99th Giro d'Italia (Giro99) Stage 9 in Chianti

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chianti Classico Time Trial Stage Radda in Chianti to Greve
Posted by Sean (01/04/2016)

Stage 9 of the 99th Giro d'Italia (Giro99)
15 May 2016

The special time trial in the Chianti hills could prove to be the decider for the 99th Giro d’Italia. The professional riders vying to be outright winner of the tour and the keeper of the coveted pink jersey, the Giro 99 Maglia Rosa, may well be the one who crosses the finishing line in Greve on 15 May with the best time.
This time trial, in the first of three classic stage races of the 2016 season, is crucial. Hardly your classic, flat, open-road sprint, here the organisers have set out a 40.4 km run with 750 meters elevation gain, so riders will face climb after climb, with some sharp inclines, too, such as when they leave Castellina. And, if that were not difficult enough, there will be many technical downhills, including tight bends, to negotiate at high speed.
Image source: www.giroditalia.it/eng/stage/tappa-9/

The special route, created to mark the 300th anniversary of the Chianti Classico Consorzio, will weave through the Gallo Nero vineyards, olive groves and oak forests – a stunning backdrop for a bike ride. Excitement is already building in the local towns and villages, where most people are thrilled to be hosting such a prestigious event – despite the inevitable disruption. By throwing the spotlight on the region, many feel it will help local businesses. Plus there is the added bonus of the eagerly awaited, newly paved roads that are being lovingly prepared for the Giro 99 riders.
As well as the chance to watch the race if you’re in the area on race day, keen cyclists can try the route out for themselves once the event has moved on. First you need to decide whether to start at Radda and finish at Greve, like the Giro 99 riders, or the other way round – in either case, you’ll need support to pick up from Greve to bring you back to Radda, the ride is 40km with 750 meters elevation gain.
For hardcore cyclists, there’s also the option of completing the 70km loop, to and from Radda. You’ll need to steel yourself for a further 30km in the saddle, including three tough climbs. The first, out of Greve, is gradual, the second, out of Dudda through Lucolena to Badia Montemuro, is steep. Then, at the finish, is a 2km climb up to Radda.
Image source: www.giroditalia.it/eng/stage/tappa-9/

There are some wonderful places to stop for food and drink en route. At 22km, you’ll find Madonna di Pietracupa, where George Clooney and his new wife Amal Alamuddin called in during a recent visit – though they arrived by scooter. At 28km, eat or just enjoy a drink on the beautiful terrace at Osteria La Piazza.
If you’re attempting the full loop, you’ll discover one of my favourite places to stop on a bike ride, Botteghina di Dudda, at 50km. And a great place for sandwiches or a full-on grill is L'Osteria del Rifugio del Chianti, 57 km  There isn’t so much climbing to do from here, so you could even allow yourself a glass of Chianti.

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Ten Things You Wouldn’t Know About Olive Oil

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ten Things You Wouldn’t Know About Olive Oil

Posted by Ruth (25/03/2016)

As well as its world class wines, Tuscany is also famous for the olive oil it produces. Tuscany is considered to be a classic olive oil region in Italy, and somewhere where you can buy some of the finest olive oil in the country. As soon as you set foot in this part of Italy, you will notice the pretty olive groves that line the countryside.

Bread and olive oil are essential components of the Tuscan diet. As well as being used as a dressing and in cooking, olive oil can be made into beauty products and soaps. Make sure you try some on your trip to Tuscany, you can’t visit this region without tucking into some bread soaked in locally made olive oil. Love olive oil? Here’s some interesting and helpful facts about olive oil that you may not know. 

1 - Just like wine, olive oils are awarded different labels and grades depending on their taste, production methods, origin and chemistry. 
2 - Olive oils are classified by taste through a blind taste test, which is carried out by a panel of professional tasters.
3 - When you buy ‘Extra Virgin’ olive oil, this means it is produced without the use of any chemicals, contains no more than 0.8% acidity and is judged to have a superior taste. Virgin olive oil is also produced solely by the use of physical means and its acidity is less than 2%, with a good taste.
4 - Research suggests that eating around 2tbsp of (virgin or extra virgin) olive oil a day can improve cholesterol regulation, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and it has even been linked to prevention of cancer. This is because it is packed with anti-oxidants and has a high content of mono-saturated fatty acids.
5 - Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed freshly pressed from the fruit, without the use of solvents.

