If the only wine cocktail you know is a sangria recipe, read up. Reinvent your classic cocktail this summer with these six refreshing recipes that’ll enhance the natural flavours of your favorite wines, including our own Dievole Chianti Classico. With its tart yet spicy aroma, Chianti Classico wines are the way to go for some of the most exotic cocktails, starting off with a zesty Chianti Classico Margarita.

Chianti Classico Margarita

Fresh and tart: better than any Sangria recipe!

Fresh and tart: better than any Sangria recipe!

Recipe by Danzante

This summer you’ll be dying to try out this new take on the classic Margarita. Infused with the traditions of Chianti Classico, this red wine based recipe combines the sweetness of agave nectar with fresh, cool lime.

Ingredients:
1 part of your favorite Dievole Chianti Classico red wine
2 parts tequila
2 parts triple sec
1 part agave nectar
2 parts lime juice

Recipe:
1. Fill blender with ice, and add ingredients. Blend until ice is crushed to a smoothie-esque consistency
2. Pour into a margarita glass on the rocks or in a pitcher. Cheers!

Raspberry Peach Rosé Punch

Recipe by Table for Two blog

Nothing says summer like sweet peaches and prosecco. This light and fruity punch adds the perfect touch to any cocktail party.
Ingredients:
12 oz. frozen raspberries
2 cups peach nectar, chilled
1 bottle Rosato Le due Arbie rosé wine
Ice cubes

Recipe:
1. Put the raspberries in a large glass pitcher, and top with the peach nectar and prosecco.
2. Add ice, stir, and serve cold.

Red Wine-sicles

Blueberries will make your winesicles even tastier!

Blueberries will make your winesicles even tastier!

Recipe inspired by Jay and Leah from The GastroNom Blog

When the heat of summer strikes, try these antioxidant-rich blueberry ice pops – just be careful, they go down a bit too easy. Perhaps a little too chilled to get the best out of a quality Chianti Classico but perfect for a fresh, fruity and well-bodied IGT Red.

Ingredients:
Less than ½ a bottle of Toscana IGT like Le Due Arbie
4-5 Blueberries per popsicle mold
Basil Blueberry syrup (see below)

Syrup ingredients:
8-10 basil leaves torn into 4 pieces each
1/3 cup blueberries
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Basil Blueberry simple syrup Recipe:
1. Combine all syrup ingredients in a saucepan over high heat. Boil.
2. Reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Break up the blueberries, take off heat, and let cool.
4. Strain to take out basil pieces and blueberries.

Red Wine-sicle Recipe:
1. Place blueberries in popsicle molds of your choice.
2. Combine all liquids and pour into the popsicle molds.
3. Freeze for 8-10 hours. Buon appetito!

Pineapple Mojito Sangria

Delicious drinks and good company are the perfect recipe for a great evening!

Delicious drinks and good company are the perfect recipe for a great evening!

Recipe by kitchentreaty.com

This summer wine cocktail combines two summer favourites – what’s better than mixing mojito’s crisp minty flavour with a classic sangria recipe? Make it for your next big party. The fruity tanginess of white wine with rum, lemon, and pineapple with a hint of mint makes for a relaxing yet refreshing drink, best served under the Tuscan sun.
Ingredients:
3 medium limes, thinly sliced
1 small bunch peppermint leaves, stripped (about 30 peppermint leaves)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 small fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut (2 cups diced)
750 ml bottle of Bianco Le Due Arbie white wine
½ cup white rum
¾ cup pineapple juice
4 cups lemon lime soda
Additional peppermint leaves and pineapple wedges for garnish

Recipe:
1. Muddle together the lime slices, peppermint leaves, and sugar in a pitcher.
2. Add the pineapple, wine, rum, and pineapple juice on top.
3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 4 – 5 hours.
4. Add the lemon lime soda, ice, and a few chunks of pineapple to your glass and pour sangria over.
5. Garnish with additional mint leaves and pineapple wedge if desired.

Sparkling White Peach Sangria Recipe

This Sparkling White Peach Sangria recipe will have your guests ranting for more!

This Sparkling White Peach Sangria recipe will have your guests ranting for more!

Recipe inspired by Aubrey Cota

Cool off with a surprisingly energising white wine sangria recipe —the perfect refresher for a Saturday afternoon!

Ingredients:
3 cups sliced peaches
2 cups raspberries
750 ml. Bianco Le Due Arbie white wine
1 cup peach schnapps
1 bottle champagne
1 cup simple syrup (sugar and water heated in a saucepan until sugar has dissolved and then cools)

Recipe: Serves 6 – 8; Takes 1 hr. to make
1. Add fruit to a large pitcher
2. Pour the wine, simple syrup, and peach schnapps into the pitcher. Stir.
3. Let the mixture sit for at least 1 hr. Or overnight in the fridge.
4. Pour equal amounts of the wine mixture and champagne into a glass when ready to serve. Enjoy!

Summer Solstice Chianti Classico wine Cocktail

Recipe inspired by Boulder Locavore blog
This delicious Chianti Classico cocktail combines the sweetness of bing cherries and ripe peaches with the zestyness of orange soda for near perfection.
Ingredients:
12 bing cherries (pitted and halved)
½ peaches (very ripe, quartered, no pealing required)
8 oz. Dievole Chianti Classico DOCG Red
Italian blood orange soda (aranciata rossa)
Ice

Recipe: Serves 2
1. Combine cherries, peaches, and wine in a shaker or quart-sized jar. Muddle to release the flavors.
2. Add 5-6 ice cubes, shake vigorously until blended.
3. Fill 2 glasses with crushed ice, and pour the mixture.
4. Fill with blood orange soda

Article written with the contribution of Angela Sanders

The Chianti Classico area has long been a favourite of cyclists, both on and off road. Dievole itself has an important bike path we call our “Natural Path” which can be used year round, but there are some important bike events in Tuscany each year that you’ll want to know about if you’re a die-hard biker or just an enthusiastic sideline “cheerer”. As a bonus we’ve also added some movies and museums to help you get in the mood!

Coming down our road on a vintage bike, part of the fun of attending bike events in Tuscany

Coming down our road on a vintage bike, part of the fun of bike events in Tuscany

Bike events in Tuscany

May: Giro d’Italia

Lots of events planned by the Chianti Classico Consortium!

Lots of events planned by the Chianti Classico Consortium!

While not an event just in Chianti, the Giro d’Italia passes through our roads, and we fully embrace it! In 2016, the Chianti Classico Consortium has a month of activities planned to coincide with the big day of May 15, when two-wheelers will whiz past us. Even if you’re not a passionate biker, the emotion of seeing these great athletes is a rush.

The most important moment in our area other than the day the bikes come through is on Saturday May 14, 2016, at the Casa Chianti Classico, where there will be a dinner party and DJ set as well as tasting tables featuring numerous labels from the area, Dievole included. For the whole month, there are art exhibitions, book presentations and films scheduled. We’re particularly excited about an art exhibit called “On Cycling and Wine” which will show works in glass telling the story of the Giro d’Italia. Another great event that will provide an interesting photo opportunity is on May 8, 2016, when vintage Vespas will ride the route of the Giro’s Chianti Classico stage. On the same day there is also a non-competitive mountain bike tour and a guided hike, both of which that will take you through vineyards and stunning sceneries.

Find full details on the website www.chianticlassico.com/en

October: l’Eroica

Our Dino with mayor of Gaiole in Chianti, Michele Pescini at Eroica 2015

Our Dino with mayor of Gaiole in Chianti, Michele Pescini at Eroica 2015

On the first weekend of October each year, the Eroica is dedicated to the “heroes” of vintage bike racing on our area’s “white roads” (strade bianche). The route of this beautiful race passes right on Dievole property, where each year there is one of the refreshment points. In 2015, we stood by in the pouring rain to cheer on the racers, who arrived soaking wet and happy to wash down some bread and prosciutto with a gulp of Chianti Classico. The mood of this race is always happy, where going the distance is as important as going well dressed. We’ve written more about this race here.

A Springtime Eroica through the Val d’Orcia area, not far from Dievole, is a recent addition to the Eroica family and is not as large as the one in October.

For information see http://eroica.cc

Year-Round: Natural Path

If you prefer to cycle at your own pace, or if you can’t make it to one of these larger events, fear not! Dievole’s Natural Path has over 27 kilometers of cleared bike path through woods and vineyards. Inaugurated in 2015, it’s part of our dedication to bringing this territory to its full glory. The path revives the roads used by past sharecroppers, and we’ve given it back to the community, making it free to access at any time. There are routes for all levels, and the trail can also be accessed by foot or on horseback.

To get in the biking mood

Whether you’re greasing up the gears or supporting cyclists, there’s lots you can do to get in the biking mood that goes well beyond diet and exercise.

Museo di Ciclismo Bartali at Ponte a Ema (FI)

Museo di Ciclismo Bartali at Ponte a Ema (FI)

Museums / If you’re visiting Italy, we recommend a visit to the newly renovated CicloMuseo Gino Bartali, just outside of Florence on the Chiantigiana road at Ponte a Ema, where this famous cyclist is from. If you don’t know anything about Bartali or biking, you’ve still probably seen the heartwarming and famous photograph of Bartali passing a bottle of water to Fausto Coppi (or vice versa – we may never know) during the 1952 Tour de France. The image is considered a symbol of good sportsmanship, an honour for which Bartali is generally recognized. Bartali’s story, his life and bikes, is the center of this museum.

The now iconic photo of Bartali and Coppi

The now iconic photo of Bartali and Coppi

Movies / Bicycles provide inspiration for numerous themes, which we recommend watching. Some will be screened during the Chianti Classico’s events for the Giro d’Italia 2016, but you could look for any of these in streaming or DVD wherever you are.

  • Bicycle Thieves by Vittoria De Sica is a true classic of Italian Neorealist cinema. Set in post-war Rome and released in 1948, it’s a picture of the city and its poverty, as well as a moving story of parenthood.
  • Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is a gripping documentary from 2014 that will have even non-cyclists on the edge of their seats, hoping to understand what happened to this champion who died tragically young.
  • Beijing Bicycle by Xiaoshuai Wang takes us to China, where the bicycle is protagonist in a story that compares the fortunes of two boys from two different social standings.
  • The Green Bicyle by Haifaa Al Mansour received critical acclaim in 2012, telling the story of a young girl in Saudi Arabia who wants a bike to race with her friend, but faces the challenge of gender. Interestingly, the movie was later made into a young-adult book in 2015.

 

Some of the best Tuscany wine tours can be found in Chianti Classico, the oldest part of Chianti and one of Tuscany’s most important Wine tourism destinations. Depending on your expectations, level of expertise and budget, here are a 7 tips to make the best of your Tuscany wine tours.

Plan ahead: organising Tuscany Wine tours takes time!

Every wine cellar and estate is different so planning your own DIY tour actually gives you the power to choose and live by your own rules and taste. Study the maps, research where you can find and savour the kinds of wine that you love best. Go off the beaten track and follow your instincts. By planning ahead you will be able to really trace a complete itinerary that combines hidden Tuscan treasures and family run businesses with historical vineyards. Don’t be afraid to call or write, you are bound to find someone who speaks English.

Take in the beauty of Chianti Classico

The rolling hills of Dievole..

The rolling hills of Dievole..

The term Chianti Classico isn’t only representative of a type of Tuscan wine: it is a land brimming with history, scattered with castles and fortresses, medieval hamlets, ruins and watchtowers, convents and abbeys, churches and farmhouses. Enjoy frequent pitstops, leave some space for improvisation and let yourself be surprised by the many wonders of this magical land. Tuscany offers 14 designated Wine Roads, the perfect solution for travellers who want to fully experience our region’s natural and oenological richness. Whether alone or in the company of a loved one, this trip is all about romanticism.

To drive or not to drive? The Tuscany Wine Tours dilemma

Although wine tasting usually involves a lot of swirling and spitting, you don’t want to feel guilty when a nice glass of Sangiovese is calling your name. Drinking and driving is not a solution so we suggest joining a small group, hiring a driver or, in some cases, you can plan a shuttle service directly with the winery. If you’re a sports buff, you can always plan to go by bike! For all you “Do-It-Yourself” lovers, some wineries can actually be reached by bus. Many wineries offer lodging so you can always stay the night. Always remember to have something to nibble on in your bag (crackers are your best ally) and plan to stop for a big lunch.

Winetasting techniques

Tuscany wine tours all about learning to savour wine.

Tuscany wine tours all about learning to savour wine.

If you’re already an oenological expert, jump down to tip#5. In tip #4 we mentioned “swirling and spitting”, two motions that seasoned wine-tasters are quite familiar to. But if you’re a novice and want to learn, we suggest you perfect your skills before taking off towards those wonderful rolling hills. Start by buying a few nice bottles of wine, a wine glass and, if you want to possess all the professional props, a spittoon (failing that, a sink). Uncork your chosen bottle and pour a moderate amount of it in the wine glass. It is important to hold the glass from the stem – do not cup your hands around it or you will end up with warm wine. Swirl the wine for a few seconds to let it open and oxygenate. Stick your nose in the glass and let the aromas inspire you. Take a sip. Let it sit in your mouth for a second, swirl it around a bit in order to explore its nuances and flavours. Some people actually like to “chew” before spitting! Master your own technique and you’ll be ready for your Tuscany wine tours adventure!

Prepare your wallet

Make a clear list of your expenses and how much you are willing to push your budget: consider that buying wine directly from the producer is less expensive than buying it in specialised stores or online, so if you fall in love, you may want to put in an order of the good stuff to ship home. If you’re ready to really live a unique Tuscany wine tours experience, try horse-riding in the countryside, extend your day-trip to a 4-day stay, book a wellness treatment and taste our territory’s specialities.

Delve deep into a world of wine

Which one would you pick?

Which one would you pick?

Books, movies, guides, blogs, photo galleries: you can learn so much by just putting yourself out there! Don’t be afraid to ask! Many wineries have their own blogs (like Dievole!) which offer interesting advice, historical tidbits and tourist tips.

Make the most of your Tuscany wine tours experience

Timing is of the utmost importance. The high season goes from April to October and wineries tend to be busy (this is another reason to to book your trip in advance), so be sure to pick your dates wisely. During the tour don’t be shy, ask the sommelier everything you’ve ever wanted to know about wine and keep a diary of each variety you taste. Pamper yourself to a delightful lunch or picnic in the countryside and take a walk under the Tuscan sun. Take time to listen to the stories of each place you visit. Enjoy the nocturnal breeze and calm of the Chianti evenings and set your alarm to rise early and witness the sunrise over the vineyards. Go overboard, take as many pictures as you like and if you’re big on social media have fun with the many Tuscany-related hashtags.

Dievole is the perfect starting point to discover the many wonders of the Chianti territory and food is one of our land’s most important assets. Although our guests are always welcome to enjoy themselves in our restaurant and wine bar, we like to encourage their culinary outings so here is a useful list of Great Tuscany restaurants near Siena carefully drawn up by our head of hospitality Gianni Mucciarelli.

Rustic and elegant: La Taverna di Vagliagli

Take advantage of this culinary pitstop to visit the delightful town of Vagliagli!

Take advantage of this culinary pitstop to visit the delightful town of Vagliagli! – Pic by Guillaume Colin & Pauline Penot (Flickr CC)

This classy Chianti eatery is deemed among the best Tuscany restaurants near Siena. Its Rustic yet elegant ambience embodies the spirit of this world-renowned wine region. Chef Andrea has mastered the art of wood-stove cooking and dishes out meat platters grilled to perfection. During the summer the tavern opens an outdoor veranda where guests can enjoy their meal under a refreshing arbor while taking in the calm small town air. Quality ingredients and fresh products are used to prepare delicious first and second course dishes such as homemade apple pie, tagliatelle or ravioli with white ragù sauce, fried zucchini, and their signature Florentine style t-bone steak and ribollita stew. Located next to where the famous “Eroica” vintage bike race takes place, it is also quite popular among locals.

Distance from Dievole: 2,4 Km, 8 minutes by car

Address:Via del Sergente 4, Vagliagli, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Italia

Book a table: +39 0577 322532

Fine dining inside a cave: La Taverna di San Giuseppe

The evocative hand-sculpted walls of this unique dining hotspot make it one of the best Tuscany Restaurants.

The evocative hand-sculpted walls of this unique dining hotspot make it one of the best Tuscany Restaurants.

If you want to venture towards the area of Siena, this is one of those Tuscany Restaurants you don’t want to miss! La Taverna di San Giuseppe offers the unique experience of dining inside a centuries-old hand-sculpted tuff cave. Succulent aromas of truffle and meat flutter about this lovely and unpretentious inn located just a few steps away from Siena’s picturesque Piazza del Campo, open every day at lunch and dinnertime. The owners, Marco and Matteo, are long-time clients of Dievole and their wine-cellar is considered one of the best in town (over 600 labels!). The courteous and attentive staff offers superb pairing advice and the menu blends tradition and creativity.

Distance from Dievole: 20/26 Km, 40 minutes by car

Address: Via Giovanni Duprè, 132, 53100 Siena SI

Book a table: +39 0577 42286

Website: www.tavernasangiuseppe.it

The queen of Tuscany restaurants: Osteria le Logge

The beautiful open kitchen where Chef Nico Atrigna and his staff prepare the restaurant's signature dishes.

The beautiful open kitchen where Chef Nico Atrigna and his staff prepare the restaurant’s signature dishes.

Once a pharmacy (it still displays some of the original medicine cabinets!), this is a historical gem among Tuscany Restaurants and is located right off Siena’s piazza del Campo. First owned by spouses Gianni and Laura Brunelli – who opened it in 1977 – its management has now been handed down to Mirco Vigni who forwards Gianni’s legacy with passion. A personal favorite among star-spangled actors (You can spot portraits of George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise on the walls), their open kitchen gives a modern touch to the traditional Tuscan ambience. Indulge yourself in their 100% Italian menu that changes on a daily basis and overpasses regional boundaries offering not only Tuscan specialities but also cheeses from Val D’Aosta, fragrant saffron risotto, fresh fish and an international wine list. The chef, Nico Atrigna, has been working at the Osteria since 2002 and playfully mixes western and eastern flavours in his exquisitely arranged dishes. Osteria Le Logge is the perfect setting for a romantic candle-lit dinner.

Distance from Dievole: 20 Km, 38 minutes by car

Address: Via del Porrione, 33, 53100 Siena SI

Book a table: +39 0577 48013

Website: www.giannibrunelli.it

 

Here are 5 Italian Wine Museums for all you wine-lovers visiting Italy and dying to take their wine knowledge up a notch! Want to spend an entire day discovering the joys and pains of winemaking through history, art and local traditions? Well, then this itinerary was made for you. Italy is world famous for the production of excellent wines and offers such a rich oenological culture that it would be a sin not to delve deeper into its roots and ancient customs.

Museo del Vino, one of Chianti’s best Italian Wine Museums

Greve in Chianti is the main town of the Chianti wine district – which stretches from the south of Florence to north of Siena – and is not very far from Tuscany’s capital city. The wine museum was established by the Farloni family, who have been collecting materials for years in order to document and share the rich history of Chianti Classico Wine. Here you can visit a permanent exhibition with working tools, decorations from official celebrations and other memorabilia. There is also a cellar that hosts wine tasting and wine&food events.

Website: www.museovino.it/en

Museo del Vino, Bardolino (Veneto)

Ancient memorabilia of Northern Italy's winemaking tradition!

Ancient memorabilia of Northern Italy’s winemaking tradition!

This Italian Wine Museum is located in the Bardolino area overlooking the Lago di Garda, Italy’s largest lake. It was founded in 1991 and it is divided in thematic areas according to the different stages of the wine making process, from the growing of the grapes to the harvest, up to the final bottling phase.

Website: www.museodelvino.it/en

Museo del Vino, Torgiano (Umbria)

Fragment of a sculpture holding a bunch of grapes.

Fragment of a sculpture holding a bunch of grapes.

Designed and built by the Lungarotti Museum, this wine museum was opened in 1974 in the heart of the medieval village of Torgiano, Umbria. The museum traces the history of wine from the Ellenistic era until today. Guests are also able to take part in tutored tastings, visit a working vineyard and enjoy its restaurant.

Website: www.lungarotti.it/fondazione/muvit/

Museo del Vino, Barolo (Piedmont)

Even children can learn more about oenology in this Italian Wine Museum!

Even children can learn more about wine!

This is one of the most innovative Italian wine museums. The Barolo Wine museum was opened in 2010 inside the walls of an over 1000-year old castle . The entire exhibition shows how wine has influenced civilisation, artistic expression and every single aspect of Italy’s everyday life . The museum also takes its guests on a tour that starts on the first floor and finishes underground in the castle.

Website: www.wimubarolo.it/en

Museo del Vino, Firenze (Tuscany)

This is one of those Italian Wine Museums where you can truly taste the wine!

This is one of those Italian Wine Museums where you can truly taste the wine!

At the wine museum in Florence, you can find 500+ historical pieces including authentic Etruscan, Roman and medieval artifacts.You can also enjoy a light aperitivo, a romantic dinner or a wine tasting of what Italians love to define “The Nectar of the Gods.”

Website: www.vinex.it

On March 11th 2016 Dievole pampered the palates of a select number of critics and wine experts during Vinitaly’s 50th edition with a special cooking show evocatively called “Symphony of Dievole”, held inside the Agora space of the Agrifood pavilion. Chef Monika Filipinska prepared a tasting menu specifically designed to pair perfectly with Dievole’s line of wine, extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Simple, seasonal ingredients, beacons of the Tuscan tradition such as chickpeas, kale, vegetable ribollita and rigatino bacon, reinterpreted in an innovative manner.

The "Symphony of Dievole" menu, just waiting to be discovered!

The “Symphony of Dievole” menu, just waiting to be discovered!

Three different types of bread were served to best savour our Olive Oil

Three different types of bread were served to best savour our Olive Oil

Our guests amused their taste buds with a simple yet delicious serving of three types of bread drizzled with our DOP Chianti Classico 2015 extra virgin olive oil, accompanied by a sip of our best Rosato Le Due Arbie 2015 IGT Toscana.

 Then came one of the cooking show’s highlights: Chef Monika Filipinska’s genius ribollita stew elegantly served inside a crunchy sweet-meringue based macaron. The crisp combination of sweet and salty was further exalted by Dievole’s 100% Italian monocultivar Coratina, recently awarded the title of Il Magnifico – the best EVOO in the world. Each bite was elegantly washed down with another glass of our Rosato le due Arbie 2015 IGT Toscana.

VIN_8809

Chef Monika in the kitchen preparing the elaborately delicious ribollita macaron.

Would you have ever imagined to eat ribollita inside a macaron?

Would you have ever imagined to eat ribollita like this?

