Tuscany is a really vast region with its ten provinces of Arezzo, Grosseto, Pisa, Siena, Livorno, Lucca, Massa and Carrara, Pistoia, Prato and of course, Florence, where is the very capital of the region – so amazing as Tuscany itself. The Tuscan landscapes are so idyllic that you will hardly find anyone who is not in love with its sunny vineyard hills, cypress trees and stone houses scattered across and the smell of wine, olive oil and freshly baked homemade bread. The exciting medieval towns, the even older wine and food traditions and the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance turn Tuscany into a perfect travel destination. You can enjoy impressive scenery and nature colors, together with historic treasures and adorable cuisine, which offers wide opportunities for gourmet experience.
Worldwide recognizable wine brands
When it comes to wine tours, Tuscany is not only among the most famous regions, but also that of the oldest traditions in winemaking across Italy. Wine connoisseurs will find themselves among countless cellars scattered throughout the territory of the middle Italy, to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of producing the famous Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano, Carmignano or white Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The grape that prevails in Tuscany is Sangiovese, cultivated since the Roman times with so many sorts and varieties in the different terroirs that can be said for sure that Sangiovese participates in almost all red Tuscan wines, and its percentage proportion and the blend with other grape varieties are the things that classify the wine as a higher or a lower quality.
The major Tuscany wine regions
The largest wine regions DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) and DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) in Tuscany own the names of the most famous wines, and the vastest one is the Chianti wine area – Chianti Classico DOCG, the area between Florence and Siena and Chianti DOCG, to the north and south of the Chianti Classico region, around Pisa, the province of Arezzo, around Rufina and Pistoia. If a wine pretends to have a label “Chianti”, it should contain at least 70% of the local sangiovese grape (80% for Chianti Classico) and 2 years of aging, and if a “riserva”, a year more.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. The vineyard hills near the town of Montalcino are planted with the grape Brunello (it is the local clone of Sangiovese). The area was the first received DOCG status, and the wine “Brunello di Montalcino” is distinguished by 100% content of Brunello and a long aging (of minimum 4 years) before reaching the market. Therefore, it is one of the most expensive wines. The region produces as well “Rosso di Montalcino” DOC, which matures less and is lighter and cheaper.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. The wine, originating from the vineyards around the town of Montepulciano, was favorite to the Tuscan nobility in the past. The local variety of Sangiovese is called Prungolo Gentile, and the wine “Nobile di Montepulciano” ages two years, before reaching the market and even one year more, if the label says “Riserva”.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG. The vineyards with the white vernaccia grape cover the hills around the picturesque town of San Gimignano in the province of Siena, known for its many high towers. Up to nowadays 14 towers have survived, but in the Middle Ages during the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, the most influential families in San Gimignano built 72 house towers, each one trying to surpass the previous one. As regards to the wine “Vernaccia di San Gimignano” is considered the highest quality white wine of Tuscany.
Bolgheri DOC. The region is located around Livorno and mainly produces the so called Super Tuskan wines, most of which stay outside the DOC and DOCG classifications, but no less worthy. Even the opposite – some of them are actually the most expensive wines on the market. These are the wines Sassicaia, Ornellaia, classified as IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). Generally super Tuscans are blended wines and usually their blend contains French typical varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to the local Sangiovese grape.
And what about the wine tasting tours? 🙂
Wine tasting is the most natural thing in the region of Tuscany and in any local tour or activity you join, they will be almost certainly included in one form or another, along with tasting of the local cheeses, bruschette, poured with local olive oil and other gourmet temptations. But if you look more seriously for traveling on the wine routes in this region, it will be most comfortable to stay in one of the major cities like Florence or Siena. Staying there, you will be able to explore their culture and historic treasures, and in the same time to make a tour to the nearby wineries or join some of the suggested full-day wine tours on spot (you can book online in advance).
From Florence start at least 10 types of tours that include wine tasting, and the two longest (duration: 11 hours) explore the routes San Gimignano – Siena – Chianti or Greve – Castellina – Montalcino – Montepulciano, the latter includes wine tasting of “Brunello di Montalcino” (one of the most expensive Tuscan DOCG wines), “Rosso di Montalcino” ,“Nobile di Montepulciano”, Vin Santo (a dessert wine) and super tuscan wines. Another wine tour, which can be taken from Florence, is Siena – Monteriggioni – San Gimignano – Pisa, during which are tasted “Chianti” and “Vernaccia di San Gimignano”. One of the wine tours to have more fun is “Fiat 500 Wine tour”, with self-driving across the Tuscan hills and vineyards to reach a traditional family cellar. From Siena start “Chianti and San Gimignano Tour”, “Brunello Grand Tour” and some others. And if you stay in San Gimignano, except the local tastings of “Vernaccia di San Gimignano”, you can join the tour “Brunello di Montalcino”, that starts from there.