Our first full day in Tuscany was spent visiting two very different wineries, both incredible and both known for their Chianti Classico wines (among many other varieties).
Just getting to these wineries was an experience in itself. Think winding roads through the high-hill forest of Tuscany that eventually opened up to the classic Tuscan countryside, painted with vineyards, centuries-old farmhouses, and the iconic Italian Cypress trees.
The first stop was Fattoria di Montemaggio, a rustic yet full-production and totally organic winery with 14 acres of vineyards. Hilaria, the head vintner, is an agronomist and has been making wines for 25 years – 21 at this winery. However, her family has been making wine in the Chianti area for more than 700 years!
We could have listened to Hilaria talk for hours. Her passion for and love of wine rang through with every word she spoke. She educated us on the ecosystem of growing grapes, including the good and bad impact of insects, and the effects of soil, weather, and irrigation. She spoke about the vines as though they are human beings. She said a spoiled vine doesn’t make good wine; the vines need to have challenges and competition in order to produce the best grapes.
Hilaria often tests new approaches, including growing vegetables and grains right in the midst of her vines to see how it impacts the soil and, ultimately, the taste of the wine. In fact, she plucked a piece of wheat from a row of vines right in front of us.
During our tasting, she showed us how to tell the age of red wines by the color (holding the glass parallel over a piece of white paper). Ruby red with hues of pink and purple – younger wine. Darker garnet to brick red – older, aged wine.
Our favorite was their Chianti Reserva. We also sampled their olive oil, which was outstanding. We left with both!
Birra, their 4-month old Lagotto Romagnolo puppy, the breed known as the truffle hunting dogs!
Our next stop was Colle Bereto, a larger scale winery but still high quality and controlled. Their head vintner, Bernardo, is Hilaria’s husband. That’s right – they are competitors! Hilaria’s passion was equally matched with his kindness and gentleness as he shared his love of this winery with us.
We toured most of the production facility, including the bottling room, the most impressive cellar, and the barrel aging rooms. Each room was more impressive and beautiful than the last!
We tasted sparkling wines, rosés, Pinot noirs, and red table wines. I’m not sure there was a wine in the bunch that we didn’t like! And with good reason – Bernardo’s wines took the top three spots in Wine Spectator’s 2017 Italian wines competition! We did have a favorite from our tasting – the Pinot Nero Familia, which was made only for the owner and his family. Bernardo was kind enough to share it with us.
In addition to tasting, we experienced an incredible 4-course lunch. The star of the meal was the zucchini ravioli, made from freshly ground wheat grown right on the winery. Our lunch also featured a buttery tender Chianina Fiorentina (three-finger wide T-bone steak) cooked on an oak wood grill.
If you are headed to Tuscany, don’t miss the opportunity to visit either of these wineries. You won’t be disappointed!
We stopped at a grocery store in Greve on our way back to the villa, bought the most gorgeous produce for a lovely fresh salad, and paired this with fresh pasta for a classically simple Cacio e Pepe dish for dinner.
Tomorrow we visit the charming San Gimignano. Bueno Notte!