This is Gualdo Tadino, an ancient town in Italy that is situated in the Province of Perugia in Northeastern Umbria just 25km away from Asissi. It is nestled at the foot of Mt. Penna which is part of the Apeninnes which stretches over 1,200km along the Italian Peninsula. Excavation on a hill “I Mori” uncovered a necropolis that dated back to between 6BC to 2BC. Today, this town has still kept the tradition of artistic ceramic production which is the primary industry.
In the Chianti Classico area the vineyards produce mainly Sangiovese & other varietals like Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah. The earliest documentation of a “Chianti Wine” dated back to the 13th century when viticulture was known to be flourishing in the “Chianti Mountains” around Florence & by the 18th century, Chianti was widely recognised as a red wine.
The romantic & majestic Castello di Verrazzano stood out prominently in the distance as we were driving by, beckoning us & drawing us in. What greater way to enjoy a Wine & Lunch Tour or stay at the farmhouse to soak in the stunning views of the valley & the gentle surrounding hills.
Greve in Chianti in the heart of Toscana or Tuscany is where the rolling hills & undulating countrysides has captured the imagination of countless writers & poets & have been featured in many literary works & movies. It is not difficult to understand why, just taking in this fabulous panoramic vista.
This little bucolic town of Greve-in-Chianti is the venue of the Annual Chianti Classico Wine Festival typically held on the 2nd weekend of September & the preceding Thurs & Fri. Right in the heart of town in this interesting triangular square, different wine stalls from the region would display their produce. You purchase a wine glass from the Segretaria along with a ticket that allows you to taste up to 8 wines. Olive oil on fresh breads & local cheeses are also available for tasting & complimenting your wines. Life really can’t get better than this!
The Chianti Classico sub-region covers approximately 260km² between the City of Florence in the North & Siena to the South consisting of the 4 Communes of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti & Radda in Chianti.
The soil & topography in this area is quite varied with altitudes ranging from 250m to 610m & the rolling hills producing differing macroclimates in viticulture. The soil in the North is richer & more fertile with more ‘Galestro’ a bluish gray chalky marlstone (calcium carbonate rich) & the soil in the South is harder & stonier in the form of a weathered sandstone known as ‘Alberese’.
Radda in Chianti, where vineyards & olive groves sit well together. Maraiolo Black olives which originated from Tuscany, grows throughout Tuscany & Umbria in Central Italy. These ripened black olives are ready for picking to be pressed into oil which has bitter & spicy notes & often used in adding extra flavour to Olive oil blends.
Chianti Classico are premium Chianti wines that are medium-bodied with firm tannins & medium to high acidity. Floral, cherry & light nutty notes are characteristic aromas with the wine expressing more notes mid-palate & finish than in the front of the mouth.
Since 1996, the blend for Chianti & Chianti Classico has been 75-100% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaiolo & up to 20% of approved grape varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah. In 2006, the use of White grape varieties such as Malvasia & Trebbiano have been prohibited. Chianti Classicos must have a minimum alcohol level of 12% & minimum 7 months aging in Oak; whilst Chianti Classico Riserva must be aged 24 months with a minimum alcohol level of 12.5%.
Driving along SS73 going to Monteriggioni, we stopped by the vineyard to see the golden leaves of the Sangiovese vine which is the most widely planted grape varietal in Italy. Sangiovese grapes in Central Italy is used extensively in producing everything from everyday drinking to premium wines in a variety of styles like red still wines to semi sparkling “frizzante” to dessert wine “Vin Santo”.
Just as in San Gimignano, the Chianti Classico region is hilly, dotted with little villages, castles, parish churches & country homes interspered with vineyards, olive groves, gravel roads & unspoilt stretches of charming rustic landscapes.
As a new day dawns in San Gimignano…. a tiny hill town in Tuscany, southwest of Florence that is encircled by 13th century walls & has an amazing skyline of medieval towers when seen from afar.
As the landscape gets gradually basked in a golden light, it delights & heightens my senses to the warm reds, olive greens, ochres, deep browns & sky blue hues that is synonymous to Tuscany.
After spending a couple of days in Tuscany, my head is a little giddy partially from imbibing the luscious wines & enjoying platters upon platters of Tuscan cuisine from Char-grilled vegetables & simple fare to Michelin Star degustation courses that is prepared with the freshest of ingredients.
I had suddenly gone crazy over all things Truffle, and went on a rampage sampling & buying different Truffle cheeses, Truffle Prosciutto, Truffle infused Olive oils & fragrant Truffle dips.
The pace of life here is unhurried & coupled with the breathtaking scenery at every turn; it is relaxing, tranquil & soothing to my spirit. Sipping my Macchiato, people watching after a late lunch at Piazza della Cisterna – San Gimignano’s quaint ‘triangular’ square. It was blissful & I did not have a care in the world!
La Dolce Vita!