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  • Wine tour of Tuscany

    Vines at Banfi near Montalcino

    Wine tour of Tuscany

    A glorious 4-night tour for a small group of up to 14 people accompanied by an experienced wine and food expert, discovering the land and the variety of the wines of Tuscany, in particular Chianti and Brunello.

    About the region and the tour
    We have always maintained that an appreciation of Tuscany is akin to the appreciation of life itself. Its classical landscape of rolling hills and vineyards dotted with olive and cypress trees, its misty green-grey mountains that are never too far distant, and perched hill towns of rich brown and golden stone harbouring priceless works of art that have defined western civilisation, creates a blend of natural earthiness and human endeavour that has lasted for centuries. From the Romans and before, through the Renaissance and the Risorgimento, to the present day, this soil and landscape has evolved but retained deep roots with its origins. In terms of wine production, Tuscany is incredibly important, offering a variety of different types of wine that reflect the variety of soil, altitude and climate (the terroir) of this region but also in terms of quality of wine produced and innovations in really quite recent years. Whilst Chianti Classico is one of the oldest delimited wine regions in the world, having been established some 300 years ago by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III, Tuscany also has given birth to some of the most prestigious and sought-after ‘new’ wines, the Super Tuscans, dating in significant numbers only since the 1970s.
    On this tour, we visit a range of some of the most interesting wine estates from the Classico heartland between Florence and Siena, reflecting the quality of the wine here as well as their subtle differences in style, to the revered Brunello di Montalcino and the white Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Not only will you receive a fascinating insight into the wines of Tuscany, this tour will also show you how agriculture shaped the history and social fabric of the region.
    Our route takes us along typically winding Tuscan roads through dense forest which then suddenly give way glorious panoramas over the valleys below, tasting delicious red wines from the indigenous Sangiovese variety, with its hints of sour cherries and bramble notes. You explore Chianti Classico, the more southerly region of the Brunello, and appreciate the lighter notes of Vernaccia. In accompaniment to the fine wine of the region, Tuscan food is seasonal, unfussy and delicious, developed over the centuries as abbinamento for the local wines. Grapes are a favourite snack for the wild boar that roam the valleys, so the ideal solution for winemakers is the wild boar salami which appears as tempting antipasti with a glass of Chianti! Simple food such as crostini drizzled with peppery olive oil from around Siena, maybe a slice of fennel scented salami, white beans with roasted pork lets the natural produce shine. On this tour, you will sample local food on wine estates and in local restaurants.
    As well as the wine and food, there is time to soak up the atmosphere in the small hilltop town of Radda-in-Chianti, explore Montalcino with its fortress and visit the mediaeval town of towers, San Gimignano.

