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Tuscany Wine Tour: 3 Classic Wine Zones, Italy

offered by supplier M08242 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 6 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 14 people
Destination(s): Italy  
Specialty Categories: Food & Wine   Cultural Journey  
Season: May - October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 3795 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3795 US Dollar (USD)

Tour the ancient heartland of Tuscan wine and learn the legends of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano on this classic 6-day wine tour.

The richly forested region of Chianti is home to massive castles left over from the wars between Florence and Siena. We’ll visit one that was the birthplace of Chianti wine and home to Italy’s second Prime Minister. In Chianti we’ll also roll up our sleeves for a hands-on cooking lesson at a countryside farmhouse.

Mid-tour, we spend the day in Siena to admire its Gothic splendor on a walking tour of the city.

Then it’s on to southern Tuscany, a wholly different landscape featuring spare hills dotted with slender cypress. Here we’ll visit the pecorino cheese town of Pienza, see an ancient abbey in Montalcino, and learn about the Renaissance in Montepulciano. Of course, every day features wine tastings and nightly wine dinners.

Itinerary:
Day 1. Pecorino and the noble wine of Montepulciano.
Welcome to our Tuscan wine tour! After a 9:30 a.m. pick-up in Florence, we shuttle to to the Renaissance city of Montepulciano in southern Tuscany (1-1/2 hours). A summer retreat for Florentine aristocrats, Montepulciano has palazzi and piazze embellished by Florence’s leading 15th C. architects. Wine took center stage in the 1700s, when its popularity among nobles and literati (like Voltaire) earned it the moniker Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Our first tasting is at Poliziano, one of Montepulciano's leading wineries and one of the first to heavily reinvest in the area and its wine, beginning in the 1960s. Afterwards we head into town for a welcome lunch at one of the most historic wineries, Gattavecchi. We'll eat in their medieval cantina (which also holds an Etruscan tomb), tasting their classic Vino Nobiles with lunch.

Afternoon takes us to another gem of the Renaissance, Pienza. The ability to make pecorino cheese was once considered so valuable a skill that women could list it on their dowry. We'll taste three types of pecorino in this cheese capital and see how aging cheese in walnut leaves, olive paste, hay, even grape must affects its flavor. Pienza is also famous for its architecture, being an “ideal” city commissioned by the Renaissance Pope Pius II. We’ll tour the Piccolomini Palace, stroll through its beautiful light-filled church, and learn a bit about Renaissance architectural theory and Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man.

Then we continue to our hotel in Montalcino. Our welcome dinner features Brunello-worthy Tuscan fare, such as gnocchi with wild herbs or beef braised in Brunello.
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Day 2. Exploring Brunello di Montalcino.
Today we dedicate to Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany’s most prestigious wine. Brunello is made from sangiovese, a site-sensitive grape, so we’ll visit wineries on the north and south sides of Montalcino to let you compare Brunellos made in different microclimates. First is Donatella Cinelli Colombini (aka Casato Prime Donne) on the cooler northern fringe of the DOCG zone, which is run by an all-female staff. Our hostess will provide an entertaining history of Montalcino as we tour the cellars.

After lunch in Montalcino, we move 10 km south and get into a contemplate mood at the Abbey of Sant’ Antimo. Still today, friars live at this abbey founded by Charlemagne.

Then it’s on to our second Brunello tasting at Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, a southside estate with great wines—and a great Cinderella story to match. Dinner is on your own in Montalcino. We'll point you to a lively, family-run trattoria that offers excellent pinci pasta and succulent veal glazed with balsamic-juniper sauce.
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Day 3. The Gothic city of Siena.
Before transferring from Montalcino to the Chianti Classico zone, we'll have one final Brunello tasting, at either Caparzo or Altesino. (Parting from Brunello is such sweet sorrow!)

