September 21, 2014

Chianti Wine Region of Italy

We woke up on our last morning in Florence ready to set out for the Chianti wine region for a tasting at Castello di Verrazzno. Our bus driver first took us to the best lookout point over the whole city of Florence for a proper goodbye.

The gorgeous panoramic view of the city was the perfect way to leave instead of only memories of sleepily piling onto a bus before the sun has poked it's way over the horizon.

Once back on the road it was hard to stay awake (bus sleep is how anyone was able to function properly on such a fast paced tour!) but once we started rolling through the hills of Tuscany the beautiful vineyards were enough to capture my attention.

We arrived at Castello di Verrazzano, named for the Verrazzano family of which the great Navigator Giovanni Verazzano came from. He discovered the bay of New York and a lot of the eastern American coast. A famous bridge in New York is named after him. 

The Florentine family of Ridolfi succeeded the Verrazzano's and now the winery is what it stands as today by way of the Capellini family. 

Our tour guide met us just outside the villa gates and proceeded to take us on a tour through the wine cellars. He had a gorgeous thick Italian accent and a bit of humor that kept us chuckling throughout his whole tour.

Inside the cellars we saw the massive barrels the wine is aged in and learned a bit of the process. I also learned a good bit about aging wine once it's in the bottle and how long you should wait to drink certain types.

In one room our guide showed us some impressively old bottles of unopened wine.

After our tour we sat down in an open room overlooking the vineyard to a tasting that came with a light meal of salad, meats and cheeses.

Everything was so delicious! The balsamic dressing that they also age from grapes was a true balsamic syrup (none of that fake salad dressing stuff). A thick and aged dressing with a sweet delicious taste over the cheeses. It was the kind of dressing that could be poured over ice cream even! We sampled just a spoonful each. The liquid takes many years to age and the small 100ml bottle packed a heavy price tag!

Of the wine the Chianti Classico was my favorite. Sweet and delicious! For dessert we had biscotti and espresso along with a "dessert wine", Grappa di Verrazzano. Grappa is made from the distillation of fresh grape skins from the vinification of the classico wine. It is very, very strong and you're only served a very small amount in what looks like a shot glass. 

Don't take it as a shot though or you will get a head rush and be put into a coughing fit like no other. With a very distinct taste, you either love grappa or you hate it. 

After dining Megan and I settled on buying bottles of the Chianti Classico and after one last look at the view hopped back on the bus with the others and headed to Rome.

If you are ever in Italy a visit to the Chianti wine region nestled within Tuscany is a must! It's so beautiful and who doesn't love a good wine tasting?

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