Italy is one of the world’s best destinations for wine-lovers: from Sassicaia to Chianti, not only are the reds, whites and dessert wines top-notch, but with their rolling hills and verdant landscapes, the Tuscan vineyards alone are breathtaking too.
Top Six Luxury Wine Tasting in Tuscany, Italy – Here are our favorite vineyards for wine tasting in Tuscany… Cheers!
Antinori Chianti Classico
Less than 20km from the heart of Florence, right off the main highway going to Siena, is the stunning new Antinori Chianti Classico winery.
Set among olive groves and geometrically aligned vineyards, the winery is almost hidden, as most of it lies underground. The Antinori family has been in the wine business since 1385, but don’t be fooled by the long history – here you won’t find dusty archives but an active and prolific wine empire which boasts two of Italy’s top wines: Solaia and Tignanello (produced on a nearby Antinori estate).
Today the company is run by Marchese Piero Antinori and his three daughters Albiera, Allegra and Alessia all involved in first person in the family business. Tradition, passion and intuition are the main keywords that led Marchesi Antinori to establish itself as one of the principal winemakers in Italy.
Throughout its history, twenty-six generations long, the Antinori family has maintained direct control of the company, making innovative and sometimes bold decisions yet always keeping their respect for traditions and the territory intact.
Each year, each plot of land, each idea to be developed is a new beginning, a new study for increasingly higher quality standards. As Marchese Piero loves to say; “Old roots play an important part in our philosophy but they have never hindered our innovative spirit.”
To enter into the Antinori Chianti Classico Cellar is to participate in an adventure which develops over six centuries of history. A journey which is, at the same time, one through history and through the emotions, technical and architectural, and which culminates in the experience – visual, sensorial, and flavor-rich – of the tasting of various Antinori wines.
First opened in August 2013, the new winery, designed by Marco Casamonti – one of Italy’s leading architects – has more than 600 years of winemaking on display in its wine museum, book shop, art collection and, of course, wine bar and tasting rooms. All of this is housed within a structure using local terracotta, conceived to generate the perfect climatic conditions needed for the barrels. An incredible iron spine to the building gives the sensation that the floor is actually suspended above the foundation.
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Castello di Ama
Ama takes its name from a small borgo, or agricultural hamlet, nestled in the hills at an altitude of almost 500 metres. Five centuries ago, it was the hub of a florid farming and winemaking business overseen by a group of local families. “The road from Radda leads to Amma, three miles away on a hill and home to the Pianigiani, Ricucci and Montigiani – the most prominent families in Chianti,” wrote Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Habsburg-Lorraine in his 18th-century Report on the government of Tuscany. “They are well-off country gentry that spend all their income on farming and vineyards, and take care of everything.
The hills and valleys surrounding the castle of Amma are the most beautiful in all of Chianti, superbly tended with fertile grain fields, olive groves and magnificent vineyards.” The Grand Duke’s visit is commemorated by a plaque on one of the buildings in the borgo, which are now owned by the winery. Castello di Ama, the winery, was founded in the 1970s by a group of families who had fallen under the spell of this magical spot. They set themselves the task of reviving Ama’s past glories and of producing a Chianti Classico that would rank among the world’s most prestigious wines.
Visitors can enjoy artworks by world-renowned artists such as Daniel Buren’s mirror wall (that reflects the vineyards) or Anish Kapoor’s ‘Aima’ with its pulsing red light in the tiny church of San Venanzio.
While many wine producers also make extra-virgin olive oil, Castello di Ama has a state-of-the-art olive press which allows the Pallantis to bottle one of the countryside’s best oils – a must try!
The guided winery tour introduces visitors to the inner life of a leading Chianti estate. The tour takes in the vinification plant, the ageing cellars, the village of Ama with its ancient chapels, the 18th-century Pianigiani and Ricucci villas and their historic gardens. It not only illuminates the winemaking process but spotlights the 14 site-specific works that constitute the Castello di Ama per l’Arte Contemporanea contemporary art collection. Among the many internationally renowned artists who have responded to the genius loci of Ama are Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren and Louise Bourgeois.
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Castello di Nipozzano
The castle here was built 1,000 years ago to guard Florence, and great artists such as Donatello and Michelozzo Michelozzi regularly purchased wine from the estate. It was destroyed in 1944, then partially rebuilt but you can still view the original cellar at the Renaissance villa.
Nipozzano is the real thing: a true working farm, and a big one at that with more than 600ha, including olive trees and an on-site olive press. Chianina and Angus cows can be seen roaming free in the fields.
The history of the Frescobaldi family starts over a thousand years ago and is closely connected with the history of Tuscany. At the high point of medieval Florence, the Frescobaldis spread their influence as bankers, earning the title of treasures to the English crown. A little later, with the flowering of the Renaissance, they became patrons of major works in Florence, such as the construction of the Santa Trinita bridge and the Basilica of Santo Spirito.