A traditional Tuscan dish with a modern twist, codfish, chickpeas and chickpea purée were served with a swirl of fruity lycopene scented 100% Italian monocultivar Nocellara and a glass of rosato.

Codfish and chickpeas is an all-time Tuscan favourite!

Codfish and chickpeas is an all-time Tuscan favourite!

Our Due Arbie Rosé Wine paired beautifully with the vegetable and fish dishes of our menu.

Our Due Arbie Rosé Wine paired beautifully with the vegetable and fish dishes of our menu.

The third serving of the cooking show showcased yet another Tuscan delicacy: the rigatino – a special kind of bacon, usually seasoned with garlic, pepper and salt. On this occasion it was fried to a crisp and cradled by the simple yet complimentary flavours of nature’s bounty, topped off with a smooth green stinging nettle purée and 100% Italian Blend 2015. Rosato left the scene and the spotlight was stolen by the red hues of our latest vintage, the Chianti Classico Dievole DOCG 2014. This terrific Sangiovese wine blends perfectly with meat dishes and its vital aromas are a constant surprise to both nose and palate.

Rigatino bacon and a swirl of stinging nettle purée

Delicious rigatino bacon and a swirl of stinging nettle purée!

Guests enjoyed sipping and nosing our Dievole Chianti Classico 2014

Guests enjoyed sipping and nosing our Dievole Chianti Classico 2014

The final dish of the Dievole cooking show consisted of an enticing and tangy combination of tender roasted pork meat and pumpkin purée served with a syrupy emulsion of Chianti Classico wine vinegar 2009, one of Dievole’s latest and finest creations – yet another result of the company’s tireless quest to exalt the value of true Tuscan tradition. This time the plate went hand in hand with the golden mild aromas of the DOP Monocultivar Leccino 2015 and another glass of the true star of the event, Dievole’s Chianti Classico DOCG 2014.

So many colours and flavours in just one plate!

So many colours and flavours in just one plate!

The cooking show would not have been complete without Chef Monika’s signature extra virgin olive oil panna cotta made with Dievole’s prize-winning 100% Italian monocultivar Coratina. Dievole oil Expert Marco Scanu walked among the cooking show’s guests telling the tale of how this light delectable dessert was created, affirming that he had once poured Dievole EVOO on his panna cotta to prove that the quality of the company’s olive oil was so good that it went well with practically everything. His experiment was a success and Chef Monika perfected it with her unique style and creativity. Its light milky flavour was crowned with the red delight of fresh strawberry purée and the sweet, round and fruity hints of Dievole’s Chianti Classico Vin Santo DOC 2010.

A sweet finishing touch to Dievole's cooking show.

A sweet finishing touch to Dievole’s cooking show.

 

Mozzarella. A traditional product in Italy, especially in the South: “It’s like water, like life” explains Guido Barendson, coordinator of the Espresso Restaurant Guides, “fascinating, hard to manage”. All the participants at Le Strade della Mozzarella, which takes place in Paestum from April 18-19, 2016, are forced to work with this same difficult primary material, and they all pull out the most creative solutions!

 

 

LSDM is an annual mozzarella convention, held in Paestum at the beautiful Savoy Beach Hotel, that reunites top chefs, passionate foodies and journalists in two days of discussions and tastings that show how far you can go with an apparently simple ingredient. For the second year in a row, Dievole is main sponsor of this event, providing wine and our award-winning extra-virgin olive oil to participants. In particular, Dievole oil is used in the cooking shows, where chefs maximize the potential of the flavours of our monocultivars.

Dievole monocultivars and the exceptional 2015 season, which is already seeing us awarded numerous prizes, is the focus of a talk that will take place on Monday April 18 at 16:30, moderated by Marco Oreggia, editor of FLOS OLEI, a worldwide guide to extra virgin olive oil. Producers from Dievole, San Salvatore, Muraglia, Torretta and Olitalia will talk about the regional differences between 2015 olive oils.

 

“mozzarella a bagno” by Roberto Pezza, LSDM 2015 | Photo Alessandra Farinelli

“mozzarella a bagno” by Roberto Pezza, LSDM 2015 | Photo Alessandra Farinelli

 

The theme of the 2016 manifestation is “contamination”. This comes from an idea of two chefs who participated last year, Piergiorgio Parini and Ernesto Iaccarino. Both reflected on how the public reacted to their use of apparently “foreign” ingredients – coriander on fish in Italy (mostly considered Thai, it was available in ancient Rome), and kiwi with mozzarella, which, it turns out, is grown in great quantities in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. But even pasta al pomodoro – pasta with tomato sauce – is a “contamination” of a foreign ingredient: the tomato is native to North America and became known to Italy only after 1492, and common only in the 18th century. With this theme, LSDM is challenging chefs to take on cultural influences that are external to Italy, pushing cuisine out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

Taking up the challenge will be numerous important chefs, and not only from Italy! Expect to see and taste the works of Alexandre Gauthier from La Grenouillère di Montreuil-sur-Mer, Karl and Rudi Obauer from Salzburg, Swedish chef Magnus Ek and more. (Read more about the foreign chefs at LSDM 2016 on Agrodolce – in Italian)

Dievole will of course be present and sharing photos live from LSDM – follow us on Twitter and Instagram @Dievole, and also follow the official Twitter @lsdm_albert! For information on how to participate, click here.

Exploring Restaurants in Verona is a great way to discover the city

Exploring Restaurants in Verona is a great way to discover the city | Photo Stanislav Georgiev on Flickr

Verona is on of the most beautiful cities of the Veneto region. Straddling the Adige River, every year it welcomes wineries and wine professionals from all over the world, who come together to taste new products and participate in debates in which the main focus is , yes, the one and only: wine.

Vinitaly takes place from April 10-13 and Dievole will be there. Although the fair is reserved for journalists and those who work in the industry, here’s a list of Restaurants in Verona that serve Dievole wines.

One of the most amazing Restaurants in Verona: Le Cantine dell’Arena

Piazzetta Scalette Rubiani, 1

www.lecantine-arena.com

Just a few steps from the Arena and city center of Verona, Le Cantine is a lovely spot to grab lunch or dinner. Here you can taste dishes from the Italian tradition – including pizza – while listening to live music.

L’Alcova del Frate

Via Ponte Pietra, 19

www.alcovadelfrate.it

This restaurant offers homemade fresh pasta and all the specialties of Venetian cuisine, including a wide selection of wines.

Wine Bar Enoteca Zero 7

Vicolo Ghiaia, 2

www.enotecazero7.it

This wine shop offers more than 900 wine labels, starting from local ones up to the great Chianti Classico, Burgundy and Bordeaux. It also sells a wide range of local products like chocolate, bread and coffee.

Bottiglieria Corsini

Largo Divisione Pasubio, 2

This is a lovely shop not very far from the Adige River, in the heart of Verona. It is open daily from early morning to late night and perfect for a light lunch, a romantic dinner or an aperitivo with friends and loved ones.

Ristorante Alla Colonna

Largo Pescheria Vecchia, 4

In this typical Italian osteria you get the chance to taste all the typical dishes of our culinary tradition, including the cotolette and the risotto all’amarone.

Ristorante L’Altra Colonna

Via Tezone, 1

This lovely venue offers the same menu and wine list of its twin sister “Alla Colonna” (see above). Why not order a second round of their delicious meat cutlets?

Ristorante Ponte Pietra

Via Ponte Pietra, 34

www.ristorantepontepietra.com

The restaurant is located next to the 2000 years old Ponte Pietra and has been completely renovated with furniture from the 1800s. It serves traditional cuisine with a young and sparkling touch.

 

See you in Verona! If you drop by Vinitaly come and say hi, we’re at Hall 9 stand C10, while our extra virgin olive oil is featured in the Sol&Agrifood section of the fair at stand B12-14.

If you’re looking for great photographs in the Siena area, you’re liable to come across some by Antonio Cinotti (aka @antoncino on instagram and @AntonioCinotti on twitter). He is one of the most enthusiastic landscape photographers we’ve ever met, a generous soul who shares his tips both online and off, and a true lover of our territory. He works in social media and digital communication and every day he invests both time and money in spreading the word about the beauties of the countryside outside of Siena. Today we asked him for a few tips on the best places to photograph landscapes around Siena.

Antonio Cinotti: Sunset on two lakes between Leonina and Vescona, Crete Senesi, Asciano, Tuscany, Italy.

Antonio Cinotti: Sunset on two lakes between Leonina and Vescona, Crete Senesi, Asciano, Tuscany, Italy.

Antonio, your photos of the countryside around Siena are these amazing postcards that are shared by all lovers of this territory! Tell us how you started photographing this subject.

Don’t exaggerate! Seriously, my photos are testimony of a unique territory. Recently, the Region of Tuscany ran a campaign about being the most beautiful region in the world because it contains 7 UNESCO sites. So I got to thinking and realized that the province of Siena contains 4 of those: Siena historic center, San Gimignano, Piensa and the Val d’Orcia. So we could say this is the most beautiful province in the world!

Antonio Cinotti: Railway in the Crete Senesi Zone, near Asciano. Siena, Tuscany, Italy.

Antonio Cinotti: Railway in the Crete Senesi Zone, near Asciano. Siena, Tuscany, Italy.

I’ve always been passionate about this territory – during university, I used to go out on my motorcycle and study around in the landscape. Let’s say that didn’t exactly help me graduate on time! But I’ve seen a lot of small towns that many people don’t know about!

My love of photography has grown with time, it came naturally as a desire to stop these places in time, and has become a huge passion. I began quite logically with the territory just outside my window. I got my first DSLR from my wife, Francesca, and started learning how to better control the shots with its features. Then I did a workshop with Sandro Santioli, a National Geographic photographer, which really made me realize what it means to “photograph” – I realized I was doing everything wrong!

Tell us about your generous choice of licensing all your photos in creative commons on Flickr?

Since I’m not a professional photographer but truly an “amateur”, that should be enough to answer your question.

Antonio Cinotti: The Vitaleta Chapel on the way from San Quirico d'Orcia to Pienza

Antonio Cinotti: The Vitaleta Chapel on the way from San Quirico d’Orcia to Pienza

Creative Commons licensing makes it possible for them to be used for non-commercial means just by citing the photographer, and that is in line with my reason for photographing. My photos have been used by BBC Culture, the Region of Tuscan, on Italia.it which is the official tourism portal of Italy, and shared on Flickr’s official social media. As I’m not a professional, all I care about is just being credited for my work.

I also am a contributor for Getty Images, where I put some of my other photos… I take a lot of photos, unlike some professionals, so I end up with tons and I love to share them.

What tips do you have for visitors to Tuscany if they want to create and capture a similar visual experience?

Get a rental car and enjoy the Chianti area (which may soon enter the UNESCO heritage list too!), Asciano and the Crete Senesi, the Val d’Orcia, and maybe the other nearby valleys: Merse, Elsa, and the Amiata mountain range.

Antonio Cinotti: Crete Senesi near Montalcino

Antonio Cinotti: Crete Senesi near Montalcino

Often I tell people not to just come to this area for one day to visit Siena but to take a whole week to explore the terrotory around Siena. [We’d suggest staying at Dievole :) ]

How does one avoid the clichés of photographing in such a beautiful but much-shot area?

People who follow me on Flickr and Instagram know that I have a huge love of the Crete Senesi, in particular in the comune of Asciano. Probably this is because my family loves the paintings of Dario Neri, a Sienese painter who was my paternal grandfather’s uncle – he painted the Crete in every season. My wife works in Asciano. The way I see it, it’s just a photographer’s paradise! The soft rolling hills that are typical of this area provide a unique point of view at every time of day, from sunrise to sunset (and even at night!).

Would you share some secret photo spots with us?

My favourite spots to take photographs in this area are the names of places most people have never heard of. Baccoleno, Mucigliani, Vescona, Leonina (with the art installation Sito Transitorio), Medane, San Martino in Grania, Torre a Castello, Monte Sante Marie, also Montisi, Chiusure, San Giovanni d’Asso and Trequanda.

Antonio Cinotti: Sito Transitorio contemporary landscape artwork at sunset (2012)

Antonio Cinotti: Sito Transitorio contemporary landscape artwork at sunset (2012)

The whole area near Asciano is beautiful as is the center of that town, so very Tuscan. I recommend heading from Taverne d’Arbia in the direction of Asciano along the Strada Lauretana, and then when you see a dirt road that isn’t private, head in there wherever you can. Driving 20 kilometers can take 5-6 hours if you take the very small roads and stop frequently to capture what you see.

What’s your favourite photo?

Until about a month ago I couldn’t have told you, but now I know – it’s this one:

Antonio Cinotti: An amazing country house in the Crete Senesi Area between Asciano and San Giovanni d'Asso

Antonio Cinotti: An amazing country house in the Crete Senesi Area between Asciano and San Giovanni d’Asso

I shot it at sunrise at Baccoloeno, a splendid small town on the road from Asciano to San Giovanni d’Asso, which Flickr put in its “Explore” section which is their pick of the 500 most interesting photos on that network – amongst the over a million photos that get uploaded every day. Then Flickr posted it to their official Facebook and Twitter accounts! I almost had a heart attack. I went there three mornings when the light just wasn’t right, but obviously persistence has its benefits.

You also have a project for the promotion of your territory, Around Siena (we follow you!). Want to tell us more?

Antonio Cinotti: San Galgano with a fisheye lens

Antonio Cinotti: San Galgano with a fisheye lens

Sure! Around Siena began as a declaration of love for the province of Siena, a project that uses social media to enhance the official communication provided by the city and province, as these are currently in a chaotic moment of flux for political reasons. While institutional communication has its limits, a private initiative like ours can do whatever it wants. We’re 5 partners and we support various digital and offline activities in the area. We won a prize in 2014 for a project we proposed, in 2015 we organized a really cool photo workshop with Sandro Santioli of National Geographic on a historic train, and we have numerous projects planned for 2016.

 

Follow Antonio on Flickr and Instagram

 

Vinitaly takes place April 10-13, 2016 in Verona, Italy, and as every year, Dievole will be there. With more than 4100 exhibitors and 100,000 square meters of exhibition space, it is the world’s leading trade fair in the wine sector. While the fair is reserved for those working in the wine industry and for journalists, the city hosts four days of Vinitaly and the City (April 8-11) for wine lovers.

vinitaly2016

This year Vinitaly celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the Italian Government has recognized Vinitaly as a strategic b2b platform for the Italian wine sector through inclusion in Special Made in Italy Promotion Plan, as well as with a presidential visit during the opening ceremonies.

Vinitaly and the City extends the show outside the Veronafiere grounds this year, with the opportunity to taste three wines and two foods for a €12 ticket. This is accompanied by events like informal talks about wine, events with singers known from Sanremo, and the “Notte Viola” or purple night on Saturday April 8.

The goal for this and upcoming years is greater internationalisation, specific initiatives for the b2c aspects of the exhibit, and the provision of tools that can help winemakers bridge the gap towards a digital world.

These are themes relevant to Dievole, which has been undergoing a major evolution that has led to the production of our new line of wines that we’ll be bringing to the show. Along with this is a new website, with of course a direct e-commerce, allowing lovers of Dievole wine to order online and recieve our wine, olive oil and vinegar at home, anywhere in the world.

Where to find Dievole at Vinitaly

If you’re planning on being in Verona for the fair, you will find us at Hall 9 stand C10, while our extra virgin olive oil is featured in the Sol&Agrifood section of the fair at stand B12-14.

On Monday April 11, at 10:30am, our chef Monika Filipinska will be holding a cooking demonstration with a special menu designed to exalt our prize-winning olive oils and to pair with our excellent new line of wines.

Dessert recipes with olive oil are a clear expression of this ingredient’s creative versatility, a richness that has inspired many chefs throughout the centuries. Lighter than butter and lard, olive oil can be the perfect and healthy substitute for other cooking oils and can be used in baking brownies, quick breads and all sorts of delicacies. Chose your product wisely, for its characteristics, extraction method and age, will influence the final result, but that’s what we love and cherish: olive oil’s strong personality!

#EVOO Panna Cotta

One of our favorite dessert recipes with extra virgin olive oil!

One of our favorite dessert recipes with extra virgin olive oil!

This unique chilled pudding is one of our chef Monika Filipinska’s favorite dessert recipes with olive oil. The ingredients are quite simple: cream, sugar, unflavoured gelatine and EVOO.To make it, she choses the persistent spiciness of our our award-winning Monocultivar Coratina, because of its mid-intense fruitiness and hints of green artichoke. Let cream and olive oil rest together in the fridge for a whole night, then heat up the mixture with sugar at a temperature of 80 degrees. Take it off the flame, let it settle in a mould and add the gelatine. Let it cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Panna Cotta pairs wonderfully with the tangy dryness of a well-aged grappa.

Olive Oil Ice Cream

Olive Oil Ice Cream is absolutely a must! Ph. Joy (Flickr Creative Commons)

Olive Oil Ice Cream is absolutely a must! Ph. Joy (Flickr Creative Commons)

Would you have ever imagined of scooping olive oil…on a cone? If you find it in a Tuscan gelateria, pamper your taste buds with this fresh, light-bodied and simply delicious treat. It is not the easiest thing to prepare, but if you do decide to make ice cream at home use a bolder, bitter oil for stronger flavour, or go for a buttery and mild variety for if you’re looking for a more velvety result. Top it with a sprinkle of flakey salt or pistachio crumbs. Did you know that gelato was actually invented in Tuscany?

Olive Oil Cookies with Rosemary & Red Wine

The spirit of Tuscany in a cookie! Ph. and recipe Tokyo Terrace

The spirit of Tuscany in a cookie! Ph. and recipe Tokyo Terrace

Savour the taste of Tuscany in just one bite: these cookies are the epitome of authenticity! The preparation requires flour, baking powder, red & black pepper, a pinch of salt, fresh minced rosemary, brown sugar, 2 eggs and, last but not least, extra virgin olive oil and a cupful of dry red wine. Combine dry and liquid ingredients and mix until smooth, then stick in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Their lovely homemade appearance and crunchy consistency make them perfect after-dinner snacks – accompany them with a nice glass of Chianti Classico.

Olive Oil and Spinach Ciambellone

An example of a traditional "ciambellone" cake - Ph. Mokapest (Flickr Creative Commons)

An example of a traditional “ciambellone” cake – Ph. Mokapest (Flickr Creative Commons)

This green twist of a classic Italian ring-shaped cake is another one of our chef Monika’s favourites and we personally love the long-lasting fragrances it unleashes all throughout our kitchen. Mix together 3 eggs, 250 grams of sugar and 125 ml of water blended with 50 grams of scorched spinach, 125 ml of olive oil and 250 grams of flour, 16gr of baking powder. Stick the dough in a 170 degree heated oven for about 35 minutes. Looking for a gluten free alternative of this scrumptious dessert recipe with olive oil? Instead of normal whole-wheat flour, use 125 organic kamut flour and 125 tapioca flour. If you want to make your Ciambellone extra-special and healthy, try using stinging nettles instead of spinach!

Springtime is in full bloom here in Tuscany, but the temperatures aren’t yet scorching enough for a swim. That doesn’t stop most of us from craving sunshine and sparkling waters, however. It may not be time to jump underwater just yet, but sometimes a river-, stream- or seafront stroll is just as rejuvenating as a dip. Here are some of the top waterfront walks to take this season in Tuscany.

Marina di Pisa

Beautiful hidden views can be found along this precious water promenade - Pic Fabrizio Angius (Flickr CC)

Beautiful hidden views can be found along this precious water promenade – Pic Fabrizio Angius (Flickr CC)

A small seaside town not far from Pisa, Marina di Pisa lies on the left bank of the Arno River. Just outside of the small town is the “Bocca d’Arno,” the mouth of the Arno river where local fishermen cast their nets and cavort about. Head for the harbor if you’re looking to unwind: take in the blue waters and watch the boats dock, or indulge in a Spritz or another spring cocktail as you explore the lively area.

Florence’s Lungarni

Florence's Lungarno is striking all year round - Pic by Martin aka Maha (Flickr CC)

Florence’s Lungarno is striking all year round – Pic by Martin aka Maha (Flickr CC)

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic waterfront walks in Tuscany, the lungarni in Florence make for magical strolls year-round. These are the urban stretches overlooking the Arno, one of the most important rivers in central Italy, which passes from the Casentino area through Arezzo and down into Florence and Pisa. Wandering through central Florence with an eye toward the river, you’ll come upon postcard-perfect bridges like the Ponte Santa Trinita and the famous Ponte Vecchio. It may not be scientifically proven, but we wager you’re more likely to glimpse breathtakingly beautiful Tuscan skies, sunsets and colors during the “shoulder seasons” of spring and autumn.

The Lamone River

Follow the stream, relax your mind - Ph. Mirko Montanari (Flickr CC)

Follow the stream, relax your mind – Ph. Mirko Montanari (Flickr CC)

The Lamone River flows through Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, with its source in Borgo San Lorenzo, in the heart of the Mugello region just outside Florence. It makes its way downward toward the “chestnut capital” of Marradi, where, back in Etruscan times, the area’s first residents settled on its banks. Embark on this this waterfront walk in Tuscany to stumble on centuries-old chestnut trees, quiet countryside scenes and wild paths that remain unbeaten by even the savviest travellers.

Remaiolo Beach

A beautiful island getaway - Ph. Visit Tuscany (Flickr CC)

A beautiful island getaway – Ph. Visit Tuscany (Flickr CC)

If you’re craving more of a coastal vibe and the feel of pebbles under your feet, head to the hidden Remaiolo beach on Elba Island. This unspoilt, sparkling slice of heaven can be reached via a path from Capoliveri. Go for the scenery rather than the strolling: it’s only about 250 meters long, but the saturated blue of the sea against the rugged rocks will take your breath away.

The Elsa River

On the fiume Elsa you can also find the beautiful thermal baths of Le Caldane - Pic by Mirella Bruni

On the fiume Elsa you can also find the beautiful thermal baths of Le Caldane – Pic by Mirella Bruni

The Elsa river is a tributary of the Arno and an entire Tuscan region—the Val d’Elsa—is built around it. Its source is in the Sienese mountains, and it moves through gorgeous natural scenery and charming towns. Make time for a visit to Castelfiorentino, home to numerous traditional Tuscan restaurants and shops. You can continue to make your way down the Sentierelsa, a roughly 2.5 mile stretch that begins in Gracciano and ends in Ponte di Spugna.

