Romancing the Tuscan Wines
A TUSCAN LUNCH AT A CHIANTI VINEYARD– SAN GIMIGNANO, ITALY
Known not only for its beautiful landscapes and Florentine legacy, it is also home to some of the finest vineyards and wineries of the Chianti region.
A scenic drive through the Tuscan countryside under the warm and glowing Tuscan sunshine takes you past rolling hills of endless vineyards.
It is an old world charm originating from ancient Etruscan art and culture. The colors are earthy with medieval tones. Rustic farmhouses are painted in terracotta colors of red, brown and olive green-almost faded. And yet there is this enthralling beauty, so charming, so inviting.
The tall Cypress trees dot the golden countryside. Olive trees standing in rows remind you that all of this is so Mediterranean.
A stone and tiled driveway lead us to one of the finest organic family-run wine estates, where awaiting us was a traditional Tuscan lunch and an informal wine tasting lesson, overlooking stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
We enjoyed a four course meal consisting of fresh organic farm food of homemade pasta, cured meats (homemade prosciutto and salami), local cheeses, frittatas, a real garden salad, and the oh so divine Tuscan biscotti!
The wine tasting consisted of 4 wines, which included 2 varieties of Chianti, Vernaccia and Tuscan dessert wine, Vin Santo.
The most important of the classic red is Chianti. It is made from a blend of varieties of grape, with Sangiovese (pronounced as san-joh-vay-say) dominating the most. This Italian wine varietal is Tuscany’s number one red wine grape, also used for the sparkling and dessert wines.
Vernaccia on the other hand, is the star – white grape from around this medieval town. The name is derived from the Latin word- ‘vernaculus’ or ‘local’. It was the favorite wine of Pope Martin IV.
The Chianti red wines are medium bodied with high levels of tannin and acidic. The bouquet is rich with fruit flavors of sour cherry and red plum, accompanied by dusty earthy notes. Pairs well with roast duck, mashed potatoes and wild mushrooms.
White wines of Vernaccia, can have floral scents, are pleasantly acidic with notes of green apple and citrus or creamy pineapple flavors with hints of vanilla, making it a perfect match for seafood and herbed dishes such as pesto.
Vin Santo (holy wine) is a style of Italian dessert wine, made from Trebbiano, Malvasia or Sangiovese grapes. These wines have a range of colors varying between amber and neon-orange.
Dunk an almond biscotti into the wine to savor the divine mix of almond, cream and honey. Mellow and smooth down your throat.
As we took the bus back to Florence, I fell into a deep slumber of Tuscan delight only to be awakened occasionally by the haunting Tuscan landscape glowing under the setting Tuscan sun.
Oh what a day!