Volpaia: it takes a village, no seriously. The Castello di Volpaia estate is one of the most remarkable wineries I have ever visited. Now, granted I was there in the off-season, but driving up the rather winding road to the hilltop enclave, it’s really not much more than a ring of buildings protecting the inner Castello, can leave you a little perplexed. At the end of the road you arrive in a small Piazza with a bar on one side, and a rather imposing tower on the other.

Fortunately the Piazza is small, so it doesn’t take much wandering to figure out that tower is the retail sales room for Volpaia, the sign on the transom window being a dead give away, if remarkably subtle indication.  Once you’ve discovered the sales office, which was closed at the time of my visit, you might be left wondering where the winery actually is. Chances are your standing on it, next to it or in it!

What to expect: Chianti

Chianti is a large region that produces a wide range of wine styles. From basic Chianti, to the finest Riservas, some elements of the wines remain consistent. Chianti is based on the Sangiovese grape, which typically yields a medium bodied wine with strawberry and cherry fruits that are accented by delicate notes of green herbs, dusty soil, leather, and spice. While Chianti can be produced exclusively from Sangiovese, the vast majority of Chianti includes a small percentage of other grapes. Traditional varieties like Mammolo, Colorino, and Canaiolo were used to add some flesh and aromatic complexity to Chianti, though many producers now include some Merlot, adding fruit and richness, or Cabernet Sauvignon, which contributes power and dark fruit flavors, to their wines.