The River Lima

The Castruccio bridge is a true sight to behold! Ph. Piero Balletti – Valerio Sichi

The Castruccio bridge is a true sight to behold! Ph. Piero Balletti – Valerio Sichi

Pistoia may be Italy’s 2017 Capital of Culture, but not every area of the province is teeming with museums and events—and we mean that in a positive sense. If you’re a nature-loving history buff hoping to escape the bustle of downtown, head to the peaceful village of Lolle in the province of Piteglio, following the Lima river. Cross over Ponte di Castruccio, which was erected in the 14th century to mark the border between Lucca and Pistoia. On this peculiar waterfront walk in Tuscany you’ll also find what once functioned as a type of “customs” station, monitoring the people and items that moved through the territory. Here you can also fish – with appropriate licenses – and experience a riveting kayak ride!

Easter is one of Tuscany’s most beloved festivities and its manifold recipes have been passed on from generation to generation. In medieval times during the 40 days of fasting people were only allowed to eat fish and vegetables, so in order to not let the overabundance of eggs go to waste, farmer families used them as the main ingredient for cakes and cookies. These sweets would then be consumed during the Easter celebrations, with much delight of both young and old. When it comes to the main dish, lamb is definitely a Easter staple on every authentic Tuscan table. Serving this type of meat was considered a lucky omen because of its religious symbolism. Here are some of the most popular Easter recipes in Tuscany!

Tuscan roast Lamb

A deliciously tender roasted lamb - Ph. stratman² (Flickr Creative Commons)

A deliciously tender roasted lamb – Ph. stratman² (Flickr Creative Commons)

Unlike anglophone Paschal traditions, Rabbits don’t play a significant role on the Tuscan table. Lamb, on the other hand, is the undisputed star of one of the region’s most beloved Easter recipes. Seasoned and roasted with wild rosemary and garlic, its aromas evoke of the bounty of Tuscany’s countryside. The rleg of lamb needs to be rinsed and slightly pierced with a knife in order to let the flavours penetrate the meat. Drizzle with plenty extra-virgin olive oil and cook for about one hour. Slice thinly and serve hot with a side dish of Florentine peas (a delicate recipe which also involves onion and unsmoked pancetta!) and a glass of Chianti Classico.

Holy Eggs

These Holy Eggs look just right! - Ph. vanessa lollipop (Flickr Creative Commons)

These Holy Eggs look just right! – Ph. vanessa lollipop (Flickr Creative Commons)

Among all of Tuscany’s Easter recipes, this seemingly simple one actually requires a lot of careful planning and attention. In the olden days, the eggs, coloured or plain, were brought on Easter sunday to the local church or parish where they are consecrated. The family would then go home, put the eggs in a pot to boil and gather around a primly prepared table to recite their festive prayers. When the ritual was over, the eggs were ready to be eaten! Perfect timing was of utmost importance, for it determined the perfect cooking time of the egg. They were then served with broth, meat, Schiacciata di Pasqua or vin santo.

Pan di Ramerino

Shiny, Sticky and oh so Yummy! Ph. Emiko Davies (www.emikodavies.com

Shiny, Sticky and oh so Yummy! Ph. Emiko Davies (www.emikodavies.com)

Usually prepared on Holy Thursday, this typical Florentine sweet bread is filled with mouthwatering ingredients: spices, extra virgin olive oil, raisins, walnuts, black pepper and rosemary leaves (Ramerino means Rosmarino in Tuscan dialect!). According to tradition, the Pan di Ramerino was to be blessed by the nearby churches before its preparation, in order to assure a good levitation of the dough. The bun’s soft and shiny surface is carved with a double cross, symbol of lent and the resurrection of Christ. Its delicious pungent flavour is bound to make it one of your favorite Easter recipes.

Quaresimali

Prepared during the 40-day lenten season (known in Italy as “Quaresima”), these crisp letter-shaped chocolate wafer cookies are made especially for children and represent the letters of the gospel and can be used to spell out the names of your loved ones. Also considered a perfect vegan sweet, the ingredients are quite simple: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, egg whites, a pinch of salt. Some add candied orange peel to give the mixture extra pizzazz.

Schiacciata di Pasqua

The Queen of Tuscan Easter Recipes - Ph. Emiko Davies

The Queen of Tuscan Easter Recipes – Ph. Emiko Davies

Prepared on the days that lead from lent to Pentecost, this is the ultimate Tuscan Easter treat. With a consistency similar to Christmas panettone and rich aniseed aftertaste, it was conceived in the early eighteenth century by cunning Tuscan farmer families, in order to not let excess eggs go to waste. Its long preparation process requires a lot of patience but the final result is a low-calorie dome shaped bread fit for the whole family. It pairs perfectly with vin santo and chocolate Easter eggs.

Corollo di Pasqua

Hailing from Siena and the Island of Elba, these soft fragrant ring-shaped buns are simple to make and perfect for breakfast or tea time. Children often used its peculiar shape to play fun games: tying it to their neck with a piece of string, the winner had to manage to eat the pastry without tainting its shape and letting it fall to the ground. Prepared with authentic Tuscan ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, the batter is often seasoned with grated lemon rind and aniseed, while some sprinkle the final result with icing sugar. It is best served at room temperature.

2016 is already looking like a special year for Dievole. After introducing our new line of Chianti Classico DOCG wines, we’ve undertaken yet another challenging venture: the production of vinegar. We sat down with Marco Scanu, head of olive oil at Dievole and one of the minds behind this revolutionary new production. Get ready to discover a 100% Chianti Classico wine vinegar, yet another result of our tireless quest to exalt the value of true Tuscan tradition.

dievolevinegar1

So first wine and extra virgin olive oil, now vinegar. Dievole is tireless!

This actually was a natural step for us, since extra virgin olive oil and vinegar usage – thus sales – go hand in hand and we always keep our customers’ needs in mind. We wanted to go back to the origins of authentic Tuscan vinegar and overcome the recent trend of aromatic vinegar that has lead to the widespread circulation of sweetened and lower-quality products.

You’ve partnered with another Tuscan family-run company. Did this somehow strengthen Dievole’s century-long mission of preserving our region’s traditions?

It absolutely did. We wanted to put together a top-quality wine vinegar so together with our wine expert Giovanni Alberio we selected a batch of about 15000 kilograms of our best Chianti Classico. Working with an external company was an important decision but being inexperienced we wanted to collaborate and learn from true vinegar-making professionals. To keep production as local as possible we put our wine in the masterly hands of the world-renowned Acetificio Aretino, run by the Verdi family in Arezzo since 1955. We like to think of our vinegar as the result of an important joint venture and it actually presented a big challenge for both companies. Following the classic Tuscan recipe was key and our mission was to demonstrate that although the times have changed we haven’t forgotten how to make superb vinegar using only excellent raw materials.

What pairing tips would you give to vinegar-lovers around the globe?

Usually vinegars are diluted to lower their acidity levels but our product has a 8.5 PH value. We wanted the acidification process to preserve the most natural and spontaneous expression of our Sangiovese and this resulted in a product of stunning taste and consistency. Unlike aromatic vinegar, our product has more to do with sapidity, its flavour enhances salted dishes. When cooked, the vinegar’s 0,8 alcohol content gives way to sweeter nuances, typical of our Chianti Classico wine. It is a perfect ingredient for vinaigrette dressings and works wonders in the preparation of entrails and wildfowl meats, for it helps relieve that “gamey” taste and makes them more tender. Dievole vinegar pairs wonderfully with fresh oysters and sea food, while it adds flavour to any kind of vegetable.

Tell us a bit about the story behind this top-quality product.

We started working on this project a year and a half ago and finally started producing it in July 2015 . Now we already have a pretty massive stock waiting to be bottled since we acidify the wine about 5000 liters at a time. The amazing thing about vinegar is that, unlike wine, it is not tainted by time. It can stay young and fresh for even 20-30 years , especially when it is made with quality materials. Certain industries are able to prepare vinegar in 48 hours but we’re not interested in maximizing speed: ours is a quest for quality. It takes about 6 months for the product to be ready and it is stored in oak casks. It’s not as easy as you would think: some do manage to make vinegar at home but it requires specific conditions of heat, ventilation and bacterial fermentation. Time is of fundamental importance. In the meantime we’re learning how to approach this new product and discovering the wonders behind its fabrication.

What kind of grapes were involved in the production of Dievole’s wine vinegar?

We chose a very specific range of grapes, we only wanted to use autochthonous varieties of Chianti Classico vines. The chosen batch was 90% Sangiovese and 10% canaiolo and colorino red grapes. Always keep in mind, it takes a great wine to make great vinegar.

Spring in Tuscany can be a true cure-all after the dreary Winter months. This season unleashes colors and fragrances all throughout the fields and vineyards of the region’s lush countryside. In Dievole you can spot flowering rose bushes, wild daisies and fragrant wisteria, while the lush landscapes of our Natural Path change color in the sunlight as the air turns sweet with the nectar of blossoming buds. Chianti also hosts numerous flower markets, like the annual Flower Festival in Greve in Chianti in May, where flowers and greenery invade the local squares, while in the colorful Flower market in Gaiole in Chianti is a true must. However, if you’re not interested in ready-made bouquets and on the lookout for the ultimate flower-spotting experience here are a few special destinations to best seize the power of Spring in Tuscany. But remember, in some cases you can look…but you can’t touch!

Lunigiana

Spring Daffodils! Ph. Laura Bittner (Flickr Creative Commons)

Spring Daffodils! Ph. Laura Bittner (Flickr Creative Commons)

This historical territory has so much to offer! Between the provinces of La Spezia and Massa Carrara, its mountainous surface is ideal for flower-hunting and grows many different species. Petaled treasure awaits along the paths of the Tuscan-Emilian appennine park: trumpet-shaped daffodils, evergreen primroses, colourful mountain tulips. The I Frignoli Center for Biodiversity in Fivizzano is a true floral masterpiece: fluff pink peonies and green grass fields, ponds and thickets recreate and protect this area’s natural heritage. The Orto Botanico Pietro Pellegrini on the Apuan Alps is another must, it fosters a wealth of mountain flora and you can see the shimmering blue Tyrrhenian sea in the distance. In April you can also walk off the beaten paths and visit the wonderful Bancarel’fiore flower market in the medieval town of Pontremoli, where art and nature combine in the wonderful history-infused setting of Piazza della Repubblica.

Casentino

Wild Orchids in the Valbonella Botanical Gardens

Wild Orchids in the Valbonella Botanical Gardens Ph. Atlantide.net

The Foreste Casentinesi national park is another noteworthy site during Spring in Tuscany. Among maple and spruce trees, the grassy ledges of this mountain are home to a varied rainbow of floral species: the narcissus anemone (Anemone narcissiflora), purple saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia), red bilberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). The Eugenia violet (Viola eugeniae), symbol of Italian flora which typically grows in the Apennine massif of central Italy, reaches its northern limit of distribution here. Lovers of mountain forest flora should not miss the spring flowering (April-May) of cardamines, snowdrops, scilla and corydalis. After enjoying the beautiful sights and wild orchids of Monte Falco near Poppi, discover the Botanical Garden of Valbonella: located at an altitude of about 700 metres, its 2 hectares of land contain about 300 indigenous species, many marked with cards giving details on both scientific name and flowering period. They also have a lily pond!

Val D’Orcia

Spring in Tuscany is magical in Val D'Orcia! Ph. Mark Wassell (Flickr Creative Commons)

Spring in Tuscany is magical in Val D’Orcia! Ph. Mark Wassell (Flickr Creative Commons)

Near Siena, Val D’Orcia, a land of vineyards and picturesque villages, is another magical place that will definitely make your Spring in Tuscany even more memorable. After admiring the ancient rose bushes of the Fifth century Horti Leonini gardens in San Quirico D’Orcia, head on over to the Pietraporciana natural preserve just south of Chianciano Terme. Here over 341 hectares of land await you, scattered with beechwood groves and . In February you can already spot the bulbous blossoms of snowdrop flowers, in April budding sweetscented bedstraw fills the air with its syrupy aromas and green-tipped Polygonatum multiflorum, also known with the whimsical names of Solomon’s Seal, David’s harp and ladder-to-heaven because of its slightly curved multi-flowered structure. In June you can catch a glimpse of two rare species of wild lilies: the pink martagon lily and the orange-speckled tiger lily.

But the Val D’Orcia valley isn’t only home to rare herbaceous breeds, it is also where red Brunello wines blossom. After a long flower-hunting stroll stop by the lovely village of Montalcino and treat yourself to a stay at the newly refurbished Podere Brizio, an ancient homestead located on the Via Francigena. Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, this unique structure produces quality Brunello wines and the plates on the restaurant’s menu embrace Tuscan tradition with a touch of modern elegance. To make your Easter break even more special, discover Podere Brizio’s special Spring offer. A weekend of Tuscan flowers and great wine has never sounded more enticing!

Who knew there were apps about Olive Oil? That having been said, with more than 1.000 olive varieties, each one with its unique characteristics, finding the perfect olive oil for your needs can be a challenging, but not impossible task. So here are the top five olive oil apps every foodie should use.

With olive oil apps you can photograph your food...and pair it too!

With olive oil apps you can photograph your food…and pair it too!

Best Olive Oils

This web app was developed by NYIOOC (The NY International Olive Oil Competition) and the staff of Olive Oil Times to help professionals and home chefs find the best olive oils for their dishes. An intuitive and easy online interface will help you choose the perfect olive oil by just clicking on the food you are preparing, the algorithm will search through the world’s best olive oils to find the right match based on an analysis of your needs.

You can visit the website by clicking here.

Flos Olei 2016 World

Flos Olei olive oil app

With this app you can read everything about olive oil through a list of 150 varieties including their description, origin and diffusion. You can also learn the extra virgin olive oil tasting techniques and even search for local producers in you area to organise a guided tour.

Available for iOS

Cost: $10.99

GO EVOO

go Evoo Olive Oil app

This is the olive oil lovers guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Find local olive oil producers throughout the U.S., share your discoveries with friends, get some ideas on how to improve your your health, learn olive oil terminology and find uses that go beyond the simple kitchen endeavours. This app offers a unique experience completely devoted to Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Available for iOS

Cost: $1.99

Degusta Olio

Degusta Olio olive oil app

This app shines a light on techniques and tips for tasting olive oil, industry news and producer profiles. It even retraces the entire history of this amazing elixir. Basically, this app will tell you everything you could ever want to know about olive oil.

Available on iOS

Cost: Free

Arte Olearia

arte olearia olive oil app

You would never believe this, but someone really invented a sort of Candy Crush… with Olive Oil! The main features are the same of famous saga game except that instead of candies the app makes the matching combination between olives and famous italian dishes. Your kids will love it.

Available on iOS (only in Italian)

Cost: Free

The many nuances and origins of the culinary language can be seen as a sort of “cultural litmus”, as they reveal the primordial origins of our eating habits and tastes. Tuscany is especially rich when it comes to traditional sayings about food and celebrating the art of the table, since every meal and ingredient bears a specific significance.

A tavola non s’invecchia

You never grow old at the table: this saying about food couldn’t be more truthful! Italy is renowned for the sacrality of the dining table and its long Sunday lunches. A constant flow of good wine, plates and conversation keep energy levels high at these lengthy meals, discouraging boredom and increasing enjoyment for all. Tuscans take their meals very seriously indeed, especially during the holidays when families reunite around the dinner table. But beware, some believe that “I troppi cuochi guastano la cucina” (similar to the English saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”), so let everyone have their individual moment of glory around the kitchen and rest assured that your plate will be filled to the brim with goodness!

Al fico l’acqua, e alla pèsca il vino

Walnuts often appear in Sayings about food!

Walnuts often appear in Sayings about food!

Sayings about food often emerge from the wisdom of land-workers and therefore speak of a time and place where simplicity was key. Pairings are the very backbone of some of Tuscany’s most popular aphorisms: figs taste better with water, while peaches go well with wine, for example. “Pane, noci e fichi secchi, ne mangerei parecchi” is another lip-smackingly good combination: bread, walnuts and dried figs, a perfect Autumnal snack! Or the saying “Formaggio, pane e pere, è pasto di cavaliere” explains how three simple ingredients – cheese, bread and pears – are all you need to prepare a meal fit for a king. Try it, it’s delicious! And how could we not agree with the dictum “Olio, aceto, pepe e sale, sarebbe buono uno stivale” which translates “Olive Oil, vinegar, pepper and salt would make a boot taste good!”. Sometimes a nice batch of evoo is all it takes to give you that extra flavor!

Chi vuole un buon agliaio, lo ponga di gennaio

Agriculture and nature play an important role in the Tuscan lifestyle. Many regional sayings about food actually revolve around the cultivation process and offer useful tidbits of proverbial folk wisdom. If you want to grow garlic, for example, you have to plant the seeds in January. “Le fave nel motaccio, e il gran nel polveraccio” suggests that fava beans should be planted in muddy soil while wheat grows best in dry climates. The harvest calendar often revolves around Saint’s days, as religion also payed an important part of the farmer’s everyday practical life: “Per San Michele, la succiola nel paniere” advises to pick chestnuts around the 29th of September, the day that celebrates St. Michael the archangel, while “Per Santa Croce, pane e noce” marks the 14th of September as the right time to snack with walnuts and bread.

Ogni frutto vuol la sua stagione

It’s true, every fruit has its season, just like everything in life has its moment. Proverbs offer multiple interpretations and simple words can hold infinite wisdom. According to Tuscan sayings about food, to live a good life you have to “Mangiar molto e bever bene, e urlar quando la viene”: Eat till you’re full, drink well and holler when necessary. When it comes to friendship, Tuscans believe that once the trust has been broken, things will never be the same, like a dish never tastes the same after it’s reheated: “Né amico rinconciliato, né pietanza due volte cucinata”. Finally, love is one of Tuscany’s finest ingredients: “Più vale un pan con amore che un cappone con dolore” states that dry bread is better with love than a fat capon with fear. Here at the Dievole table we serve and cherish this simple philosophy on a daily basis. Everything we prepare and produce resounds with the words of Tuscan tradition, because this is where our innermost heart beats.

Imagine if you paid the rent in 6 soldi, 2 capons and 3 loaves of bread every December! That’s the rent assigned to two farmers named Winizio of Sichelmo and Rodolfino di Ardimanno back in 1090 for some land called “Dieulele”, not far from Siena. As you may have guessed, that’s us: Dievole. And if you’ve ever noticed that our logo always includes the date 1090, well, now you know why! Documents from the state archive in Siena provide a fascinating history of our property, which has been written up in a small book, and that we summarize here.

Representation of the purchase of Dievole in 1090

Representation of the purchase of Dievole in 1090

The area rented by the two men of likely Germanic descent was property of a nearby monastery founded in the 8th century by Warnifredo, a Lonbard. We get the impression that wine was already being produced here. It’s the high part of the Arbia Valley (we have named our latest Rosato wine after this valley), near the river of the same name, in the Chianti area. A 16th-century source, Andrea Bacci’s De naturali vinorum historia et de vinis Italiae describes this particular area as having “semper optimis vinis” that was also abundant. What luck!

Andrea Bacci’s De naturali vinorum historia et de vinis Italiae

Andrea Bacci’s De naturali vinorum historia et de vinis Italiae

We can reconstruct more about the history of Dievole from the 14th century on, starting with a document of 1317 that listed all the local properties and their possessions for the catasto or property tax. From this we learn that Dievole was a good sized hamlet housing 140 people, with lands cultivated with cereals, vines and grazing animals. We also learn that the neighbouring properties were similarly structured and moving towards ever-larger farms, rather than the smaller parceling of land that characterized the previous era.

We skip ahead to 1676 for the next document, a Grand Ducal audit in which we find a certain Mr. Angelo Malevolti in charge of the property, which at this point responds to the town administration of nearby Vagliagli. It was no longer a rural village but had become an “elegant country home with annexed farm” and a few farmhouses. The Malevolti family was one of the most important names in the Sienese territory – they, the Piccolomini, Tolomei and Gallerani were major land-owners, and they seem to have been owners at Dievole from the end of the 15th century. There are various documents showing how they acquired neighbouring partitions of land to expand the property into something like what we see today. Thank you, Malevolti family!

Dievole in documents

Dievole in documents

The farm expanded and prospered in the following centuries. We read of the villa, already looking pretty much the way it does now, in 1799, designed by a certain Ettore Romagnoli. In the 1832 cencus the property is summarily described as “Farmhouse and court, oil press, chicken coop and well, granary, church and garden.” There is also a description of a large garden and woods for hunting. While government documents hardly make for fascinating reading, one can already imagine the central court of Dievole today, where there is a well and through which we access the breakfast room and the outdoor dining area in the garden.

In 1870, the Malevolti family sold the property, which changed hands every 20 years ago during a period of instability regarding landholding methods (a move away from sharecropping). We observe the land being converted into a modern producer of Chianti Classico wine, taking us up to the modern day. Now, Dievole is a highly esteemed wine producer, with the 18th-century villa and the medieval hamlet providing an immersive experience into history for our visitors from around the world.

Music and wine often pair wonderfully. While a nice glass of vintage will certainly relax your body and mind, sometimes the harmonious combination of words and sound can pleasantly enhance your drinking experience. In the world of music, soft-spoken soul lyrics evoke the finest of sweet wines and passionate rock’n’roll tunes speak of the joys and freeing power of a nice glass of revolutionary red. Here are 7 songs about wine that will have all you music sommeliers craving for a taste of our new line of Tuscan Chianti Classico!

Sip, sing and enjoy our 7 songs about wine!

Sip, sing and enjoy our 7 songs about wine!

Johann Strauss II “Wein, Weib und Gesang!”

This light-hearted classical waltz celebrates the joys of life and its title can be literally translated into “Wine, Women and Song!”. It was first performed during a carnival party in Vienna on February 2 1869, and is considered one of Strauss’s best works. This beautiful composition is often cited together with Schopenhauer’s quote “He who doesn’t love women, wine and song, is just crazy not a Saint”. We couldn’t agree more!

Joni Mitchell “A case of you”

Some say that good wine is rarely followed by the annoying hangover symptoms and Joni Mitchell makes a parallel by praising the properties of quality love in this wonderful folk song. From her 1971 album “Blue”, “A case of you” is one of this legendary singer-songwriter’s best-known tracks and has been covered by other famous musicians such as Tori Amos, Prince, and Diana Krall. Accompanied by the sweet strings of the appalachian dulcimer, the lyrics state adamantly: “Oh I could drink a case of you darling, and I’d still be on my feet”.

Billy Joel “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”

Combinations are a big deal in the wine realm and Billy Joel is a true connoisseur when it comes to the art of pairing song and drink. In this 1977 hit Joel actually quotes a waiter that had served him in an Italian restaurant in Midtown Manhattan: “A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rosé instead?“. What would you choose?

Jeff Buckley “Lilac Wine”

Originally written by James Shelton in 1950, this song has been covered by many famous artists throughout the years, but this is the version we like best. Included in his 1994 debut album “Grace”, in track Buckley masterfully ties the lyrics and bare arrangements together with his pure yet sensual vocals: “Lilac wine is sweet and heady, like my love”. According to ancient beliefs, the lilac tree had purifying powers, thus its wine was capable of curing even the most woe-torn souls. Tuscan grapes work just fine for us!

Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood “Summer Wine”

As we can cleary see and hear in these 7 songs about wine, it’s amazing to see how many times love and wine are compared in song! Written by Lee Hazlewood in 1967, this country-tinged tune guides these slowly entwining voices into an emotionally captivating duet. “Strawberries, cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring” reminds us of our Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013!

Bing Crosby “Come Share the Wine”

When times get rough, Dievole and Mr Crosby are on the same wavelength: “Come share the wine,
It’s so nice and warm in here, we’re happy and kind”. This polka-extravaganza stems from a traditional German drinking song. Each culture has its own mottos and tunes, wine-culture is also about having fun and spending time together, these are true long-standing Tuscan values that Dievole cherishes dearly.

UB40 “Red Red Wine”

Originally recorded by American artist Neil Diamond, UB40 injected this song with a dose of their signature reggae beat. Released in 1983, it quickly reached number one in the UK Charts…even in music, wine sells! “Red Red Wine, you make me feel so fine”: after a hard day, this is the ideal sing-along song. Do a little dance and relax with a nice glass of Chianti Classico.

Dievole Chianti Classico is a wine you can enjoy every day, or for a special occasion. When we presented our new line of Chianti Classico to the press recently, it was a very special occasion indeed. The menu was developed by Michelin starred chef Peter Brunel for Caffè dell’Oro in Florence, the restaurant inside Ferragamo’s Lungarno Collection Portrait Hotel. Pairing Chianti Classico with sophisticated dishes of Italian cuisine, he helped enhance the flavours of Dievole’s vintages.

The setting

Chef Peter Brunel was awarded the Michelin Star in December 2015 for his restaurant Borgo San Jacopo, the gastronomic centerpiece of the Lungarno Collection Hotels (property of the Ferragamo family). “The Trentino-born chef handcrafts modern takes on Italy’s regional cuisines,” states a review by The Florentine. “Passion and respect can be felt with every bite, as the chef uses only the finest quality ingredients from the very best food producers.”

At Caffé dell'Oro

At Caffè dell’Oro

The hotel chain’s Caffè dell’Oro, located just across the Arno from Borgo San Jacopo, was chosen for Dievole’s press presentation, taking advantage of the restaurant’s comfortable space that features a living-room like couch and room to spread out. The essential and harmonious décor, with warm wood shaped into modern forms and plenty of natural light, seems the perfect match for the new Dievole, whose label and also wine can be defined with the same words.

Pairing Chianti Classico: The Menu

The chef developed a menu that exalts the nuances of Dievole’s Chianti Classico. While the dishes may seem fancier than some you’d make at home, there are inspirations here that are not beyond the capacity of a good home cook. You’ll be surprised at how delicious both your meal and the wine will be if you follow the guidelines developed here.

Dievole Rosato

Dievole Rosato

We began our meal with a series of antipasti served with Dievole’s Rosato IGT Toscana 2015, a 100% sangiovese that is perfect served cool with appetizers. The 2015 Rosato features a new minimalistic label that refers to the specific part of Dievole where our Rosato and White wines are produced, called Le Due Arbie.

Some appetizers

Some appetizers

The Chef created light appetizers to match this wine: a parmesan mousse with a touch of pumpkin, and a little canapé of seasoned pink trout with a powder of black olives, served on Tuscan bread. Our Rosato pairs well with fish and vegetarian appetizers, making the finger food even more enjoyable.

Risotto

Risotto di galletto

At table, we proceeded to two different primi, or first courses in the Italian style. Pairing Dievole Chianti Classico DOCG 2014, Chef Brunel went with a “Risotto di galletto al balsamico con polvere di barbabietola” (Risotto with cockrel, dressed with balsamic vinegar and beetroot powder). For the vegetarians, a creamy white risotto with seasonal broccolo romano and red pepper, and beetroot powder. The fresh and fruity CC2014 parallels well with the fruit in the plate, the freshness of the beetroot and the vegetables. This wine has a lot of minerality and floral and fruity flavours, so it’s very drinkable and easy to pair with vegetarian dishes or white meat. The freshness of this sangiovese blend (with 6% cannaiolo and 4% colorino) also makes it great both at lunch and dinner. As this wine ages, it will become smoother and wider.

Ravioli di stracotto

Ravioli di stracotto

To taste the Dievole Chianti Classico DOCG 2013, we moved on to a slightly heavier second first course, “Ravioli di stracotto, sugo di carne e pomodori confit” (Ravioli stuffed with stew, a meat sauce and broiled tomatoes). The vegetarians received pecorino-filled ravioli topped with chestnuts and broiled tomatoes, and pumkin cream. Both the meat filling and the tangy cheese filling complement the extremely clean fruitiness of this vintage, whose 100% sangiovese composition make it nicely complex and evolved.

chianticlassico-wine-pairing-meat

Chianti Classico pairing with red meat 

Moving on to a meat course to take full advantage of the top of the line Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013, chef Brunel served a very beautiful “Lombo d’agnello al miele di castagno, patate vitellotte e carciofi” (Veal loin with honey and chestnuts, purple potatoes and artichokes). Just looking at this winter season dish, you can see how its colours perfectly match the purple hues of the Novecento Riserva. Selected from our land’s best vines, this complex wine is an excellent expression of Dievole’s philosophy. Pairing well with red meats and winter vegetables, the wine’s elegance speaks through its balanced acidity, softness in the mouth, and important tannins.

Occhio di Pernice and Tiramisu

Occhio di Pernice and Tiramisu

One would rarely eat such a large meal, though we guarantee the portions were not too huge! It was hard to make it to the dessert, but once the typically Tuscan Tiramisù arrived at table, few could resist it. Tuscan treats like the creamy tiramisu but also the crunchy cantuccio are ideal to try Dievole’s Occhio di Pernice, a very special vin santo we have from 2007 in numbered bottles.

Since 2013, Dievole has been undergoing a slow and sustainable transformation. Wine takes time and patience, and now the moment has finally come to share with you the results of this Renaissance: the new line of Dievole Chianti Classico. With 2016 comes a new wine – that harvested in 2013 – and a new Dievole that you will love.

The new Dievole Chianti Classico

The new Dievole Chianti Classico

Tradition and experience of making wine on a property that has been doing so since 1090 combined, in late 2012, with a renewed approach. The consultancy of enologist Alberto Antonini and a brilliant, young internal staff composed of Giovanni Alberio (enologist) and Lorenzo Bernini (agronomist) have gently guided the property and its production into a new age, where respect, sustainability and territory are key words.

To tell you about our new wines, we’d have to start at the beginning. Part of the story, you may already know – about how Dievole has implemented sustainable farming techniques, planting oxygen-encouraging seeds between the vines, while increasing the number of autochthonous vines on the property. Of 600 hectares, 121 are planted with vines, 95 of which are active, and about 80% are Sangiovese, the king grape of the Tuscan vineyard. Harvesting is conducted entirely by hand, and then the select grapes are brought into our cellar.

Untoasted casks in Dievole's cellar

Untoasted casks in Dievole’s cellar

Since 2013, the cellar, which dates to the 1960s, has undergone some important changes. In particular, there are no barriques here, and this is quite intentional. The intent here is to remove the wood in order to let the Sangiovese grape sing for itself. 43 hl French oak barrels are used for maturation, allowing for a “slow micro-oxygenation that allows the wine to slowly evolve to its maturity, maintaining freshness, harmony and balance,” explains Antonini. Over the Christmas holidays at the end of 2015, we removed the last of the barriques from the cellar, and have been installing some cement tanks, a strong and useful element of Tuscan winemaking tradition.

Authenticity in winemaking is dictated by the land, the terroir, the fruit, and its expression. Remaining focused on Sangiovese and the production of a true Chianti Classico, the harvest has been dedicated, since 2013, to the production of just two red vintages: the Chianti Classico annata and the Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva. There is also a small production of white, rosato and vin santo.

Dievole's territory is everything Tuscan: vineyards, olive groves, a villa and rolling hills beyond.

Dievole’s territory is everything Tuscan: vineyards, olive groves, a villa and rolling hills beyond.

The Chianti Classico DOCG Dievole is the ambassador of our territory. The 2013 version is a 100% Sangiovese, aged 14 months in barrels and another 4-5 months in the bottle. It’s a fruity, extremely fresh and elegant wine that carefully balances tannins and acidity.

The Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG Dievole Novecento 2013 is a more complex wine, blending the best grapes of our production. Aged again in barrels, this time for 18 months, and then in the bottle for at least 6 months, this is a rich Chianti Classico. It’s elegant, with scents of mature red berries, highly mineral and with balanced but present tannins, acidity and structure.

New image and label for Dievole

New image and label for Dievole

 

With the new line comes a new label and image for Dievole that you’ll recognize right away as more closely reflecting the experience of this place, if you’ve been lucky enough to visit us. Light filled, joyous but classic and reserved at the same time. The label features a drawing of Dievole’s main landscape and architectural features: this is the territory that encapsulates Dievole’s past, present and future. Welcome to the new Dievole.

San Galgano and the legend of the sword in the stone

Few tourists realise that many of Tuscany’s legends are just as dramatic and captivating as its landscapes. One of the most fascinating is connected to a medieval abbey southeast of Siena, between Chiusdino and Monticiano. The Abbey of San Galgano was once a Cistercian monastery: its Gothic aesthetic and backstory both bring King Arthur to mind. Some even say there’s a chance that the legendary court’s origins can be traced back to this Tuscan story, which, upon its dissemination throughout Europe, might have evolved into the tale of King Arthur as we know it today.

The Abbey looks even more legendary in the fog! | Ph. Carlo Tardani (Flickr Creative Commons)

The Abbey looks even more legendary in the fog! | Ph. Carlo Tardani (Flickr Creative Commons)

Theories aside, however, the main character of San Galgano’s legend of the sword in the stone is the knight Galgano Guidotti, who was said to have led a life of thoughtless self-indulgence and wealth before undergoing a Franciscan-like conversion and becoming a monk. Legend has it that Archangel Michael appeared to Galgano in a vision, taking him to Montesiepe and leading him uphill to a peculiar temple, a place that would eventually become his personal residence. After an alleged interaction with the twelve apostles and with God himself, Galgano felt called to plant a cross on the site, signifying his shift from a life of knighthood to one of Christian servitude. With no logical way of constructing this cross, he plunged his sword into a rock, creating a similar visual effect. He then went on to spread the gospel around the Siena area. Shortly after Galgano’s death, the Hermitage of Montesiepe was built on the site where he famously left that sword.

It wasn’t until four decades later, however—in roughly 1220—that construction on the nearby Abbey began. Work continued for approximately 60 years, and the drawn-out process is reflected in the structure’s hybrid architectural style, which combines elements of the Romanesque aesthetic with French Gothic influences. Sadly, over the course of several years, beginning in 1363, English mercenary John Hawkwood and his men gradually pillaged the monastery, with only the abbot remaining by century’s end.

Sky's the limit here in San Galgano! | Ph. Antonio Cinotti (Flickr Creative Commons)

Sky’s the limit here in San Galgano! | Ph. Antonio Cinotti (Flickr Creative Commons)

Structurally, the abbey waned over the next few centuries, staying barely intact until the belltower was struck by lightning toward the end of the 18th century. With the fall of the belltower came the crumbling of the already-weakened abbey roof. What remains standing today is essentially a “skeleton” of the original building, yet it has a palpable spiritual air about it, a feeling of almost eerie magnificence. The abbey’s architects relied on principles of sacred geometry to achieve this level of structural balance and harmony. It’s for the best, then, that guided tours inside the abbey aren’t possible—this is a place that’s best experienced in peace, quiet and solitude—ideally just before sunset!

Though the abbey alone is worth the trip, don’t skip out on the hermitage further uphill, where you can see the very sword in the stone that many claim is the original. The hermitage’s roof is a marvel in its own right: it’s made up of a semi-spherical dome that’s barely detectable from the outside. Be sure to make your way to the small chapel in the round, where you’ll find several remarkable frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, depicting the Annunciation and scenes from the lives of several saints and Cistercian monks.

Valentine’s day is around the corner. Lovers in Italy usually celebrate this special day with a romantic dinner and the exchange of chocolates – the cheesy romantic quotes tucked inside a Baci Perugina are a perennial favourite. The commercial side of Valentine’s Day hasn’t fully hit Tuscany, where gestures relating to the good life of Tuscan tradition reign over the exchange of expensive gifts. Take a tip from our simple, romantic ideas for Valentine’s day in Tuscan style.

A piece of Tuscany at home on Valentine’s Day!

The place setting

The place setting

First, cover your table in a cloth inspired by the beautiful shades of colours of Tuscan hills, add some elegant white plates, clear glasses for wine and water. Wrap knives and forks in white napkins and use a green/yellow string to tie them together. Create a place holder using a leaf and write a romantic quote or the lyrics of your favourite song on it. Use a stem of olive tree leaves to add a final natural touch. If not available, you can use rosemary or even sheaves of wheat for the same effect. Ta-dah! A beautiful Valentine’s day table!

Cooking at home is way more romantic than going out

Grab a bottle of wine and start preparing a delicious yet light Tuscan menu. The multiple courses provide an excuse to sit and talk at table for longer than usual. We’ve thought of a menu that you can prepare in advance so once it’s done, you can dedicate your time to your lover.

For starters, have some simple crostini toscani to whet your appetite. Toasted unsalted bread can be spread with liver paté, or if you prefer, fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil. Spelt Cannelloni Au Gratin is the perfect choice for a vegetarian meal that wows. Making cannelloni takes a little bit of preparation because they involve various steps, including cooking two sauces, but the taste is worth it in the end, plus all the prep and clean up is done in advance. Follow with a seasonal salad, mixing winter greens with thin slices of crunchy fennel, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, and a dash of salt. Finish the evening with a Tiramisù with Dievole Rosato and Strawberries for a sweet romantic touch, perhaps with a small glass of Vin Santo.

Wine in a box (the good kind!)

One of the most romantic wedding rituals we’ve ever seen involves a special bottle of wine in a wooden box. One could easily repeat this for Valentine’s Day. In the wedding ritual, the couple writes love letters to each other, and nails them into a wooden box containing a wine worth ageing – something like Dievole Novecento Riserva. The couple chooses a time to open the box and read the letters – be it an anniversary, or the first moment they are having a hard time together. You could fill the box with Valentines to open say, five years from now. Create your own romantic version of this concept!

Take a walk

The woods that are part of Dievole's Natural Path are perfect for a romantic stroll - search out nature near you, or wherever you can go for a long walk

The woods that are part of Dievole’s Natural Path are perfect for a romantic stroll – search out nature near you, or wherever you can go for a long walk

Ingrained in the Italian and Tuscan way of life is the passeggiata. In small towns, the early evening hours of Saturday and Sunday see the main shopping filled with couples, families and the elderly all strolling in their best outfits. Even in larger Florence, the tradition remains. They stop for a coffee or a prosecco, or sit on benches, while children kick balls and run around. Walking is also common activity to promote digestion after a big meal: Tuscans can be seen walking by the side of the road in the countryside after a hearty Sunday lunch.

How often do you take a walk for no particular reason? This Valentine’s Day head out from your home on foot, or choose a park or other attractive destination. Set a route, maybe even a distance goal, and go for a walk with those you love most. One of the best things about walking is the opportunity to clear our heads and get away from technology. It’s a great time to hold hands and think about your future together, or talk about what’s happening on a day to day basis – when else do you have time to catch up in such a dedicated manner?

A Valentine’s Day favorite: Get love-locked

A lovelock tree at Beaulieu Palace-House (UK) is an example of a "safe" place to put your love lock (Photo: Wikipedia)

A lovelock tree at Beaulieu Palace-House (UK) is an example of a “safe” place to put your love lock (Photo: Wikipedia)

Love locks are a recent trend in cities around the world. Couples are attaching padlocks with their names written on them to fences, gates or bridges – to the point that many cities have had to brutally cut them off and outlaw them due to the added weight. The tradition is a long-standing one, but the modern craze appears to have come from an Italian book, made into a movie, Ho voglia di te by Federico Moccia, in which the protagonists affix a love lock to the Ponte Milvo bridge in Rome. In response to the growing trend, some cities have created purpose-designed love trees to host the locks. For a romantic gesture, make a trip to the closest safe and legal place to lock up your love on Valentine’s day, or create your own perfect place for a love lock right at home!

Romantic Tuscan movies on Netflix

Low-key movie nights at home with your loved one can be filled with big-screen feelings. Under the duvet the tips of your toes slightly touch and the screen tells stories of other times, other lives, other lovers. If this St. Valentine’s you want to feel the romantic power of Tuscany, here are a few movies you cannot miss.

A perfect Valentine's day scene between aspiring lovers in Il Ciclone, the Italian classic romantic comedy

A scene between aspiring lovers in Il Ciclone, the Italian classic romantic comedy

Bernardo Bertolucci’s critically acclaimed “Stealing Beauty”, set in the lush hills of Siena, tells the story of a young American teenager and her tormented path towards growth and discovering love. Set in England and in Italy, the Edwardian romances of Miss Lucy Honeychurch in James Ivory’s “A Room with a view” have charmed many hearts into traveling to Florence and enjoying the breathtaking sight of the Duomo. “Letters to Juliet”, a 2010 romantic drama starring Amanda Seyfried and Gael Garcia Bernal, was partly filmed in the small town of Vagliagli, right near Dievole. As the love story unfolds, feast your eyes on the marvellous Chianti countryside and daydream of afternoon frolicking among the olive groves and drinking fine wine. Another classic movie set in Tuscany is “Under the Tuscan sun”, a film which shows the potential amorous marvels of the unexpected. If you’re looking for something with a nice Tuscan spark and down-to-earth humor, Florentine director and actor Leonardo Pieraccioni has released many romantic feature films, among which the 1996 laughter-filled cult “The Cyclone” (Il Ciclone).

Here’s hoping our simply Tuscan ideas for Valentine’s day are a success for you! If you’re already in Italy and looking for a Romantic place to spend the weekend in Tuscany, take a look at the special offer at our sister-winery, Podere Brizio.

podere-brizio-valentines-day-tuscany

Dievole is gearing up for one of the most anticipated events in our wine territory each year: the Anteprima Chianti Classico. Organized by the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, this annual event, which is reserved to the press, unites international journalists with local producers and will be held at the Stazione Leopolda on February 15 and 16, 2016. This is the first opportunity to taste the latest Chianti Classico Vintages – from 2013, 2014 and, for some producers, even some 2015.

Anteprima Chianti Classico at the Stazione Leopolda

Anteprima Chianti Classico at the Stazione Leopolda

Most interesting for the general reader is the news that in 2016 we are celebrating 300 years of Chianti Classico! The area now called “Chianti Classico” was determined in 1716 by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who placed it in a swath of land between Florence and Siena. In the early 20th century, the fame of this wine caused for a level of production that outgrew the boundaries of the production area. By 1924, there was a need to redefine the areas, so was born, in 1924, the “Consortium for the protection of Chianti wine and its trademark of origin.” This Consortium chose the Black Rooster as its symbol because it is the historic emblem of the Lega Militare del Chianti, reproduced by Giorgio Vasari in his Allegory of Chianti frescoed on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Soon after, in 1932, the suffix “Classico” was added to distinguish the original wine production zone from the extended one (called simply “Chianti”).

Gallo Nero - Black Rooster at Dievole

Gallo Nero – Black Rooster at Dievole

Historically important and delicious to drink, Chianti Classico is also very important for the economy of Tuscany. Producing some 290,000 hl of wine per year, the area of Chianti Classico employs several thousand skilled workers and generates a positive ripple effect on the Italian economy. Sales of the vintage are up 8% in 2015, with a strong export trend as well as good domestic sales in a stronger economy. And as Dievole lovers know, producing wine goes hand in hand with enjoying the territory, with its extra virgin olive oil, fresh and natural foods, and genuine hospitality.

Dievole celebrates this 300 years of history (and our own history, coming up on its thousandth birthday not too long from now) with the presentation of a new line of Chianti Classico wines, fruit of the past three years’ hard work. We’ll be present at the Anteprima Chianti Classico fair, speaking with the press, and look forward to showing and serving you our new wines.

Italy is well-known for its overall obsession with food and certain rituals are taken on from a very young age. A typical example of these long-standing traditions is the merenda, which comes from the Latin expression “things you have to deserve”, a light mid-afternoon snack. Each region does it differently, but one thing’s certain: Tuscany has a lot of kid-friendly food, with fun and healthy variety packed in the everyday menu!

The main ingredients are simple and sum up some of Tuscany’s most beloved products: bread, extra virgin olive oil and, yes, wine! Younglings are always welcome at Dievole, where they can play immersed in nature, run through the vineyards and experience an authentic Tuscan way of life, food included. Let’s look at some of the traditional snacks eaten by children in Tuscany – who knows, you might even try making them at home!

Tuscan kid-friendly food

Fettunta

The "greasy slice" is a widespread snack in Tuscany - Pic by Judy Witts Francini

The “greasy slice” is a widespread snack in Tuscany – Photo Judy Witts Francini

A simple slice of toasted bread covered with fragrant evoo is enough to send children scurrying up the walls in a mouthwatering frenzy. Fettunta or panunto (which translated means “greasy slice”) is easy to make and flavor-packed, a healthy and nutritious snack for your little ones. Place a thick slice of slightly stale Tuscan bread on the grill (or in the oven) for a couple of minutes. When crisp, rub garlic on the surface and drizzle with a nice dose of extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and serve warm. The origins of this Tuscan recipe are tightly linked to the Olive Oil season, as unsalted bread was used to make the tasting experience more pleasant and filling and did not taint the authentic taste of the freshly pressed juice.

Frega al Pomodoro

Start with deliciously ripe tomatoes!

Start with deliciously ripe tomatoes!

A poor man’s dish can sometimes be a young child’s delight! Mostly widespread along the Tuscan coast, this common appetizer is similar to its Roman cousin the “bruschetta”and involves rubbing (the Italian verb “fregare” also means “to rub”) a ripe tomato on both sides of the bread’s surface in order to slightly soak the bread’s coarse warm crust. The tomato has to be of the round and smooth kind and experts suggest not to throw away the tasty leftover peels: use them as a topping on the bread together with a dash of salt, pepper, a leaf of basil for extra-freshness and, naturally, a hearty dose of extra virgin olive oil. If you want to make things even tastier for your little one, add a coursely cut slice of Tuscan prosciutto or a nice morsel of mozzarella.

