The rolling hills, miles of vineyards, wine villages and small curvy roads were abundant in the Chianti region. The black rooster (or Gallo Nero as it is said in Italy) was also very prevalent in Chianti. It is the official symbol of Chianti and we saw the rooster all over the place from signs to flags and of course the label on the Chianti Classico wine bottles. Our first stop in the Chianti region was the village of Castellina…one of the original Chianti towns. It was fairly small but had one long cobblestone street to walk down and visit the wine tasting shops and boutiques. The wine shop we stopped in was one of the first storefronts in the village, so we of course stopped in for a taste. We tasted a few different Chianti wines…noting the difference between typical Chianti Classico and French Bordeaux wines. We like our wines big and full-bodied (like Bordeaux – Saint Emilion wine) and the Chianti Classico seemed lighter and a bit acidic. We will have to keep tasting in the region to find a good Chianti.
We walked down the main street and then found a restaurant down a set of stairs in a cellar-like setting. We sat and ordered lasagna, pasta with sauce from wild boar (or Cinghiale in Italy) and a mixed salad. As we were eating…the sky began to darken and that smell of rain was starting to surface. Sure enough, just as we were paying the bill, the sky opened and started down-pouring on us. This did not appear to be a small shower passing through the area. We ran through the rain into a store and then into the car of the couple we had just talked with at lunch…they drove us the 100 feet to our car.
We debated on going back to our place or continuing forward but thought maybe by the time we drove to the next town…the rain would stop and sure enough…it did. We pulled into Greve, which is another one of the four original Chianti villages. The main area of this town was a very large square lined with tons of little shops from wine to bakeries, olive wood, pottery etc. There were also other little streets to follow outside of the square and one of them lead us to a huge wine tasting shop, “Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti” (http://www.lecantine.it). This place had more than 140 wines available to taste from all over Italy with a focus on Tuscan wines. The room was filled with wine bottles to purchase against all the walls and in the center were machines keeping the air out of the wine. Each customer purchases a set amount on a card (looks like a gift card) then inserts the card into the slot on each machine and pushes the button to the wine of preference for a one ounce pour. The wines are all priced differently…from as cheap as 60 euro cents to several dollars per pour (see our video below).
We purchased our prepaid card of 10 euros each, picked up the binder which listed each wine and its vineyard and started our tasting adventure. This is one of the largest wine shops in Italy and is so fun to be able to taste wine from all these different regions in one place. Needless to say…Giff and I had a great time in there! At first we started a rating system, as we tasted each wine, wrote the name of it and a number 1-5 to rate it. The rating system lasted pretty long but eventually after several tastings and a pretty heavy buzz…our ratings went out the window. This was a great time…don’t miss it if you travel to Greve in Chianti.
Finished with more than our share of wine tasting for the day, we walked into the main square to do a little shopping. We saw a meat store which had all kinds of dried meats…legs of animals hanging from the ceiling, etc. Giff was like a kid in a candy store in there. We purchased some meat and cheese for our picnic dinner and a few doors down picked up some bread and little cookies. Walking out of the square, we saw a small wine shop and went in to see what kind of prices they had in comparison to the last place. We ended up chatting with one of the guys working there and he helped find a few bottles of Chianti that were more fitting to our taste.
We had our food, tasted plenty of wine and had gotten a good feel for Greve in Chianti, it was getting late so we headed home for dinner.