It was only by luck that I came across a snippet on an Internet article about the Montefioralle Estate about 2km’s out of Greve in Chianti. I sent off e-mails to various estates, as I knew having only given 2 days notice that many people wouldn’t get back to me. Luckily for me, Lorenzo Sieni got back to me and we had confirmed an appointment for a visit and tasting of their winery.
I really wasn’t aware of where I was going when I was on the 1-hour bus from Florence to Greve In Chianti (1-way ticket costs a mere 3 Euros) however I was pleasantly surprised when I descended from the bus. Greve (pronounced ‘gravy’;) is exactly what you want from a village in the heart of Chianti Classico from the gorgeous little houses to the grape vines stretched out along the hillside for as far as you can see.
It was November, however the sun was shining and it was around 18-20 degrees – a much too nicer day to get on another bus – so the plan was to walk the 2km to the nearby village of Montefioralle. It was a darn good decision too, as the walk is stunning. I had pinpointed the route on my iPhone so it was as simple as following the blue dot on google maps the whole way. It wound me up through the cobbled back alleyways of Greve, slowly up a hill, which opened up to stunning views of the Greve countryside. On the way, passing manicured stone cottages and row after row of grape vines and olive groves. Harvest for the year’s olives was coming to an end however there were still some determined Italian’s out in the fields getting the last of the season’s gifts.
As you stroll around the last corner on the map you forget to breath for a moment as you lay your eyes on the fairytale-like walled village of Montefioralle. If you love the cobble-stoned roads and thin streets in Italy but hate playing dodgem with the scooters and cars like me, then Montefioralle is the place for you. The ‘one’ main road is in a semi-circle inside the village, with only 100 inhabitants you are lucky to see a cat sauntering around the place. There is an old stone church perched up on the hill overlooking the village.
For our wine tasting and visit, Lorenzo told us we should meet our guides at number 45 on the main street. We were to be joined by Lorenzo’s father – Fernando and his friend Irene to translate for Fernando during our visit. During the 2-minute walk to the vineyard, Irene explained to us about the small-family vineyard of the Sieni’s. Fernando’s father had brought the vineyard from the church in 1966 and since then they have been making wines from their 2 hectares of vines. The vineyard is named after the village itself and produces a mere 10,000 bottles per year. I feel privileged to be one of those lucky few to taste not 1 but 7 of their elegant elixirs.
We decided to have the tasting outside since it was such a beautiful day, and I am so glad fate rolled our way as I think this is one of the most serene and tranquil places in the world. The patio and outdoor wooden table allow you to overlook not only the estates vines but also the surrounding valley and of course you get an amazing view back to the village of Montefioralle. It is actually this view of the walled-city that is the iconic picture on their labels today. Behind you, you will find grape vines in amongst olive trees – which you will later taste the nectar from.
The tasting begins with a plate in front of you full of toasted bread, salame toscano, prosciutto toscano and a delicious sheep’s milk cheese called ‘pecorino’. Fernando then proceeded to drizzle some of their olive oil on the bread. Their olive oil is a revelation, and I couldn’t help asking them what their secret is, the flavour was bursting in my mouth, the colour was a bright green – it was olive oil like I have never had. Fernando went on to explain that this is what real olive oil is like when it has recently been pressed from the current year’s harvested fruit. In the first 1-3 months it is at its prime, you should consume it before 12 months otherwise you can then use it for cooking.
After I had recovered from the stupefying olive oil we moved onto the tasting. The funny thing was that there was the two of us and the two of them – we were drinking and eating and they were obviously conducting the tasting. This whole time we didn’t feel at all rushed or uncomfortable – the mood was uber relaxing and surreal all at the same time. So here is what I tried;
Chianti Classico (1 year in French Oak, 2kg of grapes per vine)
2008: Fresh red berries & sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) with a strong licorice infused finish.
2007: Plum fruits with a sprinkle of black pepper.
2006: Riper & darker fruits than the previous two with an incredibly smooth and balanced character. This had to be one of my favourites.
2005: Blackcurrant leaf with notes of leather and rich mocha mixed with tobacco. Good oomph.
Chianti Classico Riserva (2 years in French oak, 1kg of grapes per vine, minimum age of vine = 15 years)
2007: Extremely mouth puckering, this baby could be laid down for a good few more years – foresty, wild berry flavours with a licorice douse and the most stunning finish that covers every inch of he mouth.
2008: A glass jumper this one is, in your face with tons of fruit and espresso flavours – the perfect steak wine.
2005: We were given an interesting chestnut & rosemary slice (called ‘castagnaccio in Italian) to match with this sweetie that was perfect as the slice wasn’t too sweet. The wine was the exact palate reflection of baked fruits covered in brown sugar. Bellissimo!
As you can presume, after tasting this grand collection I was grinning from ear-to-ear. The tipsiness from the wines, married with the intoxicating beauty of the area had me floating on air. We meandered back into the village, where we stopped off at number 45 again to pick up a few ‘souvenirs’, which included a small can of the glorious olive oil and a bottle of the 05 Chianti. The tasting costs 15 Euro per person – even though I am on a budget and wouldn’t fork out that much to go inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa – it was worth every cent. The bottle prices range from 10 Euros upwards and the good thing is that if you get hooked, like myself, they can ship to you all over the world. Please click here for the Montefioralle website.