What is best than a Tuscan dinner with good Italian cheeses and with a good glass of Chianti Classico wine? Made of cow’s milk, sheep or goat’s milk, Italian cheeses come of all of shapes and flavors, and at Villa le Barone, we are selecting the best for our guests on the free serving buffet table: parmesan, gorgonzola, pecorino, taleggio… and all of them have the label DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) that certifies the origin of the product.
For Italians, there is no good dinner without cheese, and, at Villa le Barone you will find a good choice of Italian cheeses, from all regions. They are served on the free serving buffet table in our restaurant, and you can savor them either at the beginning of the dinner… or at the end.
Of course, you will find Parmesan (“parmigiano”) the king of the cheeses. Produced in the Parma region, in the northern part of Italy, it is a “grainy” cheese, coming in huge round wheels, in which pieces are cut. A sprinkling of parmesan cheese gives everything a delicious taste, and is used to top pasta. But it is also used in a number of dishes such as “the Parmigiana”, a gratin of eggplant covered with Parmesan cheese.
A very famous cheese from Tuscany is the “Pecorino”, one of Italy’s oldest cheeses that gets its name from the Italian word “pecore”, which means sheep .Earliest records of pecorino cheese production in Tuscany go back to Etruscan and Roman times. You find it soft or dry (“Stagionato”), and served with pears and walnuts or with honey or jam.
Gorgonzola is a soft cheese, a specific type of blue cheese prepared with cow milk, and that contain spots or stripes of the mold “Penicillium”. By law (and by tradition!), Gorgonzola is made exclusively with milk from cows raised in Piedmont and Lombardy, around the city of Gorgonzola . Since 1996, Gorgonzola has benefited from the Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) certification.
Taleggio is a semisoft, washed-rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio, an Alpine valley in the Italian region of Lombardy. Traditionally formed in square molds, the cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavor is comparatively mild. The cheese is set on wood shelves in chambers, sometimes in caves as per tradition, and matures within six to ten weeks. It is washed once a week with a seawater sponge to prevent mold growth and to form its typical orange or rose crust.
A delicious dinner with exquisite cheeses and an excellent Chianti Classico in the cheerful restaurant of Villa le Barone, what best?
Do you really know what is “Chianti Classico” wine? We are sure you don’t! To know what it is, you have to read the most fascinating new book Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine , written by Bill Nesto and Frances Di Savino, which has just been published by the University of California Press.
The book not only tells the story of this famous wine since the 1500s until today, but it also reveals the closely intertwined socio-economic story of the Chianti territory. It is also a story of the laws, decrees, institutions and lobbying bodies which sought to protect the place of origin of wines and have led to the modern Chianti Classico, with its trademark, the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero).
We hope that the book’s short summary below will give Villa le Barone’s magazine readers the desire to read the book!
For centuries, “Chianti was valued as a special wine from the rocky hills of three river valleys between Florence and Siena in the heart of Tuscany: Val di Pesa, Val di Greve and Val d’Arbia”. This place, the original Chianti, has been mired in conflict for much of its history… and it was the dispute over the borders of the Chianti zones in the 20th century that came to be known as the “War of Chianti” (Guerra del Chianti). In 11 chapters, Bill Nesto and Frances di Savino describe the evolution of Chianti from the 1500s through Bettino Ricasoli in the 1800s, to the twenty-first century, including the birth of the competing “Chianti Classico” and “External Chianti” zones in the twentieth century. It tells how Chianti Classico entered the global market, mainly commercialized in “fiaschi” (flasks), wrapped in traditional reed, “sala”. At the same time, Italian wine merchants started to sell red wine under the brand “Chianti” coming from all over Tuscany, and even Rome, Naples, Sicily and other Italian regions. Tellingly, Italy did not sign the international Madrid Agreement to protect “indications of source or appellation of origin” in the late nineteenth century. In 1924 a law called Disposizioni per la difesa dei vini tipici (Provision for the defense of typical wines) gave precedence to the concept of “Vini Tipici “ over that of wines from delimitated areas, the result of a 4-year legislative odyssey. The Chiantigiani immediately fought back, and in May 1924, the “Consortium for the defense of the typical wine of Chianti and its mark of origin” was created in Radda in Chianti, and choose the Black Rooster, the emblem of the medieval Lega del Chianti, as its “mark of origin”. Within 6 months the consortium grew to 189 members. It was soon called “Rooster Consortium” (Consorzio del Gallo). The authors continue describing the divisions and fights between Chianti Classico and External Chianti and their respective consortia after World War 2. In 2014, a new Chianti Classico DOCG (Denominazione Origine Controllata e Guarantita) discipline was adopted. The Chianti Classico zone now covers the full townships of Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti , Castellina in Chianti, and Greve in Chianti (which includes the hamlet of Panzano). The denomination also includes part of the townships of Castelnuovo Berardenga, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Poggibonsi and San Casciano Val di Pesa. Today, the discussions are continuing: Is it important to identify “subzones” of Chianti Classico? Should there be “township labeling”?
“Essentially, Chianti Classico is a Sangiovese varietal wine”, already referenced in 1552 by Girolamo da Firenzurola in his long-lost treatise, “Sopra la agricultura”. It is Baron Bettino Ricasoli who, in 1870, re-established Sangiovese as Chianti’s star variety, sharing the stage with Canaiolo and Malvasia. But the authors state in conclusion of their chapter “The Secret of Sangiovese” that creating a new category of 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico would allow “Sangiovese and terroir to shine”. Organic and biodynamic viticulture is now growing. It began in Panzano, where the Villa le Barone hotel is located, and where the Chanti Classico producers agreed together to adopt “sustainable viticulture practices”.
