Surrounded by scenic ancient burrows, wine ages over time within casks acquiring its unique flavour and aroma. Within every bottle lies the story of the land from which it derives. These places should be explored with calm and ease so you can discover the charm of both the land and locals. Click through to the next pages for our wine tour recommendations, helpful hints and directions on how to get to these regions.
See also: How to order wine like an Italian.
First stop, Tuscany.
TUSCANY - The Beauty of Age
The red Brunello di Montalcino is considered by many wine enthusiasts to be the most renowned among Italian wines. Made with Sangiovese grapes that are typical of the Montalcino region, it is characterised by its bright and clear colour along with its strong aroma. We suggest serving in large glasses, this allows the Brunello's full bouquet to open up. Brunello requires a long period of ageing in oak barrels that can last up to four years followed by a four month rest in the bottle before being ready to drink – this is a wine that gets better with age.
Stop along the road to try a glass in one of the local cellars. You'll not only enjoy the wine, but the charming surroundings of this Medieval village with its 14th century fortress that towers over the Ombrone and Asso valleys. When it comes to wineries, our pick is the prestigious Castello Banfi.
Castello di Poggio alle Mura, Montalcino (SI)
Tel. +39 05 7787 7700
How to Get to Montalcino
By plane – Florence (120 km,) Pisa (150 km,) Rome Fiumicino (210 km)
By train – Straight to Buonconvento Station or take the train from Florence towards Siena and change at Empoli
From Milan take highway A1 towards Rome, exit at Firenze Certosa and Siena Sud
From Rome take highway A1 towards Florence, exit at Chiusi Chianciano Terme
NEXT - Lombardy
LOMBARDY - A History of Nobility
Going north along Lake Iseo you'll find the light and bubbly white whose label bears the name 'Franciacorta' – meaning French Court. The success of Franciacorta strengthened around the 1960s when a group of entrepreneurs began planting traditional Champagne, Chardonnay and Pinot bianco and noir grapes. Franciacorta DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Origin Denomination) is aged for 25 months after harvest of which 18 are on the lees, meaning they are fermented in yeast.
As pleasant as its bubbles, the land of Franciacorta offers many different ways to spend your time in the countryside. Spend an afternoon visiting historic villas, gardens and local cellars. If you love the outdoors, check out the Torbiere del Sebino nature reserve. Erected above the reserve is the monastery of S. Pietro in Lamosa that has a collection of 16th century frescoes. If you have time, visit Montisola, Italy's largest lake island. Don't miss out on a visit to Barone Pizzini, one of the region's oldest cellars founded in 1870.
Barone Pizzini, Via San Carlo, 14
Provaglio d'Iseo (BS)
Tel. +39 03 0984 8311
How to get to Franciacorta
By plane – Bergamo-Orio al Serio Airport (38 km) Brescia (35 km) Verona (75 km) Milan-Linate (80 km,) Milan-Malpensa (110 km)
By train – Take the train in the direction Milan-Venice to the station of Rovato on the lake or go further on to Brescia station and transfer to the Brescia-Iseo-Edolo and get off at Iseo station.
By car – Take the SS 510 Brescia-Iseo to the SS 11 Brescia-Palazzolo sull'Oglio, then take highway A4 and take the exit to either Palazzolo, Rovato or Ospitaletto.
PIEDMONT - The Stuff of Legend
The first bottles to have the Barolo insignia date back to 1876. The story as we know it today started with an experimentation by the Marquise Giulia Falletti di Colbert and Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour, a leading figure in the history of Italian unification. Cavour cultivated a prominent vineyard in Piedmont that to some extent still exists today.
To discover the most noble Italian wines of Piedmont, start from the town of Asti, the capital of Spumante (a sparkly white wine) and Barbera (a deep red wine) two of the most representative products of the region. Continuing along the gentle hills of the Langhe area you'll find that developments in local winemaking go hand in hand with ancient traditions. Our cellar selection here is Bersano & Riccadonna because not only can you sample Barolo and Barbera, but an entire offering of Piedmontese wines.
Bersano & Riccadonna – Piazza Dante 21, Nizza Monferrato (AT)
Tel. +39 0141 720 211
How to get to Langhe
By plane – Turin Caselle Airport (80 km) Genoa Colombo (120 km) Milan Linate (140 km) Milan Malpensa (150 km)
By train – From Milan take the train towards Turin or fromthe south from Genoa towardsTurin. Get off at the stations of Alba, Asti or Bra.
By car – Take highway A21 Torino-Piacenza (exit Asti Est.)Highway A6 Torino-Savona (exit Marene) Highway A33 Ast-Cuneo (exit Alba)
VENETO- Between Mountain and Lake
Full-bodied and savoury with a hint of bitter almond, wine from Valpolicella (a region comprising 19 towns including Lessinia and Val d'Adige) can be enjoyed in all its varieties from 'classic' (which originates from the most ancient areas of Negrar, Marano, Fumane and Sant'Ambrogio) to 'superior' as well as the more famous types like Recioto and Amarone. If you want to visit these valleys, start from the city of Verona or Lake Garda. You can't miss out on seeing the village of San Giorgio, a spectacular lookout point over Lake Garda with a lovely seventh century Church. Another unmissable is the town of Gargagnago, the home of Amarone. Here you'll find excellent winetasting at Villa Monteleone, a restored 17th century mansion surrounded by the vineyards where these fine wines are born.
Villa Monteleone – Via Monteleone 12, Gargagnago (VR)
Tel. +39 04 5770 4974
How to get to Valpolicella
By plane – Verona-Catullo (12 km) or Brescia – D'Annunzio (52 km)
By train – Take the train from Rome, Florence, Milan or Venice to Verona Porta Nuova
By car – Take highway SS 11 Milano – Venezia or highway SS 12 Brennero -Pisa to highway A4 Milano -Venezia (exit Verona Sud) or highway A22 Modena-Brennero (exit Verona Nord)
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