The vineyards of Tuscany are intermingled with many other crops – this region, unlike Bordeaux for instance, has a balanced and varied agricultural landscape. We even visited a truffle glade, the roots of the saplings are impregnated with truffle spores and usually take about five years to start producing truffles. It is easy to see why we Brits love Tuscany so much, these mixed vistas offer so many contrasts with rolling valleys, woods and impossibly quaint villages.
This is a difficult area to start afresh as a vine grower – Chianti production, both ordinary and Classico, is strictly controlled so although a vineyard may fall within the DOC region that doesn’t mean one can start making wine – quotas have to be bought and vineyards approved. Wines produced within the region that do not carry the Chianti DOC or DOCG are usually labelled IGT Toscana.
As a footnote there have been reports in the press recently that we are facing a global wine shortage this year of 300 million cases and, while we always treat these issues with a degree of cynicism, two poor European harvests, massive Chinese demand and patchy results elsewhere do make us worry. The fickleness of mother nature was brought home to roost at Tenuta di Frassineto where 30 acres of Cabernet Franc were left un-harvested on the vines because of rain damage in August – lucky birds!