Skip to Content

Wine Tasting in Chianti, Tuscany

It would be wrong to visit Tuscany’s wine region of Chianti in Italy without stopping off at a vineyard or two to sample Chianti Classico, the area’s most famous wine.

During our visit to the Chianti region we visited a variety of wine producers delivering exceptional wines. A brand new state-of-the-art winery, the oldest cellar in the region and a vineyard that’s experimenting with age-old wine production methods. Join me on a mini tour of three of the best Chianti wineries.

Tuscan Vineyard
Tuscan Vineyard

Chianti Classico Wine

Chianti Classico, a medium-bodied red wine with cherry and nut undertones, was one of the first to be exported from the region and has been made in Chianti since the thirteenth century.

Chianti wine must be made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes but producers can add up to 20% of other grapes to the blend. Canaiolo, cabernet sauvignon, or merlot are often used. The wine must be produced in the Chianti region.

DOCG Classification

Strict regulations need to be upheld to display the famous Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) label DOCG. The DOCG classification was approved by the Italian government in 1984 to certify wines from the Chianti region.

Winemakers must follow all DOCG rules for the blending and handling of Chianti Classico wines in order to be approved for certification.  

There are now over 300 wineries that are part of the Chianti Classico DOCG area.  When shopping for wine in a shop or retailer, the best Chianti Classico wines will always have the famous Black Rooster on the label. 

Not all wineries choose not to pay for Chianti DOCG certification. Many small producers and family-run vineyards offer excellent wines without DOCG so don’t write them off due to lack of a black rooster label.

Antinori Cellars in Bargino

Our first stop was Cantina Antinori in Bargino. The Antinori family have been wine producers in Tuscany since 1385; that’s over 600 years and 26 generations to perfect their craft.

Given the history behind Florence’s Antinori family the new cellars and company HQ, which opened in 2013, have an incredibly modern concept but at the same time are rooted in the fertile Tuscan earth in which the Antinori family history has evolved.

The cellars were designed by Archea Associati architectural studio in Florence with the concept that they would have greatest respect for the environment, Tuscan landscape and eventually become invisible and at one with its surroundings.

Built into a hillside, the top of the hill was removed, the building installed and the ‘lid’ of the hill restored leaving minimal impact on the landscape. Once the Sangiovese vines on the slopes mature the building will become completely immersed into the landscape.  

We enter the winery from the underground car park via a vast corkscrew staircase and emerge on the cellar’s single curved terrace overlooking spectacular views of the Chianti countryside.

Corkscrew Staircase at Cantina Antinori, Tuscany
Corkscrew Staircase at Cantina Antinori

The minimalistic building is a brownish rust colour to match the hues of the earth and constructed with natural, local materials; terracotta, wood, glass and an alloy of steel and copper. There’s a theme of round cut-out skylights, lines are gentle and simplistic curves mirror the contours of the land.

Terrace at Cantina Antinori
Terrace at Cantina Antinori

The interior is light, airy and spacious. The lobby displays information and pieces of Antinori history and art with a contemporary backdrop.

Cantina Antinori Lobby
Cantina Antinori Lobby

Visitors can see the wine production in each stage, from the vineyard to the bottle, following the phases of fermentation and aging. We move from the lobby to the cellars via a wall which silently parts before us releasing the aroma of oak casks. The hill, and the terracotta tiles which line the cellars keep the temperature stable.

We continue along a balcony overlooking pale vaulted cellars and cantilevered tasting rooms. It’s futuristic but at the same time church-like. We see where the grapes are sorted, only the best are selected and the huge stainless steel fermentation vats. Row upon row of Hungarian oak barrels store 300 litres of wine per cask.

Antinori Cellars, Tuscany
Antinori Cellars, Tuscany
Fermentation Tanks at Cantina Antinori

Our visit finishes on the roof of the cellar in the Rinuccio 1180 restaurant where we devoured a wonderful lunch of local cheeses, salamis, olives and breads with a tasting of three delicious Antinori wines; a white Toscana 2012, Chianti Classico and a Chianti Reserva.

Fattoria di Montecchio Winery

A beautiful 18th century manor house in the oldest part of the Chianti Classico area is home to Fattoria di Montecchio. Located close to the medieval village of San Donato in Poggio the former hunting lodge is surrounded by an estate of over 273 hectares of land; 30 cultivated as vineyards, 20 set to olive groves and 40 as cropland.

The historical farm complex is solely devoted to production of Chianti Classico DOCG while extra virgin olive oil is produced in the ancient oil mill.

