Master of Wine Jane Hunt is interviewed by Decanter Magazine’s Andrew Jefford about Tuscany and its wines. Jane has a long, distinguished career in various aspects of the wine trade, and will be leading a Wine Scholar Guild immersion tour through some of the legendary Tuscan wine estates.
Quality in wine can be assessed based upon balance, length, intensity, and complexity (and typicity when not tasting blindly). As the workhorse grape of central Italy, Sangiovese had a checkered history relative to quality. It is a high acid grape, with relatively high tannins; and quality demands a balance of these structural components. The goal of this essay will be to discuss the acid/tannin balance, its impact upon quality, and the implications for “mouthfeel” of the resultant wines. The harmonious balance of quality can be achieved with pure Sangiovese (Brunello de Montalcino or some Chianti’s, or with blends as in Chianti or the “Super Tuscans”); the key is taming the interplay of tannin and acid on the palate. The journey through Tuscany is a delectable discovery of vinous diversity, unified by the grape.
“In the bad old days, Sangiovese tended to be overproduced which accentuated its tendency to exhibit high acid and unripe tannins… Sangiovese’s dominant viticultural characteristics are that it can vary as much as Pinot Noir in its sensitivity to place and that it ripens relatively late.” Jancis Robinson, www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/grape-varieties/red/sangiovese
Italy’s white wines are as diverse as the country’s reds. With a trove of native varieties, there is an Italian white wine to fit every budget and every occasion. In fact, there are so many choices that shopping for an Italian white wine can be overwhelming. It doesn’t help matters that many of the white grapes have similar looking names. However, you don’t have to memorize an encyclopedia to find the perfect wine for dinner.
Just knowing a few key wines will ease the confusion and simplify the shopping trip (hint, if the grape or wine name has a “v” in it, you will probably love it.)
The Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) was the historic symbol of the League of Chianti and has become the symbol of the wines of Chianti Classico. The Black Rooster symbol is linked to a medieval legend that takes place during the time of open hostilities between Firenze and Siena for control of the Chianti territory.
Nestled in the hills of Tuscany with some of the most unique soils in the world with one of the greatest grapes in the world, Chianti Classico is a wine that conjures up the best (and worst) associations within the world of wine.
Get the inside scoop! Join Jeffrey Porter, Beverage Director for the acclaimed Italian restaurant group Batali & Bastianich, as he guides you through the history and specificities of Chianti Classico.
Presenter: Sommelier Jeff Porter
Originally from Texas, Jeffrey’s passion for wine started while at the University of Texas at Austin.
He began his career at Central Market in Austin, Texas.
After graduating Jeffrey moved to California where he worked as a sales person for a wholesaler in the Bay Area.
His sommelier career began in Napa Valley working at Tra Vigne Ristorante in St. Helena, California.
He joined the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group in 2009 at Osteria Mozza.
In 2011 he moved to New York to become the wine director for Del Posto and in 2014 Jeffrey became the Beverage Operations Director, overseeing the beverage programs for Babbo, Del Posto, Esca, Lupa, Otto, Babbo Pizzeria & Enoteca in Boston, MA, and our newest restaurant La Sirena at the Maritime Hotel.
Join Nick Bielak for a punchy introduction to some of the important buzz words of contemporary Italian wine… what’s exciting and what to look out for.
Going beyond Italian Wine 101 (basics of Italian wine, main varieties and regions, culture and pronunciation), Nick will discuss hot topics including: menzioni geografiche aggiuntive in Barolo, the noble Italian red varieties, top Italian whites, the emerging south, the awakening of the giants– Italian coopertives.
These are just some of the most exciting developments in Italian wine production. Don’t miss out for a session on tradition and transition in Italy!
Presenter: Nick Bielak
After several forays to Italy, Nick emigrated in 1996 and inevitably became involved in wine, working for a Puglian winery until 2003.
After exploring the length and breadth of Italy’s vineyards from Alto Adige to Sicily, he returned to London with a view to disseminating the message of the exciting world of Italian wine to international markets.
After a short experience at Bibendum as an Italian specialist, he started working with Nicolas Belfrage MW in 2006.
