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Italian wines, like the food that they accompany, vary enormously from region to region. The Sicilian wines made from the 'nero d'avola'grape bear little resemblance to a Barolo from Piemonte in the same way that seafood from Naples and Venice differ so hugely, despite having the sea in common.

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In Tuscany, 'Giovetto' the San Giovese grape prevails. From San Giovese, come the three most famous Tuscan wines: Brunello (considered one of the world's most prestigious and costly wines), Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Chianti is the largest DOC area in the whole of Italy, extending over 71,800 hectares.. 30,400 of these are in the Province of Florence and 41,400 in the Province of Siena. Greve in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Radda, Gaiole, Panzano are amongst the towns producing Chianti Classico.

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San Giovese is also the grape used in high percentage to make Morellino di Scansano, in the southern Maremma, south of Siena. Further up the Tuscan coast takes us towards Bolgheri and away from San Giovese to where numerous world renowned wines (IGT 'Supertuscans') are made from a selection of grapes, Sassicaia perhaps being the most famous.

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There are gems of small, family-run, off the beaten track wineries to visit. These farms generally have little more than 15 hectares of vineyard and are dedicated to making top quality wines on a small scale.

Visiting these lesser known treasures and learning about the origins of the wines, directly from the wine maker is a unique experience. The owners are always delighted and proud to share their passion for the wine they produce, explaining the process from start to finish. Tastings are usually carried out in the farmhouses along with an informal lunch with the family.

Francesco Gronchi, a highly qualified and passionate sommelier and co-owner of Tuscan Tours has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share. His tours of and tastings of some of the most special wine in the area are captivating.

Wine tastings 'at home', with Francesco can also be arranged.

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