Bread, sugar and red wine

Now this is a real Tuscan treat. Hailing from the Maremman countryside, this traditional sweet snack is bound to keep the kids at bay. While rich children could enjoy fresh fruit every day, the working class had to come up with new stimulating ideas to entice their youngster’s tastebuds. So slices of hardened bread were dunked into vintage red wine and abundantly sprinkled with white sugar. Some recipes also include soft ricotta cheese to further temper the tangy mix. Although nowadays some find this recipe unfit for children, in the past numerous doctors sustained that this daily dose of alcohol for the young ones was bound to prevent the development of serious drinking problems.

Bread, butter and anchovies

For children with stronger palates, this is the perfect flavorful mix. The dense roundness of butter envelopes the salty and pungent flavors of the brine-tinged fish, while the bread cradles the ingredients and satisfies the bite. Some add capers for some extra pizzazz. No cooking is involved and in the old days this snack was particularly popular among farmers and labourers because of its energy-boosting properties. If you have a long day ahead and your kid’s stamina is dwindling, offer him a simple plate of “Pane, burro e alici”.

Poached pears in spiced red wine

Red wine, spices and pears: what a combination! - Pic by Alpha

Red wine, spices and pears: what a combination! Photo Alpha

Sweet, juicy and packed with spices, this warm winter snack takes time to prepare but is utterly delicious. Pour a bottle of red wine in a large saucepan and add vanilla, cinnamon, fresh thyme and sugar. Make sure that the peeled pears are covered by the mix and poach for 20-30 minutes (the cooking time depends on the ripeness of the pears, check frequently!). Take the pears from the pan, boil the remaining liquid until syrupy and use as topping for the final dish. Some add fiordilatte (similar to vanilla) ice-cream and serve it as a dessert after meals.

If you are a wine enthusiast and want to expand your knowlege during your stay, there are a lot of wine events in Tuscany year round. Here’s a list in chronological order. Please remember that dates may change from year to year; we’ve listed the months and confirmed 2016 dates for annual wine events in Tuscany.

photo by Francesco Guazzelli

photo by Francesco Guazzelli

 

January 30 – 31, Wine&Siena 2016, Siena

Wine&Siena is a new 2-day wine festival that takes place inside Palazzo Rocca Salimbeni, not far from the heart of the historic centre of Siena and Piazza del Campo. One hundred wine makers and producers will present the new wines that are going to be released on the market this year. The program also includes local product tastings, cooking shows and more.

Info: www.wineandsiena.it

February 28 – 29, Terre di Toscana – Eccellenza nel bicchiere, Lido di Camaiore (Lucca)

Terre di Toscana is a well-known wine festival in Tuscany and Italy. For its ninth edition in 2016, 130 local and international producers will present their wines to the general public. This is a very good opportunity to taste different styles of wine and meet the people behind the bottles. If you are intending to try all 500 varieties (just kidding!), you may want to know that bus shuttle service is available from the railway station to the venue and vice versa, but remember to reserve your seats!

Info: www.terreditoscana.info

March 13, PiacerediVino, Bientina (Pisa)

Bientina is a lovely small town in the province of Pisa which every year hosts PiacerediVino festival, an event very loved by locals. Wine and local products tastings, cooking shows, meet & greets with wineries and producers are just a few of the ingredients of this day that is completely devoted to wine culture.

Info: eventipiaceredivino.it

March 12 – 14, Pitti Taste, Florence

The eleventh edition of the fair/event dedicated to excellence in taste and the culture of quality food is set to begin on March 12, 2016 at the Stazione Leopolda in Florence. This year, 320 companies, selected among the best from all over Italy, will present their latest products and ideas – and wine is just as present as food. This event provides a great opportunity to connect with industry partners and media on the latest trends, insights and winemaking techniques.

Info: www.pittimmagine.com/en/corporate/fairs/taste.html

April, Orcia Wine Festival, San Quirico d’Orcia (Siena)

San Quirico d’Orcia, not very far from Dievole, hosts every year this wine and local products exhibition in the rooms of the beautiful Palazzo Chigi. The program includes local wine and food tastings, cooking classes and debates with producers, wineries and insiders.

Info: www.comunesanquirico.it

Last weekend of May, Radda nel Bicchiere, Radda in Chianti (Siena)

Radda nel Bicchiere is a weekend wine festival that takes place in the main streets and piazza of Radda in Chianti and features wineries and producers from only near this village. This is one of oldest wine festival of the Chianti area (this year will be its twenty-first edition) and every year attracts producers, bloggers and locals.

Info: www.raddanelbicchiere.net

First weekend of June, Pentecoste a Castellina, Castellina in Chianti (Siena)

This is another 2-day wine festival in which all the wineries and producers of the Chianti area present their new products to the public and potential buyers. This is also a great chance to visit the beautiful medieval town of Castellina, located in the heart of the Chianti region.

Info: www.viticoltoricastellina.it

August 6 – 14, Calici di Stelle, various locations around Tuscany

Drinking good wine while watching shooting stars in Tuscan countryside is a very romantic idea for a lovely summer night. This is the idea behind Calici di Stelle, when wine tasting meets local culture in Tuscany and other Italian regions, each year during the hottest and longest nights of the summer.

Info: www.movimentoturismovino.it/it/eventi/3/calici-di-stelle/

September, Vino al Vino, Panzano in Chianti (Florence)

Panzano’s winemakers flaunt their finest wines in the main square of this small medieval town, piazza Bucciarelli. You can taste organic and sustainable wines, Chianti Classico and local prosciutto and salami in an intimate atmosphere with some live jazz music to delight your end of summer night.

Info: www.vinoalvinopanzano.com

September, Expo del Chianti Classico, Greve in Chianti (Florence)

Greve in Chianti, a small town not very far from Florence, every year host wine stands of local producers, food and crafting sale in its main square. Make sure to grab your glass and enjoy a bit of local energy, delicious wines and stories about wine productions, wineries and vineyards.

Info: www.expochianticlassico.com

November 1 – 2, Siena Wine Fair, Siena

Siena Wine Fair is an annual event that attracts buyers, producers and wine-lovers from all Italian regions. Wine is at the center of tastings, workshops and debates with a particular attention to local and organic wines produced by small wineries.

Info: sienawinefair.com

These are just the main wine events in Tuscany over the course of the year, but usually all the small towns organize their own, especially during the harvest season. You get to keep the glass used for tastings as souvenir, but the best part is the memories your taste buds will never forget.

Although awareness is on the rise in Italy and many facilities are updating their menus, recipes and produce, following a 100% plant-based diet can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to experiencing local gastronomy and traditions. Pairing the vegan diet and olive oil is a delicious and simple solution for those who don’t want to give up the pleasures of an authentic encounter of the food kind.

The Vegan diet with a healthy Tuscan twist

Chickpeas are an all-time Tuscan favorite and a great source of fiber and protein.

Chickpeas are an all-time Tuscan favorite and a great source of fiber and protein.

Tuscan cuisine isn’t all about steak “alla fiorentina” and actually offers many interesting alternatives for vegans, from first course dishes to desserts. Ribollita, vegetable soups, pasta, great salads, nuts legume-based plates and some of the common appetizers are simple, healthy and 100% green – and all share a common ingredient that will drizzle your tastebuds with pure Tuscan goodness: extra virgin olive oil.

Associating the vegan diet and olive oil can actually be quite beneficial and a nice bottle of EVOO is always appreciated as a gift or souvenir. Fats are an essential nutrient in the human diet and extra virgin olive oil in particular can play an important role in supporting optimal health, as demonstrated by the world-renowned Mediterranean lifestyle.

Olive oil contains antioxidant vitamin E and provides over 36 different phenolic components, proven to protect against blood clots and reduce bad cholesterol. Oleocanthal in particular, which confers evoo’s pungent sting in the back of the throat, is a great anti-inflammatory compound. Its culinary appeal is undeniable and, used in moderation, can also be helpful to those who are following weight-control programs and boost your immune system. The consumption of extra virgin olive oil is often suggested during pregnancy because of its Omega-3 fatty acids to favor a healthy development of the foetus and placenta.

The vegan diet and olive oil in the kitchen

Grilled veggies and extra virgin olive oil are a match made in heaven!

Grilled veggies and extra virgin olive oil are a match made in heaven!

Obtained from the first pressing of the olives, unrefined extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and its nutritional value is affected by heat, light and air. To keep things light and fresh, a simple swirl of extra virgin olive oil is the perfect dressing for cooked and uncooked greens, not to mention unsalted bread, pasta and soups. Be careful when it comes to cooking: certain desirable nutritional features of EVOO can be lost because of its mid-range thermal resistance. However, recent studies show that its overall degradation by heat is less than many other cooking oils, including sunflower oil, canola, and peanut oil.

Cruelty-free EVOO

The harvesting of the olives in Dievole is a human endeavor. Our unique plants have been handed down throughout the centuries and each olive grove is monitored with care. After the pick and pressing, each batch is stored in stainless steel vats and the bottles are designed to reduce the impact of UV-ray penetration by 97%. Glass containers can be recycled or re-used, to get rid of grease cleanse them with a thin bottle brush and soak with a mix of hot water and pure salt. Stick in the oven at low temperature to dry. In addition to respecting the environment, this way you can give a second life to what once contained one of Tuscany’s most beloved and trusty ingredients.

Idiomatic expressions are an important part of every country’s cultural heritage. Wine philosophy flows deep in the veins of Tuscany’s everyday life and conversations, where folklore-tinged mottos can frequently be overheard. Here at Dievole we recognize the priceless value of these ancient words that to this day have the power to inspire wisdom and laughter, together with having laid the very foundation for many of our modern certainties. In Tuscan idiomatic expressions, wine and food are two of the themes that come up most often – today let’s look at those about wine.

Our tiny Bacchus knows many Tuscan sayings!

Our tiny Bacchus knows many Tuscan sayings!

Non ti mettere in cammino se la bocca ‘un sa di vino

Smiles are bound to arise when the locals suggest to “not leave the house unless your mouth tastes of wine”, as to assure a pleasant journey with a bellyful of goodness and a head full of good thoughts.

Buon vino fa buon sangue

When it comes to health and wellbeing, for some, wine is key. “Good wine makes for good blood” affirms that wine can help improve the natural blood flow, while others declare “Chi beve vino prima della minestra saluta il medico dalla finestra”, thus suggesting that a nice glass of red before dinner keeps the doctor away (so much for an apple a day!).

Pan d’un giorno, vin d’un anno

In the kitchen, wine sayings dictate certain rules. For example, the dinner table is not complete without “day-old bread and year-old wine”. This motto embodies the philosophy behind all things Tuscan: the regional unsalted bread actually tastes better the day after it was baked because of its crunchy consistency, while the best wine must be vintage or fresh from the cellar.

Chi vuole tutta l’uva non ha buon vino

Winemaking and its traditions are also well-rooted in Tuscan proverbs, simple mantras that are able to foster deeper meanings and unforeseen life lessons. This saying, which translated means “He who wants all the grapes will not make good wine” teaches to not be greedy, to prefer quality over quantity. To make good wine you need to wait for the grapes to mature. You might lose some in the process but learning to accept and understand the perfect timing of nature’s will is an important task in the ancient art of viniculture.

Vineyards inspire words of wisdom and beauty.

Vineyards inspire words of wisdom and beauty.

Vigna al nuvolo fa poco vino

The harvest period gathers a good number of wine sayings and teachings ripe with century-old vineyard knowledge. This proverb, “A vineyard in the shade is bound to be unproductive”, underlines the importance of the sun in the life-span of grapes. In July many foresee the success of the pick simply by looking at the fruity bunch: “Se il grappolo è serrato il vino è assicurato” (If the grape bunch is tightly clustered, quality wine is assured).

Il vecchio pianta la vigna e il giovane la vendemmia

Generations have different roles in the hardy winemaking endeavor: “The old plant the vineyard, the young harvest the grapes”. Children will always sow the seeds of their parents’ efforts to make for a better future.

Nella botte piccina ci sta il vino bono

Sayings offer many layers of understanding and interpretation. Words become important vectors of meaning and wise messages are hidden to the inexperienced eye.

Barrels have also made their way into popular proverbs, bearers of deep, heady messages. “The small cask preserves the best wine” supports the idea that good things can also come in small packages. Beauty can often be found in the unexpected.

In this article we will analyze the 7 benefits of Italian wine for health. Ever since the ancient days, wine has been seen and used as a miracle-working natural remedy. In 3000 b.C. The Egyptians dissolved herbs in wine to heal stomach aches, herpes and other aliments. Hippocrates himself, considered the father of western medicine, promoted wine as the quintessential ingredient for a healthy diet and an effective disinfectant for wounds. In the mid-1800s French chemist Louis Pasteur, father of microbiology, said “wine is the most healthful and hygienic of all beverages”. So pour yourself a glass of red and toast once more to a good year!

Our Sangiovese Grapes are ripe with healthy components!

Our Sangiovese Grapes are ripe with healthy components!

Lowers cholesterol

Wine is an important component of the world-renowned Mediterranean diet, together with vegetables, high-fiber grains, olive oil, fresh fruit, legumes and an active lifestyle. Antioxidants in Italian wine are proven to stop bad cholesterol from accumulating after eating red meat, lowering the risk of blood clots and diabetes. So a glass every once in awhile is harmless and quite healthy!

Reduces risk of depression

Drowning your sorrows in alcohol is not the solution but savoring a nice glass of quality Italian wine is bound to brighten up even your worst day. Compounds found within the grape’s skin could impede inflammatory processes associated with mental illness and depression. So choose your bottle wisely and share it with your loved ones: friendship is the greatest cure-all.

Protects from sunburn

Skin cell damage has become a concerning issue in our day and age. Wine is rich in flavonoids, which hinder the chemical reactions triggered by harmful UVA and UVB rays. Sounds like a great reason to come to the Tuscan countrysde this Summer for your yearly fix of sunbathing and Chianti Classico!

Italian wine is an effective Weight-control ally

Did you know that a nightcap of red can help you keep slim? Apparently resveratrol enhances the oxidation of dietary fats, maintains metabolic functions and helps control blood-suger levels. A relaxing waist-friendly routine far from calorie-laden cocktails and beer, pour yourself a nice glass of fermented grape juice after dinner!

Might help in preventing cancer

Among wine’s health-boosting properties, recent research has proven that this superdrink’s biologically active phytochemicals help fight off free radicals, one of the main causes of cell and DNA mutations, which are linked to cancer development. As we mentioned earlier, red wine contains high levels of resveratrol, a compound plants usually produce to protect themselves from the invasion of bacteria, fungi and ultraviolet irradation. If extricated from wine’s alcoholic properties, this component could potentially be used as an effective chemopreventive agent. This promising research is still in its infancy, hopefully results will soon confirm the power of fermented grapes.

Has proven anti-aging qualities

Want to live to 100? A glass of Chianti might help! Polyphenoss are key when it comes to determining a good Italian wine, but did you know that these miraculous antioxidants can also enhance its rejuvinating power? A glass of red can help fight off inflammations and stress, often cause of premature aging. According to certain vinotherapy experts, even the grape-pulp and pips – residues of the complex wine-making process – are still rich in protein-stimulating resveratrol and can be used for exfoliating scrubs. When it comes to considering its near-elixir effects in the longrun, a tame consumption of wine can also contribute in preventing heart attacks and forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Inhibits cavities

According to a 2007 study, both red and white wines block the growth of streptococcus, bacteria that plays a major role in the formation of cavities and tooth decay. So take a sip and show off your pearly whites…but always remember to brush, potent wine can often cause a bad case of so-called dragon breath!

We would like to point out that drinking can be considered healthy only if its consumption is moderate, which usually translates to one drink a day, approximately 5 ounces of liquid per serving.

The bone-chilling Tuscan Winter doesn’t only strengthen our vineyards: it also livens our appetites! Our region is renowned for its culinary specialities, which masterfully combine simplicity, seasonal ingredients and unique gusto. Staples of the wintertime table are olive oil, wine, bread and tons of healthy cooked vegetables. While for some, this peculiar cuisine is an acquired taste, for others it’s love at first bite. Here is a list of 5 Tuscan Winter dishes that we recommend to warm your palate and boost your energy levels as you venture through the many local attractions our region has to offer. Buon appetito!

Ribollita

Ribollita | Photo Eliza Adam

Ribollita | Photo Eliza Adam

The absolute queen of winter soups, Ribollita is healthy, filling and incredibly tasty. The ideal power food during the harsh Tuscan cold spells, it was first documented at the beginning of the 1900s, although its origins are said to date back to the Middle Ages. The name literally means “reboiled”, because of the widespread peasant tradition to make the most of the week’s leftover vegetables. Although the recipe has many declinations, the main ingredients always include hardened bread, cannellini beans, cabbage, kale and onion. Stir in a hearty dose of extra virgin olive oil and if you want to make it extra savory add a piece of parmesan rind during the cooking.

Pappa al Pomodoro

A classy presentation of Pappa al pomodoro - Pic by Massimo Barbieri (Flickr Creative Commons)

A classy presentation of Pappa al pomodoro – Pic by Massimo Barbieri (Flickr Creative Commons)

This thick Tuscan bread soup is an all-time favorite, and is served year round. Prepared with fresh tomatoes, leftover bread, garlic, basil and olive oil, this well-known “tomato mush” is traditionally linked to the province of Siena, although it can be found in restaurants and eateries all over the region. It also has its very own song: “Viva la Pappa col Pomodoro” sung in 1963 by famed showgirl Rita Pavone and composed by legendary composer Nino Rota (who penned film scores for Fellini, Zeffirelli and “The Godfather” trilogy). Its warm yet fresh tomato flavor is a perfect match with olive oil and lush red wine.

La Carabaccia

Carabaccia with a crisp layer of melted parmesan cheese! - Pic by Ryan Snyder (Flickr Creative Commons)

Carabaccia with a crisp layer of melted parmesan cheese! – Pic by Ryan Snyder (Flickr Creative Commons)

This tasty onion soup actually is the ancestor of the famed Parisian onion potage that was brought by Caterina de’ Medici to the French king’s court in the 16th century. They also say that this warm first course was one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s favorite dishes! Its sweet-and-sour flavor stands on the cusp between modern culinary research and Renaissance tradition, where cinnamon, almonds and sweet spices were used on a daily basis in the kitchen. There are many contemporary variants, but the addition of a slice of toasted bread is a timeless must, together with a drizzle of zesty extra virgin olive oil and a glass of Chianti to wash it down.

Gnudi

Uncooked gnudi just waiting to be popped in boiling salted water - Pic by Christine Wisnieski (Flickr Creative Commons)

Uncooked gnudi just waiting to be popped in boiling salted water – Pic by Christine Wisnieski (Flickr Creative Commons)

A classic Tuscan variant of ravioli, gnudi actually means “naked” because of the absence of the typical home-made pasta sheath. Hailing from the rich gastronomical areas of Siena and Grosseto, this flavour-packed recipe is quite simple and involves spinach, ricotta cheese, eggs, flour, parmesan and a dash of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Also known as “malfatti” (which literally translates into “badly made”) because of their irregular, lumpy shape, consistency is key and topping it with the best quality Extra virgin olive oil is of crucial importance.

Castagnaccio

Delicious castagnaccio - Pic by Wine Dharma (winedharma.com/it)

Delicious castagnaccio – Pic by Wine Dharma (winedharma.com/it)

According to some, this chestnut-based sweet goes back to the ancient Romans who prepared it as a nifty travel snack, but what we know for sure is that it has been a widespread poor man’s recipe in Tuscany ever since the 1500s. A cross between bread and unleavened cake, Castagnaccio is usually prepared in the months of November and December and is quite easy to make: raisins, pine nuts, salt, walnuts, rosemary, olive oil and, naturally, chestnut flour – which is harvested in Tuscany and was used in times of war as a substitute for grains. Because of its dense consistency and somewhat oily, bitter-sweet taste, it is usually served with a nice glass of red wine to wash everything down with one satisfied gulp.

If Tuscany was on your holiday wishlist, it’s time to start planning your Tuscany Travel Bucket List! Between special events, new museums and the beauties Tuscany offers year round, doing it all would require a long visit. We’ve scoured the web for tips on the best things to do in Tuscany in 2016 from blogs and newspapers you may want to keep an eye on.

See a lunar landscape

Sunrise near Asciano | Photo Antonio Cinotti

Sunrise near Asciano | Photo Antonio Cinotti

Not many people know about the Crete Senese, but this Tuscan gem has got to be one of the strangest places on earth. Located in the province of Siena, not far from Dievole, the lunar landscapes of the Val d’Orcia and Crete Senese are so beautiful, it’s almost hard to take it all into your head, let alone in a photo. Antonio Cinotti is a Siena native who loves transmitting the beauty of this area to everyone – take a look at his album on Flickr for inspiration.

The new Opera del Duomo museum

The serene Mary Magdalen by Donatello in her own room at the new museum | Photo Antonio Quattrone

The serene Mary Magdalen by Donatello in her own room at the new museum | Photo Antonio Quattrone

Florence’s Opera del Duomo Museum reopened after a major restoration and expansion in late 2015 (it was closed for three years). A lot of frequent visitors to the city are saying this is a perfect excuse for a new trip and here’s why. The museum features a huge room, that was once a theatre, with a reconstruction of the original façade of the Duomo, and its important sculptures placed on it. Half a dozen Donatellos, the original doors by Ghiberti, the cantorie and so much more make this museum a must in 2016. Here’s a review from the blog ArtTrav. See also the incredible virtual tour in the video below.

Gelato

Gelato on the streets of Florence | Photo Sasha Wang, Stai al Borgo (link below)

Gelato on the streets of Florence | Photo Sasha Wang, Stai al Borgo (link below)

We know your trip to Italy often comes down to one delicious thing: gelato. The icy treat is available year round, and while you may want more of it in the summer months, winter reveals special flavours like blood orange that you just can’t get in August. Sasha Wang, a new expat in Florence, talks about her favourite gelato in Florence on her blog Stai al Borgo – one to watch!

See the palio in person

View of the palio from above | Photo Elena Oprea for Dievole

View of the palio from above | Photo Elena Oprea for Dievole

Seeing the palio in Siena, in person, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The horse race in Siena’s medieval Campo runs on July 2 and August 16, 2016, as it has for many hundreds of years. Each palio is a multi-day celebration for the city and a major focus of Sienese devotion and civic pride.

Watch the sun set over the vines

#sunset at the end of a beautiful day in #chianti #tuscanygram

A photo posted by Dievole (@dievole) on

Here at Dievole, you can watch the sun set over our grape vines every night. We generally believe that this is best done with a glass of wine in your hand.

