Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oil and Wine Route Chianti Classico

The Chianti Classico district lies between Florence and Siena, the two cities that fought over it for centuries. It includes all the municipalities of Greve, Radda, Castellina and Gaiole in Chianti and portions of the municipalities of Castelnuovo Berardenga, Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Casciano Val di Pesa, Poggibonsi and Tavarnelle. It is hilly country, rich in woodlands and dotted with little towns, castles, ancient churches and farmhouses with their vineyards, olive orchards and un paved roads that preserve the rural landscape intact.

The "Strada del Vino e dell'Olio Chianti Classico" runs largely along the Chiantigiana road that crosses the entire district and passes first through Greve in Chianti, with its charming "market square" then on to Panzano, with the Church of S. Leolino then to Castellina, Fonterutoli and finally reaches Siena. Much of the route of this road is crisscrossed by the network of smaller roads that connect the larger towns to the villages and castles, like the one that goes to Radda in Chianti, once the capital of the Chianti League, and then to Brolio Castle, where Bettino Ricasoli dictated the "recipe" for Chianti wine. Along the road it is possible to take guided tours of the wine cellars and taste wines, oil and pork products; the restaurants and inns along the way offer all the specialties of Chianti cuisine.

 The number one typical product is, of course, the wine: Chianti Classico DOCC obtained, according to the "Disciplinare" or rules, from pure San Giovese grapes or San Giovese blended with other red grapes (Canaiolo, Colorino) and it is the only wine allowed to mark its labels with the "Black Roosted symbol since 1924. Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOP Chianti Classico is obtained by cold pressing olive produced by trees of the Frantoio, Correggiolo, Moraiolo and Leccino varieties. Vinsanto del Chianti Classico DOC is produced with white Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes that have been partially dried before pressing. The Chianti Classico district is a zone of strong culinary traditions that have incorporated the culture of farm cooking, the nobility of Chianina beef and the great variety of deli meats made from pork, Cinta Senese hogs and boar. Recently the ancient cultivation of saffron was resumed.

Chianti Classico is an area rich in history, art and culture, much of the artistic legacy is now visible in the many museums of religious art, as at Greve, S. Casciano and Radda. Even contemporary art is represented with the collections of the Sculpture park of Chianti and Castello di Ama. The Landscape Museum in Castelnuovo B. is also very interesting, and of course the Wine Museum in Greve is always worth a visit. In addition to the Enoteca del Chianti Classico in Greve, Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) wines are sold in many stores in all the towns.