Category Archives: Wine Tastings

Ultimate Tuscany: Top 10 Wineries

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AntinoriWinery3

Filippo Bartolotta give us his insight into his top 10 Tuscan Wineries.

Tuscany is in the heart of Italy and is the epitome of perfect wine country.
The gentle rolling hills are planted with hectars of vineyards, as you drive through the region you pass medieval castles, wild forests, pilgrim trails and ruins of ancient churches. On the coast streets lined with 400 year old cyprus trees lead you to medieval hamlets.

In Tuscany wine making is an age-old tradition and the wineries are mainly family run with passion for their history and tradition blending in with a new generation of innovation and ingenuity.

First on Filippo’s list of top 10 Tuscan Wineries to visit is Antinori Chianti Classico.

Just 20 kilometers from Florence is the newest addition to the Antinori Brand.  Opened in 2012 after 7 years of construction, built out of all locally sourced material, the winery is state of the art.  It is a working winery which also hosts a wine museum, book shop, art collection and wine bar with tasting rooms.

Next on his list is Castello di Ama the hamlet and it’s vineyards and olive groves and 12th century castle have been lovingly restored and renovated by Lorenza Sebasi and Marco Pallanti.  The owners of Castello di Ama ‘the castle of love’ who are passionate not only about wine and extra virgin olive oil, but also contemprary art. Since 1990 they have been commissioning artists to create personal artworks for Castello di Ama, with permanent contemporary art installations by Anish Kapoor, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Kendell Geers, Daniel Buren and many  more.

Next up is Castello di Nipozzano, the most celebrated and historic property of the Frescobaldi family.  The wine estate dates back to 1855 when the cultivation of varieties previously unknown to Tuscany such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlo and Cabernet Franc were planted.  Nipozzano is the real thing: a true working farm, and a big one at that with more than 600ha, including olive trees and an on-site olive press. Chianina and Angus cows can be seen roaming free in the fields.

Cappezzana is next on Filippo’s list – just a few miles from Florence towards Prato.  Capezzana is one of the oldest wine estates in Tuscany producing wine in Carmignano since 804 A.D. Since 1920 the estate has been run by the Contini Bonacossi family.  The newest addition being the wine bar ‘La Vinsantaia’ where guests can enjoy informal wine tasting as well as food.  In summer you can see Florence’s Duomo from the tasting terrace!

In 2011 Salcheto became the first self sufficient winery in Europe.  Most of it’s energy comes from renewable sources and recycled winery materials.  Salcheto is also a certified organic winery. Their motto is Salcheto is… Sangiovese, Quality and Sustainability.  Overlooking the own of Montepulciano it is one of Tuscany’s most beautiful wineries.

Tours include an insight into the incredible technology in place and a tasting is likely to make you a firm believer in both high-tech and green principles.

Badia a Coltibuono is an old montestary from the 11th century in perfect condition.  The old crypt where the monks once had their cellar is now where the Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico is aged in big oak casks.  With guided tours of the abbey, which include the Italian style garden, the frescoed hall, the ageing cellars, and wine tastings their organic wines a visit to Badia a Coltibuono is guaranteed to be a pleasurable one.

Sassicaia – Tenuta San Guido

Tenuta San Guido is located on the Tuscan coast in the area of Maremma.  It was here that Italy’s first vine cuttings of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon were planted by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta in 1944.  He originally intended to make wine only for his own personal use.  The first vintage to be commercialised was the 1968 vintage.  Sassicaia is the first Super Tuscan wine and has it’s own appellation, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC which started with the 1994 vintage.