Restaurant at Fattoria di Montecchio
Restaurant at Fattoria di Montecchio

We visited the cellars and on-site kiln where frost-proof Terracotta is made. Garden ornaments are produced as well as the large terracotta casks.

The estate is currently experimenting with this old method of wine fermentation instead of using oak barrels. It was interesting to note the comparison with Cantina Antinori which was completely lined using terracotta tiles.

tta Fermentation casks at Fattoria di Montecchio
Terracotta Fermentation casks at Fattoria di Montecchio

A light lunch followed of local cheese, salami cured meats and the exquisite home-produced olive oil. We tasted three delicious wines; a Chianti Classico Riserva, a Chianti Classico and a Rose – Pink Ponentino Tuscano.

Fattoria Montecchio Montage

Wine tasting is possible in the farm shop every day from Monday to Sunday – 10.00am to 7.00pm. Reservations are not required.

Badia a Passignano Abbey

The Badia a Passignano Abbey is an ancient monastery dating back possibly as far as 395 AD. It’s on the road running from Greve to San Donato and the surrounding vineyards are owned by the Antinori wine family. There’s a fine dining restaurant, L’Osteria, and an Antinori wine shop near to the entrance of the Abbey.

The hamlet of Badia a Passignano
Badia a Passignano

The Benedictine Monks of Vallombrosa still use the Abbey and allow Antinori to lease the ancient cellars for ageing the Chianti Classico Riserva di Badia a Passignano wine. Although in the past the abbey played a vital role in Tuscan wine production they don’t allow Antinori to produce wine on the premises.The ancient cellars of the abbey are in stark contrast to the brand new Antinori Winery in Bargino.

Badia a Passignano Abbey
Badia a Passignano Abbey

We took a tour of the wine cellars and the Abbey itself where Galileo Galilei once taught. The land around the abbey has been cultivated for winemaking for thousands of years and in 1983 a specimen of “vitis vinifera” dating back more than a thousand years was discovered on the land.

Old Concrete Fermentation Tanks
Disused Concrete Fermentation Tanks

The old concrete fermentation tanks used in the fifties are preserved and interesting to see but are no longer in use. The grapes cultivated on the land which surrounds the Abbey are all grafted from very old Sangiovese vines; the highest quality grapes are selected to pass through fermentation in modern stainless steel tanks. 

The wine is then transferred into Hungarian and French oak barriques for 14 months to age and then refined in the bottle for another year before being sold. The vaulted cellars under the Abbey are constructed of thick stone walls to keep a constant humidity and temperature.

Vaulted Cellar at Badia a Passignano
Vaulted Cellar at Badia a Passignano
Barriques at Badia a Passignano
Over 2000 barriques are stored in the cellars

‘The Tunnel of Love’ below as eloquently described by our guide!

Wine Cellar of Badia a Passignano
The Tunnel of Love

So there you have a taster of the Chianti wineries and vineyards that we visited during our time in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa in Tuscany.  I’ll be bringing you more posts on the traditional traditional Tuscan food we ate and about the historical art and artisans in the area.

Have you visited any Tuscan wineries? Tell us about them in the comments below.

If you like discovering lesser-known villages and borghi of Italy then you may like to learn about these ten beautiful villages in Lombardy.

Disclosure:  Accommodation, meals and tours were sponsored by the Municipality of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa but all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for the wines of Tuscany are purely are my own. My thanks to all the people of Tavarnelle who helped make the trip so enjoyable. 


Monday 21st of November 2016

Badia a Passignano Abbey looks amazing. A visit is going on my bucket list.

Suzanne Jones

Monday 21st of November 2016

There are lots of good vineyards in the area worth checking out...

Cellars Wine Club

Thursday 24th of September 2015

That's a very beautiful place to experience the wine and foods. Tuscany’s Chianti Country is indeed captivating place, and your photos prove it all. Impressive post and shots Suzzane.

A Visit to Graham's Port Cellar, Porto | The Travelbunny

Wednesday 24th of June 2015

[…] demarcation boundaries is the only place in the world that can produce authentic Port just like the Chianti region in Italy or Champagne in […]

Food from the Tuscan Table | MumRx

Tuesday 3rd of June 2014

[…] seasonal and prepared with passion. Think lazy, hazy afternoons sipping a glass of ruby-red Chianti Classico and dipping into a platter of fennel infused salami with chunks of fresh focaccia soaked in […]

Food from the Tuscan Table » The Travelbunny

Monday 26th of May 2014

[…] seasonal and prepared with passion. Think lazy, hazy afternoons sipping a glass of ruby-red Chianti Classico and dipping into a platter of fennel infused salami with chunks of fresh focaccia soaked in […]

Comments are closed.