Tuscany has three main wine regions – Montepulciano, Montalcino and Chianti, all within an hour and a half drive from Cortona. We visited all three, and driving through the rolling hills of grapevines and olive trees in Tuscany is almost surreal.
The town of Montepulciano is extremely hilly and was pretty sleepy the day we visited. We had gorgeous weather and enjoyed strolling through the town and wine tasting at the “grandfather of Montepulciano wineries” – Contucci. Thanks to Angela’s research we found Adamo at Contucci and he gave us tastings of Rosso di Montepulciano and Nobile di Montepulciano, as well as Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva. Wine from the 19th century.The next day we visited the Poliziano vineyard for a tour and tasting. This was a really fun visit because the a) the wine was great b) we did the tour and tasting with a fun mom-daughter pair from California and c) our host Jenny was an ex-pat from NYC who moved to Tuscany and wrote a book about her experience.
Our favorite wine ended up being the Brunello (shocker) from a small, family-run vineyard in Montalcino – Santa Giulia. Angela found out about the vineyard from a guidebook, and thankfully there were clear directions because it was quite remote. Our host Kaie was lovely, and she talked with such passion and care for their small vineyard. We met her husband, the one who runs the vineyard, as well as her mother-in-law (Mirella! a common Tuscan name apparently) and her 8 month old son. She and her father-in-law make their own prosciutto and salami, which unfortunately they don’t sell, or I would have loaded up on the salami, my favorite I tasted anywhere in Italy. They do, however, serve their meats with the wine tasting, along with pecorino cheese from nearby Pienza and bruschette. We tasted Rossi di Montalcino and two vintages of Brunello di Montalcino, which we loved and shipped home.
We had dinner in the town of Montalcino, which is chock-full of wine focused stores.
The views in the Chianti region may be my favorite in Tuscany. Once again, pictures don’t even come close to capturing it. We did a tour of Castello d’Albola and a tasting of their Chianti Classico, which was really beautiful, though wasn’t our favorite wine.
Although Cortona is not widely known for their wine, they do make great wine. The common grape in Cortona is Syrah. The Fabrizio Dionisio vineyard was on my walking path in Ossaia, and I think their wine is delicious. Another favorite was Stefano Amerighi, which the restaurant owner in Florence had recommended. On one of our last evenings in Cortona Adena and I joined the Wine, Shine and Dine dinner, a weekly event in Cortona. The first part of the evening is a wine tasting in Piazza della Repubblica, and then a dinner with wine pairings at various restaurants in town. The wine tasting included cheese tasting, which really makes life just about perfect.
Here are the lists of food and wines we enjoyed. With Marco, one of the event hosts, and Emily (?) from Canada who was visiting Italy with her mom.With Gian Maria, art gallery owner and our favorite man in Cortona, for obvious reasons.We had quite the challenge getting home that night, given that the dinner ended close to midnight, and guess when cabs stop running in Cortona? Before midnight. Thankfully Paulo, one of the brothers who hosts the event, bailed us out and drove us home.
In sum, I’m a fan of Brunello, which is unfortunate given the high mark-up cost in the U.S. It’s actually pretty affordable in Italy, so I guess I’ll just have to return.