There are about 380 grower-bottlers of Chianti Classico, and Bill and Frances have selected a number of them, mostly the smaller to midsize ones and present them in one of the last chapters.
You will be able to savor the best Chianti Classico wines at Villa le Barone, together with the best traditional dinners prepared by our cooks!
“This is not a simple tale”, as Bill Nesto, MW and founder of the Wine Studies Program at Boston University, and Frances Di Savino, attorney and co-author, state in the first chapter of Chianti Classico: “With its many twists and turns, peaks and valleys, Chianti is a territory worthy of an epic. Framed by Florence to its north and Siena to its south, Chianti is a land of quintessential beauty and culture. It is the timeless paesaggio (landscape) in the background of a Renaissance painting. It is a land of castles, chapels, bell towers, farmhouses, hills, oaks, cypresses, olive groves, and vineyards. It is an authentic place which gave birth to an iconic…wine, also known as Chianti.”
You have to come to Chianti!
Do you wish to discover the “Slow Food” and Tuscan Gastronomy in Chianti, one of the most beautiful part of Tuscany? Tuscany is indeed one of the largest region of Italy with a great diversity of territories which have different cultures and culinary traditions. Villa le Barone‘s cooks, Alessio and Tommaso, born in Greve in Chianti, the city where the “Slow Food” originated, will unveil for you this type of cuisine.
Wine, olive oil, and bread are the 3 key elements of Tuscan cuisine. Food is simple, made with fresh, local and seasonal products, and are therefore so tasty! If you stay at Villa le Barone you will be able to see in our garden eggplants, zucchinis, tomatoes, salads, artichokes… The sage, rosemary, thyme, basil are also growing there and are perfuming the dishes served in the restaurant! All dishes, including deserts, are prepared by our cooks! Try the “tiramisu” or the “amaretto”! This is “slow food” as opposed to “fast food”!
In summer, you will savor your dinner on the terrace surrounded by the hydrangeas, the honeysuckle and the wisteria. If you wish to enjoy a romantic dinner with a beautiful sunset, it can be served alone together on the heart terrace. But, if the weather does not allow to be outside, the restaurant will welcome you with its superb paintings, chandeliers, and ceramics!
If you wish to have an amazing “hands on” cooking class, our Tuscan cook Alessio will be pleased to teach you how to make a full Tuscan meal …that you will eat afterwards. You will also get all the recipes and be able to invite your friends at home to enjoy a Tuscan dinner!
Enjoy Tuscan specialties, slow food, and Tuscan gastronomy at Villa le Barone!
Since 2005 ,the Panzano in Chianti ‘s vintners have join forces to put into practice a sustainable viticulture, producing healthier wines without chemical residues , and therefore bringing benefits for the consumers, for the environment , and from a social point . Villa le Barone has on its wine list the best wines produced by Panzano ‘s vintners!
In 2005, 19 vintners of Panzano in Chianti joined forces to create a free and independent group to exchange experiences, and develop common projects and initiatives. They have common values, which Villa le Barone also shares: the love for the territory, Panzano, the passion for their work, the commitment to a continuous quest for quality. Each of the vintner and wine makers are making wine with their own grapes and run their winery directly. It is a wine that incorporates in its taste and aroma the characteristics of the territory where it grows, and this makes it unique! It is impossible to reproduce this wine in other parts of the world!
The Panzano ‘s vintners have now created the Experimental Research station for Sustainable Viticulture (SPEVIS, Stazione Sperimentale for Sustainable Viticulture) to help wineries to adopt organic methods . The objective is to make Panzano the first Italian organic zone, respectful of the territory, where no synthetic chemicals are being used. Everyone gains from this approach: the consumers, who will enjoy a better wine, the local environment, with less pollution for the soil and for the underground water, the local people, and the workers.
Guests of Villa le Barone will find on our wine list those wonderful wines produced in Panzano, and Giulia, our head waitress, will be most pleased to help them in choosing the best wine to fit the excellent dishes prepared by Alessio our Tuscan chef, with the help of Tommaso.
The 2016 Chianti wines festivals around Villa le Barone are approaching.
They are held from September 8 to 11 in Greve in Chianti and from 15 to 18 September in Panzano in Chianti: buy a drink that you can store in memory, evaluate all Chianti Classico presented by the producers and walk back to Villa le Barone. To help you know these wines and prepare you for tastings, here is a quiz that will entertain you, hopefully!
- The Chianti is a wine from
- Emilia -Romagna
- The first rules defining the Chianti Classico were fixed by
- Barone Ricasoli
- Marchese Antinori
- Marchese Mazzei
- A Chianti Classico wine must contain a minimum Sangiovese varietal percentage:
- The remaining 20% may be varieties such as:
- The symbol of the Chianti Classico wine is the:
- Black Rooster
- White Rooster
- Black Horse
- The Chianti Classico appellation is a:
- DOCG (Denomination of Origin of Controlled and Guaranteed
- DOP (Protected Designation of Origin)
- IGT Indicazione Geografica Tipica
- The Chianti Classico Riserva has:
- More than 2 years of age
- Over 3 years old
- Over 4 years of age
- A Super Tuscan wine is:
- A red wine that does not follow Chianti Classico production regulations and which may include varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
- An IGT high quality wine
- The first rules of the Chianti Classico composition were established by Baron Ricasoli, Prime Minister of Italy in the 19th century.
- 3 varieties can be found in the Chianti Classico
- Black Rooster
- The Chianti Classico is a DOCG wine. There were 73 DOCG in 2014 in Italy and 332 DOCs
- The Chianti Riserva is kept three years in oak barrels before bottling
- Super Tuscans are IGT quality wines but do not follow the rules of composition of the Chianti Classico