Over the past two weeks, my wife and I traveled through a few parts of Italy. We decided to break up our trip between Rome, Florence and San Gimignano, with most of our time spent in SG to take day trips to different parts within Tuscany.
Our time in Rome felt pretty productive given the short amount of time we spent there. I managed to reserve tickets to the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palestine Hill for early Sunday morning. I figured we might be a bit jet lagged and wake up rather early. We arrived a little early for our Colosseum reservation, but they did allow us to explore the Roman Forum before.
The Forum and the Colosseum really are two incredible places to experience. For more photos from our walk around Rome and rest of Italy, you can check out my Exposure page.
So, what about the wine?
For most of our trip we stayed at an agriturismo near San Gimignano called Guardastelle. They make their own wine and olive oil, which we decided to ship some over to the US. During our stay here we made day trips to Siena, other parts of the Chianti area, Bolgheri and Montalcino.
I somehow didn’t really book many of the visits in advance except for Antinori, but I have to say that I think it was a very productive wine week for us in Tuscany. Below is a list of the wineries we visited.
Antinori nel Chianti Classico
Antinori is most known for the Tignanello and Solaia. I booked their Grand Cru tour for my wife and I, which allows us to see many parts of their winery in Chianti including their incredibly beautiful cellar.
After the tour of the facilities, we sat in a one of the rooms as shown above hanging over their cellar. Here we went through a tasting of 4 of their wines:
- Cervaro Della Sala 2016
- Pian Delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino 2013
- Badia a Passignano 2015
- Tignanello 2015
My wife and I have been lucky to have had the 2015 Tignanello before, we still have one in our wine fridge. But we were still excited to drink some more of it! The Cervaro was super surprising, especially if you let is sit out for a little while (to warm up and air out). It was very floral on the nose, lots of pear and melon in the mouth. Really refreshing.
We also enjoyed the Brunello and Chianti Classico, but the Cervaro and Tig were the two winners for us during the tasting. As we were heading out, we stopped at their public tasting room so I can at least give their Solaia a try. In the end, we shipped 3 bottles of Tignanello (wanted 6, they said no!) and 3 bottles of the Cervaro.
Bolgheri is home to a few really pricey wines, Ornellaia and Sassicaia. Tenuta San Guido (home of Sassicaia) does not have a public tasting room or from what I could tell, open to any types of tours. But you can have lunch or dinner at Osteria Enoteca San Guido where you can have some Sassicaia. We did the 4-item tasting menu with wine pairing, the last wine being a glass of 2016 Sassicaia.
We really enjoyed our lunch here, as well as trying a few wines:
- Le Difese 2017
- Guidalberto 2017
- Sassicaia 2016
After finishing our lunch we drove to Ornallaia for a tour + tasting. The tour took us to their cellar, bottling facilities and their library of wines dating back to the 80’s.
The tasting at Ornellaia was a great experience and the first time either of us have had any of their wines.
- Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia
- Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2016
- Variazioni in Rosso 2016
- Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2016
- Ornellaia 2015
We really loved the Serre Nuove and the Ornellaia. Complex wines with lovely aromas and lots of enveloping flavors. We were hoping to order a few bottles of the Serre Nuove but they were sadly sold out. Decided to splurge and ordered a vertical set of the Ornellaia, a 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Other than Antinori, I’d say Montalcino was definitely a big highlight for us during our wine trips within Tuscany. I was able to make somewhat last minute reservations for a Wine Experience tour at Castiglion del Bosco (Cdb). And boy it was just incredible. Our guide and winemaker, Coco, took us to one of their vineyards with just an incredible view. I didn’t actually take a photo here because I was just absorbing the views and the information she was telling us.
Afterwards we went to their winemaking and cellar area and then continued on to the wine tasting. The tasting took us from their Rosso all the way to their own super tuscan made in Bolgheri.
- Rosso di Montalcino 2015
- Brunello di Montalcino 2014
- Brunello di Montalcino 2013
- Prima Pietra 2015
- Prima Pietra 2014
Some people really look down at Rosso di Montalcino and calling it a lesser Brunello, and I’d say Cdb definitely showed that this is far from the truth. We absolutely loved all of the wines we tried, especially the Prima Pietra 2014. Such an incredibly silky wines with lots of aromas and character. We shipped most of our wines from here.
Rest of Italy?
Most of the restaurants we visited had extensive wine lists and at times rather overwhelming. But we never had a bad glass of wine during our trip. In Florence we visited Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina, a small wine shop that also serves rather amazing pasta. Here I had a Chianti tasting that went all the way back to the 1970s. If you’re ever in Florence, I highly recommend you visit them!
At Ristorante Il Guscio, we ordered a bottle of Campo al Fico 2014, another wine from the Bolgheri area. I don’t think it’s super easy to find here in the states, but if you can find a bottle, buy it!
During our stay near San Gimignano, a coworker of my wife made us reservations at San Marino 26. They also bought us a bottle of wine! A 2009 Saxa Calida, another wine that is not exported from Italy. We ended up shipping a few bottles (and some for them to say thank you!)
We both miss Italy dearly for its food, wine, people and scenery. Walking around the stone cities of San Gimignano, Siena, Florence and Rome was just incredible. I can safely say that we both hope to go back soon and explore more of what Italy has to offer.
You may have noticed that some of the images above come from Instagram stories, and you’re right! I post a lot of our wine tastings to my Instagram stories and have a highlight from all the wines and whiskeys we’ve tried over the past year. Be sure to go and check it out!