Wines, Stores, Tours and Tasting

One of the things Italy is best known for is its wines. One would be hard pressed to go to any restaurant or home and not find an exquisite meal accompanied by an equally delicious wine.

Italian wines, for the most part, tend to be high in acidity and go very well with foods. Often one can taste an earthy aroma that might include certain elements of the lands in which the grapes are grown. At times one can taste the richness of the soil, truffles, minerals, grass all of which serve to only amplify the flavors of the meal. Typically, Italian wines tend to be medium body as this type of wine goes best with food. 

Ofcourse, everyone who appreciates a fine wine knows of Italy's Chianti region (in Tuscany) but it is important to point out that there are many other excellent wines grown throughout Italy's twenty other wine regions with a vast variety of grapes.

Wine regions of Italy and their primary grape varieties

Italian Wine Quality Classification
  • Vino di Tavolo - This is Italy's lowest quality wine and is typically served in restaurants as "table wine". Minimal regulations are required by the government on this type of wine.
  • Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) - This is the next level of quality wine and often includes wines that are blended and are regional-specific.
  • Denominazione D'Origine Controllata (DOC) - This is wine that is subject to strict regional regulations on grape variety, yields per hectare, aging requirement, and vinification methods. 
  • Denominazione D'Origine Controllata E Garantita (DOCG) - category for the most prestigious subregions in the DOC. Distinctive style, appellation reputation, and commercial success are the additional criteria. There are over 300 DOC brands.

Decoding the label
Wine labels are very helpful in that they tend to provide just enough important information about the wine and where it was produced.While wine labels can often be helpful in distinguishing the quality and origin of a wine this is not always true.
  • Most Italian DOC and DOCG wines will either be designated by name (e.g. Barolo or Brunello) or by the type of grape plus the region of origin.
  • If a wine label provides very little information (just a brand name and color) it is safe to assume that this is more likely then not your typical Italian table wine. 
  • If a label has the word "Classico" on it this would most likely indicate that the wine contains grapes from a more prestigious region. 
  • If the label says "Riserva" or "Superiore" this is not necessarily a good thing as riserva often refers to aging and superiore refers to a higher alchohol level.

T U S C U M B R I A N  W I N E S

View of the vinyards from Altabella Properties

Wines from Tuscumbria are high in quality and there are many wines that carry the DOC and DOCG standards. The various microclimates of Tuscumbria permit a rich variety of grapes to be grown and add to the overall quality of the wines. From the undulating hills of Cortona to the waters of Lake Trasimeno it is in these types of environments that Tuscumbrian wines get their robust flavor from.

The most popular varieties of red wine include those of the Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo, Montepulciano, Merlot, Cabernet, black Pinot, Sangrantino and Garnay. Similarly, white wines from Tuscumbria also are of high quality and carry the DOC and DOCG standards. The most popular varieties of white wine include those of the  Trebbiano (Orvieto white wines) and imported varieties like the white wines Garganega and Tocai. Other varieties that are popular include the Trebbiano Spoletino wine, the Verdello wine and above all the Grechetto wine. (See: BellaUmbria)

A great blog that we are now following is Made in Umbria which is a blog on Umbrian wines. 

W I N E  T A S T I N G & T O U R S

We have had many fun-filled and educational experiences in wine tasting & touring. From our experiences in throughout Italy to our experiences in New York City, we have learned a great deal on how to be able to distinguish the subtle flavors found in many wines. Having said that, we are certainly not sommeliers or experts. Fortunately for us it does not take an expert palette to truly appreciate a good wine. 

From our experiences, the key to truly "tasting" a good wine is not to swallow it (which we initially did several times) but to swish it around your mouth (as if it were mouth wash) and then place your tongue to the roof of your mouth, suck in a bit of air while moving your tongue similar to woodchuck doing a backward whistle and then spit it out into the glass.

Here is a short list of some excellent places that offer wine tasting & tours:
  • In Cortona, Enoteria, on Via Nazionale, is a good place for wine tasting. Also on Via Nazionale is the Antica Drogheria with wine, grappa, and health products of the Camaldolesi monks. 
    Girasoli's Gritti Ristorante
    • In the Niccone Valley, I Girasoli di Sant' Andrea, is the only commercial winery in the valley that offers wine tasting and tours of their cantina and vinyard. The staff is extremely accommodating and knowledgeable and went above and beyond to make our visit a memorable one. It is located on rte 416 east of San Andrea di Sorbello towards Niccone
    • In Umbertide there is the Enoteca Wine Club -"Tucked into an anonymous strip mall in the town of Umbertide in Italy, the Enoteca Wine Club is a hidden little jewel box of a wine shop and osteria." (see: Honest Cooking). 

      W I N E  S T O R E S 

      Molesini wine store in Cortona
      • Enacoteca Molesini - Located in Cortona at Piazza della Repubblica, 3 52044 Cortona, this wine shop is one of the best stores in the area. (Tel 0575-62544,
      • Cavatappi - Cortona, Via Roma  (tel: 0575-603-035)
      • Enoteca Wine Club  - Located at via V. Gabriotti, 18C, Umbertide PG 06019 (tel: 075-942-0214)
      •  La Cantina Di Bacco - Umbertide, Via Bruto Boldrini (tel: 0759-413-849)
      • Consorzio Vino Nobile -Piazza Grande, 7, Montepulciano Sienna - (tel: 0578-717-484)
      • Località Poggio Antico - Montalcino Sienna (tel: 0577-848-044)
      • La Delizie Di Bacco Wine Shop ia De Gasperi Alcide-S.Giustino Valdarno, San Giustino Valdarno, AR 52024 (tel: 0559-172-058)
      • Baldetti Mario - Terontola, Località Terontola Alta (tel: 057-567-143)
      • Fattoria Di Palazzo Vecchio - Valiano, Vi di Terra Rossa, Umbria (tel: 0578-724-170)
      • Megusta - Castiglione Del Lago, Via Vittorio Emmanuele, Umbria (tel: 0759-525-262)
      • Enoteca Ezio Bani - Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, Umbria (tel: 0759-420-316)
      • Enoteca Guidi - Sansepolcro, Via Luca Pacioli, Tuscany (tel: 0575-736-587) 
      • Enotecta Del Saltapicchio - Citta Della Pieve, Via delle Forbici, Umbria (tel: 0578-298-435)
      • Cantina Del Trasimeno - duca Della Corgnia - Citta Della Pieve, Via Po di Mezzo, Umbria (tel: 0578-653-210) 
      • Gio Arte E. Vini - Via Ruggero D'Andreotto, Perugia (tel:  0755-731-100)
      • Ristorante Vineria Del Vassaio - Città Di Castello, Via della Cacioppa
      • Pieve Del Vescovo - Via Giacomo Leopardi, Migiana, Umbria, (tel: 0756-978-874)
      • Cantine Vittoria Innocenti - Via Landucci 12, Montefollonico, Tuscany (tel: 0577-669-537)

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