Toscana 2009

Tuscany with Michael Palij M.W.

Saturday 24th October

Arrive at Rome Fiumicino Airport (met on arrival). Travel to La Parrina by chauffeur-driven MPV.  La Parrina was founded in the southern Maremma more than 200 years ago and is now run by the aristocratic Dottoresa Franca Spinola.  ‘Welcome dinner’ prepared by Franca's team and accompanied by wines from MP's cellar.  Stay in the manor house.

Sunday 25th October

Morning at La Parrina looking at ‘how to taste’ in preparation for the days ahead.  Light lunch, then taste key Italian wine regions not otherwise tasted on this trip with particular emphasis on Piemonte. An easy day with an opportunity to tour Franca’s cheese-making operation, the estate’s vineyards, and its winery.

Monday 26th October

It's an early start to reach Terre di Talamo in the DOCG of Morellino di Scansano, gateway to central Tuscany, before driving to Renieri in Montalcino in time to tour the estate’s 125 ha of vineyards and barrel-tasting before lunch.  Castelvuovo dell’Abate, in the extreme south of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, is home to the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo and also home to the tiny estate of La Fiorita where we enjoy a vertical tasting of a decade of Montalcino. Eat with Luigi at Boccon diVino, one of the region’s nicest osterias, staying at Renieri.

Tuesday 27th October

From Montalcino it’s less than an hour to Siena where we join Mark Powell FRGS for a guided tour and brief lunch in the town. After lunch, make the short trip to Castello di Bossi which, in MP's view, produces the greatest Chianti.  Tour the vineyards and winery, then enjoy a full tasting with Marco Bacci, the estate’s larger-than-life owner. Stay at the castle.

Wednesday 28th October

After an excellent dinner the previous night it's just a short drive to Fattoria Ormanni, Michael's first Chianti Classico estate.  Midway between Florence and Siena, Ormanni boasts superb vineyards and the delightful Paola Brini is our host for a tour and tasting. After a brief lunch, we head for the central Chianti hills which has witnessed so many advances in Tuscan viticulture.  After a tour and tasting it's back to Ormanni via the hill-top towns of Greve and Radda. We lay our weary heads at Ormanni after gorging on bistecca Fiorentina at Il Pestello.

Thursday 29th October

From Ormanni we travel west to La Pieve via San Gimignano.  La Pieve is a small but idyllic estate.  Prepare for a magnificent feast cooked by Simone Tognetti and his wife. Next stop is Bolgheri where we will taste Italy's most expensive wines.

Friday 30th October

From Bolgheri we travel to Florence for a day at leisure with the services of Mark Powell FRGS to guide us through this most historic of cities.   Those who wish to indulge in some shopping can be whisked away to the Incisa outlet centre or browse through the local shops. Gala dinner that night in Florence (at Pinchiorri). Stay in Florence at the Hotel degli Orafi, Paolo Brini's hotel.

Saturday 31st October

Departures from Pisa or Florence airport.

The Fine Print

A WineWays experience like this costs from £3,500 per person.  It does not include travel to Italy but includes everything else including extremely fine wines. The tour is limited to four couples. Tuscany is the world’s most beautiful wine-producing region and is responsible for some of the world’s greatest wines.  To understand its complexities and to do justice to what is the source of some of the world’s greatest red wines we travel the length and breadth of the region.  This involves some time in the car and a different hotel each night.  It is tedious to move each day but it’s the only way we can see the different sides of, in this example, Tuscany, from the Maremma, through Montalcino and Chianti to the world-famous super-Tuscans at Bolgheri.  As much as possible we eat and stay with the producers rather than in hotels.  Standards of accommodation therefore vary and they are most definitely not hotels (please don’t expect laundry and room-service at every turn).  A WineWays experience is for wine and food enthusiasts who want to go behind the scenes with one of the world’s leading authorities on Italian wine.  It’s about authenticity, not ostentation; where we stay and eat reflects a decade’s search for the real Italy; nothing is chosen solely because it’s the most famous or the most expensive (although sometimes it is).