Chianti Wine Tasting Tours
Chasing Chianti – A Classic Italian Wine Tour
Chianti is one of the wines that helps to define the Italian wine making industry. It is one of the trinity of Italian reds, along with Valpolicella and Barolo.
In this article we are going to take a closer look at Chianti, and offer some ideas on a wine tour of the region the wine is produced in.
Wines from Chianti
Where is Chianti from?
Chianti is produced in a region of Tuscany. Indeed, the Chianti region is huge and overlaps several other prominent wine growing regions.
This means that there are actually wines being produced by vineyards in the region under other names, which could actually qualify to be called Chianti.
However, within the modern wine production industry, we can simply slice up the Chianti region in to two main areas.
The Chianti Classico Region, which as the name suggests, is the true heart of Chianti history. And the Greater Chianti Region, which is where newer, more modern variations of Chianti are produced.
What is Chianti Like?
The Sangiovese grape, which is the primary grape used in the overall Chianti blend, is a fairly light grape. Because of this, Chianti is one of the less challenging Italian reds. Indeed, if Italy makes one single red wine that is entirely versatile, then it is Chianti.
Chianti is far less challenging, with a lesser body than many of the heavy Italian red wines. However, that being said, Chianti is no push over. Just because it is not as full bodied as other reds, does not mean it is not a palatable wine.
The best way to describe Chianti is to think of Italian food. Fresh tomatoes, aromatic herbs, acidic balsamic vinegar. All of these make up the bouquet of a classic Chianti.
This makes it a perfect companion to any meat based savory meal. If you want Italian red with your meal, Chianti should be your go to wine.
Why is Chianti a Famous Italian Wine?
Chianti is one of the classic Italian wines, with a history going back to 1716. The bottle was originally fairly unique, short and squat, and housed in a wicker basket.
The name for this kind of packaging is a fiasco. Watch any old Italian movie, and you will see waiters pouring from a fiasco in many restaurant scenes.
And this is why Chianti is such a famous Italian red wine. It’s been around for almost 200 years, and has been a staple of Italian life for most of that time.
It is an affordable wine, that is easier to produce that its more expensive brothers. In effect, Chianti is a consumer product that every Italian knows.
Chianti is drunk as a standard table wine by many Italian’s. As mentioned above, its simplicity makes it easy to match with most food types.
How to Get to the Chianti Region
Getting to the Chianti region is very easy by air. The city of Florence sits just a few kilometres from the northern edge of the Greater Chianti Region. So it is possible to fly in to Florence Airport.
If you would rather drive and tour, then the situation is also very simple. Just set your GPS to the very centre of Tuscany.
This will see you end your journey in the Chianti Classico Region, the home of the original Chianti, and where the finest vintages are still produced today.
Where to Stay in the Chianti Region
When it comes to deciding where to stay whilst you are visiting the Chianti region comes down to two basic choices.
Florence at the northern edge, or Sienna at the southern edge.
Let’s take a look at each:
One of the main three tourist cities in Italy. Despite this, it has a very small city centre, giving it a cosy, provincial feel.
Florence is well respected for the amazing cuisine that is served up in the many Italian restaurants.
In fact, Florence could be considered to be the food capital of Italy. A perfect place to sample a whole range of Chianti whilst you dine.
Find a hotel in Florence with Expedia.co.uk and/or find a flight for Pisa
A smaller town, with masses of medieval influence visible at every turn.
Built around the central plaza, named Il Campo, this is very much a laid back Italian provincial city.
Not as vibrant as Florence. But if you are looking for something more relaxing, a place to soak up the Italian vibe, then Sienna is a good choice.
Find a hotel in Sienna with Expedia.co.uk and/or find a flight for Pisa
General Chianti region
Best Chianti Vineyards to Visit
There really are many Chianti producing vineyards, simply because the combined regions of Chianti Classico and Greater Chianti, are so large.
However, if we had to pick several that stand out as the best, then this short list would be it:
Antinori Chianti Classico
Just outside Florence, 20km down the highway that leads all the way to Sienna, is this historic winery and vineyards. Nestled within its well laid out vineyards, the winery itself can be hard to find.
This is because much of the winery is actually housed underground. This winery has been in production since 1385.
This is actually a must visit Tuscany winery, it is one of the definitive wineries of the area, and has done much to bring Tuscany to the fore of European wine making.
It is open to the public all day Monday to Saturday, and in the mornings on Sunday.
Castello di Nipozzano
This is a private winery and vineyard; it is not open to the public. However, if you take the time to contact the winery and ask, then it will let visitors take a look around. It simply does not publicize the fact.
The winery is based around the ruins of a 1,000-year-old castle. This winery is the home of Chianti Rùfina, one of the most well regarded of all Chianti vintages.
Badia a Coltibuono
As wineries go, this one has it all. A stunning organic farm, a cozy hotel, landscaped gardens and an incredible number of great wines to sample.
This is the Disneyland of wineries in the Tuscany area. The most interesting part of the Chianti production process here, is that the wine is aged in oak casks, in what used to be an old crypt. It is open Monday to Friday.
