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Tuscany is a popular wine travel destination. Through Brunello, Vino Nobile and above all, of course, Chianti, the region has experienced a real boom. This then culminated in the "Super Tuscans" and led to ever higher prices and ever more uniform barrique wines. It was precisely this development that disappointed more and more Italy lovers and the boom died down.

Off the beaten track

But finding the "right" Tuscany and its typical wines is not that difficult. You just have to leave the familiar paths and drive a bit along the winding narrow roads through the hills of Florence, in Italian: "Colli Fiorentini". You can still find them there, the friendly winegrowers with "real" wines, first-class olive oil and very often also rooms or holiday flats in the wonderful old buildings - and all that at quite affordable prices.

A little history

Where does Chianti actually come from? Originally, there were actually relatively few hectares in a very clearly defined area of the municipalities of Radda, Gaiole and Castellina. Gradually, Chianti came from almost all the municipalities from Siena to Florence and Arezzo. So in the 1930s, it was decided to allow the core area to be called "Classico". It was not until 1963 and 1967 that the current designations of origin, the nine DOC areas, were enshrined in law; the DOCG came in 1984.

Colli Fiorentini

Chianti Colli Fiorentini: Like a round "M" on the "Classico" area
One of the nine Chianti areas are the hills to the east, south and southwest of Florence. The area looks a bit like a round "M" that overlaps the "Classico" area. It covers 860 hectares, which is just under 4% of the Chianti growing area as a whole, but with a rather low yield of 31 hl/ha on average (average 1998 to 2000). In the Consorzio Chianti Colli Fiorentini, just over half of all producers from this area are already members, which guarantees high quality through the relatively strict guidelines.

Because of the predominance of the better-known regions, most winegrowers here bottle only a portion themselves and deliver the rest in barrels to large wineries in the classic towns. Prices are low, a bottle of Chianti Colli Fiorentini is usually available from the farm for between 4 and 7 euros. Prices for olive oil and accommodation are also moderate.

About 860 hectares on mostly relatively steep hills, at 150-420m above sea level, with sandy-stony to calcareous soils are mainly planted with red wine. Besides the main variety Sangiovese, one finds Canaiolo, Colorino, the white varieties Malvasia and Trebbiano as well as the "international" varieties Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot.

A little technical information

Sangiovese - the main variety for Chianti
There are clear guidelines for Chianti: 75% Sangiovese is prescribed, supplemented with max. 10% Canaiolo, max. 10% Malvasia or Trebbiano or with max. 20% of other grape varieties permitted in Tuscany, whereby none alone may exceed 10%. Is that clear? So, for example, 20% Cabernet is not allowed. Most of the wineries from which I have tasted Chianti work mainly with Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino. Maybe that's why the Chiantis from here are so typical. The wines must contain at least 12% alcohol and 4.5 parts per thousand acidity.

Chianti Colli Fiorentini is presented from 1 September of the year following the harvest. The Riserva has to mature for two years (calculated from the 1st of January of the year following the harvest), of which at least 6 months in barrel. For more details: www.chianti-collifiorentini.it

During our visit, even the two extreme vintages of 2002 and 2003 were on a good level, and the barrel samples of 2004 suggest a great, fruity and elegant vintage. The focus of all the wineries is on Chianti, but they also offer quite pleasing red wine cuvées, though often with a lot of wood.

Particularly recommendable wineries:

Ugo Bing, Fattoria di Fiano in Certaldo

Malenchini, Fattoria Lilliano in Grassina

Bartolini Baldelli, Fattoria di Bagnolo, Impruneta

Fattoria Le Sorgenti, Bagno a Ripoli

Lanciola, Carla Guarneri, Pozzolatico

Castello di Poppiano, Conte Gucciardini, Montespertoli

Castelvecchio, San Casciano, Val di Pesa

Tenuta La Cipressaia, Montespertoli

Fattoria Baggiolino, Scandicci

Fattorie Giannozzi, Barberino Val d'Elsa

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