Since then, he has had the privilege of working with this significant protagonist of the modern Italian wine époque, roaming Italy's vast expanse of DOCs and DOCGs, consulting with producers and ecologists, judging at major events (including Decanter for the last 8 years).
He currently spends half his time in Italy, and half in London, whilst being challenged by the Institute of Masters of Wine.
Embark on our 2018 Tuscany Study Tour with on site professional-level instruction
Tuscany Wine Study Tour Highlights
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to travel through all the key appellations of this authentic Italian wine region with a true expert and fabulous instructor!
Tuscany’s famous hills are home to some of the world's most notable wine regions. Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano showcase Sangiovese, the king of red grapes in Toscana. The wines of Bolgheri will challenge what you think you know about Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Experiencing the incredible wines of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, may make you see Italian white wines in a whole new light.
A lot meets the eye when you visit the beautiful Toscana, but so much more is waiting to be discovered. Toscana’s diverse climatic conditions, soils and topography makes the region a vast mosaic of distinctive terroirs—often combined with a rich historic and cultural heritage hard to match elsewhere.
Enjoy personal guidance and instruction from Jane Hunt, Master of Wine and senior judge for Italian wines at the Decanter World Wine Awards tasting competition
Visit the region’s most iconic wine appellations including Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Bolgheri
Get access to some of the most prestigious and sought-after small wine producers and experience the wonder of “insider” tours
Discover how short distances between wine regions manifest themselves in the glass as you taste the remarkable differences
Let Tuscany’s medieval cities transport you through time as you follow cobblestone trails in the region’s famous walled cities
Indulge in the renowned, authentic cuisine of Tuscany – an immensely varied use of seasonal vegetables, ‘panzanella’ a summer salad made from bread and fresh tomatoes,’ribollita’ a bean soup, the famous Fiorentina steaks from the Tuscan breed of Chianina beef, pork from the Cinta Senese breed, locally hunted wild boar, delicious pasta dishes often including local truffles in the Autumn period as well as all manner of diverse salumi and Pecorino sheep’s cheeses. Delicioso!
Travel with like-minded, committed students of wine, whether serious wine hobbyists or wine professionals, and share with us an unforgettable educational, epicurean and enlightening experience! Trips are open to people from all countries, and are held in English.
Your Instructor & Guide: Jane Hunt, Master of Wine
Senior judge for Italian wines at Decanter Wine World Awards tasting competition
Master of Wine specialized in Italian wines
Jane speaks fluent Italian and spends 6 month of the year in Umbria where she produces olive oil from her own trees
Director and Lecturer for 'Wine Academy Italia' running WSET Courses in Italy
Jane was fabulous. She has an exceptional talent for conveying complex information in an understandable way to a diverse group. She is an absolute asset to your educational program. I know she enjoyed this trip and the group as much as we enjoyed her; the perfect formula for an exceptional experience." Matt Kirkland, FWS
The instructor was wonderful. She was laid back, but very informative. Her relationship with the wineries truly made the experience more intimate and memorable. I would attend any trip she instructed in the future." Cary Chappell
Jane is very knowledgable and did a great job. Again I am very happy with Jane's performance. Maro was important to support her and coordinate behind the scenes." Celia Hay, NZ Wine School
PODCAST: Jane Hunt MW & Andrew Jefford on Tuscany
Download(Right-click & select "save link as" or "save target as"...)
Your Tour Manager: Mauro Businaro
Assisting the instructor and making sure logistics run smoothly and that your needs are answered will be Mauro Businaro.
Mauro is an experienced Sommelier and member of the AIS (Italian Sommelier Association). He lives in Padua, Italy and organizes food and wine events, classes and day tours in Venice and the Veneto wine region.
Sunday, May 27 | D
Participants arrive independently and meet late afternoon at Pisa Airport
Transfer south to the Maremma on the Mediterranean coast and check into beachside hotel 4-star Park Hotel Marinetta.
Enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the Hotel’s gastronomic restaurant.
Monday, May 28 | Bolgheri | B, L
Visit Ca’Marcanda, where Angelo Gaja, the renowned Piedmont winemaker, concentrates on growing international grape varieties. A tasting of Gaja’s fabulous wines completes the visit.
Visit and tasting at Tenuta Guado al Tasso, part of the illustrious Antinori family of vineyards.