Brush a cashmere goat in Tuscany

Nora of Chianti Cashmere Company photographed by Georgette of Girl in Florence (link below)

Nora of Chianti Cashmere Company photographed by Georgette of Girl in Florence (link below)

Near Radda in Chianti – and by extension not far from Dievole – is an unusual project to raise cashmere goats in Tuscany. The Chianti Cashmere Farm’s owner has found that Tuscany is a great place to raise goats bred with Scottish cashmere ones, and she partners with local weavers to make artisan products in the area from her soft animals’ hair. We read about this great activity on Girl in Florence.

Take a dip in ancient waters

Saturnia thermal bath | Photo Flickrs user Jarle Refsnes

Saturnia thermal bath | Photo Flickrs user Jarle Refsnes

Thermal baths are a long tradition in Tuscany. Appreciated by popes and peasants alike, the hot sulphuric waters will relax you and cure what ails you. How you choose to bathe is up to you: there are free outdoor pools as well as elaborate art deco five star spas – we’ve compiled a full list of thermal baths in Tuscany for you here.

Taste olive oil right off the press

Tasting brand new olive oil at Dievole

Tasting brand new olive oil at Dievole

Your palate will never forget the tangy flavour of just-pressed olive oil. If you come to Tuscany in early November, you’ll be privy to this experience. In this region we usually press olives from about October 15 to November 15, though we carefully monitor their level of ripeness, and this past year we started later – so it depends on the year. On November 1st we held a new olive oil tasting. We hope you’ll join us for this event in 2016.

See the marble inlay floor of Siena’s Duomo

The floor of the Duomo of Siena seen from above when uncovered

The floor of the Duomo of Siena seen from above when uncovered

It happens only once a year for about five weeks: they take off the carpets that normally cover the marble inlay floor of the Duomo of Siena, revealing an incredible narrative that took hundreds of years to create. They generally are uncovered from August 18 to late October.

Take a historic train through one of the most beautiful places in the world

Treno Natura photograph by Valentina - Too Much Tuscany

Treno Natura photograph by Valentina – Too Much Tuscany (link below)

You feel like you’ve gone back in time as you board a historic steam train early in the morning and set out with excitement to some of Tuscany’s most fascinating destinations. Set itineraries are available on just a few dates throughout the year – we’ve compiled them here. We love the photos taken by Valentina aka Too Much Tuscany during a recent photo trip on one of Tuscany’s historic steam trains organized by Around Siena.

Participate in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

If you’re Catholic, you may know that 2016 is the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The Pope has already been to Tuscany to open up a series of Holy Doors, mostly at cathedrals but also at important pilgrimage churches. Attending mass in these locations this year is a special opportunity for the remission of sin. This special section from the official tourism website InToscana has the full story.

What else would you add to this list? We hope to see you at Dievole in 2016 – check availability and book your stay here!

Not only has wine managed to score an important role on our tables: its has also effortlessly made its way onto the big screen. From iconic screenwriting landmarks, such as Hannibal Lecter’s Chianti line in the 1991 film “The Silence of the Lambs”, to taking over entire plots, wine in movies is true star-material.

Humble yet excellent, Tuscan wines are a bit like the poetic silent-movie divas and prefer to stay in character and let others speak, although their elegant labels have winked on-screen in Hollywood smashes the likes of chick-flick “The Devil wears Prada”, noir-thriller “Blood and Wine” and the historical drama “Ask the Dust”.

From California to the south of France, here is a list of 4 thirst-inspiring movies about wine. Prepare the popcorn and keep your eyes peeled, you will notice how the ancient art of Italian winemaking silently directs even the most technicolor of imageries.

sideways-film

1. Sideways

Masterfully directed by Alexander Payne, this 2004 cult movie follows the geographical and emotional trip of Miles and his soon-to-be-married playboy buddy Jack, on their way to the Santa Ynez Valley wine county in California for a nice wine-tasting week. Things don’t go quite as planned but that is also the beauty of wine: unpredictability.
Paul Giamatti’s performance was praised worldwide together with his exquisite tasting vocabulary. Although the movie mostly focuses on Pinot Noir and a prized bottle of 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, other than bordeaux and burgundy wines Santa Barbara is also renowned for its recent importation of Italian varieties such as Sangiovese, which generously grows here on Dievole’s property and is the very essence of our Chianti Classico.

a_good_year02

2. A Good Year

Archaeology suggests that the Etruscans brought the grape to Gaul, giving way to the budding French winemaking saison. In “A Good Year” Ridley Scott tells the tale of seemingly cynical London trader Max Skinner, a superbly witty Russell Crowe, who learns that his uncle has left him a vineyard estate in Provence. This apparently harmless event actually takes its toll and the charm of winemaking drags the characters into a wonderful romantic voyage of transformation and self-discovery.

Wine in movies is often endowed with a spiritual significance. In the blockbuster “Eat Pray Love” starring Julia Roberts, the main character’s soul-searching quest begins in Italy, where she calls a fiasco of shining red her therapist. As Max’s uncle Henry says in the movie: “I enjoy making wine, because this sublime nectar is quite simply incapable of lying. Picked too early, picked too late, it matters not – the wine will always whisper into your mouth with complete, unabashed honesty every time you take a sip.

Bottle-Shock

3. Bottle Shock

Directed by Randall Miller, this 2008 comedy-drama documents the revolutionary 1976 blind-taste competition that marked the victory of California wine over French. The deeply in debt Chateau Montelena and its father-son vintners are the main characters, colorfully represented by Bill Pullman and Chris Pine.

Bottle Shock” is an actual term that depicts the reaction that occurs in wine immediately after corking, resulting from oxygen being absorbed during the bottling process, characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors in the wine.

Though the film presents a number of imprecisions, it is based on the true story that overturned the tables of international winemaking and put California on the global map.
Italian roots run deep through this sun-kissed terroir: the scents and flavors of Tuscan-inspired wines could be found in the very heart of Napa Valley since the early 1900s, when the vast territory Sonoma hosted a “Chianti” field blend that served as a source for subsequent plantings of Sangiovese.

Somm-Documentary

4. Somm

Winetasting is much more than a simple gargle-and-spit routine and this documentary directed by Jason Wise is proof. The protagonists are three passionate young wine connoisseurs who have voted their minds and hearts to passing the excruciatingly demanding membership test to enter the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers. The exam covers literally every nuance of the world of wine, spirits and cigars.

This documentary blends in human passion, competitiveness, a great classical-jazz score and the delicate philosophy of palate cultivation. Here at Dievole, wine tasting is an important asset of what our estate offers its guests. Our certified sommeliers will be delighted to welcome you to the terrace and give you their very own take on the complex world of wine and oil tasting.

Extra virgin olive oil tasting is a delicate and elaborate task akin to that of wine tasting, yet few people have had the opportunity to try it. Dievole’s oil expert Marco Scanu took the time to give us five tips, useful keys to access the rich realms of extra virgin olive oil.

Our olive oil expert Marco Scanu. Here at Dievole, the focus is always on the olives…

1. Wine before oil

When approaching your first tasting experience, you’re likely to be somewhere – like Dievole in Tuscany – that produces both wine and olive oil. Keep in mind that when it comes to these two products there is a complex chemical hierarchy. As vegetable oils have a dense lipidic structure, wine tasting must always come first; the consistency of wine will not stick to the palate and obscure the taste buds, whereas tasting olive oil before wine would damage your wine tasting experience.

2. Seek quality

Many see the practice of tasting as exclusively reserved to experts and critics but the truth is that everyone is endowed with the ability to distinguish and measure the qualities of a well-produced batch of olive oil. Tasting offers an opportunity to focus on the nature of the product. Just as with wine, setting aside a moment and space to try to understand things like freshness, spiciness and flavours will help us understand what we’re looking for when we want to experience, and ultimately purchase, a good quality extra virgin olive oil.

3. Know your Tools

Every science requires a series of specific tools and olive oil tasting has its very own procedures and instruments. Experts use a special cobalt blue glass that has a double practical function. First, lodged in the warm palm of our hands, the glass increases the olive oil’s temperature, releasing the olive oil’s most authentic fragrances. Second, its deep blue color masks the extra virgin olive oil’s natural hues, preventing hurried judgments based on the yellow or green nuances. Make sure that your glass is tasteless and odourless; even the faintest smell of soap could compromise your tasting experience.

The famous cobalt blue glass in action.

The famous cobalt blue glass in action.

4. Get a General Idea

The next step is to bring the glass to our nose and inhale deeply. Don’t go searching for over-precise details, take a step back and try to get a more general idea. Smelling is an important step towards a thorough understanding of extra virgin olive oil. Only after you have noted the overall freshness of the liquid will you able to truly free your mind and let your imagination run free as your senses paint a complex tableau of flavors and colorful hints. Swirl the glass and raise it to your nostrils in order to seize the true essence of the product.

Getting a noseful of Dievole's fresh batch of extra virgin olive oil

One of our guests getting a whiff of Dievole’s fresh batch of extra virgin olive oil

5. Taste and Experiment

It’s time to put your tastebuds to the test! The amount that we savor must sufficiently fill the oral cavity but must not encumber our tastebuds. This phase consists in pushing the oil between tongue and palate and sucking in air from the sides of the mouth. The ventilation amplifies the sensations given by the oil. These “chirping” sounds might not appear pleasant but they are a necessary part of the tasting experience. Extra virgin olive oil releases its innermost qualities when paired with food, so unleash your creativity in the kitchen, experiment with pairings and new recipes to discover the true power of Extra virgin olive oil.

Tuscany is a land of generous hospitality and authentic people. For centuries, our estate has fully embraced these qualities, staying in tune with the changing times and needs of our clients. Imbued in history and picturesque charm, our structure and surrounding countryside offer a sense of understated luxury and relax. Everything we do is in line with the concept of being authentically Tuscan, from the production of terroir wines, extra virgin olive oils, serving local foods, and providing access to nature in all its forms.

Our Estate seen from afar.

Our Estate seen from afar.

A cypress-lined road leads to our agriturismo, an Italian word that poetically combines agriculture and tourism and can be translated as “farm-stay”, the best way to fully experience Italy’s countryside. In case you feel a craving for some city-lights, Dievole is just a short drive away from the region’s most well-kept and renowned treasures: Siena and Florence.

But for those who have come to dwell in nature, Dievole is surrounded by more than 400 hectares of farmland, covered with vineyards, olive groves, verdant woods and speckled with the typical stone-built Chianti farmhouses. Some of these captivating historical structures have been transformed into elegant apartments, a sweet escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Our guests can also enjoy the benefits of a modern vacation thanks to our two panoramic pools, romantic wine bar with terrace and restaurant, which make this also the perfect setting for exclusive Tuscan-style weddings! Have you ever tried dining in the unique atmosphere of a century-old wine cellar? Here at Dievole, you can.

Cuore di Bue tomatoes

Cuore di Bue tomatoes

In the kitchen, our chef Monika carefully combines local cuisine, a hint of modern minimalism and seasonal homegrown produce directly from our orto (kitchen garden), with a result that delights the palate and calls for excellent wine pairings. Our guests can freely explore and select from the bounty of our gardens for an afternoon snack or light lunch to prepare in their apartments – ripe tomatoes are perfect for an improvised caprese salad.

Monika with Squash Risotto

Monika’s Squash Risotto

When it comes to nature, we like to encourage a hands-on approach and so does Dino, our head farmer. Visitors are welcome to discover and enjoy life on our “Old Farm”, visiting the many ducks and chickens and checking on the baby pony and baby goats. These are all magical moments that we cherish and share, as they play in important role in bringing quality and authenticity to our structure and to your Tuscan experience.

Dino feeding our baby goat

Dino feeding our baby goat

We crown this contagious spirit of communion by serving our most exceptional wine and olive oil! And since we know that a nice glass of Chianti Classico or drizzle of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil is bound to spark amiable conversations, wine and olive oil tastings are another important part of what we offer our visitors, so that they can truly savor the essence of our radiant land.

Wine tasting at Dievole

Wine tasting at Dievole

To truly grasp the vibrant soil and widespread beauty of our vineyards, our Natural Path offers 27 km of marked trails, perfect for uncontaminated promenades, horse riding frenzy and energetic bike rides. Sure, our guests can enjoy the pure countryside air and the view of Siena’s rolling hills from the windows of our freshly renewed rooms, but Tuscany is an adventure just waiting to sweep you off your feet and Dievole is the right place to start.

Good wine will always be a joy to drink, especially in good company. While technically even a plastic cup cannot harm a good wine, serving it a little more carefully can lead to a lot more pleasure. Wine deserves this respect, and will reward your sensitive treatment.

The ideal temperature for red wines

One of the key questions about serving wine is” what is the right temperature? ”. When red wines are served too warm they feel soupy; the alcohol begins to feel more noticeable, and the wine seems to lose its shape under warm temperatures. At the right temperature, the tannins in the wine should feel firm, the acidity brighter, and the fruit flavours fresher and livelier – thus is the power of temperature control!

Hence, if your room temperature is above 16-20 degrees Celsius, you need to cool the red wine down a bit. First off it would be best to store them in a wine cellar or wine fridge; maybe you have a garage or back stoop that is the right temperature.

16-20 degrees is a general rule for reds: a young Chianti Classico Vintage (i.e non riserva) like Dievole’s Chianti Classico 2013 (available in early 2015) is not only for cold days and nights: these wines will be really pleasant on a hot day or a long warm night.

For fuller bodied, more complex wines – like Dievole Novecento Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG – the optimum temperature is 18 degrees Celcius.

Use the following diagram as a guideline for wine temperatures

Use the following diagram as a guideline for wine temperatures

The ideal temperature for white wines

If drinking a fruity white wine as an aperitivo or for its refreshment value, we suggest chilling to an invigorating 10 to 12 degrees Celsius; here, the acidity in the wine feels lively and clear. On the other hand, white wines can get lost in too-cold temperatures, especially if it’s a more full-bodied white, perhaps chosen to complement a fish dish. In these cases, an aged white should be served at 12-14 degrees Celsius.

As an alternative to white wine, for a refreshing aperitif, our Dievole Rosato, made of 100% Sangiovese, is also perfect at 10-12 degrees Celcius.

Sweet wines like Vin Santo or Occhio di Pernice should be served at slightly less than room temperature, between 12 and 16 degrees Celcius, while a Grappa made of Sangiovese grapes does well at 18 degrees or even more. This temperature helps keep the wine feeling balanced between levels of acid and sugar, avoiding it feeling too sweet.

Picking the right wine glass

These are the glasses we use to serve Chianti Classico reds

These are the glasses we use to serve Chianti Classico reds

If you really love drinking wine, get yourself a well-deserved gift: think expensive wine glasses: they do make a difference in the way you perceive what you’re drinking.

What you are looking for in a good wine glass is lightweight: heavy, thick glass feels clumsy in the hand and against the lips, before you’ve even tilted the glass.

As for shape, glasses should taper in slightly at the top to allow you to swirl the wine without spilling, forcing the aromas released from that swirling motion to be focused toward the top of the glass and thus towards your nose. On the other hand, you don’t want the glass to be too narrow at the top as you should be able to properly “nose” your wine.

Some would say that bigger is better, and we agree that a big wine chalice adds to the experience, especially of a good red. A larger glass allows more space for aeration – though there is no need to exaggerate.

As your grandmother surely taught you, there are shapes that are traditionally associated with white or red, and still others for champagne or sweet wine. In a restaurant or at a wine tasting, of course you’ll be provided with the perfect glass for each, but if you’re just starting to equip a new home, invest in two shapes of good crystal or quality glass stemware – a large bowled one for red, and a slightly less tapered one for white.

The Christmas season in Italy brings many joyful things such as Babbo Natale (Santa Claus), tree lightings and holiday markets selling sweet wine and sausages. It also brings its fair share of special Italian holiday treats. All over Italy, cities and regions are famous for their specific deserts served only at this time of year. Siena, in particular, has three well known and delicious Christmas treats, panforte, ricciarelli and cavalucci.

Panforte

Photo by Vive Toscana on Flickr

Photo by Vive Toscana on Flickr

Panforte is a thick, chewy cake that dates back to the Middle Ages. It was originally made by Sienese monks and handed out as a special gift to important people, such as dukes or visiting royalty. The ingredients in it were considered so precious, some of them were worth more than gold, so the giving and eating of this treat was a truly special decadence.

It is and was made mostly from almonds, honey and candied fruit. It also has a hefty dose of “Christmas” spices, such as coriander, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, which give it a wonderfully festive scent. Today, it is sold by the slice or by weight almost everywhere in Italy. Each shop tends to make theirs a little different, some omit cinnamon, some make a darker finished product and some used candied melon instead of candied orange peel. One thing is constant though; it is a holiday favorite in and outside of Siena.

Ricciarelli

Photo by Kim Unertl on Flickr

Photo by Kim Unertl on Flickr

Ricciarelli are melt in your mouth almond cookies originated in Siena in the 15th century. At that time, Siena was famous for its production of almond paste, or marzipan. These cookies were invented using that precious and sumptuous ingredient and because of that, they were served mostly to the upper class. They were even sold in historic pharmacies because of their costly nature. Today, around Christmastime you can find them in most pastry shops. They are formed in the shape of an almond (although much bigger) and are covered in powdered sugar. You might smell them before you see them because the warm scent of bitter almond permeates the room when they are cooking.

Cavalucci

The name cavalucci, comes from the word “cavallo” as these cookies were often served at countryside inns and taverns to travelers on horseback. They have a long history since their invention in Siena, and they date as far back as the Renaissance, when they were called biriquocoli. Although the name has changed, the recipe has remained mostly untouched. They are created from a soft, smooth, honeyed dough to which spices such as anise and coriander are added. Once the dough is spiced, almonds or walnuts and candied fruit are also mixed in. The dough is made into thick rolls that are then cut into slices. The slices are rolled into balls and each one is pressed flat. Once baked, they remain soft on the inside, and are often served with sweet desert wine. Sometimes they are even shaped into little horses!

All three of these deserts are sure to put you in a cheerful, Tuscan Christmas spirit. These cookies have been served to families and friends throughout Italy, marking the start of the holiday season, for hundreds of years. Something that tried and true is surely worth tasting, they all go down even better with a glass of vin santo!

 

Named one of the top 5 wine consultants in the world by Decanter magazine in 2015, Alberto Antonini has clients around the world, in Italy, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, USA, Canada, Australia and Armenia. Known for helping wineries turn around and rediscover a sense of place, he’s been working with Dievole since 2013.

Alberto Antonini

Alberto Antonini

After consulting all around the world, how important is it to you to be involved in the rebirth of a Tuscan wine, in your native region?

Tuscany is where I was born and raised and still live so it’s the wine region I’m closer to also from an emotional standpoint. Tuscany has gone through its (first) Renaissance back in the late 70s early 80s when the Supertuscan happened with an heavy influence from Bordeaux and the introduction of what we call French grapes (like Cabernet and Merlot etc.) blended with Sangiovese. This came with a heavy use of barrels which were unknown here until then, and not part of our winemaking traditions; despite this it was important to catch the attention of the world market as producers of important wines – before this, we simply weren’t on their radar. In my vision now , with 40 years of established reputation it is time for Tuscany to go “back to the future” and be proud of our great tradition, and the world of wine is now ready and excited to welcome pure and authentic Tuscan wines.

You’re famous for helping wineries return to their terroir. How is this different at Dievole than it is in another country, region or winery?

I think at Dievole it is very easy because the everyone, the whole Dievole team, is fully aligned and dedicated to the concept of terroir wine production. We are in a place with an amazing terroir (limestone soils and great microclimate) which has been making wine for over 900 years. We just need to remember that and remove everything which can mask the purity and authenticity of this place.

Sustainable Vines at Dievole

Sustainable Vines at Dievole

What is sustainability in a winery for you and why is this important in terroir winemaking?

There are few important steps to make sure that you are making wines with a sense of place.

  • Stop the use in the vineyards of any synthetic chemicals like herbicides, chemical fertilizers, systemic spraying agents, insecticides, and botryticides, because they standardize flavours and have a negative impact on the environment and his expression
  • In winemaking there are a few points to avoid as well like : overmaturation of the grapes, overextraction during fermentation and the use of invasive oak barrels which add flavours and aromas that are distant from the terroir concept.

Sustainibility is a word often used in a very generic way, everybody now says they’re doing “sustainable viticulture and winemaking,” but what does that mean? We believe that it is important to be organic or biodynamic certified to prove the sustainability of the process, so we are currently undergoing the transitional period to become certified organic. [Read more about how Dievole is a sustainable winery.]

I would add that any intervention we make in winemaking should be light handed. The wine shouldn’t speak of the winemaker himself but of the terroir; I don’t want people to say “I taste your influence in this wine” – if they do, I know I’ve done something wrong.

Untoasted casks in Dievole's cellar

Untoasted casks in Dievole’s cellar

On the matter of oak barrels, in an interview with The Drinks Business you mention that you prefer to use the least possible, especially in top-level wines. Tell us about how you’ve transitioned Dievole away from small oak barriques to the larger botti (untoasted casks) and the effect this has on the final product.

It is very simple: if making a premium wine, coming from a premium terroir, with great character and made from healthy, ripe grapes, do we need to add flavours and aromatics? I don’t believe so. The fruit from these terroirs already provide plenty of flavours and aromatics and the wine during ageing needs only to be in a place that allows the wine itself to develop, keeping its character. In that regard, large untoasted casks or rough concrete tanks provide the wine that little amount of oxygen required for the ageing. If you are looking for a wine authenticity, purity, energy, vitality, tension and drinkability, small oak barrels are a major problem [that we have eliminated].

The 2013 Chianti Classico will be the first Dievole wine to hit the shelves since your involvement with the winery. Tell us about it – what emotions does it raise for you?

I believe it is the very first step toward what we have in mind, I’ve seen the subsequent 2 years (‘14 and ’15) moving forward and I’m very excited about the results. 2013 is already a wine that I enjoy drinking very much, and it’s the first evidence of what Dievole could become very shortly.

Siena is often overshadowed by Florence, but it’s one of Tuscany’s liveliest and loveliest cities, no matter what time of year you visit. The following suggestions are our “musts” for your itinerary, with special notes added for the season you’re visiting.

Inside Siena's Duomo | Ph. Giorgos Vintzileos (Flickr Creative Commons)

Inside Siena’s Duomo | Ph. Giorgos Vintzileos (Flickr Creative Commons)

Visit the cathedral complex

No trip to Siena is complete without a stop at the Cathedral, which rivals St. Peter’s in its splendor. To make your visit extra special, we recommend seeing it by night, when the architecture takes on a blue hue and an almost ethereal glow. If you’re planning a trip around March, note that this is the time of year that the church usually opens its ‘Gate of Heaven’ itinerary, a symbolic re-telling of the story of Jacob’s ladder. This special opportunity allows visitors to explore corners of the Duomo that are normally closed to the public, including hidden spiral staircases and the church’s highest point. If a summertime trip is more likely, you’re also in luck: this is usually the season when the intricately designed marble floors are unveiled to the public for a brief period. Not to worry if your trip lands in fall or winter: the Piccolomini Library, painted by Renaissance master Pintoricchio, is a frescoed marvel that’s open year-round: prepare for possible neck cramps as you strain to see the sublime details covering the ceiling.

