Italy. The mere mention of this dream destination instantly conjures up visions of gourmet cuisine, haute couture, history, art, the Vatican, ancient monuments that are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and more.
Truly, this European country with its picturesque Mediterranean coastline, extraordinary natural diversity, luscious landscapes, and glorious culture easily makes one envious. No, we have not forgotten the romance, and the drop-dead gorgeous men who make hearts flutter with their charm and sartorial elegance.
This land of beauty belongs in every bucket list. Its wealth of wine trails is every wine connoisseur’s dream come true. A visit to one of Italy’s wineries with your treasured VinGardeValise® is a completely unique experience that naturally includes wine, along with their legendary hospitality. Italy loves its food, the specialty being that it is always seasonal produce, and their home grown wines are the perfect complement at the dining table. Could it get better than this?
Our trip today is to one of Italy’s most beautiful regions, Tuscany. There, we are taking you to the medieval hilltop town of Montalcino,which is a lovely little wine village south of Siena, in Italy. This region is home to Brunello di Montalcino wine made from the legendary Sangiovese grapes, which is among the most prestigious and sought-after wines in the world. Here, some of Italy’s best wines are produced. We have chosen six of their best wineries for you to visit and enjoy. So pack your VinGardeValise®, because you are sure to bring back home several wines that you can cherish, along with your memories.
Located just two kilometres from Montalcino, Il Palazzone or “The Big Palace” is a ten-year-old estate spread across twenty acres, with the vineyards cultivated in ten acres. Richard Parsons, who is passionate about winemaking, owns this winery. Run by husband-wife team Laura and Marco, the winery produces 20,000 bottles of wine each year. Currently the estate has three vineyards across Montalcino. The wine from these is blended to produce unique Brunello wines.
Il Palazzone practices responsible agriculture. The vine leaves are stripped by hand and wine is principally made in the vineyard rather than in the cellar. According to their website, “We are trying to reacquire the balance that is lost through the use of chemicals by avoiding them as much as possible and trying to replenish the soil and the ecosystem. You will see flowers, butterflies, ladybirds and earthworms in our vineyard!” They also produce extra virgin olive oil made exclusively with olives grown on the estate.
The Il Palazzone Brunello is an intense and ruby red silky wine with deep garnet hues and a bouquet whose aromas range from dark fruit and berries to chocolate, coffee, leather, liquorice, and balsamic notes. Their other vintages include Lorenzo & Isabelle IGT, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot; Rosso del Palazzone VR, and Grappa di Brunello Riserva. In June 2016, their 2009 Brunello di Montalcino was chosen as one of the wines featured at La Cite du Vin, the world’s first theme park devoted exclusively to wine in Bordeaux.
TripAdvisor rating: 5 stars, 30 reviews
· Private sunset tastings
· Club 100 project membership for Il Palazzone Olive Oil
· Tours by appointment only
· On site stores, that sells a selection of vintages, oil and grappa.
· Languages: English & Italian and, if required, German and Spanish (booking required).
Loc. Le Due Porte, 245
53024 MONTALCINO (SI) Italia
Canalicchio Di Sopra
Located in the northern side of Montalcino, Azienda Agricola Canalicchio Di Sopra was founded in 1962 by Primo Pacenti. The farm is spread across sixty hectares, of which nineteen grow vines. Three generations of winemakers have dedicated their lives to producing classic wines here: beginning with the entrepreneurship of founder Primo Pacenti, who passed on the baton to his son-in-law Pier Luigi Ripaccioli in 1987. Since 2001, grandchildren Francesco, Marco, and Simonetta have continued the family tradition.
In 1966, Canalicchio di Sopra produced the first bottle of Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino. In 1967, Canalicchio di Sopra was one of the twelve founders of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. Their signature wines are the limited edition Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and Rosso di Montalcino. California Wine Advisors chose Canalicchio Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2010 as their winner for its immaculate balance, majestic balance of dark fruit, plush oak, and velvety tannins, from a sample of six of the highest rated collector reds from the celebrated 2010 vintage, rating it the finest Italian wine they had ever sampled.
According to their website, “For 50 years, our mission statement has been the quest for elegance. Making wine with passion, respecting the territory, valorizing Sangiovese through our Cru to make it unique and different: since 1962 at Canalicchio di Sopra we make wine this way!”