6 - Some of the world’s best extra virgin olive oil comes from the Chianti region of Tuscany where single estate bottled oils are the most sought after and expensive of all. For a first-hand experience, it is possible to stay in a villa in Tuscany where this type of oil is produced from olive trees on the grounds.
7 - The olive harvest needs to be timed perfectly to ensure the acidity levels are just right for it to be graded as extra virgin.
8 - Cold pressed olive oil means the olive pulp created during the olive production process is pressed below 27 degrees to ensure the minimum flavour is lost. It is of better quality than olive oil that has not been cold pressed.
9 - Light, heat and air reduce the quality of olive oil, so it is best kept in a sealed, tinted glass bottle and stored in a cool place.
10 - Unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. Good quality olive oil should be used within a year. Lower grade oils only have a shelf life of a few months.
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5 ways to cycle in the Chianti

Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 ways to cycle in the Chianti

Posted by Sonia (18/03/2016)

Tuscany and especially the Chianti area is a fantastic place to cycle. The area is filled with roads, paved and unpaved, paths and hidden tracks that provide cyclists with an excellent way to discover Chianti and it's treasures from spectacular views to hidden castles and estates all surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and pretty forests.
There are five main ways to discover the Chianti by bicycle. These are mountain bike, hybrid bike, road bike, vintage bike and electric bike or scooter. An excellent base to discover the heart of the Chianti by bike is from Lecchi in Chianti.

Road bike
A fantastic way to discover the area is to bike the paved roads of the Chianti which will take cyclists from one hilltop stone town to another, passing wine estates and castles. The only advice we provide is that care is taken as the roads tend to be narrow and windy
A full range of bicycles is available from the many bike hire shops available in and around the Chianti area. Most will also deliver the bikes to your villa. A company based in Lecchi in Chianti is inGamba who offer professional road bikes and service, their website is http://ingamba.pro/

Mountain bike
The Chianti has many paths ideal for mountain biking from the relatively simple to advanced level. Departing from Lecchi there is a wide choice although not much for the beginner due to the hilly landscape typical of the Chianti. When in Lecchi have a chat with the bar/café owner, Paolo, who is a local mountain biker and can give you some pointers.
Mountain bikes can be easily rented and delivered to your villa my many companies that work in and around the Chianti area. Gaudenzi at Centro Bici Valdarno (Tel: +39 055 980805) rents them at 20 Euro per day however they only speak Italian.

Hybrid bike
This is an excellent choice when wanting to do both paved and unpaved roads. There are many unpaved 'white' roads in the Chianti area to be explored or which just bring a cyclist from one pretty off the main road village to another.
These bikes can be provided by most bike shops, a local one in Gaiole in Chianti is Tuscany scooter rental, their website is www.to-tuscany.com/travel-guide/things-to-do/sports-activities-in-tuscany/chianti-by-bicycle/

Vintage bike
In the Chianti, once a year is the famous Eroica event, which is a vintage cycling event. Have a look at our information here about the event. Thanks to this event the entire route is permanently signed for cyclists to enjoy year round and many bike hire places can offer vintage bike rental, one company that provides them and can deliver is Gippo bike, their website is www.white-roads.com/

Electric bike / Scooter hire
For the less fit but those who still wish to enjoy the Chianti on two wheels, which is one of the best ways to soak up all it can offer.
An electric bike can be rented from DF bike which is a shop in Siena which can also deliver the bikes. Their website is www.dfbike.it/bike-rental/
Scooters can be rented from Tuscany scooter rental which is based in Gaiole in Chianti. Their website is www.to-tuscany.com/travel-guide/things-to-do/sports-activities-in-tuscany/chianti-by-bicycle/
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Chianti Classico is celebrating 300 years of history

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Posted by Mikolaj (11/03/2016)
If you need an extra reason to visit Tuscany this year, Chianti Classico is celebrating 300 years of history. On this occasion there will be a lot of events, ceremonies and festivals in Chianti area through the year. You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy it!