Enjoy a wonderful gourmet lunch at Osteria San Michele.
Visit Podere Grattamacco, an organic producer in an unusually sunny microclimate. You’ll have a visit with the technical staff and a wonderful tasting.
Return to the hotel for an evening on your own to enjoy one of their two fine restaurants, or other recommended restaurants nearby.
Tuesday, May 29 | Bolgheri, Suvereto | B
An auspicious start to the day with a visit and tasting at Tenuta San Guido and the most venerable of the Super Tuscans, Sassicaia.
At top Super Tuscan producer Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, you’ll have an in-depth visit and tasting.
Enjoy some free time in the charming village of Bolgheri and have a light lunch on your own.
In Suvereto, visit Gualdo del Re, the great organic producer in the Val di Cornia DOCG.
Arrive in Siena, one of Italy’s most beautiful cities, and check into 4-star Hotel NH Siena. The evening is yours to discover this incredible city and dine at one of its fine restaurants.
Wednesday, May 30 | Brunello di Montalcino | B, L, D
Great visits and tastings today in this classic Tuscany appellation, at three top producers like Canalicchio di Sopra, Il Marroneto, Biondi Santi or Il Poggioni.
Enjoy a rustic lunch with views of the valley at Locanda Demetra.
Move on to Radda in Chianti and check in to historic 4-star Palazzo Leopoldo.
Take the evening to explore the charming village of Radda, with our restaurant suggestions.
Thursday, May 31 | Chianti Classico | B, L, D
Your first visit is at Isole e Olena. Here Paolo De Marchi produces the 100% Sangiovese Cepparello, hailed as one of the greatest expressions of Sangiovese from Tuscany today.
Visit Castello di Fonterutoli, with its state-of-the-art winery, spectacular view of Siena and great wines.
Enjoy a gourmet meal of Tuscan specialties at the estate’s own Osteria di Fonterutoli .
A visit awaits you at Fontodi, a certified Organic estate with a special terroir called “Conca d’Oro” (the golden shell) for its amphitheatre shape.
Return to Radda for your farewell dinner at the lovely (and delicious) Ristorante La Botte di Bacco.
Friday, June 1 | Chianti Classico | B, L
Visit highly-rated Badia a Coltibuono where you’ll visit their 11th-century Romanesque monastery and lush botanical garden, followed by a tasting.
Visit Antinori’s winery at Bargino, where you’ll have an in-depth visit of their spectacular cellar and taste through their range of great wines.
Enjoy lunch at Rinuccio restaurant on the roof of the spectacular cellar at Antinori’s winery in Bargino.
Round out your time in Tuscany with a visit and tasting at the Antinori family’s legendary estate, Tenuta Tignanello.
Late afternoon group transfer to Florence Santa Maria Novella train station and Florence Airport. You may wish to extend your stay to visit this beautiful city with many cultural sites of interest.
Legend for meals included in your tour: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
* Itinerary subject to change: every effort will be made to keep the itinerary as close as possible to what appears here; however, the final itinerary and estates/winemakers included may vary due to wine producer schedules, availability and factors beyond our control. The wine estates visited during this trip will all be of the highest quality.
Your 6 Day, 5 Night Tuscany Immersion Study Trip includes:
Instruction throughout by Tuscan wine expert Jane Hunt, Master of Wine
The services of a Tour Manager throughout, to provide customer service and logistics support
Deluxe, air-conditioned motor coach transportation throughout, with bottled water on-board
2 nights at 4-star Park Hotel Marinetta in Marina di Bibbona, double occupancy
1 night at 4-star Hotel NH in Siena, double occupancy
2 nights at 4-star Palazzo Leopoldo in Radda in Chianti, double occupancy
2 gastronomic dinners expertly matched with top-quality regional wines
4 gourmet lunches expertly matched with top-quality regional wines
5 buffet breakfasts
All professional-level tours and extensive tastings at renowned wine producers
All hotel and other taxes, and gratuities for included restaurants
Deposit upon reservation: US$ 1000.00 per person, per trip
Get US$ 150 off each additional trip you take!***
NOTE: There are a limited number of twin rooms available. Please let us know if you’d like to share a twin room with another participant to avoid the single supplement and pay the double occupancy price instead.