TripAdvisor rating: 5 stars, 103 reviews
• Tour of Canalicchio di Sopra vineyard
• Tour of the ageing cellar
• Tasting of 4 vintages of Canalicchio di Sopra wines
· A Wine Relais, reservations required
· Tasting room
· Nature walks among Brunello Cru vineyards
· Languages: (contact winery email@example.com +39 0577 848 316 )
Loc. Casaccia, 73,
Fattoria dei Barbi
La Fattoria dei Barbi is located in Montalcino and Scansano, and spread over 306 hectares. The Cinelli Colombini family, which has been in Montalcino since 1352, owns the property. Stefano Cinelli Colombini presently manages the winery. La Fattoria dei Barbi has its own patented system of vinification, derived from the Tuscan tradition of “May Wines.” This wine was born from soaking skinned Sangiovese grapes that rest with their pomace for three months. The Brunello produced here has won prizes across Europe since the late nineteenth century. Considered the ultimate reference for Brunello in Montalcino, Fattoria dei Barbi has several firsts to its credit, including first mail order wine, first of Brunello exports to America, Europe and Japan, first super Tuscan and first single varietal grappa, and creators of the first “artificial nose” for wine analysis. Their cellars can hold 5,000 hectoliters in wooden barrels and 15,000 in cement and steel tanks. This is open to the public. Today, Fattoria dei Barbi produces 800,000 bottles annually, including 200,000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino, 100,000 Rossi di Montalcino, and 60,000 Morellino di Scansano and IGT Toscana.
According to their website, “Fattoria dei Barbi’s commitment to innovation and quality have led to many ‘firsts.’ The Cinelli Colombini family’s philosophy has always been that of marrying state-of-the-art technology with tradition — innovation of style to safeguard its substance.”
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars, 166 reviews
• 40-minute tour in English, French and German at € 5,00 per adult (children, guides and drivers free of charge).
• Tours from Monday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.
• Wine tasting at the wine shop for a fee, from among four wine suggestions.
• No reservation required
• Private guided tours available with tasting for groups of eight
• Brunello heritage Museum
• The Taverna dei Barbi where visitors can rest after a tour of the cellars and taste local dishes.
• Languages: Italian, English, German and French.
Località Pordernovi, 170,
Established in 1975, the Mastrojanni farm is located on the southeast side near the village of the Castelnuovo dell’Abate, just nine kilometres from Montalcino. Here, the Asso flows into the Orcia river near the ancient extinct volcano Monte Amiata, making the climate and terroir perfect for producing excellent wines. Of the ninety hectares of land, approximately twenty-four is cultivated as vineyards. Now owned by the Illy family, known as the coffee giants, Mastrojanni is viewed as one of the most respected Montalcino wine producers. Since 2009, they are one of Montalcino’s top ten wine estates.
Mastrojanni believes in vinification in cement for its thermal stability and the absence of magnetic fields that can develop in stainless steel tanks. Careful and meticulous crop thinning and selection guarantees wine from healthy and perfectly ripe Sangiovese grapes. After the Illy family took over in 2008, they have continued the tradition of producing the best wines by introducing a selection table and a few Vosges oak vinification tanks alongside the cement tanks.
Mastrojanni’s award-winning, block-buster wines include the Rosso di Montalcino—a baby Brunello, the San Pio, the Vigna Loreto, their signature wine—the Schiena D’Asino, Botrys, and Grappa.
According to Mastro Janni team, “The greatest reward is always the pride of having a wine of great class. We don’t work to win prizes but to offer our clients a constant qualitative continuity and maybe an improvement from vintage to vintage.” Don’t be surprised to hear the peaceful chanting of the monks at the twelfth century Abbey of Sant’Antimo nearby.
Mastrojanni Relais is situated in Montalcino, 39 km from Siena and 38 km from Saturnia.
