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Florence | HotelJune 30, 2010

Wine Tasting in Chianti

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It’s 6 o’clock in the morning. The sun is going to be very strong and hot today. Apparently, this early hour is the best time to walk around the vineyards. The light is still dim and diffused, ideal for taking nice pictures.

I rush into the Villa’s Giardino Aromatico (herb garden restaurant) where I have a delicious breakfast made of local tarts and a fresh fruit punch. I am very excited. I have never done this in my life!

The Mangiacane estate overlooks Florence, just 10 kilometers away, and spans 306 hectares. It is situated between San Casciano Val di Pesa and Greve in Chianti, at an altitude of 250/300 meters.

I am wearing my Havaianas from Brazil and a very light dress.  From afar I hear voices of men speaking in Arabic with a Moroccan accent. They are workers from the vineyards. I can see they are meticulously picking off the dry grape leaves.

Paolo Barzagli, who is a typically handsome Italian man but with fair hair and blue eyes, is the director of Villa Mangiacane. He supervised all of the reconstruction with its complicated details (including a permit that took more than 7 years for altering the position of a window!). He talks to the workers firmly in Italian, but with the kindness of a true Renaissance man.

Offering to accompany me on the walk, he explains to my New York mind that the diversity of soils and exposures to the east and northeast in San Casciano, and to the south in Greve generate different microclimates and guarantee the production of wines with great complexity and personality.

He notices the intrigued look in my eyes and goes further, inviting me to a special dinner where all the Mangiacane wines, Grappas and rose wines will be experienced and tasted in the old cellar by candlelight.

But first I should know more about their production. I hardly listen to him.  The strong light, the grapes and the Tuscan sky distract me, and my camera is far too busy for me to retain all the information. We proceed deeper into the beautiful forest near the hilltop between the towns of Greve, Radda and Castellina, which form a triangle in the very heart of Chianti.

Greve, Paolo explains, is named after the river that runs through it; it is the chief town of the Chianti Classico wine zone and home to Chianti‘s largest wine fair, held every September. He asks me if I’ll be in Florence during that period. We are both tired after the long walk. Maybe the helicopter would have been a better choice.

We enter the new cellar that was extensively modernized in 2001. It’s impressive and extremely technological. I still have those images of men crushing the harvested grapes with their bare feet in large wood barrels (to music no less!)…but that era is long over.

Paolo proudly tells me that Villa Mangiacane produces 80,000 bottles a year, mainly Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. wines, but it also produces I.G.T wines (typical geographical indication). I am already imagining Tanja and Pierre upstairs in the Villa preparing everything for tonight’s dinner in the magnificent candlelight setting of the old cellar.

Paolo says they will expect me at eight o'clock and he will join us a little later upon returning from Florence. After this spectacular day, I'll relax for a while in the luxurious sauna at the Naduska Spa, get dressed and be fresh and ready to experience the enchanting Tuscan wine tasting evening.

I am sleepy, a little dizzy... but I insist in enumerating my winners:

  • Riserva: Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. Variety:  Sangiovese 85%, Canaiolo 10%, Colorino 5% Production area: San Casciano Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti, harvest method: hand-picked,  Fermentation tanks: stainless steel vats, Fermentation : 27° C with temperature control, length of fermentaton 7-8 days, aging 12 months in French
  • Aleah: I.G.T. Toscana. Variety: 100% Merlot , San Casciano, Val di Pesa, 5000 plants/ha, hand picked, stainless vats, 26° C with temperature control, length of fermentation 10 days, bottle aging period 18 months in French oak barriques (80% new), natural purification.
  • Villa Mangiacane: Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. Variety:  85% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino, Production area: San Casciano, Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti 5500 plants/ha in the old vineyard, hand picked, 27° C temperature control 7-8 days fermentation aging: 12 months in French oak barriques (10% new) natural purification.
Grappas, Champagne, Aqua San Pellegrino and Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva in freshly baked bread with rosemary were served all night during tastings. A wonderful zucchini salad was prepared by chef Boucuse.

Petter Hegre's muse being harvested with the wine in a black and white picture and present in one of the wine labels stared at me all evening almost as a kind of a ghost. Too bad she couldn't appreciate the intensity of the "ruby-ness" of of the young Shamiso rose against the light of a warm Tuscan sunset over the San Casciano hills. And now, off to sleep...

Joelle's Tips:

Wine Tastings at Villa Mangiacane and Helicopter tours :

Arrive in style at local wine farms by helicopter for an exhilarating wine tour with a twist. Your helicopter ride will start from the doorsteps of Villa Mangiacane and your pilot will escort you Tuscany’s best known wine estates.  Villa Mangiacane will inform you on the top estates to visit and will arrange private transfers and arrange bookings at these estates. info@ villamangiacane.it

Gift ideas:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 0.500 lt Eu 12.00 per bt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 0.250 lt Eu 9.00 per bt

GIFT box of 3 bottles (Chianti Classico, Riserva, Aleah) Eu 70.00

Contact info:

Martina Marini

Wine Sales Department

Villa Mangiacane

Via Faltignano, 4

50026 San Casciano VP – Florence

Tel.: +39 055 829 0123 – Fax.: +39 055 829 0358

Email: martina@mangiacane.it

Skype: martinamangiacane

Link.: www.mangiacane.com

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