This post is also available in: French
I’ve just spent a wonderful week in Italy. We went to the Cinque Terre in Liguria and then headed to Tuscany to visit medieval villages but mostly to drive the Wine Route in Chianti region.
The Chianti is a wine region of Tuscany, located between Sienna and Florence. You should visit this region not only for the wine but also for its small winding roads and its picturesque landscapes with Middle-Age castles surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. If you travel by car, drive the Wine route, get lost and stop in one of the many vineyards for a Chianti wine tasting.
As for us, we stopped at the Castello di Verrazzano, near Greve in Chianti. That was a wonderful introduction to the Chianti Classico wine.
The Verrazzano castle was built in 700. Its name comes from the latin: the vineyard was located in the middle of a forest full of wild boars. The son, Giovanni da Verrazzano was an explorer. He discovered the bay of New-York. A bridge has his name over there.
Our guide, Gillian, was very interesting and she knew how to get our attention. During the visit, you will learn lots of stories and anecdotes about the Verrazzano family and the conflicts that were happening at the time.
We also learn about the production process of the Chianti Classico, the Vinsanto while visiting the historic cellars of the castle. You will get to walk by the Grand Cru collection of the family, the ham drying room or the balsamic vinegar barrels.
The Wine tasting
Was this visit mouth-watering enough ? Good then, because it’s time for the wine tasting. We enter the castle’s restaurant et set ourselves on the table.
We are being served four glasses of red wine: one table wine Verrazzano Rosso of 2013, and three Chianti Classico of different vintages: 2012, 2011 and 2009.
The making of the table wine is not as much regulated as the Chianti Classico. Only 30% of the grapes must come from the official Chianti area whereas the Chianti Classico needs at least 80%. The Black Rooster logo is the guaranty to drink a real Chianti wine, as well as the sticker label certified by the DOCG with a unique bottle number.
The four red wines were served with an enormous plate of cured meats and cheeses. Gillian quickly explains to us how to observe the wine color, smell the wine, swirl the glass, taste each wine before eating, and then discover again the wines’ flavors with food. We didn’t get too much into the techniques but it was perfect the way it was. This is not an enology class.
The plate of cured meats was more than enough and was filled with local and quality products. We even had wild boar saucisson. We tasted the cheese with a spoon of balsamic vinegar (made at the castle). I don’t like cheese but this combination of cheese and vinegar was quite interesting. It sweetens the taste of the cheese, which is good for me. The meal was globally really good and it makes a full meal.
Then comes the dessert. We are being served the Vinsanto (Holy Wine) in a shooter glass where we must dip the Biscotti, let it soak and then enjoy the Holy Wine. The Vinsanto is a golden wine with 43° of alcohol. As seen during the visit, unlike normal wine, the grapes are first hung on sticks to dry during three months in a specific room. Then it is put into barrels for fermentation during two years. Vinsanto is a sweet wine served as a dessert wine in Italy.
And finally, yes it’s not over yet, you get the coffee with Grapa, a grape brandy (eau de vie). If you weren’t tipsy yet with all this wine, now you must be drunk. Italians call it the “caffè corretto” (corrected coffee).
We really appreciated our visit at the Castello di Verrazzano. Choose the “Chianti Tradition” visit to have a full cold meal otherwise you will regret it. The table next to us had only the wine tasting: they tasted three red wines without food and the glasses had less wine than we did. The Chianti Tradition offers a very good price-quality ratio. You will be drunk and replete. And you will leave with the satisfaction of having uncovered the secrets of the Chianti in an idyllic location: a Middle-Age castle.
« Chianti Tradition » visit: 34€/person, includes the guided visit + tasting of 4 red wines + Vinsanto + Grapa in coffee + plate of cold meats.
Tour every day at 11 am. Other tours are offered. Visit their official website.
Reservation is required: can be done on their website with a simple click. You will receive a confirmation e-mail. No advance payment. You can pay after the visit.
Would you like to drive the Wine Route in Italy ? Have you ever visited the Chianti ? What memories do you have of it ? Which vineyard did you visit ?