For two ladies who like our vino, a day in Chianti, Tuscany sounded almost too good to be true. In search of those picture-perfect Tuscan landscapes, we hopped on an early bus to Greve, which is located in the Chianti region. A one hour ride from downtown Florence brought us right to Castello di Verrazzano, a vineyard said to be founded by the guy who discovered New York, with a castle sitting on a hilltop producing some award winning Chianti Classico. Not only do they produce several varieties of wine, but they also make their own delicious aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and varieties of wild boar prosciutto and salami.
Offering different food and wine experiences, we opted for the tour, tasting and light lunch. Our very knowledgeable host Jillian began the tour in the gardens, framed with lemon trees, a fountain, old walls and rose bushes and proceeded to explain how this is the worst weather May has seen in the past 200 years, as we all stood there in the rain. Not quite the Tuscan experience we had dreamed of but still the show must go on!
We toured their wine cellars where giant barrels held 1000 litres of Chianti Classico, and smaller barrels held reserve labels and even smaller barrels held balsamic vinegar. The cellars also had small rooms with hanging ham and other hidden nooks and crannies full of valuable old dusty wine reserves.
All organically grown, hand-picked grapes, and bottled without sulfites, we were ready to move onto the tasting. Set in a spacious dining room with panoramic windows we sat down to a lavish table setting, crystal glasses lined up and 5 wines to taste. We learned the proper wine tasting technique, where a vigorous swirl of the glass actually does enhance the smell and flavour. Then platters of our ‘light lunch’ arrived, big enough to share but served one per person, our mouths watered as we enjoyed so many fresh and fragrant ingredients. Chianti Classico, pecorino cheese, wild boar salami, olive oil and aged balsamic make for a perfect symphony of flavours…and then to top it all off the pianist started playing.