Pici with sausage: delicious! | Ph. Luca Nebuloni (Flickr Creative Commons)

Pici with sausage: simply delicious!| Ph. Luca Nebuloni (Flickr Creative Commons)

Dig in to local specialties

Siena is a spectacular destination for food and wine lovers, no matter what time of year you’re traveling. To really make the most of your time there, you’ll need to study up on some of the local specialties. When the clock strikes lunchtime, you’ll want to try pici, a thick spaghetti-like pasta—particularly delicious when paired with cinta senese sauce, made from a pig breed native to the province (here‘s a delicious and easy recipe for pici with kale pesto). If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Siena certainly won’t disappoint, as it’s perhaps better known for its desserts than anything else: sugary breads, cakes and biscuits are its strongest suit. Indulge in cavallucci, a delicious cookie with a dash of cinnamon. As the calendar nears November, you’ll see pan co’ santi popping up in bakeries all over town: this walnut and raisin bread is typically prepared on All Saints’ Day, November 1. If you’ll be there during the yuletide, make a stop at the Mercato nel Campo, a festive trip back to medieval times in piazza del Campo: sift through the stalls for panforte, a holiday fruit and nut treat that literally translates to ‘strong cake.’ Dusted with sugar, but a little bit spicy, this traditional holiday treat dates back to as early as the twelfth century and is a perfect match with our Occhio di Pernice wine.

Colorful contrade flagbearers | Ph. Janus Kinase (Flickr Creative Commons)

Colorful contrade flagbearers | Ph. Janus Kinase (Flickr Creative Commons)

Take note of contrada culture

Without a doubt, the Palio horse race is Siena’s most beloved and popular summertime tradition—it’s a favorite with both tourists and longtime locals. Two editions take place each year, the first on July 2 and the second on August 16, the day after Ferragosto, which marks the Feast Day of the Assumption. The action happens against the backdrop of piazza del Campo, an instantly recognizable Tuscan icon. Though the Palio may be a summertime ritual, long-running neighborhood rivalries are its pulse, and they run through Siena’s veins year-round.

The Palio was born as a competition among Siena’s seventeen contrade, the local districts that were first delineated during the Middle Ages, denoted by specific animals and symbols. The collective spirits of the contrade are alive and well today, even in the dead of winter: most Sienese identify with a particular contrada, and you can see traces of their pride throughout the city.

In the “off season,” when the Palio isn’t taking place, you can visit the contrada museums to better contextualize the tradition. Each district, from the She-Wolf to the Dragon to the Snail, has its own headquarters, with intriguing archival documents on view, as well as hard-won drappelloni: these are the monumental canvases awarded to the Palio winners each year.

When “game day” rolls around, the ritual extends way beyond the race itself. The day includes special services and blessing ceremonies for the horses and jockeys, along with a colorful afternoon parade through the historic center. We’ll warn you: staking out a good spot in piazza del Campo can prove to be something of a Tuscan Mission Impossible, but even if you don’t have a bird’s-eye view of the finish line, the atmosphere of the city alone is worth the trip.

The evocative frescoes inside Santa Maria della Scala | Ph. Jim Forest (Flickr Creative Commons)

The evocative frescoes inside Santa Maria della Scala | Ph. Jim Forest (Flickr Creative Commons)

Santa Maria della Scala

The museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala will not leave you wanting. Once a hospital, it’s now a thriving center of artistic life in the city, home to famous frescoes by key painters from the Sienese school. But beyond the permanent collections, the complex always hosts interesting exhibitions, including this year’s Felice Tagliaferri show. Himself blind, Tagliaferri aims to make his work accessible to the visually impaired, and this exhibition features a collection of masterworks sculpted in Carrara marble. Past exhibitions have taken a look at the hospital’s history, patients and former doctors. The complex is also kid-friendly, with a children’s art collection and activities, as well as an archaeological collection that’s sure to stimulate and inspire young scientific minds.

Sometimes buying the right olive oil can seem like reading a chemistry manual. Cold pressed, DOP, extra virgin and other terms can make it hard to know what you’re buying or even understand what you need. Luckily, with a little help you can easily read even the trickiest of labels and ensure the perfect oil for your needs, in or out of the kitchen!

 

Extra Virgin: Starting with two of the most common words printed on an oil label, have you ever stopped to wonder what it actually means? Extra virgin olive oil is the very first cold press of the olives, so it’s more pure (and generally better) than “virgin oil”. It has the lowest acidity (less than .8%) and at the same time, the highest polyphenols, which are the antioxidants in oil that make it so darn good for you. This is the highest grade of oil you can buy, and Dievole makes only this kind (in 6 different varieties).

Virgin Oil: This is a step below “extra virgin,” being the second pressing of the olives. The acidity of this oil has to be lower than 2%. It is also produced without heat or chemicals, like extra virgin oil.

Pure (Olive) Oil: Pure oil indicates an oil that is oftentimes a mix of refined and unrefined oils. It can therefore be partially or totally produced using heat and other chemicals to extract the oil, instead of pressing.

Acidity: So, what exactly is the acidity of oil? Acidity is also known as free oleic acid, and the amount of this acid in the finished product indicates how much the good fats in oil (the healthy ones) have been broken down. The less acid, the less breakdown.

Polyphenols: These are essentially antioxidants that protect the cells in our bodies from damage. The polyphenols are also what make up the flavors and aromas of olive oil. More complex the flavors are more antioxidants it has and more healthy it is. Olive oil is a great source of this antioxidant, hence is healthy in so many ways.

Cold Pressed: If an oil is cold pressed, that means that it has been extracted from the olives using only pressure. No chemicals or heat are used. With less external impact, the oil is higher quality – this works in the same way as wine, where it’s best to intervene as little as possible. Cold pressing is a low yield method of production, but the quality is outstanding.

DOP: If you go to an Italian market you are sure to see these three letters on many delicious products. The abbreviation stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta. You will see this written on various things from wine to meat, cheese, preserved foods, olive oil, apples and more.

In our olive oil terminology, the DOP designation refers both to the location of production and type of olive used, and these elements are strictly controlled by legislation. Buying something like our DOC Chianti Classico Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a real guarantee of quality that certifies that it was grown in the Chianti Classico region and made following strict guidelines requiring annual re-certification.

Refined or filtered: Olive oil can be finely refined or filtered to remove flaws such as cloudiness or dark green coloring while leaving the punchy taste. New developments in filtering technology, such as those used by Dievole, ensure that none of the flavour or health value of the precious liquid is lost in the process. Filtering creates a pure and beautiful olive oil with a longer shelf life than unfiltered oil.

Unrefined or unfiltered: This is an oil that hasn’t been treated to remove any of its flaws. It may appear cloudy and is likely to have sediment at the bottom of the bottle. The disadvantage of sediment is that it contains water, and thus will soon ferment, destroying the quality of the evoo a few months after pressing.

With these nine words, you can easily choose the right oil for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in flavor, production methods, clarity or even the antioxidant content; much can be discovered by simply reading the label. Now that you know the differences, why not see if you can taste them? Olive oils come in so many varieties; the options are almost as endless as the ways to enjoy it.

Here at Dievole, wine plays an important role every day. Like a silent yet loving relative, it warms up our table and makes our guests feel at ease. Holidays without its soothing presence are simply unthinkable for us but selection is key, so we want to give you a few useful tips on how to choose and enjoy the right wine companions for your merry banquet table. Christmas menus vary across regions and countries, even within our Tuscan territory there are manifold traditions.

Each family has its own secret recipe hidden in the cupboard, just waiting for that special time of year to be served and enjoyed by all. Even the turkey, absolute king of Anglo-Saxon tables, has made its way into the Italian realm of festive gastronomical wonders. From north to south in Italy, one thing’s for certain: in the sacred ritual of holiday feasting, time has no importance whatsoever. Plate upon plate, glass after glass – forget the clock and let the goodness flow.

A festive table at Dievole

A festive table at Dievole

The Preludial Toast

While champagne or spumante are classic for toasting and appetizers, in Tuscany it’s not a given. Warm up your guests’ palate with warm crostini topped with chicken liver paté or a simple drizzle of fresh extra virgin olive oil, alongside a tasty selection of Tuscan cold cuts and cheeses. The ideal pairing with these Tuscan starters is a vintage Chianti Classico like our Chianti Classico 2013 (available early 2015) or the Certosa di Pontignano.

A lovely plate of tomato bruschetta

A lovely plate of tomato bruschetta

First Course

Every region has its own culinary tradition, but in Italy the primo usually involves the queen of the Mediterranean diet: pasta. Generations reunite around steaming pots and prepare fresh tagliatelle, tortelli, tortellini and lasagna served with meat sauce or in broth. Another important role is played by risotto, especially in the northern areas of the boot. A vivacious red wine goes hand in hand with the endless flavor possibilities of homemade pasta.

A tasty turkey dinner! | Ph. Jennie-O (Flickr Creative Commons)

Let’s talk turkey

Ever since Victorian times, poultry has been the very essence of the Anglophone Christmas menu. The low fat content and mild flavor of the meat is enhanced by a variety of accompaniments, such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing. Choose a full-bodied white or a medium-full red, lush in flavor, to yield and balance the oiliness of the meat and the richer taste of its side dishes.

In case you prefer fish – served often in Southern Italian families over the holidays – a mineral white wine should do the trick.

The icing on the cake

When the last dish has been served and the adrenaline starts to dwindle, settle in for a long afternoon or evening by pouring yourself a glass of our most refined sweet meditation wine: Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice is the perfect end to the sweetest of evenings. Ideal with dessert or simply served in a small chalice, sip slowly to savor the nuanced hints of almond and vanilla.

Occhio di Pernice Dievole

Occhio di Pernice Dievole

The banquet battlefied

When the evening is over and the last guest has left, the banquet battlefield is in your hands. Here’s a traditional tip to remove those pesky wine splatters from the tablecloth: apply toothpaste or lemon juice with a drop of soap and rub it in with sparkling water and let it do its magic for a few minutes before you toss the whole bundle into the washing machine.

Christmas is in the air in Tuscany. It’s that time of year when the cooler weather makes you want to cuddle up by the fire with a nice glass of Chianti Classico wine and listen to Michael Bublé’s classics… Or, head out and get into the mood with holiday markets, photos of your child making Christmas wishes on Santa’s lap, Christmas shopping and a touch of vin brûlé. Tuscany offers a bunch of Christmas markets that will help you get in the mood.

In Tuscany, Christmas festivities start at the end of November when cities and village squares masquerade themselves in festive cheer with local products, tastings, and of course, special meetings with Santa for the children. Here’s a list of the best christmas markets this winter.

Il Mercato nel Campo, Siena

December 5 – 6, 2015

Siena’s Campo, one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, evokes the Middle Ages during this re-enactment of the “big market” that was held here in the fourteenth century, with kiosks made in wood. Here you will find local products as well as those from other of Italian regions, wine and food tastings and some lovely handcrafted goods for your Christmas presents.

Mercatino di Natale di Montepulciano, Montepulciano (Siena)

November 21 – January 6, 2015

Christmas Market in Montepulciano

In Piazza Grande, Piazzetta Danesi and via San Donato, Montepulciano hosts a market with 60 beautifully decorated wooden houses that feature high-quality, original products. There will be performances and entertainment for the whole family in this huge space. From ornaments and Christmas decorations to food, sweets, clothing, and handicrafts, this market will cover all of your Christmas needs… and be fun!

Il Paese di Babbo Natale, Chianciano Terme (Siena)

November 6 – December 27, 2015

In the thermal bath town of Chianciano Terme, the Christmas market is particularly family-focused. Attractions include not only the usual Christmas market, but also an ice-skating rink, a lifelike dinosaur exhibit, a Polar Express train ride that recreates the magical atmosphere of the animated film, and a go-kart track.

Weihnachtsmarkt, Florence

December 2 – 20, 2015

Weihnachtsmarkt in Florence | Photo by Alice Baricelli on Flickr

Weihnachtsmarkt in Florence | Photo by Alice Baricelli on Flickr

This is the most famous Christmas market in Florence (and perhaps in all of Tuscany) and it is traditionally held in the beautiful Piazza Santa Croce. The German-themed market this year will contain 40 wooden huts and street vendors that serve traditional products such as sweets, mulled wine, beer and hot dogs, among other foods. Also available will be traditional crafts, Bunzlau ceramics, Pfefferkuchen spice cookies, Christmas decorations, nativity scenes, and more.

Marradi Mercatini di Natale, Marradi (Florence)

December 6 and 13, 2015

In the adorable mountain town of Marradi, a pilgrimage for Christmas-market seekers every year, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or try a delicious sausage cooked over the fire. You also can’t go wrong with the fresh roasted chestnuts (a local speciality) and mulled wine, a perfect combination on a cold day. The market will of course also feature Santa Claus, who will respond to your Christmas letters, and there’s a puppet show for kids and adults.

Magie dell’Avvento, Palazzuolo sul Senio (Florence)

Every Sunday in December

The Magie dell’Avvento, or Advent Magic Christmas market will take place in the small village of Palazzuolo sul Senio in their central piazza, Piazza IV Novembre. This market is the highlight of the town’s social calendar, so it’s a don’t miss! The sound of Christmas music and the sight of nativity scenes will fill the air with Christmas joy. There are stands that sell Christmas products such as nativity figures, tree decorations, candles and much more.

Natale in Piazza, piazza San Francesco, Prato

December 8 – 23, 2015

If you want to discover a hidden gem of Tuscany, Prato is perfect for you. This beautiful town – which is only a short train ride away from Florence – host every year a market in piazza San Francesco that features classic Christmas items such as crafts, antiques, collectibles, and more.

These are just a few of the various Christmas markets hosted in Tuscany every year. From Lucca to Pisa or Signa to Arezzo, almost every town celebrates this magic period with markets, concerts and other fun activities for the whole family.

If you can’t wait for the winter holidays and you are a huge fan of the big guy with red-cheeks, white hair, and a funny smile, Tuscany is the place to be!

 

Words and research assistance by Steven M. Bramel.

If you’re looking for the ultimate seasonal dish, our chef Monika has just what you need: a simple but tasty homemade kale pesto with a twist.

The leafy green queen of traditional dishes such as ribollita and Tuscan minestra, cavolo nero is one of our region’s quintessential Winter ingredients. This cold hardy vegetable thrives in the frosty weather and has been labeled a super-food by nutritionists worldwide.

To make things even more local, Monika chose to accompany the kale pesto with fresh pici, a thick, hand rolled pasta that originates from the province of Siena, and cannellini white beans. A classy addition to garnish the final result? Toasted Tuscan breadcrumbs and crispy kale chips!

Ingredients

  • A large bunch of kale
  • Pici pasta
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fresh walnuts
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Tuscan Bread (sliced)
  • Thyme
  • White cannellini beans

Toasted Tuscan bread just waiting to be…crumbled!

Instructions

  1. First step: rinse your kale!
  2. Prepare the kale chips by snapping the leaves in half and immersing them in oil with sesame seeds. Put them on a tray and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes at 150 degrees celsius.
  3. Time to talk pesto: finely chop the remaining kale and blanch it in boiling water for 5 minutes. Don’t keep the leaves in too long and be sure to cool them in ice water once they have finished cooking as not to lose that crisp green color.
  4. Put the kale in a blender together with walnuts, garlic, a hearty dose of extra virgin olive oil, red chili pepper, salt, pepper and a hint of fresh ginger, to add fragrance.
  5. In the meantime, season your slices of Tuscan bread with olive oil, thyme, red chili pepper and salt. Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes until nice and toasted. Crush the bread on a cutting board until you obtain your very own home-made dried bread crumbs.
  6. Warm the pesto up in a pan and add the pici pasta.
  7. Serve and garnish each plate with a spoonful of white cannellini beans, home-made breadcrumbs and kale chips.

The final dish: pici with kale pesto, breadcrumbs, fagioli cannellini and kale chips

 

The Holiday season is approaching and the tingling of gift-shopping and festive eating are bound to take hold of even the most scrooge-like figures.

Here at Dievole, we believe that wine is a timeless gift. Here are the reasons why this season you should lay off sweater-knitting and avoid last-minute purchases to take advantage of our FREE European Shipping today.

  1. Had too much to eat? Apparently red wine helps you regulate your blood sugar and maintain your metabolic balance, while extra virgin olive oil is high in phenolic antioxidants that are said to prevent cancer and fight off stress. So keep it cool, lay off the lasagna and slowly savor a glass of Chianti Classico!
  1. Everyone loves wine! In Tuscany even children are allowed a sip of watered-down wine during the holidays, a much-awaited tradition amongst rambunctious younglings. Throughout the centuries, wine and oil have brought together generations. Entire families have religiously followed the passing of the seasons, the ripening of the grapes, the harvesting of the olives. So many futures have been built on this beautiful heritage of the past and we love to instill that emotion in every glass of wine we pour.
Toasted Tuscan Bread

Crunchy toasted Tuscan bread just waiting for that fresh olive oil drizzle.

  1. Showing up with a case of wine is always better than crashing the party brandishing a single bottle. Keep everyone nice and happy with a careful selection of Dievole wines. Sip your way through the evening, observing the notes of our perfectly orchestrated Chianti Classico. Or stand out as a guest by bringing olive oil: the fragrance and flavor of our freshly pressed fruits is bound to send everyone prancing under the mistletoe. Remember: you never know how real olive oil tastes until you’ve savored it plain, on a slice of toasted bread, in the company of your friends.
Dievole Olive Oils

Dievole offers six different varieties of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  1. Whether you’re serving ham or grilled vegetables, wine and oil sign the perfect peace treaty between meat-eaters and vegetarians! No grueling discussions this year: prepare a nice plate of tomato bruschetta, pour the gang a glass of wine and crank up the music.
  1. A gift is a gift, its material value can be expressed in a price but in the end, it’s the thought that counts. So this year let your thoughts drift over to Tuscany, we will make sure to take good care of you and your loved ones and send back a parcel of holiday goodness.

Dievole_Free Shipping
Convinced? We suspect that this gift won’t be under the tree for very long! But hurry up, our offer is valid only until December 31, 2015!

Free shipping available in the following countries: Austria, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Netherlands, Norway, Luxemburg, Ireland, Greece, France, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Italy

With the holiday season just around the corner, the time has come to start making those lists and checking them twice. No matter whom you’re buying for, you’re bound to find something that suits their tastes in Tuscany. Ranging from handcrafted Florentine treasures to zesty seasonings and snacks from all over the region, our twelve Tuscan gift ideas put your standard stocking stuffers to shame.

1. Leather goods

Leather school at Santa Croce | Photo Marco Badiani

Leather school at Santa Croce | Photo Marco Badiani

The quality of Tuscan leather has been world-renowned for centuries. There’s no shortage of leather artisans in Florence and throughout Tuscany, spoiling you for choice. Butter-soft bags, gentlemanly gloves, classic jackets and belts all make memorable gifts that the lucky recipients can use for years to come. Florence’s most traditional leather makers also specialize in hand-tooled books and desk ornaments (like in the photo above taken at the Leather School of Santa Croce).

2. Panforte

Panforte | Photo Flickr user  Min Liu

Panforte | Photo Flickr user Min Liu

A Sienese Christmas tradition, this delicious sweet is filled with tasty fruits and nuts. Literally translated “strong bread,” panforte owes its name to its mildly spicy and punch-packing flavor.

3. Marbled Paper

Marbed Paper Binder | Photo Flickr user batwrangler

Marbed Paper Binder | Photo Flickr user batwrangler

With its swirling patterns and psychedelic color combinations, Florentine marbled paper makes both a pretty and practical present. It’s an artisanal tradition that can be traced all the way back to 17th-century Tuscany. Marbled paper makes a great gift for anyone in the family, particularly those who need some motivation to keep in touch—it makes a beautiful hint!

4. A Case of Chianti Classico from Dievole

Dievole La Vendemmia Chianti Classico

Dievole La Vendemmia Chianti Classico

Sometimes there’s simply nothing as fine as “red, red wine!” To be labeled Chianti Classico DOCG, a wine must not only be produced in the Chianti region, but also must meet strict production regulations. Wow your friends with your wine know-how by bringing a bottle of it to a holiday party, or wrap it up for someone special.

5. Cantucci (Biscotti)

Cantucci with Vin Santo | Photo Flickr user Paolo Piscolla

Cantucci with Vin Santo | Photo Flickr user Paolo Piscolla

Know someone with a sweet tooth? You can’t go wrong with cantucci, a traditional treat from Prato dating back to the Renaissance. These tough, almond-based cookies—Americanized variations of which are typically called biscotti—make perfect gift-pack staples, especially when paired with Dievole’s Vin Santo. In addition to dessert wines, they taste delicious with coffee (cookies for breakfast? Why not?)

6. Florentine Fragrances

fragrances

Many unique fragrances | Photo Flickr user Roving-Aye!

Someone you know looking for a new signature scent? Instead of shopping at chain beauty boutiques and department stores, look to one of Tuscany’s famous fragrances. In Florence, the world-famous Santa Maria Novella pharmacy and profumeria (near the church of the same name) carries a wide variety of scents, from orange blossom to magnolia to ‘Angels of Florence.’ Another option is the iconic Aquaflor brand, known for its historic shop on Borgo Santa Croce. Hailing from the Tuscan island of Elba, Acqua dell’Elba is available at their Florence flagship store and in many boutiques and perfume shops, and is sure to delight with its fresh scent and packaging.

7. Pietre Dure

pietre_dure

Marble artisan at work | Photo Alexandra Korey

One of the most expensive and difficult to make artistic processes in Italy is marble inlay, or pietre dure. The eye-catching colors of these marble mosaics are the result of the artisans’ careful use of the natural color variations in the stones which are cut into puzzle-like shapes to create a composition. Used in church decoration as well as for impressive pieces of furniture from the Renaissance until now, a few artisans in Florence still use the historic technique to make things you’d want in your home.

8. San Gimignano Saffron DOP

Saffron | Photo Flickr user glasseyes view

Saffron | Photo Flickr user glasseyes view

Known as “red gold,” saffron is so treasured in San Gimignano that in 1228, the local government used it to pay off their debts when they had no cash on hand. This scrumptious spice adds a savory kick to many traditional recipes from the area: pick it up for the creative cook on your list.

