The heritage of Sienese wines is known worldwide.
A glass of red is a must on every Tuscan table. If you are a wine lover or enthusiast, the province of Siena is the place for you. The countryside is full of vineyards and wineries, where you can taste exceptional wines and where the producers’ respect for the ingredients is evident. With the support of strict regulations, local winemakers manage to produce increasingly prominent and internationally recognized wines. Coming to Siena and enjoying a glass of red wine, surrounded by the green hills, is a thrilling experience.
Here is a short list of these wines and the regions where they can be tasted, starting in ‘Chiantishire’ and ending in nearby Val d’Orcia.
CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG
The Chianti Classico DOCG is recognizable by the Black Rooster icon and is reserved for wines from the oldest area of origin, which geographically is named Chianti and was first delimited in the Proclamation of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1716. Today, it includes the municipalities of Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti and partly those of San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Barberino Tavarnelle, Poggibonsi and Castelnuovo Berardenga.
Two-thirds of the area is covered by forests and just one-tenth of the Chianti Classico production area is devoted to viticulture. In addition, 52.5% of the vineyards are already certified organic.
The production rules call for using a minimum of 80% up to 100% of Sangiovese, while the remaining 20% can be made up of the other red grapes common in the area, such as Canaiolo, Colorino, Mammolo, Malvasia Nera, Ciliegiolo or other international varieties. In the new Gran Selezione variety introduced in 2014, the minimum percentage of Sangiovese was recently raised to 90%.
This great wine is bright ruby red and extremely versatile thanks to its three varieties that differ in structure and ageing time: Chianti Classico Vintage, Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. The Black Rooster wines go well with both the top dishes of international cuisines as well as traditional Tuscan cuisine, from steak to pigeon and wild boar. In general, they pair perfectly with red meat or even mature cheeses, such as Tuscan pecorino.
Always the quintessential Tuscan wine, Chianti DOCG can be produced in various parts of Tuscany. Over 100 municipalities in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena form Italy’s largest wine-growing region.
The area involved in wine cultivation is still divided into sub-areas:
- Chianti Colli Aretini
- Chianti Colli Fiorentini
- Chianti Colli Senesi
- Chianti Colline Pisane
- Chianti Montalbano
- Chianti Rufina and Montespertoli
Here are the key grape varieties that form the Chianti vineyards: Sangiovese (minimum 75%), Canaiolo Nero (up to 10%), Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia del Chianti (up to 10%), complementary red grapes (up to 10%)
This is certainly a perfect wine for any occasion, but the ideal pairing is with meat-based first courses such as game and roasts as well as aged cheeses.
CHIANTI COLLI SENESI
Geographically, Chianti Colli Senesi is a very special area located within the Chianti wine production area, in territories that are part of the province of Siena, to which it owes its name ‘Colli Senesi’ (Sienese hills). A wine of ancient fame that has been known and appreciated even beyond the borders of Tuscany since the 1500s. It has always shown its own traditional personality and unmistakable grace. Due to the special environmental conditions of production that are exceptionally favourable to the vine, it presents high organoleptic qualities making it one of the best Chianti wines currently on the market.
It’s made from no less than 75% Sangiovese grapes. For the remaining 25%, the following authorized red grape varieties may be used: Canaiolo Nero, Colorino and Ciliegiolo. These commonly used indigenous vines are capable of increasing the range of aromas and colours, thus softening the sometimes too-obvious tannins of Sangiovese. In addition, the use of international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot up to a maximum of 10% is also permitted.
Chianti Colli Senesi is, for all intents and purposes, an all-meal wine. It goes perfectly with all the local products; it’s excellent with very tasty Tuscan cold cuts and pecorino cheese and also pairs very well with first courses and Tuscan soups such as the typical ribollita made with bread and vegetables, or a bean soup.
GRANCE SENESI DOC
The Grance were fortified farms placed at the head of vast agricultural estates, which originated in the 13th century. They were established by the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala of Siena, located in the heart of Siena, with the aim of facilitating the management and exploitation of its conspicuous land holdings. Indeed, they covered a very large area of the Sienese territory, encompassing the Val d’Arbia, the Val d’Orcia and a large part of the Maremma area. Particularly from the 1400s onward, vine cultivation increased significantly and the production of wine for the hospital’s internal consumption and for the local market became more and more abundant. The 17th century saw a significant improvement in production techniques thanks in part to increased attention by producers to wine growing and making techniques.
Sangiovese is certainly the most widely grown grape variety, along with other varieties traditionally linked to the area such as Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca Lunga. Over the years they have been joined by international grape varieties, such as Merlot and Cabernet.
The area of production of Grance Senesi DOC wine extends over the Sienese hills, in an area that includes the municipalities of Rapolano Terme, Murlo, Asciano, Monteroni D’Arbia and Sovicille
Grance Senesi wines pair well with the local cuisine, especially white meats, Tuscan black crostini, cheeses and truffles. Sweet versions are great with tarts and tiramisu.
The DOC Orcia Wine Production Area is located in the province of Siena and encompasses the municipalities of Castiglione d’Orcia, Pienza, Radicofani, S. Giovanni d’Asso, San Quirico d’Orcia, Buonconvento, Trequanda and part of the municipalities of Abbadia S. Salvatore, Chianciano, Montalcino, Sarteano, San Casciano Bagni and Torrita di Siena. Wedged between two areas with a strong winegrowing vocation (Montepulciano and Montalcino), viticulture has always played a crucial role in the area’s agricultural economy. All sharecropping farms produced wine and were equipped with cellars where wine was often stored for long periods to improve its quality.
The Orcia DOC wine was awarded the Denominazione di Origine Controllata in 2000 and is primarily obtained from the traditional grape variety of Sangiovese, along with other typical grapes such as Colorino, Foglia Tonda, Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegiolo, Pugnitello and Malvasia Nera. It goes very well with white meat dishes, fresh cheeses and legume soups.
A glass holds much more than just wine. Those who taste it sense the history and beauty of an extraordinary territory that is worth visiting and experiencing.