Wine Travels: Chianti, Italy

In May I had the amazing opportunity to visit Tuscany, Italy with Zonin Wines! This was a gastronomic food and wine experience that immersed me and some other Sommelier’s from other countries into the Italian food and wine culture. Our first stop was Radda in Chianti, somewhere I have never been before. This province in Tuscany is absolutely stunning and is boasting with history, great restaurants, and beautiful scenery. 

Due to my location and plane flights, I had the opportunity to arrive the night before the trip and had about ten hours to explore Radda in Chianti before I met with the other Sommeliers and Zonin Wine team members. I took the opportunity to dive right into Chianti and took a stroll after my wonderful outdoor breakfast, where I took in the beautiful views and province of Radda. After my morning walk, I met up with an amazing Sommelier and Food and Wine Adventure Guide, Klajdi Belaj, Owner and Sommelier of Tuscan Wine Food  AdventuresHe is the perfect guide when it comes to food and wine in Tuscany and offers private tours, private wine buying, private wine dinner, and cellar experiences. He is so knowledgeable about the history of Tuscany as well as food and wine and if you’re looking for a one of a kind curated food and wine experience, this is the man to go to!

My first day in Radda in Chianti led us to explore Chianti and all that it has to offer. We explored a bit and wound up at a wonderful lunch spot in Monteriggioni. Il Piccolo Castello is a quaint restaurant with beautiful outdoor seating and a great wine list. The food is incredibly fresh, and I made sure to enjoy the La Lasagna al Ragu di Chianina. Chianina is a type of cattle that is Italian breed and one of the largest and oldest in the world. The lasagna was beyond fantastic with a perfect Chianina ragu that just melts in your mouth. Klajdi is a wonderful host and guide and will be sure to recommend great wines to pair with anything you order. To pair with our meal, we opted for a 2013 Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano which paired beautifully with the lasagna as well as my second course of La Tartare di Chianina al coltello. This Chianina tartare was one of the best beef tartare’s I have ever had. The meat is a striking color full of flavor and tenderness; it was simply heaven. We also ordered the Filet with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and Pears, this dish went beautifully with the Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano and was just delicious.

After all that food it was time for gelato; because in Italy, it’s just what you do! What I love about Tuscany is the food, wine, and scenery. I also love the history behind Chianti, and all that it has to offer. Once it was time to meet up with the Zonin group, we were off to dinner for a butchering class and meat experience! Dario Cecchini was our host for dinner, who is a well known Italian Butcher from the Panzano area of Chianti. Here we enjoyed Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Magnums and Chianina (beef) in many different forms. We started off with tartare and white beans which were out of this world! I absolutely love tartare and Chianina Tartare is my new passion. It’s tender and flavorful and perfect for the steak tartare fan. The meat options were endless here at Dario Cecchini’s restaurant, where we enjoyed all the cuts, along with potatoes topped with the most delicious seasoned lard.

After an incredible dinner, Dario took us downstairs to show us more of his master butcher skills. His personality is magnetic and he will have you laughing the entire evening. I could not stop smiling while here between the great service, staff, and delicious food. The 2014 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico was perfectly paired with everything offered, due to its bright acidity and tannins that easily go well with the medium rare meat options.

Chianti, Tuscany was always on my bucket list (along with many other wine regions) and I am so grateful to Zonin for bringing me over to experience Tuscany and all the beauty and deliciousness it has to offer. When you visit, be sure to visit some of these amazing places, restaurants, and wineries. Luckily for me, this was just day 1 of my trip! Keep reading in the travel and wine sections for more of my Tuscany Gastronomy Experience!

 

 

 

Sara Lehman

About Sara Lehman

Sommelier, Private Chef, & Food and Wine Pairing Expert in NYC! Sara is a Wine Writer, Wine Ambassador, and Wine Consultant specializing in pairings, parties, entertaining and education.

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