Tour, Test, Taste: Experiencing Organic Wines in Chianti, Tuscany Italy

Organic foods may be all the rage at the moment, but in Tuscany, the Maretti family was ahead of the curve - by nearly 50 years.

The family's winery, Fontodi, has been producing organic wine since 1968 on an estate extending over 170 hectares cradled in the heart of Chianti Classico. 85 hectares are planted with vines and 60 are reserved for barley for the cattle and olive trees. Biodynamic farming methods, combined with manual selection and processing, results in a wonderfully robust Sangiovese (the red Italian grape variety) that has found a place in the top echelon of organic wines in the global market. A certified organic estate that is only truly sustainable - apart from no chemical products all resources are used up to it's maximum capacity. For instance, remains from pruning the vines are mixed with manure from the cattle farm to form a compost that is used to fertilize the vineyards.

A 1-hour tour at the Fontodi winery coupled with a tasting session confirms every sip of the Sangiovese is top dollar. Rated by The Guardian as one of the top 10 Chianti Classio wine routes to visit, Fontodi is the exception to the rule that one needs to pay for a tasting. True Tuscany hospitality played out, visitors are welcomed and guided through the organic and manual wine making process. The tour leads you from the highest viewpoint of the “Conca d’Oro” or the Golden Shell because of its natural amphitheater setting through to the descending levels of a modern cellar. Gravity and regulated temperature settings help give the wines stored in oak barrels their unique character, aroma and taste. More recently, the Manetti family has been experimenting with Greco-Roman methods by storing wines in terracotta vats.

After the wine tasting sessions, the Fontodi Chianti Classico, the winery's bestseller, can be purchased. The Fontodi Chianti Classico is no ordinary wine, will say the wine connoisseur. At the least being organic deserves another guilt-free pour.

Oh, did I mention the tour was done at no-charge? The Maretti family's passion welcomes one and all to experience fine, sustainable and organic wine-making systems.

How to get there: Best reached by road, Fontodi is located in Panzano in Chianti, Florence, Italy. Tel: +39 055 852005, Email: fontodi@fontodi.com, Website: www.fontodi.com. Reservations are mandatory and can be made via email or phone.

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