Then we stop in Siena for the day. We start with Nannini, a famous old coffee bar where we’ll sample panforte, a cake dense with nuts, candied fruits, and spices. After refueling on this medieval snack, we’ll be primed and ready to visit the Palazzo Pubblico, a splendid town hall lined with Italian Gothic frescoes. We’ll pay homage to the most famous: Simone Martini’s Maesta and Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Good & Bad Government. Then we’ll circle by the striped Duomo, home to artworks by Michelangelo and Pinturicchio, for an optional visit.

Free time for lunch, shopping, and museum-going follows. Wine lovers can use this time to visit the Enoteca Nazionale, Italy’s national wine bar/showcase, housed in a Medici fortress. Mid-afternoon we’ll continue north to our second hotel, a renovated farmstead outside the medieval town of Radda in Chianti. Dinner will feature more scrumptious Tuscan cuisine.
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Day 4. Ricasoli and the birth of Chianti.
America had Thomas Jefferson. Italy had multiple politicians with close ties to viticulture. In Tuscany, the most important was Bettino “Iron Baron” Ricasoli, Italy’s second Prime Minister and inventor of Chianti wine. We’ll visit Castello di Brolio, where the Ricasolis have been making wine since the 1100s. Walking through the magnificent gardens and on the castle’s crenulated walls, we’ll hear about the Iron Baron’s winemaking—and the legend of his ghost. Then we’ll taste their highly regarded Chiantis and Super Tuscan, and continue sampling over lunch at the winery’s Osteria del Castello.

The afternoon is devoted to the Baron’s cousin at Rocca di Montegrossi. Here Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi diligently handcrafts some of the most elegant, refined Chiantis you’ll ever find.

Dinner is in a tiny hamlet called Volpaia, meaning “place of foxes.” Here we’ll have family-style servings of homemade pasta, wild boar stew, and fabulous torta della nonna (cream tort with pinenuts).
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Day 5. Chianti Classico and the Black Rooster.
Today's first winery is a gorgeous old property, the family-run Vecchie Terre di Montefili. Here we'll hear the legend of the black rooster as well as the history of this particular estate, once tended to by medieval monks.

Lunch follows in Greve in Chianti, birthplace of the explorer Verrazzano, and, if time allows, a visit to the Greve Enoteca, where 200+ wines are available to taste.

We'll follow that with a quick afternoon tasting at Fontodi, Caparsa, or Castello di Radda before rolling up our sleeves for a hands-on cooking lesson at a Chianti farmhouse. We'll dine on our brilliant labors and toast new friends with a glass of vin santo, the golden dessert wine—served, naturally, with almond biscotti.
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Day 6. Buon Viaggio!
A shuttle to Florence, arriving by noon, and assistance with your travel plans. B

Supplemental Tour Information:
Meet and depart: Florence

Tour Guide Credentials:
The tour-operator owners are your guide(s), one a native of Piedmont and the other an American wine writer.

Member discount:
10% discount for InfoHub customer. Request a free gift certificate.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price based on this 6-day itinerary for 2 pax; discounts for larger groups. Modifications are possible, including the number of days, level of accommodations, amount of wine tastings, and inclusion of meals.

Price Includes:
- 5 nights accommodations (double room) in 4-star hotel (Chianti) and 3-star (Montalcino) hotels, with breakfast buffet
- 3 gourmet dinners (three courses with wine)
- 1 hands-on cooking lesson, with dinner & wine included
- 1 welcome lunch
- All wine tastings mentioned
- Admission to Castello di Brolio
- Shuttle at beginning/end of tour, as described.

Price Excludes:
- $350 single-room supplement
- Air travel
- 1 dinner on your own & most lunches
- After-dinner drinks, or special wines at tastings that are not part of what is provided to the group
- Items of a personal nature
- Anything not specified as included.

About This Supplier
Location: USA
Joined InfoHub: Apr 2000

Founded in 1999 our company is a leading pioneer in Italian wine tours. We’re a boutique tour operator, whose owners—a native Italian and an American wine journalist—personally lead most of the tours. These are small in size—minimum 2, maximum 12—so you’ll feel like you’re traveling with friends. Our...

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