I know nothing about wine. I know if it’s red or white, but that’s about it. But if you’re going to Tuscany how can you not go wine tasting? That’s what this region is known all over the world for!
I had no idea where to start. In Montalcino alone there are a few hundred wineries! How do you choose? Fortunately, we booked a tour with Anna at Cool Tours! Y’all, Anna is fantastic. She’s so funny, bubbly, and knowledgable! She served as our tour guide, personal sommelier (yes, a real sommelier!), driver, and overall wine enthusiast. I am so glad we had her! Since we didn’t know much about wine, she educated us about the different colors, light bodied vs full bodied, why you smell the cork when you open the bottle, the proper swirling technique, and what to look for when you take your first sip. You know when people say they taste oak or floral or cherry notes in the wine? Not me. I just taste wine. But, with Anna’s guidance we really did start to pick up on the points she was telling us. Without her we would have been so lost… in more ways than one. Since she was our driver too, we didn’t have to worry about navigating anymore of the Tuscan countryside… thank goodness! We were able to sit back and relax and enjoy the gorgeous day!
Anna picked us up at our bed and breakfast in Montepulciano that morning. We had three wineries on our itinerary so we had to get an early start! This tour specifically featured Brunello wine from the Montalcino region. The town was about 45 minutes from where we stayed so Anna gave us a lot of information and history as we drove to the first winery. I really appreciated that Anna chose small, family run wineries for our tour because it gave us a much more intimate setting. We were the only ones on the tour!
Our first winery of the day, Capanna, had a family villa overlooking picturesque hills full of grapevines. The farm was started in 1957, and they began bottling their own wine in the 1960’s. Anna introduced us to one of the family members, and he gave us a tour of the grounds and the cellar. He explained a lot about their farming techniques and also the aging process of the wine. After our tour, Anna joined us again for the tasting. We’d never tried Brunello before so she took some time to explain the different types of grapes and what we’d be tasting in this particular Brunello. We purchased two bottles of the Rosso di Montalcino, and they bubble wrapped it and boxed it up for us so traveling with it wouldn’t be an issue.
Our second winery had the most beautiful location of all three. It sat high up on a hill overlooking the rolling hills, and the tasting room had floor to ceiling windows so we could look out. We were given a tour of the production area and we got to see their labeling and shipping room. After the short tour, we rejoined Anna for the tasting portion of the tour. This time, the winery provided salami, pecorino cheese, and traditional Tuscan bread for us to sample during the wine tasting. This opened up a whole new world to me because Anna instructed us on what food to eat with which wine, and it completely changed the flavor of the wine! It was fun for her to explain the food pairing aspect because I never would have figured that out on my own.
Anna saved the best winery for last! We loved visiting Cordella! We were given a tour of the new cellar and bottling area by one of the owners, and then we met back up with Anna. Not only did we have a wine tasting here, but one of the owners (who is also a chef) prepared us the most amazing lunch! The wine was fantastic… in fact, we ordered half a case and had them shipped to the States! The lunch was one of the best meals we had. Everything was prepared with such detail, and the ingredients were so fresh and light. We ate several courses, but I never felt too full. For appetizers he had prepared fresh ricotta on toasted bread, thinly sliced zucchini with ricotta and tomatoes, and a spelt salad that I didn’t think I was going to like, but I loved it. For entrees we were served creamy pasta carbonara with crispy pancetta and a risotto MADE WITH THEIR WINE. It was so creative and, obviously, delicious. After complimenting the chef and asking what his secret was, he invited us into the kitchen to watch him prepare our deconstructed tiramisu for dessert. Oh, and all of this food is being served in between the wine tastings!
After a long day of eating and drinking, we couldn’t wait to crash back in Montepulciano. The wine tour was designed especially for us, and we couldn’t have been happier. Anna pointing out the differences in each wine and each vineyard was so helpful. I can’t imagine going on a tour without an expert guide of some kind. I’m desperately waiting for her to come to the States and do some tours through Napa… we’ll be her first clients! After touring through Tuscany, I’m prepared to say that I’ve gone from knowing nothing about wine, to being a wine snob! Just kidding… kind of.