Wine is a staple of Italian culture and is accompanied with every evening meal, red wine almost exclusively. Some of what is considered the best wine in the world is made right here in Italy. There are people who wish to get a taste of the Super Tuscan wines. This means that the wines are often made of grapes that are not native to the region to create a Bordeaux-blend , like a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They can range and land in high prices because of their careful and detailed production.
Wine wasn't new to me when I came to Italy but I definitely didn't know all the complexities behind the wine I drank. Wine was something my sister, her husband, and I bonded over, because while everyone else we know in the family enjoyed beers and hard liquors we took enjoyment in a nice glass of wine. I know all that I have liked from what I have tried were almost exclusively red and tended to be a little on the sweeter side but rich in taste almost like a good black coffee. The last bottle I finished and liked was a Grahams 6 grapes wine that was gifted to me at a Thanksgiving dinner I hosted. It was definitely a sweet wine and if you are someone who isn't used to a bitter taste and would rather something not too dry and more refreshing, I would say it is a good entry into wine. It is great with desert as well as on its own.
While in Florence, in general, I have been drinking Chianti, meaning the wine was made in central Tuscany, so closer to Firenze, compared to Strada Provinciale Bolgherese which is much closer to the coast and southwest of Florence, in the Province of Livorno. I realized that this is the reason that in my experience so far, it is common to see a Chianti on the menu Florence.
This past weekend I visited a vineyard in Bolgheri, where I mentioned earlier, called Caccia Al Piano. In the 1960s, Bolgheri became one of the avant-garde areas for top wine production. In 1968, these local producers started an innovative style of wine called the Super Tuscan, such as Ornellaia and Sassicaia (a Bordeaux-style red wine). In 1994, Bolgheri and Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC(Denominazione di Origine Controllata) were born. When you see or hear DOC, to put it simply, it is a verification that the vine is from the region it claims to be produced in. The main focus of the Bolgheri DOC is the importance of terroir, and for this reason, the Bolgheri Rosso and Bolgheri Superiore wines are labeled without the mention of grapes, as where the grapes where grown and harvested is more important. The Bolgheri DOC title also can cover white and rosé wines as well. I was able to visit the property and learn a wine making and enjoy a tasting. I had been looking forward to visiting a vineyard for a while.
Caccia is a slightly smaller and younger vineyard that a lot of other ones but still highly regarded. Most of the production is all done by hand with no more than 50 people harvesting and sorting grapes for fermentation. I was able to get a tour of the vineyard as well. Outside is the harvest and inside the sort and have large machines that press ad juice the grapes in a steady process. There are far more steps to the process that I know I am missing but what I did gather from the tour is that this is a very long, laborious, and expensive process that requires the makers to be passionate if they want to create a good product.
At the wine tasting I tasted 4 different wines and it was accompanied with cheeses, meats, and bread. The wines presented from their line were the Levia Gravia 2014, Bolgheri Superiore D.O.C, 2 different variations of the Ruit Hora 2014, Bolgheri Rosso D.O.C, the Gottaia 2014, IGT Toscana. I liked all of the wines. They were a bit more bitter than I was used to but easy to drink and had overall, a more complex taste because of the blends. I went home with two bottles of the Ruit Hora Bolgheri Rosso D.O.C. It is rich in taste and of all the wines I have tasted so far in Italy, it has been my favorite. I am excited for when I go back to the states to bring a bottle for my sister and brother in law to try and get their opinion!
I would suggest if you are visiting Tuscany you can not leave without visiting a vineyard and experiencing something like a wine tasting for yourself.