My Italy Trip
Posted on January 02 2014
At the end of last year I was lucky enough to be taken on a trip to Tuscany, one of Italy’s most famous wine-making regions. The home of Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and various “super-Tuscans” the majority of their wines (or at least the ones that I tasted) are powerful, serious and red. Indeed of the serried ranks of bottles that greeted us at every restaurant and winery exactly two were white, and very lovely of course but only the barest sliver of my experience of Tuscan wine. In total we visited three wineries in three different areas and were able to see first hand exactly how these wonderful wines get from earth to bottle.
On arriving in Pisa we obtained our rental car and after a short journey south we arrived at Argiano, our Brunello winery. Certainly the most prestigious of the three properties we were to visit, its Brunello and super-Tuscan blends regularly gain Parker ratings in the 90s and had recently been acquired by a Brazilian investor. After a hour or so to freshen up and a quick tour of the cellar and bottling area we were treated to a tasting of their top wines (Non Confunditur, Rosso, Brunello, Suolo and Solengo) and a three course meal in the estate’s guest house. All the wines were delicious with a real elegance and freshness running through each one, though after deliberation and re-tasting I settled upon the 100% Sangiovese Suolo as my pick. Produced from the oldest vines on the property and with only one year in oak, I’d never tasted a wine that allied such precision, poise and elegance to so much flavour. A close second was the Brunello ’08 which, despite being from a slightly lesser vintage, was far more generous and approachable in flavour when compared to the ’07 which still needs a bit more bottle age to really come into its own.
Our tight schedule meant that next morning we only had time to briefly visit the Suolo vineyard before heading to Montepulciano for lunch and our next stop Canneto. Founded in 1987 when a group of Swiss financiers who were particularly fond of Montepulciano’s wine decided to cut out the middle man and buy their own winery, it was far less grand than Argiano with the winery little more than several rooms of barrels and tanks and an office in the middle of the vineyards. However, as soon as we tasted the wine it was obvious that this was a top class winery. Though I’ve never been a huge Montepulciano fan the wines’ ripe fruit and great structure easily won me over, with the basic Rosso de Montepulciano particularly impressive in terms of value for money.
Again time pressures meant we were leaving Montepulciano almost as soon as we’d arrived to get to Chianti and the Corzano estate for dinner. Again very different to either of our previous two stops Corzano was a family run business that produced olive oil and top quality cheese as well as wine. Replete in his wellies the winemaker himself met us at the entrance and immediately insisted on a tour of his production. For the first time I was able to taste some partially fermented wine straight from the tank, although was careful to spit it all out as I’d heard of people glugging a glass and then sending it back up as it started to ferment in their stomachs! Following this we enjoyed a hearty, many-coursed meal in the family home around the kitchen table. Though their wines were of similar quality to the previous two properties’ the unpretentious setting and warmth of winemaker Alyosha and his wife made this the standout event of the trip.
A mid afternoon flight from Pisa left us little time the next morning although we did visit the cheesery and see the last few bits of the harvest coming in. All in all, my Tuscan trip was a stunning experience, giving me a new understanding of the quality and variety of the wines this part of the world can produce. So if you’re ever after a recommendation from this part of the world do let me know as I’ve got plenty now!