9. Handcrafted and Painted Tuscan Ceramics

A maiolica shop in Montelupo, Tuscany

A maiolica shop in Montelupo, Tuscany

A certain type of traveler—the interior design devotee—comes to Tuscany in droves. Often what they’re after are handcrafted, handpainted Tuscan ceramics, adding color to their kitchen collections, coffee tables and mantles. Friends who’ve just moved, gotten married or graduated could probably use help on the home décor front: patterned Tuscan vases, plates or saucers will add a marvelously Mediterranean touch to any space that needs spicing up. The town of Montelupo is probably the best known for maiolica, though you’ll find it just about everywhere. If you’re also interested in historic maiolica check out our article about where to learn about and see maiolica in Tuscany.

10. Mugello Sweet Chestnuts IGP

Fresh chestnuts | Photo Flickr user Otto Phokus

Fresh chestnuts | Photo Flickr user Otto Phokus

When it comes to taste and aroma, these chestnuts are off the charts! With slight hints of vanilla, IGP Mugello sweet chestnuts are tasty enough to make you start humming a certain Nat King Cole classic. They fall from trees in October and can be purchased hot-roasted from street vendors, whereas to bring some home as a gift you’ll want to look for chestnuts in their most portable forms, as jams or spreads, or as Marrons Glacés.

11. A Case of Olive Oil DOP from Dievole

Olive oil from Dievole

Olive oil from Dievole

With the olive harvest season upon us, now is a great time to pick up a case of this top-shelf DOP Chianti Classico extra-virgin olive oil from Dievole. Dievole produces a line of 6 olive oils, from Italian blends to a mono-cultivar of Leccino olives cultivated just behind our villa. The Dop Chianti Classico oils are the best expression of this territory and an important part of this area of Tuscany’s history – after all, what would Chianti be without those olive-grove-dotted landscapes? This perfect olive oil exalts the flavour of any dish and should be added “raw” to top off anything from a salad to a warm bowl of soup.

12. Tuscan Truffles

Truffles | Photo Flickr user Wei-Duan Woo

Truffles | Photo Flickr user Wei-Duan Woo

Tell someone you love them with a tuber! The world-renowned tartufo grows only under certain trees and is often part of haute recipes prepared by the globe’s top gourmands. ‘Humble home cooks’ can try truffle shaved over scrambled eggs, a tasty Tuscan breakfast idea. You can also buy truffle butter, which keeps without refrigeration until it’s open, and is a good economic option that you can add to toast or spaghetti.

Did you know that wine’s flavors are influenced by the typology of the terroir, among other factors?

On this wine infographic, we have analysed the 7 DOCG (Origin Denomination Controlled and Guaranteed) in Tuscany, all made of Sangiovese, the most important grape in this territory. The factors taken into consideration were:

– the type of terroir, where that particular DOCG grows and the flavors that develop as a consequence

– the minimum aging period required by the Consortium of each DOCG

– the average age worthy of each DOCG

On November 1, 2015, we held a special event to celebrate and savour Dievole’s first batch of extra virgin olive oil in the company of expert oleologist Marco Scanu. To make this day even better, we enjoyed a tour of the olive groves and tasted the delicious menu developed by our chef Monika Filipinska.

Dievole oleologist Marco Scanu

The sun softly lingered among the leaves of Dievole’s olive groves on All Saint’s day. Heavy with fruits and autumn breeze, the branches quivered as our oil maker Marco Scanu delved into the century-old science of oil making in front of #dievoleolioday2015’s curious audience. Human intervention and the unpredictable tide of the seasons mysteriously combine in this venture that embodies the warmth of poetry and the strength of nature.

After a round of tomato bruschetta on our enchanting terrazza and a tour of the surrounding olive groves, the group was ready to be introduced to the real stars of this seasonal event.

Cherry Tomatoes and Dievole Oil, the perfect Bruschetta

Sitting in the historic stable at the very heart of Dievole’s estate, our Olio Day 2015 guests warmed their small cobalt blue tasting glasses with their hands, and let the nuanced scents expand the aromatic expression of a good harvest.

Warming up the Olive Oil

Oil tasting is such a personal experience. The palate perceives an amazing array of colors and subtle differences. Nestled in the rich spiciness of our freshly pressed fruits, some tasted artichoke, others distinguished hints of tomato and walnuts. Even the fresh scent of green apple made its way into the gustatory tableau of Dievole’s 100% Italian Extra virgin Olive Oil. The mouthfeel, one said, is like silk.

One guest also whimsically remarked “I taste olives”, which caused a burst of laughter all throughout the room. But if you think about it, Dievole’s authenticity lies in the strong personality and clear recognition of its fruit’s flavor.

Dievole Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The robust monocultivar Coratina, from olives in Basilicata, and the delicate 100% Italian blend mark Dievole’s comeback after the dreaded 2014 white fly invasion that made Tuscan oil all but disappear last year. What we tasted on this day represented a special preview: only about 15 percent of our southern Italian fields had been picked at this point, and the blend, especially, still needs to be composed into its final state, like a fine vintage is composed from different grapes.

Oil Tasting smile

This year Dievole’s Oil Mill has really outdone itself and we are proud to announce six varieties of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, each one unique in flavor and character. Extracted from the sunkissed fruits of the Basilicata and Puglia regions, our 100% Italiano Extra Virgin Olive Oil breathes out the intense aromas of the south while embodying the pristine innovation of our Tuscan methods. In Basilicata, the fathering olive groves of 100% Italiano Monocultivar Coratina Extra Virgin Olive Oil face the Mediterranean sea. This variety’s taste epitomizes the power and purity of Italy’s blue deep. 100% Italiano Monocultivar Noccellera Extra Virgin Olive Oil is another flagbearer of Dievole’s love for experimentation and pursuit of excellence. With a name that simply rolls off your tongue, these large buttery flavored olives give way to a fruity lycopene scented olive oil perfect for all sorts of combinations.

Dievole's Olive Groves

Leaving the dreamy coastal sceneries of southern Italy, DOP Chianti Classico Monocultivar Leccino Extra Virgin Olive Oil sinks its tenacious roots into the Tuscan soil. Although the Leccino olive groves present themselves as a fighting, pugnacious bunch, the oil they offer is surprisingly elegant and well-balanced. Located on the rolling hills of Chianti Classico territory, DOP Chianti Classico Extra Virgin Olive Oil gives its very best and drizzles your dishes with the result of its bravery. IGP Toscano Extra Virgin Olive Oil stems from the Maremma countryside and from here it derives its strong personality and radiant consistency.

A Table for Dievole!

The group then moved to our historical cellar with a long table laid for the occasion. Here, in dim lights, our guests were served a high-end menu carefully concocted by our chef Monika in honour of the new olive oil and paired with our simple Vendemmia Chianti Classico DOCG wine. Creamed baccalà with olive oil on a bed of chickpea purée; pici with cavolo nero (known as kale in America), breadcrumbs and white beans, a fine beef tartar with home-made mayonnaise. This mouthwatering carousel of taste bud seducers culminated with the final dessert, a wonderful pannacotta with extra virgin olive oil and candied rose petals, laid out on a plum cake base made with olive oil and surprisingly, spinach to add a bit of colour.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Panna Cotta

Sunday afternoon drifted on as the blue sky caressed our sweet Tuscan hills. After an invigorating dose of freshly made coffee, Olio Day guests dallied on the terrace, chatting and sporting their newly purchased Dievole olive oils. The climbing vine that embraces our villa provided a vibrant red autumnal backdrop as the first cars disappeared behind the curve of Dievole’s tree-lined road. The Dievole estate is undergoing important renovations and will be reopened in the Summer of 2016, when we look forward to welcoming them – and you – again. In the meantime, we’ll be hard at work in the cellar producing the 2015 vintages; we’ll be finishing up our selection of olive oils; and we’re happily taking reservations for next year’s Tuscan getaways and weddings.

Taste Dievole olive oil when you visit our property, purchase it online, or find it in select upmarket stores around the world.

If you’re someone who enjoys wine but wouldn’t call yourself an expert, the wine list at a fancy restaurant can be a bit of a mystery. Most list names, dates, and grape variety, without a longer description that would make it easier for you to make an educated choice. You wouldn’t be the first person to feel challenged when handed the elegant menu that can make or break the meal. After all, a great wine can increase the atmosphere of a meal, enhance the flavour of food pairings, even maybe change the direction of a date!

Let’s take the stress out of the moment together by following these seven tips on ordering wine in a restaurant.

ordering wine

Ordering wine in a restaurant

1. Be honest

When it comes to making your wine choice, let the waiter or sommelier know your level of expertise. Especially when traveling, you might not be familiar with all the local grapes, but if you’re interested in wine, the sommelier will be thrilled to tell you more about them! And if you’re just developing your wine knowledge, you can absolutely make comparisons to what you do know and like and ask for recommendations of something similar, or something local, or something that goes well with what you’ve ordered.

2. Budget

Being open about how much you want to spend is really a good move. At every price point, in a good restaurant, there should be good choices available.

You don’t have to let your guest know what the figure is that you’re prepared to spend (if you are the one paying for the meal); rather, point to the range of wines or the price of them and tell the sommelier that you’d like something “in this range”.

3. In the mood

Tell the sommelier what mood you are in. Do you want to try something new and be challenged, or do you want to be soothed, relaxed, refreshed? Ordering wine in a restaurant is a great opportunity to discover a new winery or grape that might become your next favourite, but there are moments when you just want to be sure you’ll like the wine.

Based on your mood and on what you’ve ordered, the sommelier should be able to find the perfect match.

 

wine

Dievole Chianti Classico wine

And so the wine bottle arrives…

4. Look before you Sip

Before you’ve lifted glass to lips, look carefully at the bottle and make sure that it is the right producer and the vintage (year) that you ordered. Prices can vary from year to year according to the nature of the vintage so that’s why they always show you the bottle when they bring it to the table.

When the wine is poured for you to taste, have a good look at the wine: there is so much already the wine can tell you before you’ve tasted. Pick up the glass by the stem and tilt it, ideally against a white surface/a napkin/your hand and look through the wine. If there are any bits of cork floating about then get a teaspoon and fish them out: it is not necessarily a “corked” wine but just a badly opened bottle. Corked wine is a fault that you will usually detect by smelling and tasting, although corked wines do tend to be slightly dull to look at – again another good reason to have a good stare at the wine.

Is the wine fizzing? If it isn’t a sparkling wine, it shouldn’t fizz. Some wines might have a tiny bit of fine fizz initially but that should dissipate; decanting should help knock out the bubble. If the supposed-to-be-still wine continues to fizz then it is re-fermenting. Not good. The sommelier should take it back.

At this stage, whatever you see, the sommelier should be able to tell you the philosophy of the wine maker who made the wine, which will help you understand both the visual and the tasting results.

5. Sniff Before you Sip

The next step is therefore to sniff. Sniff and then swirl the wine around in the glass to aerate the wine, then sniff again. The wine should smell clean and bright, not dull and flat, aromas should lift up to the top of the glass. To appreciate flavour, the nose is needed: that’s why when you have a cold and a blocked nose how you crave sweet, acidic things – honey and lemon drinks that stimulate your tongue when your nose is out of action. So if you’ve got a cold, someone else at the table is going to have to do this job!

If the wine is corked, you will detect this with the aroma of wet cardboard, or clothes left too long damp in the washing machine post-wash. It is a musty smell that masks all the fruit flavours. If you think you might have a corked wine, ask the sommelier if he wouldn’t mind checking the wine is in good condition.

6. Taste like a pro

To taste like a pro you need to take in about a tablespoon of the wine, tilt your head forward and with lips pursed, and whistle backwards over the wine, taking air in over the wine while further aerating the wine, taking aroma compounds up to the nose via the throat. You’ll find the flavours of the wine really pop when you do this slurping.

The interior of the mouth, tongue and gums help us perceive the taste sensations of sweetness (at the tip of the tongue), saltiness (in the centre), acidity (on the sides of the tongue and gums), and minerality (at the back of the tongue).

As well as taking in this bit of air, you could try simultaneously moving the wine all around the mouth – pushing it up in front of the teeth, into the sides of the mouth (this might be best practiced at home a few times over the bathroom sink before you head into a restaurant). That way you can get a sense of those primary tastes (acidity vs sweetness) and you can feel the texture of the wine – an element often overlooked: does it feel soft, or a bit rough, does it wash down easily or does it grip onto the tongue and pull on the gums.

7. Temperature control

With that initial wine sample, you are checking to see that the wine is in good condition, and also that it is at the right temperature. If a red wine is too warm, alcohol becomes the dominant character. White wines, if too cold, go numb; their aromas and flavours close down by the extreme temperature. If you think the temperature is incorrect, politely ask the sommelier if, in his opinion, it is meant to be this cold/warm, or what the ideal serving temperature is for this wine and why. They will certainly correct any inconsistencies.

Finally, if you don’t like the wine you have chosen, but it is without any faults, sadly you’ve been unlucky. You can’t send back a wine that is in perfect condition because you don’t like it. On the other hand, you can send it back if you took the sommelier/waiter’s advice and it is nothing like the way they described – something that really should never happen.

A lot of wines improve with food, so if you don’t love it on first sip, wait a moment. It could be worth waiting for the first course and tasting the wine again with the food and seeing how the wine and food interact. A Chianti Classico Riserva, for example, may be too full-bodied to enjoy on its own, but with a steak it makes a sublime match. If it’s still a No, then call back the sommelier and say you are unhappy with his/her choice – though preferably after you’ve had no more than a glass, otherwise they might not swallow your excuse that you “had to be sure”!

Temperatures are dropping and tourists are filtering out, but November in Tuscany is anything but bleak! This season’s full calendar of temporary exhibitions, festivals and foodie events offers plenty of chances to see Tuscany in a different light and worthwhile excuses to take those day trips you’ve been postponing. Here are some highlights around the region.

Toulouse Lautrec exhibition in Pisa

Toulouse Lautrec exhibition in Pisa

Paris is popping up in unexpected places this season—with two exhibitions this fall, Tuscany pays tribute to the City of Light in two distinct eras: the Belle Epoque and the post-World War I period. It’s a bit of a trek if you’re traveling from the Siena area, but a must-see show this season is ‘Toulouse-Lautrec: Lights and Shadows of Montmartre,’ taking place at Pisa’s Palazzo Blu. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s poster art, paintings and illustrations famously captured the Parisian nightlife of his day, and he looked to some of the scene’s main stars, such as can-can dancer Jane Avril, as his muses. The exhibition runs until February 14, 2016.

De Chirico exhibit in Lucca

De Chirico exhibit in Lucca

For more of Modern France in Tuscany—this time with an Italian twist—look to Lucca. ‘De Chirico, Savinio and Les Italiens de Paris’ recently opened at the Lucca Center of Contemporary Art. With approximately 50 works, the show highlights Italian artists in Paris working within the Return to Order movement. A rejection of the avant-garde, “Ritorno all’ordine” principles were established in reaction to World War I and were given a voice through the Rome-based magazine Valori Plastici. Until February 14, take in the works of Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Savinio, Massimo Campigli, Filippo De Pisis, René Paresce, Gino Severini, Mario Tozzi and more.

Franco Fontana, Puglia, 1987 - exhibit in San Gimignano

Franco Fontana, Puglia, 1987 – exhibit in San Gimignano

Continuing this colorful autumn trend is a noteworthy photography exhibition at San Gimignano’s Raffaele de Grada Center of Contemporary Art, ‘Franco Fontana: Full Color.’ Running until January 6, 2016, the exhibition is the perfect excuse for a day trip to the ‘Manhattan of the Middle Ages,’ one of Tuscany’s most charming hilltop towns. It’s a chance to see one of Italy’s most internationally renowned modern photographers against a medieval backdrop. Organized thematically, Fontana’s 130 photographs pack all the colorful punch of Fauvist paintings, spanning landscapes, urban scenes and almost surreal street photography.

Another highlight in Tuscany is the ‘Seven Notes in Seven Nights’ series in Siena. From November 5 until December 17, Siena’s Civic Museum will host concerts spanning a range of genres. Before the music gets going, visitors will get a chance to tour the historic museum in piazza del Campo, which is home to Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s famous frescoes: read more about them in our Siena Itinerary for Art Lovers.

Marc Chagall White Crucifixion, 1938, The Art Institute of Chicago

Marc Chagall White Crucifixion, 1938, The Art Institute of Chicago

Further afield, this November in Florence focuses on the spiritual with the visit of Pope Francis; the Opera del Duomo Museum has reopened just in time after a long expansion and renovation, while Palazzo Strozzi features a temporary exhibit of modern religious art called Divine Beauty, From Van Gogh to Chagall and Fontana, including a painting by Chagall that the Pope mentioned was his favourite. The “new” museum at the back of the Duomo has more than doubled in space and uses it creatively with new museology approaches. A full-sized replica of the originally planned façade of Florence’s Duomo impresses viewers in the first room and restores a lost part of the city and its art history.

The new Opera del Duomo Museum | Photo Alexandra Korey

The new Opera del Duomo Museum | Photo Alexandra Korey

No roundup of events in Tuscany is complete without a few options for foodies and wine lovers! This November’s list is no exception, and there’s much to look forward to in the provinces of Lucca and Pisa. Sample of smorgasbord of Lucchese delights at Il Desco, a large fair with free entry taking place in the Real Collegio. From honey and marmalades to Cinta Senese cold cuts, craft beers and Christmas treats, the fair will feature a mouthwatering variety of Tuscan delicacies. Stop by on weekends from November 14 until December 8.

Truffle hunting in Tuscany | Photo Michela Simoncini (Flickr creative commons)

Truffle hunting in Tuscany | Photo Michela Simoncini (Flickr creative commons)

Give in to truffle temptation at the San Miniato White Truffle Fair in the province of Pisa. This fixture on the November calendar is a must for anyone who wants to try these prestigious white tubers and see why they’re so famous all over the world. This festival has been forty-five years running and shows no signs of slowing down this year! This year’s dates are November 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29, and December 5 and 6.

 

We asked our chef Monika to create a comforting recipe with zuccca, which generically translates as pumpkin in English but we’re talking about the delicious edible squash varieties that are available in most regions all fall and winter. We’ve got quite an impressive crop in our kitchen garden, so she’s been making cream of squash soup and other warm, wintry foods, but this risotto is one of our favourites. We’ve filmed her as she has made her squash risotto with blue cheese step by step.

Ingredients

A Sienese type of squash

A Sienese type of squash

  • A large piece of zucca, cut into slices and slowly roasted in the oven with some olive oil. We use a local Sienese variety. Butternut or acorn squash is a good substitute in the USA.
  • Arborio, cannaroli or vialone nano rice, 80 grams per person
  • Vegetable broth, prepared in a separate pan, at least twice as much as the rice
  • Clarified butter flavoured with shallots (small onions)
  • Parsley blended with olive oil (see video to see how this is done) for the topping
  • Blue cheese or gorgonzola, cut into cubes
  • A bit of grated parmesan cheese
  • Regular butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dievole White wine
Squash once cooked in the oven

Squash once cooked in the oven

Instructions

Monika cooking for the camera!

Monika cooking for the camera!

  1. First, cut the squash into large pieces, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in the oven until soft. (Time will depend on the type of squash, the oven, the size of the pieces, etc.)
  2. Remove the skin of the squash, put in the blender to make a squash cream.
  3. In a saucepan, melt a tablespoon of your shallot-flavoured butter (if available, otherwise just regular butter or a combination of butter and olive oil works well). Add the rice on high heat to toast it with a dash of Dievole white wine for 2 minutes.
  4. Then, scoop in a generous amount of your squash cream, stir. Add broth to cover, simmering on high heat and stirring constantly. Lower the heat, adding broth as it starts to be absorbed.
  5. Cook time will depend on the type of rice used, so follow package directions, adding broth until it tastes cooked. The rice should be just al dente, and the mixture should be still quite liquid (see photo) so that by the time you get to the end of eating the dish, it will still taste great.
  6. In the meantime, prepare your parsley decoration: blanch the parsley and put it on ice to cool, then blend in a blender on high with extra virgin olive oil to obtain a green liquid.
  7. Now it’s time to blend the rice with the blue cheese and some butter and parmesan. Still in your saucepan, add butter, parmesan, and then the blue cheese. “Roll” it together by tossing the contents of the pan, if possible, rather than stirring. Let the cheese melt naturally by covering the pan with a clean dishcloth for 2 minutes, then roll or stir again.
  8. Ready to serve: put your risotto in a concave pasta dish and if you wish, a few blue cheese cubes on top to decorate. With a large spoon, drizzle your parsley oil in concentric circles on top.
The final dish: a delicious squash risotto with gorgonzola and a parsley drizzle

The final dish: a delicious squash risotto with gorgonzola and a parsley drizzle

2015 is looking like a stand-out year for olive oil production in Tuscany and especially here at Dievole! We caught up with our oil maker Marco Scanu in the olive grove next to Dievole’s villa to find out what to expect from this year’s crop.

The Dievole olive oil project began in earnest in 2014, which just happened to be a disastrous year for all Tuscan producers. Nonetheless, we managed to produce two excellent quality olive oils: a 100% Italian blend, and a monocultivar of Coratina, both from olive groves that we tended in Puglia and Basilicata. But don’t take our word for it – we received a ton of international awards and Dievole was ranked in the top 25 olive oil producers in the whole world!

Almost ripe olives on the tree

Almost ripe olives on the tree

In 2015, we had a very consistently hot summer, which gave the dreaded white fly, which ruins olives, little opportunity to reproduce, so the trees in Tuscany are healthy and producing excellent olives! Here at Dievole, we have frantoio and leccino type olives, and they’re looking healthier than ever. Harvest begins mid October and ends mid November, and the cooler, rainy days we’ve been experiencing since the beginning of October are positive because they mean we can harvest in a slower and more careful manner.

In addition, we have olive groves that we’ve been working with since the beginning of the year down in southern Italy, in the regions of Puglia and Basilicata. We work with them from the point of view of production but also following and dictating agricultural approaches and carefully monitoring quality. These olives will be hand-picked and transported same-day, by refrigerated truck at 4 degrees Celsius, to be pressed in our mill here in Tuscany.

Dievole olive oil range

Dievole olive oil range

Between the production in Tuscany and that down south, Dievole is able to offer a full range of olive oil products this year, in high quantities and with superb quality. We predict that we’ll yield 135,000 litres, of which about 115,000 litres will be the 100% Italian blend (now available for pre-order), an extra virgin olive oil of medium intensity with hints of artichoke, highly flexible for both hot and cold dishes. We’re pleased to be able to make a Chianti Classico DOP this year, in about 14 or 15,00 litres (some of which just from the single Leccino olive, which is very delicate); this is very important for the history and identity of this place, as well as being a top of the line olive oil. We’ll have a small amount of IGP Toscana, as well as two mono cultivars: a Nocellara and a Coratina from the south.

With this brilliant production, Dievole is looking forward to reaching more and new consumers this year, making a product that will become a lovemark for our clients in restaurants, bars and homes worldwide.