DOCG wines: Capalbio, Parrina, Sovana, Morellino di Scansano, Ansonica Costa dell’ Argentario and Bianco di Pitigliano (

Strada Del Vino Montepulciano

Montepulciano is home to the much-lauded Vino Nobile, which makes a fabulous pairing with the local Chianina beef. Get advice on the best places to experience such parings at the Strada del Vino Montepulciano office in Plazza Grande. Here, you can also book tours and courses: including a walk through vineyards and olive groves, culminating in a tasting of Vino Nobile (

Tuscany essentials


There are no direct non-stop flights from Singapore to Tuscany, but Lufthansa, Swiss, Air France, KLM and British Airways flights are available. You can reach the wine regions by train or bus: SITA operates services from Florence to Greve in Chianti (60 mins; US$4.80;, and you can get a train to Siena from Florence, then a bus to Montepulciano. For the most flexibility and access to the wine regions, hire a car  (from US$49 per day;

Where To Stay

Fattoria di Rignana has all you will need for the perfect Chianti experience – an historic setting, giorious views, a large pool and proximity to a good local cantina. Choose between swish rooms in the 17th-century villa or rustic rooms in the farmhouse (; Via di Rignana, 15; fro mUS$155).

Podere Riparbella is an ecologically sustainable estate near Massa Marittima. The Swiss owners cultivate grapes and olives and make jams (; Localita Sopra Pian di Mucini; from US$228, including a 4-course evening meal).

Set amid working sheep farms in Val d’Orcia, la Bandita is a rural retreat with luxury touches, such as in-room bathubs, an infinity pool, free cappuccinos and wine. It makes a teat base for exploring Montepulciano and Montaicino (; from US$277).

The Know How

Tuscan Wines

Brunello di Montaicino the product of sangiovese grapes grown south of Siena, this wine must spend at least two years in Oak. Intense and complex, it’s best best paired with game, wild boar and roats. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Prugnolo gentile grapes form the backbone of this revered drop. Its intense but delicate nose and dry, slightly tannic taste make it the perfect match for red meat and cheese. ‘Super Tuscans’ When Chianti got its cehap reputation in the ‘70s, some winemakers gegan making rich, complex wines that followed the New World tradition of blending. These wines, including Sasiccaia, Solaia and Luce – were dubbed Super Tuscans. Chianti Cherry, dry and full, produced from sangiovese and a mix of other grape varieties. Chianti Classico has a DOCG guarantee of quality.

Top Tip

Exploring Chianti by bike is a delight, allowing you to enjoy both tastings and the countryside. Rent bikes in Greve in Chianti (; US$28 per day) or take a cycling tour from Florence, with lunch at a winery (; US$114).

Lonely Planet’s Florence & Tuscany (US$24.40) is a detailed guide to the region, and chapters can be download at (US$4.80). Food blog is written by a Swedish food photographer living in Tuscany. EM Forster based where Angels Fears to Tread (US$9.80; Penguin Classics) in San Gimignano and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient (US$14.60; Bloomsbury Publishing) is partly set in a villa outside Florence.

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