Livernano and Casalvento

Bob and Gudrun Cuillo run the Livernano and Casalvento estates with passion and

In 1997 Bob Cuillo (a serial entrepreneur born in the Bronx, New York has a knack of turning everything he touches to gold) bought Casalvento a property in the heart of Chianti Classico and soon afterwards the neighbouring estate of Livernano which he and his wife Gudrun lovingly  restored  along with the Liverano village turning it into a country resort with restaurant.  Along with award winning wines they also produce olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Biondi Santi – Tenuta il Greppo

Tenuta Greppo, is nestled in the hillside of Montalcino in Val D’Orcia, the estate is more than a century old and being run by the fifth generation of the Biondi Santi family. The first Brunello di Montalcino was bottled here in 1888.  Visiting this estate is like taking a step into Brunello history, where a cellar tour will include seeing the barrel used to store the world’s first Brunello.

Castiglion del Bosco

The hamlet of Castiglione del Bosco was built in 1100 in the heart of the Orcia Valley, which in 1972 became a UNESCO World Heitage site. Castiglion del Bosco is one of the founding members of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino and organisation created as a voluntary association of producers who regulate and control the quality of Brunello production, it is also among the first Italian wines to be granted DOC and DOCG status. A new cellar was built in 2004 with a capacity of 3,000 hectolitres. Castiglion del Bosco also boasts a beautiful 18 hole golf course designed by the legendary winner of the British Open, Tom Weiskopf

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Spa Break and Wine Tasting in Tuscany

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What better way to relax than to combine a Spa break in the Tuscan countryside with a wine tour of local Tuscan wineries.

Where can I find a Hotel with Spa in Tuscany?

Castello del Nero

Just 35 minutes from Florence airport is Castello del Nero in the town of Tavernelle Val di Pesa, in the heart of the Chianti Wine region this 5 star luxury hotel is a 12th century castle converted into a Leading Hotel of the World Hotel with ESPA Spa and outdoor Vitality Pool.

Grotta Giusti 

Grotta Giusti Natural Spa Resort  is situated in Monsummano Terme, north west of Florence. The early nineteenth century villa, now a prestigious 4 star Hotel.

Grotta Giusti has its very own thermal Grotto and new open-air thermal swimming pool.

Villa La Borghetta

Set on a beautiful Tuscan hillside between Florence and Arezzo is four star Villa La Borghetta Resort. The villa dates back to the 14th century. It has a beautiful spa with views over the olive groves and outdoor pool and jacuzzi.

Palazzo Leopoldo

In the heart of Chianti is the picturesque town of Radda in Chianti is four Star Palazzo Leopoldo, which is a historic hotel within the Medieval City Walls.  It was the Manor House of the Minucci family in the 1800s. It has a wellness centre, sun terrace and indoor heated swimming pool.

CDH Hotel Radda

CDH Hotel Radda is a 4 star hotel which has modern Tuscan-style features with stone facades and terracotta floors.  Pure relaxation is the underlying theme of the hotel with a indoor Health Centre and outdoor pool with beautiful views over the Chianti hills.

Villa Campomaggio

4 star Villa Campomaggio is an 18th-century nobile villa stands amid the Chianti hills surrounded by vineyards and woods.  The spa was converted from the old cellars and the outdoor pool has a breathtaking outlook on Chianti vineyards.

Castello di Casole

5 star luxury Castello di Casole lies west of Siena, recently restored Castle that dates back to the year 998, in the heart of a vast and vibrant country estate has a mesmerizing spa and state of the art fitness centre, with outdoor heated infinity pool.

Adler Thermae

5 star Spa Hotel Adler Thermae, near Montalcino is one of Italy’s leading wellness hotels.

Discover thermal baths in Tuscany and reap the benefits that thermal spring water has to offer. With indoor and outdoor heated pools plus exclusive spa treatments with thermal water from the thermal springs of Bagno Vignoni.

Tuscan Wine Tour with Silvia

Enjoy a day of wine tasting on a Tuscan Wine Tour with Silvia, your English-speaking driver and wine expert.

Silvia is a Tuscan native who holds a degree in Italian History, a Diploma from the Italian Sommelier Guild and a license for private chauffeuring.

