Tuscan Wine at ‘Cantine Aperte’ 2016

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Castello di Vicchiomaggio near Greve in Chianti

Imagine tasting true Tuscan wine in a glass cubicle suspended over the aging cellars at the Antinori estate in Bargino. Built into the hillside, the cellars are naturally cool, providing optimal conditions for Chianti Classico wine to age in oak barrels. This is but one of the special occasions awaiting visitors at Cantine Aperte.

Organized by vineyard owners during the last weekend in May, expert wine aficionados and those just wanting to learn more about the fruit of the vine can visit estates from Carmignano to Chianti, from Montalcino to Montepulciano and join tastings for free.

Many vineyards also offer complimentary guided tours of their cellars where the secrets of vinification, aging and tasting can be discovered. While the region is famous for Brunello and Vernaccia, Cantine Aperte presents a chance to try some of the less common Tuscan varieties including Ciliegiolo from the Maremma or Arezzo’s Malvasia. One can enjoy the distinctive results of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah wines produced with grapes grown in the Tuscan soil.

The weekend gives an opportunity to experience beguiling aromas, to sense the delicate fruit notes or the complex bouquets of the more powerful yet elegant wines as well as to purchase directly from the source.

Many of the prize-winning wineries are willing to open their cellars and share superb vintages, such as the Tenute di Capezzana in Carmignano, run by the family of Count Ugo Contini Bonacossi. Another site is the Castello di Fonterutoli in Castellina in Chianti, which has been also creating harmonious wines for generations.

Headquartered in a restored farmhouse, the Salcheto winery in Montepulciano, under the guidance of Michele Manelli, refuses to use sulfites. He uses time-honored fermentation methods and as well as innovative technology to maintain a 100% Prugnolo Gentile for a traditional Vino Nobile.

For those interested in the Maremma area, Poggio al Tufo in Pitigliano is a small vineyard run by the Tommasi family, where the Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vermentino and Alicante grapes are the basis of high quality vintages.

One reason to go traipsing all over the countryside is that the excellence of the wines depends directly on the grape, the microclimate, and the soil. The same grape variety will have different nuances in one place than it will in another where the terroir differs.

 To complement the weekend of wine, entertainment and activities for every appetite are also scheduled. Listed below are just a few of the events organized.

“Wasp” Swarms

During “Cantine Aperte” expect to see and hear many “wasps” (Vespa in Italian) buzzing around the countryside. The Vespa Club of Tuscany is organizing group excursions on this quintessential Made in Italy moped.

Art, Theatre, Music and Food

The Artimino estate near Prato, with a manor house in a 16th century Medici Villa “La Ferdinanda,” presents a full program of events. This UNESCO World Heritage property, in addition to pouring their award winning Carmignano, has organized tastings of olive oil and chocolate in addition to cooking demonstrations, children’s events, music and more (Sunday 11 am – 5 pm; see www.artimino.com).

The Castello Banfi near Montalcino, a fairy-tale castle fortress famed for its Brunello, hosts a guided tour in English on Sunday at 4 pm (www.castellobanfi.com).

The Terre di Perseto cellars in the Chianti Classico hills, offers not only free, guided tours and tastings, but also their DiVin Art Exhibit featuring the paintings of Lara Francini and Rebecca Serchi (Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 7 pm. See www.terrediperseto.com).

Located in the hills of San Miniato Tedesco, the Cosimo Maria Masini farm produces white, red, rosé wine and vin santo following the biodynamic techniques of Rudolf Steiner. On Sunday they offer free wine tastings and a choice of a cheese or pasta plate for €5 and grilled meat for €7 (Sunday 10 am – 6 pm, www.cosimomariamasini.it).

For complete info on participating wineries, map and events, see visit www.movimentoturismovino.it.  (ellen santucci masi & rita kungel)