The Tuscan Tour Begins…

Before we began our tour, we decided we’d go for a Tuscan Run. It was rocky, muddy and treacherous, but running through a vineyard was pretty damn cool.

Sorry, CMT, but this beats the views in Crestline.

For our first full day in Tuscany, the weather was perfect. Our first stop was just minutes from our bed & breakfast, a little cluster of houses named Monti. A quiet, seemingly empty country church which we tiptoed cautiously around.
(Seemingly) abandoned house/church

After that, we went up to an castle of sorts, which was converted into a winery. More quiet meandering. In America, you would call it trespassing; in Tuscany, it’s just what people do.

Winery

Oh, and apparently, castles are a big thing in Northern Italy. Fortresses, to be exact. In my mind, castles were things for England, France, and Germany, but apparently the feudal system was a pretty big deal in Italy, too. Duh. We went to one huge castle, Brolio, where we met up with the newlywed couple from our B&B, Brooke and Mike.

Brolio Castle/Winery

Squirrel in timeout.

We walked around the castle grounds, then went to lunch together at a little restaurant below the castle. That’s where I had the Rabbit with Truffles. It was an odd little dish, but the menu said truffles, so I was in. I also had Italian Onion Soup…chunkier and more rustic-tasting than the French version.

After that, we went to the Brolio Enoteca, which we figured out was a wine tasting room/shop.

Brolio wine tasting and gift shop.

Our wine tasting hostess.

We tasted several wines, and about 13 varieties of local honey. I got some chesnut honey, which was very rich. Our wine tour guide there was actually from Chile, and gave us lots of insights into Italian politics. Not your average wine tasting!

After that, we split up, and David and I went in search of Dievole Vineyards, one that Elena had recommended. After many detours down gravel roads and winding around Tuscan foothills, we stumbled upon Aviolo Winery. We stopped mainly for the bathroom, but decided to taste some wines in case Dievole remained elusive.

We later referred to the Aviolo tasting lady as “Bitter Italian Grandmother.” She just croaked out the name of each wine, and stared at us while we drank it. It was pretty awkward, so I bought a bottle out of guilt. They also had a sparkling wine, which we did not taste, but bought anyway. More on that later. We also bought a bottle of chianti vinegar, as a memento of her lovely personality.;)

Back in the car, more winding, and then we finally found it — Dievole!

Hooray!!

After all of the meandering, we were ready for something fantastico, and to our delight, we had an amazing experience.

Our wine person at Dievole was also named Elena, but she was much younger. She was knowledgable without being pretentious, and walked us through the intricacies and history of the Chianti classico story.

Elena & Squirrel

Note: If you see a Chianti bottle with a paper band on the neck that bears the emblem of a black rooster, it’s a certified, genuine Chianti Classico. Just like Champagne must be from France, Chianti Classico must be from this region, and follow specific and rigid guidelines, ingredients, and grapes.

After our wine tasting we ordered a couple of glasses to help the clock tick faster toward dinner.

So of course we bought more wine, and added some olive oil, too. After that, we parked in the wine bar while we waited for dinner, and I penned down these thoughts for the day. They brought us some whites and rosés to try, and brought out some cheese and olives, just for fun. It was one of those “I love Tuscany” moments.

We wandered around the vineyard, exploring before dinner, then had a great meal. I had a wild boar Bolognese with fresh parpadelle.

Wild Boar Papadillio-yo

Maybe just one more glass.

And of course we had some good Dievole wine. Good times. We drove home slowly and carefully under the Tuscan moon, and slept very well.

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