***After you have reserved your first Study Trip in 2018, you will receive a Discount of US$150 for each additional Study Trip you take in the same calendar year. This Discount will be deducted from the final balance payment for each additional Study Trip. You must pay in full for the first Study Trip you reserve to be eligible to receive the Discount for additional Study Trips.
Space is limited to 18 participants, so reserve your space today!
Enjoy memorable meals at Gastronomic restaurants and estates
Learn about the wines of Tuscany!
The following video is taken from our past member webinars library. Enjoy!
PAST MEMBER WEBINAR: Chianti Classico with sommelier Jeffrey Porter
Producers visited on our May 2017 wine study trip to Tuscany:
Ca’Marcanda As impressive for its amazing eco-design and architecture as for its spectacular wines made with precision and attention by the Gaja family of Barbaresco fame.
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Founded in 1981 by Marchese Antinori, the estate is owned since 2005 by the equally aristocratic Marchese de’ Frescobaldi family. Amongst their wines is the unique and magnificent 100% Merlot Masseto.
Grattamacco One of the earlier Bolgheri estates founded in 1977, the 25 hectares of organic vineyards include the full gamut of French “Bordeaux” grapes growing alongside Sangiovese and Vermentino.
Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia) Tenuta San Guido’s iconic Sassicaia wine was the result of an experiment to grow Bordeaux grapes in the Bolgheri region, which previously had little history of viticulture. This incredible wine was “born” internationally in 1968, though owner Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta had been making the same wine for private consumption since 1948!
Tenuta Guado al Tasso This fabulous estate (the name means “Badgers’ Crossing”) owned by the Marchesi Antinori has over 300 hectares. As with the majority of Bolgheri producers, wines are oriented around the classic red ‘Bordeaux’ varieties though a very fine white Vermentino is also made.
Gualdo del Re Situated farther south in the Suvereto area, Gualdo del Re is a family business. Consultant winemaker Barbara Tamburini has gained a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the finest Merlot wines in Italy.
Marroneto The estate was purchased in 1974 and has been slowly developed since then. Now after well over 30 years, it is considered one of the finest in the Brunello di Montacino region.
Canalicchio di Sopra One of the newer generations of Brunello producers and an upcoming star. The owner, Francesco Ripaccioli, is passionate in his approach to vineyard management and in the cellar.
Biondi Santi The “original” Brunello di Montalcino producer. Owned by the Biondi Santi for many generations, it is from the 1920’s that today’s real story begins. These wines have an affinity for great ageing.
Isole e Olena Owned by Paolo de Marchi who, in his very modest and quiet way, has been a trailblazer for Chianti Classico. His attention to mapping the geology of the estate took place at a time when few considered the importance of the ‘terroir’. He also pioneered the first 100% Sangiovese wine.
Castello di Fonterutoli Situation in a stunning position, the ancient hamlet of Fonterutoli owned by the Mazzei family looks toward Siena. The estate is a huge and historic mixed farm growing olives, vines and lavender with wild game roaming in the surrounding woodland.
Fontodi The Manetti family purchased Fontodi and came to produce Chianti Classico comparatively recently in 1968. A certified organic estate, the winemaking has evolved unencumbered by local tradition and the wines demonstrate a marvellous purity of flavor.
Badia a Coltibuono This beautiful estate located in an ancient abbey is as stunning for its garden and buildings as for its wines, which have been firmly in the higher echelons of Chianti Classico for many years.
Tenuta Tignanello The original “Super Tuscan” wine born in the Chianti Classico area. Owned by the Marchese Antinori family, this special wine is a barrel-aged blend of local Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc.
Antinori at Bargino The new Antinori winery at Bargino is a masterpiece of architecture. From outside, it is as if nothing is there – on the inside it is a cathedral built for making and ageing wine.
Are you looking for the best Italian red grapes? The wonderful thing about Italian red grape varieties is that they are distinctly Italian. Plenty of winegrowers around the world have made attempts at growing Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera, but few have come even close to matching the results of these grapes’ native soils. As a rule, Italian grape varieties don’t care to leave Italy, and who could blame them? Completely at home in their places of origin or tradition, each Italian red grape has evolved and adapted in perfect harmony with their surroundings.