Odds are if you're looking for a wine tour in Tuscany, you'd like to visit some of the beautiful villages along the wine road. In such a relatively small region, Tuscany is packed with wine regions and appellations.
If you are a first time visitor to Tuscany and are interested in wine tours in the countryside, it would make sense to start off with a Chianti Classico wine tour.
There are several subzones of Chianti Classico and the most commonly known subzone is Greve in Chianti. The town Greve itself is a great town to stop off in as it has a cute piazza, filled with Tuscan eateries and wine souvenir shops. Within each subzone there are many surrounding villages worth seeing and visiting on your day in Chianti. By the way, the area of Chianti Classico is not the same as Chianti! If you see a Chianti Wine- that does not mean it is Chianti Classico. The area of Chianti Classico has a long historical legacy in terms of original wine production and the traditional recipe which has been safeguarded for over a 100 years!
The Grand Duke of Tuscany deemed the areas which we are now defined as part of Chianti Classico the official areas for wine production and later Barone Ricasoli developed the official Chianti recipe. This recipe has been tweaked and perfected over time, but generally the percentages remain similar to the original recipe Ricasoli set in 1872. The real difference between Chianti Classico and Chianti is simply geography, a small difference between minimum Sangiovese percentages (80% and 70%, respectively), and that pesky term "terroir."
Really, you can't go wrong with wine in Tuscany as long as you pick a producer of caliber. The important factor is to go to the right producer whether in Chianti Classico or the greater Chianti area who is passionate about their product and tending the land. That is why finding the right people to provide your wine tour is so crucial- they too should be passionate about wines.
Just in case you didn't know, the wines produced in Chianti Classico are made primarily with the king of Tuscan grapes Sangiovese. To be a Chianti Classico wine, there needs to be a minimum of 80% Sangiovese. The other 20% is a blend of usually the red grape varieties Colorino, Cannaiolo, Cabernet and Merlot. Some producers are brave and create balanced, sophisticated wines of 100% Sangiovese- this is not an easy task!
The interesting part about the Chianti Classico region is that every subzone is unique and wine will taste different from each area due to a series of factors such as soil, elevation, vineyard position, if planted on a hill or on flat terrain. You may not notice the nuances between each vineyard, but that is what a trained wine expert is there for when you are out tasting in wine country!
Wine tasting is not the only appeal to a wine tour- it is also the sights! If you are going out to Chianti Classico and plan to tour around the Greve subzone, here are a few villages you may want to visit.
San Polo in Chianti- Known also for its annual Iris festival! A beautiful time to visit would be the spring when the irises are in full bloom.
Panzano in Chianti- Another famous wine zone, know for its annual wine festival Vino al Vino in the Fall.
Montefioralle- A beautiful scenic village just 1.5km from Greve, this town is credited with being the hometown of Amerigo Vespucci
San Donato in Poggio- A totally stunning hilltop medieval town worth stopping off in on your way back to Florence from your wine tour in Chianti Classico. Walking through these tiny streets in the village makes you feel like you jumped in a time machine. There is an impressive restaurant (which we can book you in) where you can enjoy a meal or a prosecco on the rooftop, gazing along the rolling Tuscan countryside.
Badia a Passignano- This is in the zone of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, and is where we go to one very small organic Chianti producer and talk with the wine maker. Before arriving, you can arrange a stop in Badia a Passignano to check out a gorgeous panorama and wander around the grounds of an ancient abbey from 1049!
Looking for a wine spectator worthy wine tour in Tuscany and visit only the finest producers of Tuscan wine, tasting local specialties and meeting the wine makers in the flesh? Check out our Wine Cellar Adventures page and contact us to put you in touch with an unforgettable wine tour experience. Cin cin!