In 1716 the Medici Grand Duke, Cosimo III, declared the boundaries of the Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano and Vald'Arno di Sopra wine growing regions  between the cities of Florence and Siena. He also established an organization to control wine production and to guard against counterfeiting.
In the archives of the castle of Brolio there are two documents that prove Tuscany was the first region in the world to create the appellations of origin with strict regulations on area, production and trade. As we can read on Castello do Brolio web page,  the first document, dated July 7, 1716, is an order issued by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, establishing a "Congregation of Wines" (first associations).  The Consortium Vino Chianti Classico shows that date on its logo. The second document, dated 25 September 1716, is a call of the same Congregation for each wine that marks the boundaries for the production areas and sets very strict standards for the trade of all types of wine: the register of vineyards, the supervision of the production, the declaration of sales, shipping and control frauds of the wine trade.  It can be considered as the very first disciplinary of production
In 1872 baron Bettino Ricasoli, owner of Castello do Brolio and second prime minister of recently united Italy, described that Chianti wine should be made as a blend of sangiovese, canaiolo and malvasia grapes. Since then it worked as rule for winemakers in this area.
By 1924, there was a need to redefine the areas, so was born, in 1924, the “Consortium for the protection of Chianti wine and its trademark of origin.” This Consortium chose the Black Rooster as it’s symbol because it is the historic emblem of the Lega Militare del Chianti, reproduced by Giorgio Vasari in his Allegory of Chianti frescoed on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Soon after, in 1932, the suffix “Classico” was added to distinguish the original wine production zone from the extended one (called simply “Chianti”).
In 1984 Chianti Classico obtained DOCG (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest accolade for Italian quality wines. In 1996 it became an independent DOCG and in 2010 the two appellations, Chianti and Chianti Classico, were separated so that today Chianti wines can no longer be made in the Chianti Classico production zone. In 2013 the members’ Assembly approved a series of modifications to the production specifications which started a real reorganisation of the whole DOC.
Recently leading winemakers in the Chianti Classico zone decided to push for the creation of a new tier of wines at the very top level. Until now, Chianti Classico Riserva had been the highest category, but one that was open to abuse. A riserva had to be aged longer than regular Chianti Classico and had to meet a few other criteria. But it was within the rules for a producer to give a vat of his regular Chianti some extra ageing and then bottle it as riserva – and charge a higher price. Moreover some riservas were single-vineyard wines, while others were blends. The term had become close to meaningless.
So well-known producers, including Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi, Marco Pallanti of Castello di Ama and the Mazzeis of Fonterutoli, began to argue for a new top tier to be known as gran selezione. In February 2014, with great fanfare, the new range was launched in the the colossal salle dei Cinquecento in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio.


There are lots of festivals dotted throughout the year. On the 4th and 5th of June we recommend you head to Radda in Chianti for "Radda nel bicchiere". The idea is simple, you purchase a glass and then visit in excess of 20 stands hosting local producers who will encourage you to sample their masterpieces. Between the 8th and 11th September it is the turn of Greve to welcome wine lovers to their festival. Once again you purchase a glass and can sample up to eight locally produced wines. Then from the 15th to 18th September the Panzano wine festival takes place in the village square. Visitors are encouraged to sample the wines, chat to the wine makers and enjoy the fantastic atmosphere as jazz music fills the warm late-summer air.
If you love your biciclette as much or even more than your Chianti you have to be in Chianti on the 15th May to witness the 99th edition of the Giro d'Italia bike race whizz past the picturesque vineyards.

Below you can find the full list of the events. Some are annual events in the Chianti area but they are going to be enriched and characterized by Chianti Classico Anniversary celebration.
Program is composed by events from April to October 2016, to be related to several events in the Chianti area, Florence and Siena.

