Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Relaxing escape in hidden Tuscany

You all know that Grape Tours is the best tour operator for wine tours in Tuscany, right?! (ha ha!)
Anyhow, can't just talk about ourselves, gets a little boring - need to give you some other great wine related tips, as well :)
So, happy to feature a short post about a friend's great initiative - a yoga and wine retreat in a beautiful castle in Southern Tuscany. Emily is British but like many of us loves the Italian hemisphere and is giving it a go with her yoga and sommelier background.
During the 4 days of complete relax, participants will get their WSET 1 certification (so learning basics about wine), wine & dine with the prestigious Sesti family in Montalcino, enjoy a spa day in Bagno Vignoni, do a butchery class - and something tells me, eat a lot of great meats, and much much more. For more info see Emily's page. If I didn't live here, I would want to do this myself!
Check out some pictures of Castello di Potentino - a hotel with a bit of history in the South of Tuscany.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Maremma - touring a weekend to wine & dine!

Maremma is the huge territory to the South of Tuscany that usually only gets attention when the locals are yearning for a beach vacation during summer. Otherwise it's a vast area of farmland that easily gets overlooked as it isn't close to any of the famous art cities. And that's totally unfair, as it hosts an amazing history of Etruscans, offers spectacular natural beauty, fabulous rather non-touristy villages, rather decent and very good value wines, great meat & great fish, fresh locally grown veggies, fruits, and what not. As I don't want to venture too far into the food stuff, if that's your interest I would rather give you a link to Emiko's post of great places to go around the Argentario area of Maremma. We LOVE to eat, but as you know we love wine even MORE...
This part of Tuscany is a real mix of rough beautiful nature including nature resorts and fertile farmland alike, cheap resort-like beach camping sites, Medieval hilltop ghost towns where it's impossible to imagine any modern life exists. 
The Tuscans are generally thought be simple country people (by other Italians) and the Tuscans themselves consider the Maremma region as the "wild west" where the wild boar population outgrows the human! 

Latin gives such authority to clever sayings: "A non-drinkers life is sad". Maremma covers several important wine designations in Tuscany - all from the famous Super Tuscans area in the North in Bolgheri, inland the Sangiovese still reigns with the DOCG appellations Morellino di Scansano and Montecucco, coastal wines include the whites Vermentino & Ansonica. Climate is hot & dry, soil types vary from area to area but tend to be quite fertile, hence great for other crops than wine. But since it seemed like easy catch to make plentiful of concentrated wines in Maremma, it became the hot spot for many wineries in Northern Tuscany to purchase land (as it was also much cheaper than any other affirmed wine region in Tuscany). 

During our short week-end we visited 3 completely different areas; Monte Argentario (Ansonica grapes), Magliano, Marciano & Scansano for Morellino (Sangiovese grapes) & Pitigliano (Ciliegiolo grapes & various native white grapes). Wines have been tasted, territory's been covered & studied - we're getting more & more ready for our SUPER EXCITING Etruscan Coast - Drink like an Etruscan God - Fufluns Week Tour in 2017!

Every time we go on one of these weekends and it's worth sharing, I always feel the best possible way is to show you the areas in pictures. After all, pictures speak for themselves - so lots of pictures to follow underneath...

Places we ate: Da Caino (Montemerano), Braccio (beach - Porto Ercole), Fattoria di Magliano (Magliano)
Wineries visited: Antonio Camillo, Poderi di Capoduomo, Sassotondo
We stayed at: Fattoria di Magliano - stunning location and B&B (with a very good breakfast, might I add) and family style restaurant, great views & huge pool (and had it been warmer we would have been splashing it, but we'll be back!) - AND it's a winery, too - so plenty of wine to be tasted right there!
More info on Maremma: Great resource/blog to Maremma is Mapitout

Typical Maremma landscape

 A street from inside the borgo of Scansano

Magliano in Toscana
Fattoria di Magliano where we stayed
Visiting with Antonio Camillo

 After working years for Poggio Argentiera, he started on his own just a few years ago

Restaurant da Caino in the beautiful village Montemerano
 Let the tasting menu begin!

A legendary chef, Valeria Piccini

The trip goes to Monte Argentario

 Quite impressed with this white Ansonica aged in Acacia barrels

 Stefano is popping open the bottles...
Pitigliano - the city built on and out of Tufo stone
Sassotondo winery
 Frost last week has gotten to some of the plants :(
 New friends
 Tufo cave served as wine cellar
 Ciliegiolo wine
 Tuscany lit by spring!