Again from Castello di Ama, this is a much less challenging Chianti Classico than our previous selection. Indeed, it is one of the least full bodied Chianti Classico in production.
This makes it a suitable fine wine for appreciating as an aperitif if great tasting red wine is something you enjoy drinking without an accompaniment.
From Majestic Wine, this is our new style Chianti selection.
It shares many of the properties of the previous two wines, but in a much more affordable way. Surprisingly, the reduced cost has not resulted in a weak wine.
This budget option holds its own with the two previous fine wine selections.
€12.78 / £9.99 at Majestic Wine
Taking in the Surroundings
Finding something to do to take a break from wine tasting whilst you are visiting Chianti, is pretty easy to do.
It is such a large region, and has a healthy tourist industry. Here are several examples of the great attractions to be found in Chianti:
Chianti Sculpture Park
Found within an entirely outdoors setting, the Chianti Sculpture Park offsets contemporary art with the majestic natural surroundings of the Tuscany countryside.
A wonderful place to spend a couple of hours taking a break from visiting local wineries and vineyards.
Tucked away close to a small town in the heart of the Chianti region, this museum is absolutely cram packed with locally discovered artifacts.
What makes it such a great museum, is the fact that each display is full curated, with a back story and explanation of its significance.
One for the whole family, the rather surprising go kart track located in Castelnuovo Berardenga. Great for families, as they allow drives as young as 6 years old to take a spin around the track.
Classic Chianti Wines
This list here could be exhaustive, as there are so many great Chianti wines that have earned the premium Classico title.
However, a decent list of the top producers would look something like this:
Antinori, Bandini, Banfi, Barone Ricasoli, Bibbiano, Borgo Scopeto, Caparsa, Castello di Brolio,Castello de Monsanto, Castello di Tornano, Castello di Verrazzano, Castello di Volpaia, Don VincEnzo, Felsina, Fontodi, Rocca delle Macie, Ruffino, and Villa Cerna.
Pretty much any Chianti Classico produced by these wineries is going to be good. But obviously the quality will change by the year the wine was produced.
This is something that modern Chianti producers overcome by blending wines.
Modern Chianti Wines
Outside of the Chianti Classico Region, is the Greater Chianti Region, and this is where many of the modern, more consumer focused Chianti wines are being made.
Most of this region is fairly elevated, and therefore cooler. This makes the Chianti produced in this region less challenging to taste.
The main producers that are exploiting the increasing demand for modern Chinati are in the Arno Valley and the Rufina area. When you are shopping for modern Chianti, keep an eye out for either of those two regions on the label.
Chianti Wine Tours
From culturally historic Chianti Classico with its firm place as a fine wine, to the budget conscious modern Chianti wines produced in the Greater Chianti Region, all Chianti wines share similar properties.
The great combination of robust bouquet, with a less challenging body than heavier reds, make them perfect for accompanying food.
Yet despite these similar properties, many wineries really do differentiate themselves from the mainstream, by producing more interesting wines, with the same common theme.
For this reason, a wine tasting tour of the Chianti region is a thoroughly enthralling experience for your taste buds.
Read about other Wine Tours?
More about Chianti
If you are more curious about how the Chianti region feels like, you can watch this whopping 27 minutes’ video about Greve in Chianti.
Mac is an avid traveller, who spends many months of the year wandering the world with a laptop and a suitcase. He has been a wine lover for over 30 years, and has a fondness for Italian reds, although don’t ask his opinion on the Barolo Wars. On his travels he has tasted a great many wines. Some good, some bad, and some that should never have been sold for human consumption.
Wines from Chianti
Da Vinci – Chianti Reserva 2011 – 75cl Bottle€15.84 Find merchant
Da Vinci – Chianti Classico 2014 – 6x 75cl Bottles€79.06 Find merchant
Castello di San Donato – Chianti Classico DOCG 2009-10 75cl Bottle€16.62 Find merchant
Da Vinci – Chianti 2014 – 75cl Bottle€9.62 Find merchant
Barone Ricasoli Castello Di Brolio Chianti Classico 2010€50.57 Find merchant
Badia A Coltibuono Chianti Classico€31.60 Find merchant
Fèlsina Vin Santo Chianti Classico€37.92 Find merchant
Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico€18.96 Find merchant
Poggio Castagno Chianti Classico€8.84 Find merchant
Montemajone Chianti Classico – Castello di Albola€13.27 Find merchant
Waitrose Chianti Classico Barone Ricasoli€11.37 Find merchant
Chianti Classico Riserva – Agriturismo Poggio Bonelli€23.90 Find merchant
Chianti Classico – Agriturismo Poggio Bonelli€16.50 Find merchant
Chianti Classico Riserva – Castello di Ama€32.70 Find merchant
Chianti Classico – Castello di Ama€32.70 Find merchant
Chianti Classico, Vigneto La Casuccia – Castello di Ama€119.90 Find merchant
Chianti Classico, Vigneto Bellavista – Castello di Ama€83.30 Find merchant
More wines from Chianti on page 2