Chanti Classico wine festival and tasting:
23 - 24 April, Greve in Chianti, Ruffoli Wine Festival, Ruffoli
14 – 15 May. Castellina in Chianti, Pentecoste a Castellina
2 – 5 June, Greve in Chianti, Profumi di Lamole
4 – 5 June, Radda in Chianti, Radda nel Bicchiere
7 July, Barberino Val d'Elsa, Notte Rosa
10 August, Castellina in Chianti, Calici di Stelle
12 August, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Calici di Stelle
8 – 11 September, Greve in Chianti, Expo del Chianti Classico
16 – 18 September, Greve in Chianti (Panzano), Vino al Vino, Panzano
24 - 25 September, Greve in Chianti (Montefioralle), Montefioralle Divino
Top of the events will be on 24th September, anniversary of Cosimo III de' Medici's edict, in Florence: celebration in Salone dei 500, Palazzo Vecchio and concert at Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera.

Wine and Food events:
Street food festival, 16th and 17th April - Barberino Val d’Elsa
Street food festival, June - San Casciano Val di Pesa
Fiorentina T-bone steak contest, June - San Casciano Val di Pesa and Mercatale
Music and Festival (dates still to be defined):
Medieval Festival in Radda, July
Pipe Organ Music Festival, June to August – Radda in Chianti
Blues Festival, July – Castelnuovo Berardenga

Giro d'Italia, 15th May – Greve in Chianti to Radda in Chianti
Maratona del Chianti, 5th June – San Casciano Val di Pesa
Gran Fondo del Gallo Nero, 18th September - -Radda in Chianti
L'Eroica, 2nd October – Gaiole in Chianti
Ecomaratona del Chianti, 15th and 16th October – Castelnuovo Berardenga

More information to be found here:
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione
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What Makes Tuscan Wine So Special?

Friday, March 4, 2016

What Makes Tuscan Wine So Special?

Posted by Dympna (04/03/2016)

When you think of Tuscany, one of the first things you think of is wine. It’s the most famous region in the country for wine production. The area is breathtakingly beautiful, and the vineyards are most certainly a key part of the land and spirit of Tuscany.

But what makes Tuscan wine so special? Why has Tuscany got such a fantastic reputation for producing top class wines? Here are some of the reasons why this part of Italy has earned its prestigious title of being a world famous wine region.

The climate and terrain is just right
The warm mediterranean climate contributes to the success of wine production in Tuscany. The rolling hills filled with endless vineyards are ideal for growing grapes, especially the Sangiovese red grape. The land here has become famous for its beauty, and also for the wines that it produces.

The reason why Tuscan wine is so special is excellently described by Italian Wine Expert Giacomo Tachis, ‘Here there is light, the sun. Radiant sunlight and the right soil are the soul of wine. But the tradition of the countryside and the memory of men are the solid bases of the extraordinary Tuscan wine culture.’

The standards are high
Visitors have high expectations when it comes to Tuscan wine, thanks to its strong reputation. A lot of the wines here have DOC/DOCG status, which is a quality assurance label that makes sure the wines hit certain standards and also meet specific requirements.

Wines have to be made using set methods and also within a specific region in order to hold DOC/DOCG status. This region produces the third highest volume of DOC/G wines in Italy.

Tuscan wines have a long history
Tuscan wine has a long history, which can be traced as far back as the fifth century BC.
Wines have been perfected over thousands of year to produce the world renowned wines of today. Wine growing has been a big part of Tuscan civilization and everyday life for nearly three millenniums.

Quality over quantity
The focus in Tuscany when it comes to wine is quality over quantity. It’s not be biggest wine producing region in the world, but that doesn’t make it any less famous. The soil in Tuscany isn’t the best, so wine producers try to focus on low yields of higher quality rather attempting to produce higher volumes of average wine.

Some of the best reds in the world
Tuscany produces all sorts of different wines including whites, reds and sparkling wines but it is best known for producing world class reds. More than 80% of the wine produced here is red.

Most of the reds in the region are made from the Sangiovese grape, which thrives in the direct sunlight of the hillside vineyards in particular. Chianti is by far the most famous wine from Tuscany almost half of the wine from the region is from Chianti.

The beauty of where they are grown
Finally, one of the main things that makes Tuscan wine so special is the region where it is made. Tuscany is so stunningly beautiful and there is a romance about the setting and drinking wine here. When you take a sip of a wine you know has been home grown in Tuscany, you can’t help but imagine the picturesque rolling hills and lush countryside where it was made.

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