Silvia has a strong passion for Tuscany and Tuscan wine, which she will share with you on your Tuscan Wine Tour.  Start your day visiting a charming village in Chianti with time to shop for local specialties and handicrafts. You will then visit a fine winery, in a historic villa or castle where you  will taste the winery’s current releases and visit the ancient cellars where you will be introduced to the world of wine and wine-making.

By this time you’ll be ready for a tasty lunch at the winery overlooking the countryside, or in a very good local restaurant.

In the afternoon, you will visit another excellent family-run winery. Now you will begin to

understand the range of aromas and flavors that Tuscan wines have to offer and recognize the incredible subtleties and differences.

Return to your Spa Hotel with new knowledge of Tuscan wine, ready to relax at the hotel with a spa treatment or a glass of wine by the pool reflecting on your Tuscan wine tour experience.

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3 great reasons to visit The Langhe region of Piedmont.

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The Langhe Hills are only a short drive south-east from Turin, and are easy to reach for a long weekend break or indulgent weeks vacation.  The area is surrounded by the Alps mountain range and the Po valley which is renowned for it’s rice growing plains.

The rolling hills are dotted with villages, hamlets and castles that date back to medieval times and conjure up images of nobility and splendour.

1. The Wine

The hills of the Langhe are the lands of noble vineyards producing wines of great quality and diversity.  The Nebbiolo grape being the protagonist in Barolo and Barberesco wines.  Alongside Barbera and Dolcetto d’Alba, Le Langhe boasts a vast number of wineries which are for the most part vineyards that have been family run for many generations.  The winemakers of this region take great pride in their land and the yields that are harvested each year.

2. Truffles

As the summer temperatures start to cool and the leaves start turning all shades of yellow, burnt orange and brown you can be sure that autumn is here and the highly awaited Alba International White Truffle fair is drawing near.  October through mid – November is white truffle season. When truffle hunters gather with their dogs on the hunt for the costly tuber that will be sold at a price that is determined daily at the International Truffle Fair.  Taste this lavish delight at a local trattoria or restaurant where it is served in thin shavings over pasta, eggs or risotto.

3. Food

Truffles aside, Le Langhe is foodie heaven, with a culture of cuisine this region boasts a number of luxury Michelin rated restaurants as well as family run trattorias that pride themselves in traditional seasonal recipes using local produce such as cow and goats cheese, beef braised in wine and a variety desserts made with it’s prestigious hazelnuts.

There is no better place to go for a bit of relaxation accompanied by excellent food and wine than Le Langhe.

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Interview with Sicilian wine maker: Francesca Planeta

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At Le Baccanti Tours, we tour top rated wineries all over Italy. Sicily has a special place on our wine map.  Every year, we take our clients on a wine tour of the wineries around Mount Etna. Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, being in more or less constant eruption. At currently about 3,330 meters, or about 10,940 feet (the height varies with eruptions), it is about twice the height of Vesuvius and the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. The terrain all around it is immensely fertile and supports a thriving agriculture of orchards and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

One of our favorite wineries in Sicily is Planeta. They have many wine producing facilities all over the country and we are very familiar with their site in Etna. Planeta is not just one winery, but many.  The exhilarating journey begins at Sambuca di Sicilia, on an estate the Planeta family has  owned since the 1600s. In the  mid-1980s, three enthusiastic  young Sicilians – Alessio, Francesca and Santi Planeta – began their winemaking venture. The trio spent subsequent years matching the extraordinarily diverse Sicilian soils with both indigenous and international grape varieties. The result? A family of critically-acclaimed wines that demonstrate how brilliance can be attained through the thoughtful marriage between grape variety and terroir.

Curious about Planeta Winery in Sicily and the story behind the wine makers? Check out the interview made by Star Chefs to understand why this Sicilian wine company is one of our favorite wine cellar destinations when we go on wine tours of Etna in Sicily:

Interview with Francesca Planeta, Winemaker at Planeta Wines, Sicily, Italy

Interested in a wine tour of Etna in Sicily? Read up on our luxury, private wine tours in Sicily and beyond on Le Baccanti’s website!

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