Under the Tuscan Sun

You can’t not go to Florence without taking a tour of the Tuscan countryside. Since it is impossible to explore Tuscany without renting a car, we decided to just go ahead and join a Wine Tour.  We booked the Super Chianti 1 Day Tour which took us to the heart of the Chianti Classico region spanning from South of Florence and reaching to the North of Siena. I’m not exactly a wine connoisseur but hey, once-in-a-lifetime right? 
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Organised by Tuscan Wine Tours, the one day tour included:
 Full day 8 hr educational tour with a wine expert for max 8 people
 Visit 2 wine regions: Chianti & Chianti Classico (with tastings of Chianti, Chianti Classico, Riserva and Super Tuscans)
 Visit 2 exquisite wineries with tours of vineyards & cellars
 Tasting of some of Tuscany’s best cheeses and olive oils
 Lunch at the butcher in Panzano Dario Cecchini with sampling of 4 different meats
 Visit to the village of Greve in Chianti
The price was 150Euros per person. I tell you, it’s pricey but well worth it. To book the tour, please visit their website:
http://www.tuscan-wine-tours.com/super_chianti_wine_tour.htm

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We arrived at the meeting place at 9AM at the Piazza Giuseppe Poggi (the Tower of San Niccolo). There we met up with our wine expert slash tour guide Bernardo of the amazing nose. As soon as our tour group was complete, we set off out of Florence. First we stopped by the award-winning winery Corzano  e Paterno to try their wines, olive oil and a whole lot of homemade cheeses. Here, Bernardo explained to us that the Chianti and Chianti Classico wines are only produced in Tuscany because this is the only place were the Sangiovese grape can thrive and flourish.

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10563061_10203564693389949_8467185403849636853_n At this point, I think I may have considered living in a vineyard in Tuscany as list of to-do’s before I die. Since my pictures don’t do Corzano e Paterno justice, check this video out.

Swirl, smell, sip, repeat. Still not a wine fan but the pecorino cheese and jam made by the monks were to die for. Omnomnomnom. We scoped the place out and learned that each oak barrel used in the wine processing is about 3,000 – 8,000 euro each. Daimn. I would also like to mention here that our tour guide and local wine expert Bernardo was the best ever.

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The highlight was our special lunch at the Crazy Butcher of Panzano, Dario Cecchini, who has made butchering into a sacred art form. Apparently Jamie Oliver, Mario Battali, Anthony Bourdain and other top chefs, make the trip up here to visit Dario. They even send their novice chefs to train under Dario in cutting and cooking meat. We had some carrots, turnips, celery and other garden vegetables to dip in olive oil and his special homemade salt. The we had Chianti Sushi or Raw Steak Tartare, Chianti Tuna which was made of pork, Roasted Pork Belly with herbs and garlic and Tuscan bread. Pork overload.

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So Why is Dario the crazy butcher? Well…

Tour Guide: “Dario is really crazy! He loves a good party. He prepares wine and a buffet for all who come into the store and he plays loud rock and roll music. He also likes to pinch and squeeze the ladies. He’s not a pervert just appreciates women.”  

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Okay, we were warned. So we got there, had more wine, ate a lot of meat and found Dario scaring other tourists with a horn. When we asked to take a picture, Dario the Crazy Butcher laughed, smiled, hugged me and squeezed me saying “I like meat!”. Well, I have no idea if that was good or bad but we were the only ones that day who had a picture with the famous (or infamous) Crazy Butcher of Panzano.

10386810_10203564682989689_6397893103525515003_nAfter lunch, we visited another winery. A smaller one called Montecalvi owned by a lovely British Lady named Jackie. The villa was beautiful made of the original stone and brick. She took us to the gardens to have our intimate wine-tasting. At this point I couldn’t take any more wine but we learned that all legit Chianti Classico wines had the Black Rooster emblem. I think the coolest thing in the vineyard was the mini Lamborghini tractor. She made us try the unbottled and pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil which had an overpowering smell and a taste that was equivalent to a punch to the face. Wow, no wonder store bought Olive Oil was so watered down, the good stuff was very expensive.

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Visited the little rustic town of Greve. It was so small and quaint that Belle’s song from Beauty and the Beast kept playing in my head “Little town, it’s a quiet village, everyday like the one befoooooore”. Had some gelato. Walked around. Slept on the way back.

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Tuscany was beautiful! The golds and greens and warmth. I probably won’t be back. I realised the quiet farm and vineyard life isn’t for me. Preggo!

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