Some of our favorite wines come from Tuscany so we wanted to take a wine tour of the region. The appellations we visited were: Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico. The appellation we looked forward to visiting is one of the most prestigious in the world, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Of the wineries we visited in the Brunello zone, our favorites were Altesino and Val di Suga.
We wanted to visit Altesino because we drank more of their Brunello than any other and really liked it. Altesino has a good working relationship with the PLCB that over the years has benefited the winery and Pennsylvania wine consumers. The winery staff was pleased to hear that we were from PA. We had their 2012 Brunello that was very good AND it is currently available in the state system. But the “show stopper” at the tasting was their Montesoli, their single vineyard, estate flagship wine. That was excellent! It should be. It costs over $100 a bottle!
Val di Suga produces three single vineyard, estate Brunellos. Each vineyard has a very different type of soil; therefore, the three Brunellos taste and smell completely different. That made for a very special tasting. I particularly looked forward to this winery visit because I have a 1999 Spuntali Vineyard Brunello. The Spuntali soil is very interesting because it’s ocean floor with lots of seashells. It’s not something you would expect in southcentral Tuscany but the ocean receded from this area millions of years ago.
The gracious and knowledgeable woman who conducted the cellar tour and tasting was astounded that I had a Spuntali from 1999. She asked, “where did you ever find it?” I told her I found it in a “magical place” called the West Shore Plaza Wine and Spirits Store in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania back in 2007. I said, “They even had a special name for it. They called it a Chairman’s Selection.”
The first appellation we went to in Tuscany was Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. The famous winery Poliziano was our first stop. The winery secured a reputation for consistently producing fine wines for many years. After the cellar tour, we went to their modern tasting room where the winery manager conducted the tasting. We had five of their wines. All of their wines were spectacular! Our next stop in the appellation was at Gattevecchi. Instead of having their wines in a tasting room, we had them with lunch on their small outside deck high up in the mountains. We had four of their wines with as many courses and they were all perfect pairings. The view, the wines and the food were “trifecta” winners!
The last appellation we visited in Tuscany was Chianti Classico DOCG. The Classico region is different from Chianti DOCG. Chianti Classico produces the best wines overall compared to Chianti, Chianti Rufina or Colli Senesi. You can easily identify the Classico wines with the symbol of their DOCG, a black rooster, on the upper label of every bottle produced there. We went to five wineries in the Chianti Classico zone. Our favorite was Vecchie Terre di Montefili. This is a small production winery that makes fine artisan wines. It was formerly a monastery high up in the mountains. The monks planted the vineyards and started to make the first wines here. They later sold the estate and it became a commercial winery.
Vecchie Terre di Montefili is a beautiful place. The views were breathtaking due to its elevation. It has two ponds among its vineyards with tall, full shade trees at the winery building. Both the winery and house had abundant plantings of beautiful flowers in full bloom. We had five wines including a thirteen-year old Super Tuscan. They were all stellar. Tuscany is remarkably scenic and the wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino (see last month’s newsletter) and Chianti Classico are among the best in Italy and the world!