Each room at this farm stay is…
TripAdvisor rating: 3.5 stars, 4 reviews
• Mastrojanni Relais, a resort surrounded by vineyards
• Online shop
• Tours by appointment only
• Wine tasting available
• Languages: (contact winery firstname.lastname@example.org +39 0577 835681)
Poderi Loreto e San Pio
53024 Castelnuovo dell’Abate,
Tenuta il Poggione
Known as one of the three original producers of Brunello di Montalcino, with origins dating back to the late 1800s, Tenuta Il Poggione was founded by Lavinio Franceschi, who fell in love with the landscape and its people. One of Montalcino’s historic and largest family-run wineries, it is located near the picturesque town of Sant’Angelo in Colle. The estate spans about 600 hectares, with 125 hectares dedicated to the vineyard and the rest shared by olive groves, pastures, and woodland. The climate is perfect for the Sangiovese gosso grapes that ripen into their collectible, award-winning wines.
Il Poggione follows the traditional approach to winemaking in combination with modern technology. The grapes are handpicked and meticulously sorted, after which they ferment naturally in stainless steel vats, then age in French casks, to result in their unique Brunello di Montalcino. This winery was among the first to market the Brunello di Montalcino wine in the 1900s and is also a founding member of the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium.
Today, a century later, Lavinio Franceschi’s successors Leopoldo and Livia continue to grow the business with passion. A new cellar was built in 2004 where wine is aged in large French oak barrels underground. Their products include Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Vigna, Rosso di Montalcino Leopoldo Franceschi, Rosso di Montalcino, Rosso di Toscana (a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes), Bianco di Toscana (made from Vermentino and Chardonnay grapes), rose wine Lo Sbrancato, Vin Santo Sant’Antimo Riserva, Moscadello di Montalcino (from Moscato grapes), and Grappa. The estate also produces olive oil.
Their website states, “In the light of a sustainable agriculture, the winery has limited the use of chemicals. Most recently, it has installed solar panels on the roof of its cellar, with the purpose to reduce the carbon footprint of its wines. Thanks to the practice of the green harvest, the monitoring of the vineyards’ health conditions and the soil’s nutritional needs, it is possible to obtain an excellent wine even in more difficult vintages.”
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars, 4 reviews
• Organized winery tours and wine tasting by appointment based on availability, Monday to Friday
• Cost of tasting based on size of group and wines tasted
• Self-catering accommodation in the vineyards
• Languages: Tours in Italian and English.
53024, S. Angelo in Colle,
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona
Ciacci Piccolmini is an ancient estate and is among the most sought-after wine producers in Italy. With thirty-five hectares of land in the prized Castelnuovo dell’Abate zone, including the ‘Pianrosso’ vineyard and the ‘Fonte’ vineyard, which produces grapes for the Rosso di Montalcino, this beautiful historic winery dates back to the seventeenth century. It is located on the south east slope of Montalcino, in close proximity to the medieval village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate and the eleventh-century Abbey of Sant’Antimo. The estate is set between Arna hill and the Orcia River and one can enjoy a fabulous view of Mount Amiata. Natural beauty abounds with wild animals, the fragrance of flowers and plants and pretty farm houses spelling “peace.”
The original “Palazzo” (Palace) built by Fabivs de’ Vecchis, Bishop of Montalcino and Abbot of Sant’Antimo Abbey is still on the property. Over the decades, the estate has had a colorful history and is now lovingly managed by siblings Paolo and Lucia Bianchini and their children.
The estate covers 220 hectares of land, of which fifty-three are in vines and forty hectares are home to olive groves. The wine produced is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The winery practices organic viticulture, minimizing the use of chemicals. The pruning and harvesting are done by hand.
Ciacci Piccolomini’s flagship vineyard Pianrosso produces 44,000 bottles a year. There are two wine cellars. The historical cellar ages the prestigious wines in the basement of the seventeenth century palace while the new cellar is in the estate headquarters, with fermentation, aging, refinement and storage facilities.
Their products include the Brunello di Montalcino (Pianrosso) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Rosso di Montalcino, Fabivs (made from Syrah grapes—look for the hologram on the cap), and Ateo (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).
TripAdvisor rating: 5 stars, 482 reviews
• Wine tasting room
• Guided tours on reservation
• On site store for tasting and purchases
• Historical cycling race L’Eroica
• Languages: (contact winery email@example.com +39 0577 835616)
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Also, when you visit these wineries, do us a favor, per favore. Find out the secret to why the Italians never seem to add on those pounds in spite of the delicious food and wine. We want to know! Grazie!