Much more than Chianti: Fine wines flow across Tuscany’s rolling hills
What is better than sipping Tuscan wine with good company? Well, sipping Tuscan wine in Tuscant perhaps? It comes as no surprise that Tuscany is one of the most popular destinations for wine and food tourism. In Tuscan terms, this means visiting historic farms and vineyards, exploring loaded wine cellars and enjoying atmospheric local bars. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy a glass of good wine under the Tuscan sun? The whole region supplies exactly what visitors are looking for: breathtaking panoramas, amazing food, charming towns and villages. If you think that this depiction of Tuscany is simply an idealistic stereotype though, think again. It is a true depiction of the region – as long as you know where to find the real deal.
Tuscan wine is a serious business
Tuscany is a world leader in wine exports and is the Italian region that produces the most DOC and DOCG wines. This means Tuscan wine adheres to traditional processes and has certified characteristics particular to its area of production. One million four hundred hectolitres, eleven DOCG wine labels and thirty-nine DOC labels – those numbers are enough in themselves to explain why wine is so deeply embedded in the Tuscan economy and cultural heritage.
Don’t get burnt under the Tuscan sun
Planted among the authentic Tuscan experience are a lot of tourist traps. Wine tourism in Tuscany is not for everybody, and it’s certainly not for the ill-equipped. The sector is lucrative and many opportunists seek to take advantage with little regard for authenticity. It’s not uncommon for non-certified but charming sommeliers to try and rip-off tourists who come to Italy for the real thing, but get stuck in a maze of cheap wineries and sub-standard bars. This occurs in the vineyards of the celebrated Chianti region, as well as Tuscan cities such as Florence or Pisa. But we quality here at Quisine. So, here is a list of the five best cellars and bars that should not for those who want a sip of ‘vera Toscana’.
Le Barrique: Florence
Le Barrique is one of the most respected wine bars in Florence. While it’s name translates to mean barrel in French, Le Barrique is prestigious, elegant and charming. Located in Via del Leone, guests enjoy fine wine while taking in impressive art and photography adorning the walls. This Tuscan wine haven also showcases exhibitions and events dedicated to the arts.
However, since Le Barrique is a Tuscan wine bar, the real hero is indeed the vino. Every Wednesday guests can experience the tasting menu divino in vino (literally ‘divine in wine’, but also ‘from one wine to the other’) that showcases vintages from all over the world.
Ristorante Fiore: Scandicci
In the rolling hills of Tuscany, is a small town not far from Florence called Scandicci that encapsulates the unique beauty of the region. Ristorante Fiore, in via di Marciola, will impress you as soon as you enter. Thanks to the outstanding attention to detail, you will feel like you’ve been invited into a rustic Tuscan farmhouse. You’ll find the same dedication to detail in the menu that features regional specialties. As well as carefully curated wine list of the best Tuscan wines.
Cantinetta Sassolini: Greve in Chianti
Since Chianti is the area with the most wine bars and cellars, the wise strategy is often to abandon the tourist trail and uncover Tuscany’s hidden gems. With this in mind, the ideal place to visit is Greve in Chianti, more specifically the hamlet of Panzano. At Cantinetta Sassolini you’ll find a place that exudes the history of its ancient surroundings. All you have to do is go up the little alley that starts from Piazza Ricasoli and pass a mysterious green gate. Then, you’ll find the garden of Cantinetta, where you can order a glass (or several) of the excellent house Sangiovese and other labels from a broad wine list.
Enoteca Il Grappolo: Florence
Back to Florence. This time we visit the amazing hills around the city and head towards Coverciano. In Viale Eleonora Duse lies Enoteca Il Grappolo, one of the most relaxing wine bars in Tuscany. Everything is soothing and rural, starting from the red brick vaults leading to the entrance of the restaurant. More importantly, Il Grappolo stocks its cellar with rare vintages so you can experience a taste of real Tuscan wine within walking distance of one of the city’s grandest landmarks, the Artemio Franchi of Florence.
L’Antica Taverna: Volterra
No trip to Tuscany is without a visit to Volterra. The city has ancient Etruscan roots, unique architecture and is twelve miles from San Gimignano and Pisa. L’Antica Taverna is located in the centre of Volterra, in Via dei Sarti, across from Pinacoteca gallery and Palazzo Viti. You’ll find natural partitions in the stone and a cosy dining room perfect for enjoying wine. This relaxed space offers up the best of Tuscan and Italian cuisine, and is a traditional ‘taverna’ featuring an area set aside for serious wine-tasting sessions.