Chianti Classico wine route, part one

WineFor all the myriad things there are to see and do in the region, for many visitors, Tuscany will always be wine country first and foremost. From Bolgheri to Carmignano and Montalcino, some of the most respected wine-producing areas in the world can be found within Tuscany’s borders. Most famous of all is the Chianti region, located right in the middle of Tuscany – particularly the Chianti Classico sub region between Florence and Siena. With over 7,000 hectares of vineyards, it doesn’t hurt to put some research into locating the best winemakers, osterie and agriturismi before you visit. This week, we take a look at some of the finest winemakers around, in the first of a two-part series on touring the region.

Borgo Casa al Vento
Located in Gaiole in the Siena province, Borgo Casa al Vento has all the trappings of a fully-fledged holiday resort – but wine remains the focus. The vineyard here prides itself on its authentically organic production process, performed solely by hand. It’s a process that they say has given their bottles a unique identity, ‘distinguished by strong character and high quality.’

Fontodi
Another all-organic winery, Fontodi boasts 70 hectares of vines across a 130-hectare estate. It’s also notable for its relaxed approach to tastings, a refreshing contrast to some of the more mercenary owners trying to sell you cases on the way out. At such a likeable family-owned estate with so much to see, the great wine almost feels like a bonus.

Le Boncie
With no sign outside the estate and a website that’s nothing more than an address and contact details, it’s clear that publicity isn’t Le Boncie’s primary concern. However, once you decide to take the trouble to track it down, it’s clear that this relatively high-altitude vineyard in Localita San Felice has its priorities right: making wine, and very good wine at that. The owner, Giovanna Morganti, produces only one signature kind – a vivid Chianti Classico called Le Trame, fermented in open topped wooden tanks.

Cennatoio
Guido Cavalcanti, one of the great poets of Renaissance Italy, christened the home of his dreams Cennatoio. Today, this vineyard in Panzano seeks to preserve a small part of that bygone era, with an approach to wine making that’s steeped in history. Another proudly organic farm, they consider their proudest achievement to be the vinsantaia, where traditional vin santo is fermented.

Castello della Paneretta
As the name suggests, the 400-year old castle is the centrepiece of this scenic estate overlooking the Elsa Valley. Production of wine is recorded at the castle as far back as 1596, so it’s safe to say that this winery has history. The guided tours of the castle take you past ancient frescoes by Florentine painter Bernardino Poccetti before enjoying a wine tasting session in the cellar, letting you experience both art and cuisine in one trip. The wines themselves are an eclectic range of reds and rosés, including the special Quattrocentenario 2004.

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