28 May 2007.
This Sunday our group of five Erasmus students crammed themselves into a rental car and headed to Greve. It’s a little town in the region of Chianti Classico, the heart of one of the most famous wine regions in the world. The reason for the trip was the event of Cantine aperte, a day of free wine tasting at estates throughout Italy. Not all wineries participate, but even so there was a lot to choose from.
We had made a plan beforehand, but it proved to be more convenient to just keep our eyes open and visit any participating estates. The first one we found by accident was Villa S. Andrea. The wines were not fantastic, but this small operation was a nice place to start our tasting. After leaving S. Andrea we also passed by the legendary Tignanello estate, which would have been really interesting to visit had it been open.
By this time it was obvious that it would rain soon. And as we reached the next destination, Castelli di Grevepesa, there was already a bit of rain. The wines here were good (in particular the Clemente VII Riserva 2003), and almost all of us left with something to bring home. The ragazzi serving the wine were really friendly as well, and the tasty Tuscan snacks kept us going for the rest of the day.
Nearer to Greve there were two wineries close to each other, Castello di Verrazzano and Villa Calcinaia. Approaching the first one we were hit by a hailstorm of all things. Fortunately it didn’t last long, but I was glad that we had a car (my original plan was to rent a bike). Verrazzano however was a big disappointment, full of people and the staff not wanting to let us taste the wines before taking the tour (that would only begin after two hours of waiting). One of us managed however to get a glass of this terribly tannic stuff, and after a sip we agreed it was time to move on.
To get to Villa Calcinaia we had to push open a gate that was half closed, and to scare off a pheasant blocking the road. The wines were okay but not very interesting. More fun was the little tour of the winery, guided by a pipe-smoking, tipsy gentleman.
Finally, after passing through the town of Greve in Chianti we took a beautiful country road to go to the last and the most beautiful estate of the trip, Castello di Querceto. Vini d’Italia 2007, the Bible of Italian wine, had praised two of their Chianti Classico Riservas, and they were excellent. (One in fact was so good that they didn’t have any bottles to sell anymore.) In addition to these traditional wines they make a few more “international” blends, and I liked especially the unusual Querciolaia with Sangiovese and Cabernet.
All in all this was some of the best time I’ve had here, and we’re considering doing it again. It was fun to see first hand the diversity among the producers. Some look like small families with wine as a hobby, some are big industrial factories, some have people who love nothing more than to talk wine and some have people who take it easy—because after all this is just juice.