    Download a pdf of this itinerary here
    Day by day itinerary
    Day one: Introduction to Tuscany
    British Airways flight departs London Heathrow at 12.55, landing Pisa at 16.05. Your wine tour manager, Cindy-Marie Harvey, is waiting to greet you at Pisa airport for the private mini coach transfer to our hotel located in the very heart of Chianti, in Radda-in-Chianti. After checking into our hotel on the main winding road of this delightful hilltop village, we dine together at the hotel’s restaurant, where a Tuscan menu will be paired with a selection of regional wines as your introduction to the many styles of wine that the Sangiovese grape can produce.
    Day two: Chianti Classico day
    After breakfast, we head to our first visit in the Chianti Classico classification, Isole e Olena. Widely revered as one of the best wine makers in Italy, Paolo de Marchi hails originally from Piemonte, but moved to Tuscany many vintages ago. His passion for attention to detail in the vineyards and in the cellar is reflected in his iconic wines including the ground breaking Cepparello. We taste a selection of these seductive wines at the cellar surrounded by his immaculately tended vines. Our lunchtime appointment is at the nearby estate, Castello di Monsanto, where the Bianchi family are producing lovely, appealing Chianti wines with a great ability to age. The family bought the Villa and grounds in the 1960s, (having fallen in love with the property when visiting it for a wedding!) and today have 56 hectares of Sangiovese, but also some plantings of Chardonnay and Cabernet. We taste their wines over lunch at their beautiful estate.
    After our leisurely lunch, we return to Radda-in-Chianti, where there is free time for the rest of the afternoon to explore this peaceful village. The main street, unsurprisingly, has several wine shops, but also a couple of leather shops with soft Italian leather bags and shoes to tempt! Or simply, relax with a glass of wine and a book, enjoying the views of the rolling Tuscan countryside.
    This evening, we are invited to the hilltop hamlet of Castello di Volpaia, which dates from the 11th century and is one of the best preserved mediaeval villages in Tuscany. The Stianti family continue to produce both wine and olive oil using an ingenuous system of production hidden away so not to disturb the beauty of the village. We will be welcomed by the charming owner, Giovanella Stianti, into her private residence for dinner, where we will taste her wines paired with a Tuscan menu.
    Day three: Brunello di Montalcino day
    Breakfast first and then this morning, we head south from the Chianti classification towards Montalcino. After the dense Chianti forests, the land opens out south of Siena to the wide, rolling hills of the Crete Senesi. As we draw closer, the skyline is dominated by Monte Amiata, a dormant volcano which rises to almost 2000 metres.
    Our visit is to the estate of Col d’Orcia, which belongs to the Count Francesco Marone, of a noble family originally from Piemonte, but who own this estate in Tuscany and also one in Chile. The estate is named after the Orcia river which runs along the south west side of the appellation. They have been instrumental in the experimentation taking place in the region and their attention to detail shines through in the purity and elegance of their wines, which we taste over lunch at the estate. Much of the produce on the menu is grown on the property.
    After lunch, we call in to the mediaeval small town of Montalcino, dominated by its clock tower and fortress, and which remains barely untouched since the Middle Ages. The flagstones of the narrow streets invite a post-prandial stroll passing numerous wine shops or perhaps simply relax in the beautiful Liberty-style Café with an affogato. From here it’s about an hour and a half bck to the hotel, with time to freshen up before our evening tasting.
    This evening, our visit is to an estate located a short distance of just 15 minutes from the town walls of where we are staying in Radda. Fattoria Poggerino is a boutique, family-run winery, following organic principals of viticulture. The owner and winemaker, Piero Lanza, is passionate about allowing the fruit flavours of his vines to show through in the wine without the over dominance of oak. We taste their wines this evening at the cellar, with a simple supper of local cheeses and hams. We return to the hotel after supper.
    Day four: More Chianti
    After breakfast, we visit the Castello di Brolio, a dramatic castle featuring mediaeval, romanesque and neo-gothic architecture. It is on the border between the ancient states of Florence and Siena and featured in many of the on-going battles for territory between these warring neighbouring cities. The wine estate is one of, if not the, oldest in Italy dating back to 1141, but it was in 1872 that the Baron Ricasoli wrote down the original blend of Chianti. After a visit to the Castle, we taste a selection of their attractive wines in their modern cellars.
    Just 35 minutes later, we reach the award-winning estate of Felsina Berardegna on the southern side of Chianti Classico, where the terroir gives a rounded, deep style of Chianti, with rich plum and dark chocolate notes. They also produce single varietal olive oils from four varieties made in the Veronelli style. Following a visit to the historical cellar, we taste their alluring wines and oils over lunch at the property.
    Returning to Radda late afternoon, there will be some time to relax before we saunter through the old mediaeval gallery to a local wine bar for a tasting of wines from other Tuscan classifications such as the crisp white Vermentino from the Tuscan Coast through to non-Sangiovese based red wines, such as Syrah or Merlot followed by a rustic Tuscan supper, to show how very food-friendly these wines truly are when paired with the local produce. It’s just five minutes on foot from the hotel, so an easy walk back.
    Day five: San Gimignano and home
    We check-out of the hotel after breakfast and leave the vineyards of Chianti behind, and make our way to one of the most iconic of Tuscan towns, San Gimignano. The vineyards of the classification here are mostly planted with the white Vernaccia grape variety, which we discover during our visit to Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara. This estate makes three styles of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which are fascinating to compare and contrast during our tasting.
    The profile of San Gimignano has long dominated the skyline in this part of Tuscany thanks to its towers; striking in size, number and state of preservation. In mediaeval times, there were 72 towers within the 13th century walls of this hilltop town, though today only 14 towers remain. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a delight to explore the narrow streets, lined with artisanal shops of ceramics, print and local foodie specialities such as saffron, wild boar salami and of course wine! There is free time over lunch for you to explore this picturesque town before we depart for the return transfer to Pisa airport, about one and a half hours’ away, before the flight to Pisa leaving at 18.05 hrs and arriving at 19.30 hrs.

