Your Tuscan Truro Daily News Tasting Panel took the remaining funds in the Truro Daily News entertainment budget and booked a trip to Tuscany for the end of June and start of July.
Despite the brutal heat wave that was hitting the region, this was the wine-related trip of a lifetime. Nine days were spent with a professional guide touring four of the regions of Tuscany. Words cannot describe what we experienced, but I will do my best…
Hire a guide!
Visiting vineyards in Tuscany is not like visiting a winery in North America. Most of the wineries require appointments. You do not just show up for a tour of a winery. A guide will make the necessary arrangements for you ahead of time, and spend much of your trip on the phone contacting wineries to advise of delays in the schedule. The wineries do not like to be kept waiting.
If you are thinking of visiting Tuscany, or other parts of Italy, and are looking for the greatest guide on the planet, contact Nello Cipriano de Libero. If you look up that name on Facebook you will find him, or you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nello is a professional geologist, amateur historian, wine connoisseur, wine lover, and now a good friend. Nello will tailor your wine tour to match your interests and level of wine knowledge. I cannot recommend him enough.
Send in the Clones
The primary grape in all of the regions of Tuscany is the Sangiovese grape. What became apparent on our trip was that each region had its own clone of the Sangiovese grape. The wines from each Tuscan region are quite unique. Sangiovese grapes seem to thrive at the 500m to 600m elevation range.
We learned that the years 2007 and 2010 were great years for the wines throughout Tuscany, and that 2014 was a terrible year. In 2014, there were heavy rains that depleted the wine quality, and practically destroyed the olive crops.
We also learned that you can expect to lose your olive trees in Tuscany every 50 to 100 years due to a heavy frost. The last time that this happened was in 1985 so the olive trees are now all about 30 years old.
Prior to the tri,p I had understood Super Tuscan wines to be the non-Sangiovese ‘Bordeaux blend’ of international grapes grown on Tuscan soils. However, on the trip we were introduced to Super Tuscan wines that were made from 100 per cent Sangiovese grapes.
The standard harvest for the quality wines is eight tons per hectacre, and six tons for their Riserva wines.
Each region has its own controlling body (‘DOC” or “DOCG”) that oversees and tests the wines for purity and quality.
The first region that we visited was Bolgheri. It is in the western, coastal region of Tuscany. The Sangiovese wine from this region is the Bolgheri wine.
The most stunning, modern wine cellar on our trip would have been the cellar in the Petra winery. It is an ultra-modern winery built by the owner who made his millions in the construction industry.
Montepulciano and Montalcino
These regions are stunning for their stereotypical, beautiful scenic vistas. They have the classic gentle rolling hills with vineyards and olive groves everywhere you look. There are 100 wineries in Montepulciano, and 220 wineries in Montalcino.
These are located in the central, eastern region of Tuscany.
The growth of the wine regions is strictly controlled by the DOC to maintain quality, and the prices of wine.
We were fortunate to spend three evenings in the castle in the very heart of the village of Montepulciano. This is still an active castle as the Count resided on the second floor.
The Sangiovese wines for these regions are the Vino Nobile of Montepulciano, and the Brunello de Montalcino.
We were also introduced to the white wine from the region which is made from the Vermentino grape. It is somewhat similar to an herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc.
The next region on our trip was Chianti which is located in the central, northern portion of Tuscany. There are 450 wineries in Chianti.
The Chianti region is very different from the other regions of Tuscany. It has more forests and mountains. It is my understanding that Chianti is Italian for “winding, nauseous driving.”
Chianti Classio is this region’s Sangiovese wine.
Before you die you have to visit the Coltibuono winery in Chianti. It is situated in a monastery dating from the 1200s. Their wine cellar is beyond belief, with bottles in their cellar dating back to the 1938.
General comments on Tuscany
It was surprising that most of the wineries served their wines above recommended serving temperatures. You would think that they would serve them at the proper temperature to maximize the drinking experience.
You really need a guide to get around and find the various wineries. Plan ahead and get a good cross-section of wineries to visit.
Don’t go during a heat wave! We suffered through a humidex of 43C during part of our trip.
In Nova Scotia vineyards
The vines in the Nova Scotia vineyards have escaped the brutal early July hurricanes that devastated vineyards last year. The vines are now post-bloom and they are going from blooms to setting fruit.
The Tuscan Truro Daily News Wine Tasting Panel tasted two Italian wines for your consideration. These are not wines from Tuscany as, unfortunately, the wines we tasted in Tuscany are well above the price point for the Grapevine reviews.
The white wine was the 2012 Tommasi Le Fornaci Lugano. It is made from the Trebbiano de Lugana grape.
It is available form the NSLC for $18.99.
The nose is of lychee, citrus and floral.
The taste is of lychee, honeysuckle, citrus and honey. It has a silky, honey mouthfeel throughout while maintaining a pleasant citrus undertone.
This is a very nice wine. It would be a nice wine to have around for the summer, and also likely for the winter.
We travelled 1200 km with our guide Nello on our trip. This wine rates 1032 out of 1200 km.
The red wine was the 2012 Sedara Red – Sicilia. It is made predominantly from Nero D’Avola grapes.
It is available from the NSLC for $19.99.
It has a light nose of berry.
The taste is of raspberry, black cherry, and tobacco. It starts with a heavy hit of tannins that quickly disappear after a couple of sips.
This is a very food-friendly wine that shines when consumed with food. A great pairing for pasta with a meat sauce.
This wine rates 1008 out of 1200 km.
Al Bégin is the Super Tuscan on the Tuscan Truro Daily News Wine Tasting Panel. You can send your wine questions, gifts, or recommendations, to him at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @tdngrapevine.