Temperatures here in Florence have been hitting 89F/32C daily. It's about 10F degrees warmer than we'd anticipated, even factoring in that so far this spring in Europe has been warmer than normal. So when I saw the small van that would be taking us on our tour of the Chianti Classico region, and the number of people who were in the group, I was worried that we'd be in for a very uncomfortable day.
The van was well air-conditioned however, and even loaded up with nine people was relatively cool. We drove south for about an hour before arriving at the first winery, Villa Cafaggio. After a brief tour of the winemaking facilities we sat down to taste four red wines, from a very young and spirited Chianti Classico to a more sedate and complex red blend called Cortaccio. We learned about the wine classifications in Italy, and that for a wine to earn the DOCG designation the grapes must be grown and the wine produced under very specific rules, which vary from region to region. DOCG wines aren't necessarily better wines than others, but just considered the most traditional. Our guide explained that for a wine to be labeled Chianti Classico DOCG it must consist of at least 80% San Giovese grapes. Chianti Classico is usually a more fruity, acidic wine, lending itself well to pairing with traditional foods of the region.
This green glass contraption on top of the barrel of fermenting wine was actually invented by Leonardo da Vinci and has changed little over time. It allows the gas created by fermentation to escape, while not allowing air back in.
We also tasted some olive oil, some jam made with the grapes grown at the vineyard, and some chocolate. By the time we finished tasting (and purchasing) it was time for lunch, which turned out to be quite special.
VEGETARIANS, LOOK AWAY NOW!! (as Faux Fuchsia would say)
|This ain't your mama's meatloaf!|
DARIO + is legendary among foodies. The restaurant serves a variety of meat dishes, family-style, including meatloaf, pork roast with rosemary and herbs, and an incredible steak tartare.
|Dario - Butcher and Entertainer|
Downstairs is the butcher shop, which offers tastes of salami, and seasoned lardo to spread on bread. Yes, that last one is what it sounds like and is incredibly delicious.
We'll be off soon to catch our train for Venice, and I still need to finish re-packing. Second installment of our wine tour and more delights of Florence coming in the next installment.