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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

top 10 tuscan wineries 2

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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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Things to do in Palermo

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Sicily is one of Italy’s most exotic regions with almost too many things to do and see in the capital city of Palermo! Surely images of “mafia” and “The Godfather” come to mind when imagining Sicily but there is so much beauty and fascination with this region. Sicily has it all: Ancient ruins, mountains, volcanos, wine, ocean (after all, Sicily is an Island), mind-blowing food, warm people, divine desserts and unforgettable cities- like it’s capital Palermo.

Palermo is Sicily’s capital and a major touristic destination. The city is a contrast of Sicilian color, old and new architecture, ruined and developed as it was hit hard by the bombings of WWII. One minute you’ll walk down a street and be dazzled by sparkling new shops and smooth sidewalks and down around the corner you may find a tiny outdoor food market with vats of boiled potatoes waiting to be sold by a grandfather like vendor, surrounded by ruined buildings visibly charred by bombing while a young boy carries food to his family on a donkey. It is an incredible trip that every Italophile must make in his or her life!

If you are planning to visit Palermo, here is a list of top 7 things to do in Palermo to put on your list:

(images from google)

1. Vucciria Market- More than 700 years old, this outdoor food market in Palermo has more than a pulse left- it radiates the zest of life! Come here to not only relish in the hollering abbanniata of local vendors belting out their wares at the top of their lungs, but to savor in salted capers, mountains of deep red tomatoes, fresh fish so fresh its gills hardly stop moving, street snacks like fried calamari, artichokes and panelle (a fried chickpea bread). Discover Sicilian culture and tradition at this market, we recommend coming with one of our gourmet tour guides so you can really understand and discover all the hidden gems.

2. Sicilian Cooking Class- After your market visit to the Vucciria with bags full of ripe Sicilian produce and specialties- don’t you think you should learn how to make some Sicilian fare? We specialize in gourmet travel and our clients can’t stop raving on tripadvisor about how cooking classes in Italy transform their understanding of Italian food and how they bring this culinary magic back with them home. Not only are these benefits evident when you take a cooking class in Italy, but you make priceless connections with the locals. Sicilians have a gift of being some of the warmest people on earth. Cooking with locals will give you the opportunity to spend an afternoon not only with a Sicilian chef, but with new friends.

3. Museo Archeologico Regionale (Regional Archeological Museum)- Sicily has a strong connection with the Greeks and Romans so many ancient structures were influenced by their styles as a result. Many artifacts  reside in this museum monastery with not only these constructed remains, but also galleries of preserved scenes from various eras of Sicily’s rich history.

4.  Catacombe dei Cappuccini (Cappuccini Catacombs!) Get ready to get goosebumps because these catacombs are the home to some 8000 mummified Palermitani who died between the 17th and 19th century! These mummies are even on display and divided by social status such as religion, crimes, chastity and wealth. Make sure you make this stop a request if you are taking a guided tour of Palermo!

5. A cultural walking tour of Palermo- Yes, knowing what sites to visit are important, having a guide take you through Palermo to discover sights, monuments and museums makes your trip to Palermo not only informative but fun! Get to know the inside and out of this Sicilian hub full of artifacts and modern history with a private, entertaining and friendly English speaking private tour in Palermo. Plus, you’ll get some exercise walking around to justify the food and wine you’ll enjoy on your tour.

6. Eat out! Sicily is known for succulent meat dishes, mouthwatering lasagna, superb wines made from rich, mineral volcanic soil, explosive tomatoes (not from the volcanos, but the effect on your tastebuds) and decadent desserts like world famous cannoli and cassata. So treat yourself to a night (or few) out fine dining your way through the culinary treasures of Sicily. Want to avoid the touristic trap restaurants in Palermo? Contact us- we offer complimentary bookings in Palermo’s finest restaurants (secret tips that not even the guidebooks know).

7.  Visit to the botanical garden (Orto Botanico Palermo)- Sicily has an exotic past and a tropical nook in the city with it’s botanical garden! Visit to walk through groves of fig and palm trees, striking flora and fauna, papayas and coffee trees! I bet you didn’t know Sicily could grow 2 things: coffee and palm! Were we right?

Anything we are missing or that you would like to learn more about for things to do in Palermo? Contact us! Le Baccanti is proud to have been planning luxury vacations and tours in Italy for over 10 years. We are happy to share our expertise with our clients aka our VIPS!

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