“Poderi di Garfagnana”, a wine you should know about.
Tuscany is famous for famous wines – Chianti and Sassicaia being but two. However, the smaller producers are possibly even more interesting than the Super Tuscan giants. One such vinyard is called Poderi di Garfagnana and is located in Camporgiano, about 30 mins north of Lucca, in the most stunning scenery you can find in Tuscany.
Looking up from the vines you can spot the medieval fortress of Verrucole on the mountain above (it’s a brilliant place to take fractious kids to let them explore and run wild). Looking down at the vines you begin to get thirsty and start to wonder what the wine tastes like. Fortunately you can have a wine tasting here of their 4 signature wines. You need to book (see website for details) but Mauro and Stefano are very personable so don’t hesitate to email or call them. Because I have to tell you – you cannot visit this area without tasting this wine. IT IS AMAZING.
The wine is made in a traditional way so you don’t get a headache (even after drinking quite a lot!). This is because it does not have a lot of sulphites added to it because it is naturally settled and filtered. Large scale producers can’t do this because the natural process creates too great a variable in the final flavour of the wine and big producers have to give a wine that tastes the same year in, year out (yawn!) so they heat it, chill it, mess about with the chemical composition and generally ruin the authenticity just so they can sell hundreds of thousands of bottles to supermarkets.
So, Poderi di Garfagnana produces interesting wine which changes depending on the conditions of the growing year, how it was harvested and how it was aged. This makes tasting their ‘back issues’ really exciting because you begin to understand and appreciate how complex the wine making profession is.
The next fabuloso thing about this vinyard is that they are using varieties of grapes which can only be found in this particular region. Basolina and Verdolino being just two examples of grape varieties that are so rare that they are not even classified so cannot technically go on the wine lable (though the university of Pisa is currently studying many of these ‘heritage’ varietals with an aim to ‘classify’ them shortly).
Astonishingly, the wine from this vineyard (did I already mention it is excellent?) is only available in a very few outlets in Tuscany within the surrounding 30km’s. If you want to taste this exclusive wine the best way to do it is to rock up at the cantina in an afternoon and buy direct.
The ‘sfuso’ (‘on tap’) wine is a ridiculously low €1.50 per litre. The other wines they offer are equally affordable. If you are in Tuscany on holiday in your car then leave room to take back a few crates: This stuff should be selling for at least €15 per 75cl bottle.
My favourite was the Riana white which was light and fruity – perfect for summer – and the 2009 Fopola, which is a bit young but will be absolutely superb next year so it’s a good one to invest in now and pop in the cellar. Go before they run out – these people only produce about 20,000 bottles in total per year.
If you want to be taken on a tour of this and other superb Tuscan vinyards you should contact Melissa at Frontier Wine Tours who is very sweet and will help you organise a wine tasting holiday or day tour that is both unforgettable and affordable.