Florence’s “buche del vino” and Chianti Colli Fiorentini
“What are those curious little windows adorning the facades of dozens of palazzi in Florence’s historic centre?” It’s a question often asked by Chianti wine tasting groups. The answer illustrates the intimate connection between the Tuscan wine capital and the vineyards near Florence which until recently grew almost to the city gates. Beyond the outskirts, from the south east to the south west, lie the hills of the Chianti Colli Fiorentini area, between the city to the north and the more famous Chianti Classico region to the south, where some of the best Tuscan wineries, estates and hunting lodges of Florence’s noble class are located. These Tuscan vineyards have supplied famous Italian wines to Florence’s finest tables for centuries, but it wasn’t only the elite land-owning families who enjoyed the “vino cittadino” inside their luxurious Florentine palaces. Throughout the Renaissance and possibly as late as the early 20th century, domestic servants with access to the palazzo’s wine cellars would dispense the Colli Fiorentini wines and other products directly, filling up a chianti wine bottle or flask in exchange for a few coins from the city’s lesser affluent citizens who lined up at tiny ground floor level portals. The famous tabernacle-like windows known as “buche” or “buchette del vino”, literally holes or wine portals, allowed the Florentine nobility to avoid personal dealings with their lower ranking customers and, even more conveniently, to generate significant revenues without a commercial licence by capitalising on the fruits of their country estates.
Like all Chianti red wines, Colli Fiorentini is obtained mainly from Sangiovese grapes in proportions varying from 70-100%, but may be blended with maximum 10% autochthonous Canaiolo or Colorino grapes, 20% foreign varieties like Cabernet Franc, Syrah or Merlot (10 % of any given one) or, unlike Chianti Classico wine, up to 10% white Malvasia or Trebbiano grapes. Colli Fiorentini was officially recognized as one of 7 Chianti subzones of this Tuscan wine region in 1932. The DOCG covers 18 municipalities including Florence and restricts grape varieties and production yields, making it one of the best Italian wines. To protect and promote the territorial identity of this distinctively Florentine version of Chianti red wine, the ambitious Colli Fiorentini Consortium was founded in 1994. Now counting more than 30 wineries, it proudly boasts as its trademark the standing black lion from the weathervane atop Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio tower – Torre Arnolfo – to underscore the connection with the Renaissance city.
Many of the best wineries near Florence are regularly awarded top scores in Chianti wine reviews, but Chianti Colli Forentini is traditionally a pleasantly drinkable Tuscan red wine with unaffected directness and simplicity. Typical of the wineries of this area, the 42 hectare La Querce estate has vineyards and olive groves set on the Florence Chianti hill facing Impruneta, with breathtaking views overlooking Florence, a mere 12 kms away. Property of Massimo Marchi, the elegant villa La Querce has a stately tower and rooms built in the 1300’s, though a document dated 1042 already suggested the presence of a homestead and vineyards. It was named for an ancient oak tree that presided over the grounds until it was cut down by occupying German forces during the Second World War, one of the estate’s more dramatic moments. Starting with their signature Chianti Colli Fiorentini, here are three fine wines from La Querce’s small award-winning production.
LA QUERCE – La Torretta
Denomination: Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG
Grape varieties: 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Merlot
Tasting notes: Intense ruby red with purple hues. Elegant nose of ripe red fruits with good structure and acidity. Shows fine agility in the mouth, well sustained long finish, ending on a spicy, smoky note.
Oscar-winning wine “best value for money”, enjoy with braised meats and game.
LA QUERCE Toscana
Denomination: Toscana IGT
Grape varieties: 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo
Tasting notes: Dark ruby red almost black. Explosive nose of ripe blackberries and liquorice mixing cinnamon and pepper. Powerful, full-bodied palate of dried red cherries, chocolate and walnuts, delicate vanilla and lively oriental spices; velvety tannins, structure and persistence make it an outstanding wine for cut and clarity.
Top rated Chianti, drinks well with all red meats or venison and medium seasoned cheeses.
LA QUERCE – Rosa di Maggio
Denomination: Toscana IGT, Rosé
Grape varieties: 100% Sangiovese
Tasting notes: Bright salmon pink. Floral and fruity bouquet of maraschino cherry and red currants. Mineral freshness on the palate balanced by good, vibrant fruitiness and acidity.
Ideal appetizer, with light pasta sauces or risotto, vegetable dishes as well as fish and seafood.
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