Harvest time among the Scents of Chianti and Tuscan White
by Federico Lacche
In the nineteenth century, travellers who went off to discover the Old Continent included Chianti
in the itineraries required for the development an educated person. Today, unfortunately, great fame often borders on the obvious or the holographic, and it is no longer enough to seek secluded corners and re-evaluate minor aspects in order to rediscover the connections that link vineyards, forests, castles, parish churches, villas and farmhouses. Which is why, by developing an idea of continuity among the cathedrals of Chianti Classico
and Colli Senesi
, Montepulciano Nobile
and Brunello di Montalcino, wine tourism, in this period of the grape harvest, offers a fresh outlook on an area which, despite aggressive stereotypes, proudly embodies the values of the new culture of drinking.
Given the winemaking phases that characterise the time of year, this event provides a perfect opportunity for visiting wine producers and watching the important stages of the winemaking cycle, including walks through the vineyards and tasting typical local products accompanied by the appropriate locally produced wines, all born of a desire to rediscover and experience the wonderful celebratory atmosphere that is part and parcel of harvest time in the countryside.
A brief excursion among the wines of a particular corner of Tuscany might easily begin in the legendary Chianti hills of Barberino Val d'Elsa, not far from the Autopalio road that links Florence and Siena, where many wine producing farms still offer the privilege of discovering what are at times endless underground cellars that wine enthusiasts can visit, punctuating their subterranean journey with tastings of Chianti Classico and DOCG
Or a day can also be spent – usually by appointment – attending lectures on wine and wine tasting techniques. Florence and Siena are just a few minutes' drive away and the area is also ideal for horse riding and cycling, organised by the agritourisms that preside over this land and which often propose weekends dedicated to good food and wine in an atmosphere of friendly, but never intrusive, hospitality.
Moving southwards towards San Gimignano
, the "city of towers
", the best-known red wine in the world gives way to a famous "white
" that dates back to the thirteenth century. Over the past twenty years, the Vernaccia
di San Gimignano DOCG
has seen a major revival, and in its area of production – some 700 hectares of vineyards that extend around the medieval town which gives the wine its name – at least 170 experienced winemakers bottle approximately 40,000 hectolitres of this quality wine every year.
The many tourists who are attracted by the 14 towers that have survived out of the original 70 (their size determined the level of wealth and power of the families that owned them) can combine a visit to the medieval town with one to wine producing farms that possess outstanding winemaking credentials, and which can frequently provide full board and accommodation. This is the moment for listening to the life story and professional history of these vigneron. Stories that delight and captivate, that stimulate the desire to appreciate and momentarily share in this fascinating world which, accompanied by the judicious and informed tasting of a glass of something special, becomes music, the mature and unmistakeable flavour of an aesthetic form.