When Luke and I first decided we would be going to Italy and Florence, we had grand plans of wanting to do a wine tour and a cooking class. It seemed like the "relaxing" thing to do. After really thinking about it, we decided against the cooking class and went with only the wine tour. I felt that only having a day and a half to enjoy Florence was too little and it stressed me out thinking we might not get to relax. After it has all been said and done, we really could have done the cooking class. It's okay though... it just means we will need to go back to Florence someday :-) Ya hear that Luke???? We need to go back to Florence!! Just kidding!!!! sorta.
Moving on, we started off going to the Chianti Region of Tuscany which was about a 40 minute drive. Bernardo gave each of us a wine and food map for the Tuscany region, so he started off explaining the areas and how wines from certain regions have certain names and code names associated with them. It is all very confusing, but now I know that a Chianti wine is NOT the same as a Chianti Classico wine, but both of them only come from Italy. And if you see a black rooster on a wine bottle you know for a fact that it is a Chianti Classico wine (see a picture toward the bottom if the page).
Corzano e Paterno in the Chianti region. Bernardo showed us how the grapes should look on the vine and told us how "lazy" the Sangiovese grapes are and why. He also took us around the factory showing us the machinery used to make the wine, explained the process of "crushing" the grapes, what kind of barrels are used, and more. I felt like I was cramming for a test, and if I had been, there is no doubt I would have failed!
Next, we headed into the Chianti Classico region for lunch at "The Crazy Butcher's" place called Antica Macelleria Cecchini located in Panzano. Apparently, "The Crazy Butcher", whose name is Dario Cecchini, is the most famous butcher in the world and is flown all over the place to teach classes and what not. We got lucky because he was leaving a few days later for San Francisco to teach a class. Anyway, everyone who entered the shop received a glass of wine, no matter if you were part of the tour or not and a table was full of snacks to enjoy - more olive oil with his delicious salt (called Profumo del Chianti). So welcoming! During lunch, we enjoyed 6 family style plates of meat (the meatballs were the best!), and for sides, we had fresh veggies to dip in olive oil, bread, and white beans. Obviously, we were served more wine with our meal and also got coffee cake bread wine and coffee to finish. I didn't take any pictures of the food because Luke and I were already getting funny looks for how much food we were putting on our plates. Whoops!
After lunch, we went on to the next vineyard which was the most relaxing place I have probably ever visited in my life - Renzo Marinai. The owner of the winery showed us around his place, and he was the nicest man ever. His business (and home) sits on a hill that over looks the countryside. It was so quiet, so beautiful, so relaxing, and really just the perfect place on Earth. We all stood looking out at the scenery, just in awe of it all. He told us two pieces of information that sent us all over the roof: 1.) His place is a bed and breakfast with about seven rooms (who is up for a vacation!???), and 2.) He has no one to take over his business when he dies (who wants to take over!????). Seriously!!!? It is so sad that this whole place might just go away. Well, anyway, I just loved the place! Who wants to give me like 8 million EURO to buy it??? I will give you one bottle of wine in exchange. Anyone? Anyone? ...getting carried away... We tasted three different reds (my favorite was Jori [pronounced "yori"], the most expensive argh, which was named after his father) although one white is produced at the vineyard. He also makes olive oil and pasta, and everything is organic.
We all sadly said goodbye and discussed on the car ride to our last destination who was going to take over the business. I think all of us, in our heads, were trying to figure out a way to come up with the money to take over the vineyard. Our next stop was to have a few moments to relax in a small town called Greve-in-Chianti. It was a cute place with loads of little shops and everything was about wine. Everyone on the tour, except Luke and me, went off to find gelato. Luke and I wandered, like always, and found a sign pointing to a look out point, so we decided to walk up the narrow road up the little hill to get a view. It was amazing how grape farms were literally in the backyard of some of the homes. After taking in the view, we walked around in the square looking at the little shops before we all headed back to Florence.
I am so glad that we reserved a day to do the wine tour. Luke said he was his favorite thing from our whole 11 days in Italy, and I really enjoyed it as well. I highly recommend doing a wine tour for a day if you ever get the chance to visit Florence. It is so relaxing, there isn't much walking, everything is done for you, and you get to taste expensive wines that you may not ever get the chance to do. What a terrific day!
Chianti Classico is made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes while Chianti is made from at least 70% Sangiovese. Chianti Classico is the area where Chianti started before it expanded to other areas of Tuscany. Sangiovese grapes have only successfully been grown in the Tuscany region of the world. Sangiovese is pronounced "SAHN-jo-vay-zay".
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