"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Left My Heart at Villa Vignamaggio (Chianti, Tuscany)

(Chianti with 100% Sangiovese Grapes produced by one of our favorite villas in Tuscany.)
Nine years ago, Patrick and I went to Italy for two weeks. After spending a few days in Venice and a few days in Florence, we took the train to Tuscany where we spent a full glorious and memorable week.  My daughter was just a little baby then - she was about 9 months old (now, she is 10 years old). And, my little sister, Tanicha, was about 7 years old at that time. We took her with us. That was probably the best vacation that Patrick and I have had.  Tuscany is where I want to retire, die, and be buried. I love it there.

(Villa Vignamaggio, Greve in Chanti, Tuscany (Italy), circa July 2003.)
We stayed at this beautiful Villa in a little town in Chianti, called Greve.  The Villa is called Villa Vignamaggio. http://www.vignamaggio.it/index-english.html. It was breathtaking!

The grounds were immaculate. I loved the rolling hillsides with the vineyards and olive trees. The surrounding areas were the quintessential picture of what the Tuscan countryside is.

The villa itself was gorgeous and very clean and comfortable. They had a pool, which we were able to enjoy since we went there in July.  They also had a children's play area, which our daughter enjoyed.

With our package, we enjoyed a 4-course dinner, with amazing wine, two nights per week.

They gave us tours of their winery and the caves where they stored their wines. The tour was great.  

We also got to try many of their different wines.  The wines were fabulous. I particularly loved their Obsession.  http://www.vignamaggio.it/english/product.html?_id=9e6476c1-3e5b-4fec-9c99-e7148da279b2

They also make their own olive oil, which we could taste until our heart's content. I loved the labels on the olive oil.  http://www.vignamaggio.it/english/product.html?_id=87282c23-b5ea-4b0f-b572-b045e31ef188
We actually brought some wine and olive oil back with us to the United States, and shared with family and friends. We had wished that we were allowed to bring more, but Customs had limits.

As you can tell, we absolutely loved this place. The inn keepers and winemakers were incredibly hospitable and wonderful hosts. We haven't been to Italy since. Tuscany is one place where Patrick and I are planning to return to in the near future. And, every once in a while, I day dream about Villa Vignamaggio and their wines.

Well, sometimes dreams do come true! This past weekend, as I was walking back from getting coffee at the Peet's Store across the street from the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, I decided to go into this wine shop, the Wine Thieves, to say hi to the owner and just browse his selection. http://www.winethieves.com/. I am always curious to see what "real" wine shops carry and how expensive. And, since his shop is called the "Wine Thieves", I was doubly curious about the prices.  As I was looking around the different selections, what did I find in the "Tuscan/Super Tuscan" section? A Villa Vignamaggio Chianti Classico (2008). I was speechless. Actually, I let out a huge shout of "Oh my Gosh!" The owner jumped up from behind the counter, walked over to where I was, and asked if I was okay. I told him yes, and apologized for scaring him. I told him the story about our trip to Tuscany, and our stay at Villa Vignamaggio. I told him how Patrick and I really enjoyed the wines, and that was the best vacation experience since we've been together almost 20 years ago. I told him I couldn't believe that he had this wine so close by (less than 5 miles away), and I didn't know. He said it's not an easy wine to import to the U.S., but, he had some connections who helped him bring this wine over. He said it was one of his favorites too. It was such a nostalgic moment when I walked to the car with the wine bottle in a brown bag, told Patrick I had a surprise for him, and pulled out the wine. He had the same reaction as I did. He said "Oh wow, where did you find that?"

This Chianti is made of 100% Sangiovese grapes.  It's a deeper, fuller Chianti, with a beautifully intense red color.  It has aromas of ripe red berries (like cherries and raspberries).  It is smooth on the palate, and goes well with most Italian dishes. Last night, we had it with some Pesto Pasta with Italian sausage.  It was just perfect!  Here is a description of the 2010 vintage: http://www.vignamaggio.it/english/product.html?_id=bb34dc19-7cff-4802-9077-80619eb9017e.  

When Patrick and I first begin to experiment with red wine about 18 years ago when we met at UC Berkeley, we started with drinking Chianti. We found it a little bit lighter and easier to drink. Maybe it's fate that I found this wine at the Wine Thieves. Maybe it's a sign that we need to plan another trip to Tuscany. Whatever the reasons, Patrick and I were very happy to enjoy this bottle of Chianti, look through some old pictures of our trip, and reminisce about one of our best vacations ever in Tuscany. We can't wait to go back . . . soon! (Tara: I hope you are reading this post. Let's plan this trip soon! -:) Tanicha: You'll be coming with us too. Luv U! -:)

Until next time . . . Cheers!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this. My parents have always told me stories of when they stayed at one of the Villas in Tuscany, Italy, which is why I am planning a trip there this summer with some friends. I am very much looking forward to it.