A recent opinions survey conducted by the Italian Trade Agency on more than 1400 American who frequently consume wine consumers reveals that when people think of Italian wines, their minds go immediately to the red wines of Chianti. Very often people wrongly think that Tuscany corresponds only to the Chianti. They are always surprised when we tell them that the region is wider, and that the tradition of making wine is widespread all over the region. And there are plenty of places where you can take wine tours in Tuscany, and visit wonderful estates in the middle of beautiful scenery, including the coast and the islands.
Wine has always had great relevance to the economy and life of Tuscany’s inhabitants. We have been producing wines for centuries. The art of making wine is so rooted in our culture and tradition that in the past, the harvest was the main event of the year, and its end was celebrated with feasts, music and dances.
It’s thanks to this deep connection that Tuscany produces excellent wines, and is recognized as one of the most prolific wine regions in the entire world. So, tasting our nectar of the gods has become a must for every visitor.
Taste Bolgheri Sassicaia during wine tours in Tuscany
The best zones for wine tours in Tuscany
Therefore, here is an overview of the different areas where you can take wine tours in Tuscany, with the best local wines to taste and bring home for a special dinner with your beloved, or with friends.
Chianti vineyard in Castelnuovo Berardenga in the province of Siena
We have already dedicated a blog post to the Chianti area, have a look here. The Chianti DOC wine region stretches between the provinces of Prato, Pistoia, Firenze, Siena, Arezzo, and also Pisa. While, with the term Chianti Classico DOCG, we refer to the wines produced in the area of Colli Fiorentini and Colli Senesi. Chianti wines are made with a minimum of 80% of Sangiovese. They have a ruby red color, aromas of cherries and violets with hints of wild herbs and spices. If you decide to take a car and drive from Florence to Siena, you will be amazed by the iconic Chianti landscape with gentle rolling hills covered by vineyards and olive trees. The village of Greve in Chianti, Panzano (famous for the butcher that tells Dante’s Divina Commedia while cutting slices of bistecca), Verrazzano Castle, the hamlet of Fonterutoli in Castellina in Chianti, Meleto castle, Pontignano Charterhouse, and Brolio castle are only a few of wonderful places you can meet along the way, and where you can stop for a wine tasting. Instead, if you are close to Pisa, I suggest you to visit the Terricciola wine area, where you can try good Chianti between a visit to the village of Peccioli, and the Calci Charterhouse..
View of Montalcino
We are in the middle of Val d’Orcia (UNESCO World Heritage site of Tuscany), a touching landscape made of iconic green rolling hills and cypress-lined country roads that seems to be part of a beautiful impressionist painting. Many are the vineyards around this lovely hamlet, sheltered on a hilltop, where taking a wine tour, and tasting the famous Brunello (that literally means dark brown as its color). Once there, in addition to the historical centre and the well-preserved fortress, visit also the Sant’Antimo Abbey, just few kilometers out of the town.
Underground wine cellar in Montepulciano
I recently visited Montepulciano during a short self-guided tour around southern Tuscany, and it is the place I loved the most (here is the link to the blog post with the itinerary we took). Set on the border between Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana, it is a medieval village of Etruscan origins, with a lovely centre to putter around, a town hall that seems like a small copy of Palazzo Vecchio of Florence, and the big temple of San Biagio at the foot of the hill. The vineyards on these hills produce the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, one of the Italy’s classic red wines that become richier in quality when aged (of maroon-red color, aromas of dark cherry and plum), and the Rosso di Montepulciano. In town, look for the bottega located over the underground, and take a free tour of the hidden crypts before tasting the different wines and the pecorino cheeses that the two nice ladies will offer to you for free.
Bolgheri and the Etruscan Coast
Sunset at the vineyard in Bolgheri area
The Etruscan Coast is my birthplace, and for me it is the best part of Tuscany, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on one side, and by rolling hills and little villages on the other side. Bolgheri became famous as wine region only during the 1960s when the marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta decided to plant French vine varieties as cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc in his estate. Thanks to the perfect terroir (a set of conditions as climate, soil composition, position, altitude and presence of water), the result was a wine of high quality, and the marquis won his bet. This success also helped the entire region to get out of a situation of deadlock.
Compared to the other wines of Tuscany, made mainly with local Sangiovese, the Bolgheris has a more international profile. They are of dark and ruby red color, with aromas of ripe berries, hints of Mediterranean maquis and oak. You also have to know that Bolgheri Sassicaia and Masseto Ornellaia (named Super Tuscans) are two of the most expensive wines in the world.
I strongly recommend a wine tour in Bolgheri and the surrounding area. Driving along the Viale di Bolgheri is a unique experience. Two lines of cypresses flank the straight road that connects the old Via Aurelia to the hamlet. Stop there for lunch or a merenda with Tuscan bread, cold cuts and a glass of red. Then keep driving, taking the Via Bolgherese up to Castagneto Carducci. This panoramic road is a never-ending succession of vineyards, where you can stop for wine tours, or just for a picture at sunset. Other lovely places to visit in the Etruscan Coast with important wine traditions are Montescudaio, Bibbona, and Suvereto. They produce good red wines with DOC certification, and are a great value for money. And if you decide to spend your summer holidays at the sea of the Elba Island, do not forget to try the Passito and Moscato sweet wines.
San Gimignano on top of the hill
It may sounds strange, but for many tourists the best experience to do in San Gimignano is to taste what is considered one of the best gelato in Italy. Instead, if you like white wine, San Gimignano is also a good place for wine tours in Tuscany. It’s here that they produce the Vernaccia, a dry white with a long history. During the 1200, even the poet Dante mentioned this wine in the Purgatorio (the second part of the Divine Comedy), talking about Pope Martin IV that was a glutton of eels and Vernaccia. If you want to take an unconventional tour of Sangi, click here to discover our itinerary.
Scansano in Maremma
Vineyard of Morellino di Scansano in Maremma – Photo Credits: Tommasi Estate
The southern part of Tuscany is becoming more and more popular among tourists thanks to its wild nature, lovely villages, hot springs, and the best sea of the region. Once there, you also will discover an excellent culinary tradition and the tastiness of the Morellino di Scansano. The wine tradition in the village of Scansano dates back to the Etruscans. Morellino is a dry red wine made with Sangiovese grapes. Its unique taste depends on several factors such as the altitude of the area, the influence of the Mediterranean Sea breeze, and the sulfuric springs of Saturnia. Other wines we recommend to taste in Maremma are the red Montecucco DOC (one of the most appreciate in Italy for its taste and refinement) and the Monteregio DOC from Massa Marittima.
Lucca and the Colli di Candia
Wine Tasting at Spino Fiorito Festival in Massa
Last but not least, the northern area of Tuscany is known especially for white wines. If you are traveling around Lucca, the lovely hilltop village of Montecarlo di Lucca, the coastal Versilia or Colli di Candia region in the province of Massa-Carrara (where every two years the Spino Fiorito wine festival take place in the great scenery of the Malaspina Castle of Massa), ask for a glass of local Vermentino.
What is your favorite wine? Have you ever experienced wine tours in Tuscany? Let us know leaving a comment and telling us your experience.
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