A visit will include a tour of the monumental cellars where the Chianti Rùfina (the higher appellation in the Chianti area) is aged. Other highlights include the tasting room in an old kitchen, as well as the views of perfectly maintained vineyards across the valley. If you are there to buy, the old vintages start from 1864 but Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi is very fond of the 1960, 1974 or 1981.
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Sassicaia – Tenuta San Guido
Tenuta San Guido is named after the Saint Guido della Gherardesca who lived during the XI century. It is located on the Tyrrhenian coast in Maremma, an area made famous by Italian Nobel prize winner Giosuè Carducci.
Here, Italy’s first vine cuttings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were planted by Marchesi Mario Incisa della Rocchetta in 1944 to produce his own house wine. Some 30 years later, in 1978, a 1972 Sassicaia came top in a Cabernet tasting run by Decanter – the best of 33 wines from 11 countries.
Just a few years ago, Tenuta San Guido built a new cellar to host the barrels of Sassicaia. Visiting the property is not easy, but if you can arrange a tour, it will be unforgettable, as winery staff take you through the production and ageing rooms and help explain the mystique of Super Tuscans.
Tenuta San Guido has three defining characteristics: the Sassicaia wine, the Razza Dormello-Olgiata thoroughbred studfarm and the Bird Sanctuary Padule di Bolgheri. They divide the estate between the Padule on the coast, the horse’s training grounds on the plain, and the vineyards planted up to 350 meters on the hills. The latter have been given their own DOC, the DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, the first, and so far only case in Italy of a DOC contained in one estate.
The wedding of Mario Incisa della Rocchetta and Clarice della Gherardesca on october 18th 1930, started it all.
They shared a love for thoroughbred horses that made them form a partnership with horse breeder and trainer Federico Tesio. Mario Incisa’s love of good wine made him plant Cabernet vines in 1942 for what was to become Sassicaia. Seventeen years later the Bolgheri Bird Sanctuary becomes Italy’s first private nature preserve.
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Biondi Santi – Tenuta il Greppo
Timelessness is what denotes Tenuta Greppo, the noble birthplace of Brunello as testified by an 1869 certificate in the brick-vaulted tasting room, the first documented mention of ‘Brunello’.
In 1888, the first Brunello di Montalcino was bottled here. In 2013, Franco Biondi Santi died at the age of 91, leaving his son Jacopo Biondi Santi, the fifth generation, at the helm of one of the world’s most famous wineries.
Tenuta Il Greppo is high up in the hills of Montalcino. The ancient, rocky clay, Tuscan galestro, is the best soil to cultivate Sangiovese grapes, and wines here are old school, ageing up to three years in big Slavonian oak casks.
Visiting here is like taking a step into Brunello history. Friendly staff lead guests through the beautiful estate and the historic winery, from the vinification room, with its cement tanks, to the extraordinary and grand 19th-century Slavonian oak barrels in the ageing cellars. The tour concludes with a tasting.
Learn how Biondi Santi only labels its bottles just before sale to prevent them from deteriorating, and about its exclusive ricolmatura service, offered to collectors who can choose to have their bottles of riserva topped up over time.
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Castiglion del Bosco
Castiglion del Bosco is located in the northwest of Montalcino, where the rocky, nutrient-poor soils are perfect for yielding wines of superb structure and complexity.
The ancient hamlet was built in 1100, right in the heart of the Orcia valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its breathtaking landscape.
The estate’s 2,000 hectares are largely occupied by dense woods of holm oak, oak, and beech, in addition to meadows, organically-farmed crops and 62 hectares of vineyard planted exclusively to Sangiovese. There are two completely distinct growing sections, each different as to aspect, soils, and weather conditions.
Massimo Ferragamo bought the estate 11 years ago and turned it not only into a beautiful winery producing modern-style Brunello, but also a splendid resort with two great restaurants, a spa and one of Italy’s most sought-after golf courses, designed by Tom Weiskopf.
Nestled against the side of a hill, almost out of sight, the new wine cellar was designed to coax the absolute best from the grapes grown in Castiglion del Bosco’s vineyards. The sangiovese grapes are quality-selected in the vineyards first, then the clusters travel two sorting tables, where trained eyes make a further selection of the finest fruit.
The clusters are then gravity-fed into 100-150hl tanks on the lower level, which are arranged in suitable sizes to ferment the various vineyard lots separately. When the fermentations are complete, the wines go to a spacious, climate-controlled area that is partially underground, containing French oak barriques and barrels. From the tasting room, visitors can enjoy a gorgeous view from a glass walkway extending out over the barrique cellar. The process continues with bottle-ageing, which, depending on the wine, may last from 6 to 36 months before release. Winemaking at Castiglion del Bosco is managed by Cecilia Leoneschi who has been at the winery since 2003.
Here guests can immerse themselves in the beauty of this authentic corner of Tuscany, a setting of unparalleled elegance and refinement, while enjoying a selection of the estate’s top wines.
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