    Your tour leader
    Cindy-Marie Harvey tells us that having discovered a love of Pinot Noir at an early age, she seemed destined for a life in the wine trade. However, her love of languages led her to work in Italy. After living in Piemonte for five years, discovering the delights of Nebbiolo and white truffles, she returned to the wine trade in the UK. She has spent the last 20 years planning and escorting wine tours to all the main wine regions of the world, from South America to Burgundy and Bordeaux. She now shares her passion for food and wine on her own website, Love Wine Food Ltd as well as in her own kitchen where she is often found surrounded by recipe books in Italian, French or Spanish. She looks forward to sharing her passion for the wines and food of Tuscany with you.
    Dates and prices
    This tour departs on the following dates from London for these prices per person sharing a double or twin room:
    8 June 2020 £2,890
    Supplements: Single use of double £250 per person
    Deposit payment: £400 per person

    Special early booking offer - save £100 per person
    Book this holiday by 30 June 2019 and receive an early booking offer of £100 per person

    We include
    ● Flights with British Airways London Heathrow to Pisa, Euro traveller. Club upgrade available on request at a supplement.
    ● Transportation from Pisa airport in a small luxury coach for a maximum of 14 people, with one piece of luggage per person.
    ● English-speaking tour guide with knowledge of the wine and food of Tuscany.
    ● Four nights’ bed and buffet breakfast in double or twin rooms at the Palazzo Leopoldo, Radda-in-Chianti.
    ● One dinner at the Palazzo Leopoldo on day one, with wine pairings.
    ● Other meals included as follows: Lunch with wine on day two, dinner with wine on day two, lunch with wine on day three, simple supper with wine on day three, lunch with wine on day four.
    ● Entrances and wine tastings as mentioned in the itinerary
    Important notes about this tour
    Mobility: Please note that this part of Tuscany in based on a series of hilltop villages. Our hotel is in the centre of the small village Radda-in-Chianti, but as traffic is not permitted in the centre, there is a short but steep walk from the car park to the hotel each day (your luggage naturally will be transferred for you by van). At San Gimignano, there is a 7-minute steep walk from the car park to the actual village. All the estates we visit are working cellars and there is an inevitable amount of standing around during visits, so if you have any issues with mobility, please do call to discuss the suitability of this tour.
    Please ensure you wear suitable footwear both for the cellars, vineyards and also the steep cobbled streets of the Tuscan hilltop towns of Radda and San Gimignano.

    Download a pdf of this itinerary here

    0 Wine tour of Tuscany

     Palazzo Leopoldo, Radda-in-Chianti
    The four-star Palazzo Leopoldo is a charming hotel steeped in an historic and romantic atmosphere. Dating from the 14th century, but carefully renovated over the years, the original frescoes, cotto tiles and grand fireplaces hark back to its colourful history. La Perla del Palazzo Restaurant offers dining in fine weather on the beautiful terrace that overlooks the vineyards and hills of Chianti. Here, wrought iron balustrades add a touch of Mediterranean style, while the white-clothed tables hint at a fine-dining experience. The cuisine is built around a local, traditional menu, comprised of home-made dishes and seasonal ingredients. An outdoor pool is available for hotel guests to use at L’Ultimo Mulino Hotel, just five minutes away. Our allocated rooms are located in the new wing of the hotel, the Residenza.
    Optional additions
    Extend your holiday with a few days in Tuscany, perhaps in Siena, Florence or Lucca. We can arrange transport for you from Radda to your next hotel and offer you a range of excellent hotels in these cities.
    Different travel arrangements
    If you want us to arrange flights on different dates and from UK regional airports, or to extend your holiday with a stay elsewhere in Italy, just let us know. If you are not arriving from the UK, then we can give you a price that excludes flights and perhaps with extra transfers included. We will adjust the details and the price accordingly.
    Terms and conditions
    This tour is based on 14 people participating. If there are fewer than 14 people participating we may modify the tour (smaller coach but the visits would remain the same). We do reserve the right to alter the itinerary if we cannot be accommodated at any of the venues for any reason closer to the date of departure. Holiday insurance is not included but it is absolutely essential that you are fully insured.

    Download a pdf of this itinerary here

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