Chianti wine has been a staple of Italian culture for 150 years. A slightly acidic, young-tasting choice, the area’s winemakers have fine-tuned their processes to appeal to a range of palates.
A Brief Education
Our tour will take you on a journey through three esteemed estates that each boast an award-winning Chianti Classico winery, but for now, let’s dive into the detail of this celebrated tipple.
What’s the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico?
Chianti is a region in Italy, civilised in the Etruscan period, between the 8th and 2nd centuries BCE. The region is drenched in history, with the first documented record of the name appearing in a 1398 official document.
Chianti Classico is a name used to identify those wines produced within the limits of the territory’s original boundaries. In addition to this, specific criteria have to be met to achieve the distinguished title of a ‘Classico’ – it must also be a blend of 80% Sangiovese grapes, a red grape characteristic of the area. ‘Chianti’-only wines are those that are produced outside of this original area to meet the growing demand that arose from the early 20th century.
What does Classico mean in Italian wine?
In Italian wine, ‘classico’ means it’s produced in a ‘classic’ area of a certain region. For our interests, this region is located in Tuscany, mostly nestled between the beautiful cities of Florence and Siena.
How should I serve Chianti Classico?
A distinguished beverage such as this deserves careful thought as to its serving. A good temperature range is between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (between 12 and 30 degrees Celsius for those Brits amongst us), with an ideal temperature of 65F.
It’s a good idea to keep your bottle somewhere less susceptible to temperature changes, such as a basement. If you have the self-control to keep hold of your bottles for a few years, then storing it horizontally will prevent the cork from drying out, and will allow the cork to interact slightly with the liquid over time. However, if your excitement gets the better of you, and your bottles disappear within a few days, the storage position doesn’t matter quite so much. If you have a decanter with an aerator, this will improve your experience too. These suggestions are all worth considering in order to get the most from the flavours.
Now that you’re familiar with the region’s history, distinctions and how best to enjoy it, let’s take a look at how you can explore some gorgeous Tuscan wineries on our Chianti Safari Off Road Tuscany wine tour. The tour is the proud recipient of many five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, so here’s what to expect from an experience hailed as “magical” by our guests.
Villa le Corti: Wines by the Aristocracy
One of the Chianti Classico wineries to be explored on the tour is Villa le Corti, in the centre of the viticulture region. The estate spans over 200 hectares and has been passed down through the Corsini family for nearly eight hundred years. Here you will enjoy sprawling vistas and ornate halls, breathtaking gardens and astounding architecture. Most importantly, though, you will visit the historic cellar of the estate, where the Corsini family makes wine and virgin olive oil.
Getting up close to production
With production techniques in harmony with the seasons, the environment and nature, the wines of Principe Corsini are an exemplary illustration of the finest the area can produce. Your expert tour guide will provide you with a fascinating insight into the history of the estate and the methods used to develop the family’s selection, allowing you to appreciate the faithful adherence of the Corsinis to the organic production practises they swear by. Many of the wines here are DOCG-certified, the highest classification in Italy, reflecting the care and time taken to craft with authenticity.
Historic Poggio Torselli
The first mention of the estate in the registers dates back to 1427, and it has hosted many famous families over the centuries including the Machiavelli, Strozzi, Corsini and Antinori. Lovingly restored between 1999 and 2003, the villa and vineyards are home to an outstanding Chianti Classico winery.
The Chianti Classico winery at Poggio Torselli is infused with historical significance, with your tour winding through the 3 blocks where the wine is produced.
The vinification process, which turns the grapes into wine via fermentation, occurs in stainless steel vats, before the liquid is matured for a year and a half, after being transferred to the casks. The reds are aged in French oak barrels and used barriques before being bottled and stored in a temperature controlled warehouse. The unique flavour profile of the Chianti Classico produced here comprises sweet spices and vanilla, whispers of tea leaves and fresh forest floors. As is characteristic of these beverages, delicate tannins tie together these experiences to provide a tasting profile like no other.
Rignana: A Farm Like No Other
The Chianti Safari Off Road Tuscany Wine Tour also enjoys an amble through to the farm of Rignana. The title of ‘farm’ belies the extraordinary balance of beauty and utility distilled here, which now includes a B&B, 1,700 vines, and an exquisite Chapel dedicated to Santa Caterina dè Ricci.
Respecting the environment
Again, the organic wines produced at Rignana are derived chiefly from the pre-eminent Sangiovese grape. In order to remain true to tradition, the vineyards here are meticulously cultivated and maintained to ensure production meets the requirements of organic viticulture.
The soil’s inherent fertility is respected and sustained by limiting intervention, thus preserving the natural biodiversity of the grapes produced upon them. Herbicides and insecticides are forgone in favour of natural, organic manure and sainfoin, a legume noted for the benefits conferred on the soil and wildlife. All processes at Rignana are guided by the ethos of environmental protection held dear at the estate, with sustainable development made a priority.
A Tuscan feast
The wine tour includes a luxurious lunch stop at La Cantinetta restaurant in Rignana. Restored from ancient mill architecture, the restaurant sparkles with the appeal of centuries, boasting a detailed construction faithful to the original structure.
La Cantinetta is a family affair; their menus are frozen in time, borne of the region’s traditions and time-honoured culinary practices honed across generations. Using only ingredients ripened by the changing seasons, Massimo and his family utilise their expertise to pay homage to the culinary secrets of the district’s past.
Some Final Notes
Once your touring adventure draws to a close, and the illustrious estates and delectable wines have become a fond memory, you may ask yourself; how can I recreate that magic that I discovered in a Chianti Classico winery?
Recommended food pairings
You can start by seeking out food pairings whose authentic Tuscan flavours will complement your drink. Consider vegetable gnudi or papa al pomodoro, paired with ricotta, to bring out the best in your drink. Served cool, Italian fish soup (the elegantly named ‘cacciucco’) will provide a delightful accompaniment, or cold cuts with garlic will add a traditional Italian edge.
Where to buy Chianti Classico wine
You’ll be pleased to know that we’ve got you covered there too, so your experience need not end with our tour.
When you find yourself yearning for Lamole di Lamole’s inimitable offer, take comfort in the knowledge that it is on offer at VyTa, an Italian restaurant serving metropolises around Italy. If you’re spending more time in Florence, l’Osteria dell’OK presents a rich Tuscan buffet accompanied by a glass or two (or more, we won’t tell) of your new favourite tipple.
Even better, a branch at Covent Garden, London, means you can enjoy the sophistication of Tuscany from even more locations. Indeed, most top restaurants around the world serve this delectable treat, and it can even be found in many off licences, meaning you can continue your education long after your expert guide has concluded their lessons.